NCIS: Los Angeles Review: Betrayal with Torturous Consequences

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Two of the most terrible people in the world, Isaak Sidorov and Marcel Janvier, both returned to wreak havoc in the NCIS: Los Angeles season finale. When criminal masterminds like those two are involved, it's dangerous to let your guard down even for a second. 

In "Descent," that's exactly what happened... with tragic results. 

No Longer Partners

Before I get into the core of the NCIS plan and where it all went wrong, I have to complain and complain LOUDLY to the writers and producers of NCIS: LA. I don't mind cliffhangers throughout a season and I don't even mind them in finales. Television is a serial storytelling format, so it's understandable for there to be unresolved questions. If done well, cliffhangers create an emotional connection for viewers with the characters and with the show.

That is not how NCIS:LA season 4 ended though. Instead, the finale was the first half of a story. It was part 1 of a two-parter. You don't close out a season with part 1 and then make fans wait months for part 2. That's just cruel. It was bad enough when the stolen nuke story was first introduced in "Out of the Past, Part 1," that the conclusion didn't air for two weeks. It's going to be a long summer waiting to see the conclusion to the story.

Despite the horribly unfair ending, the episode itself was intense and one of the best of the season. In the season 4 premiere, Callen pretended to go rogue after it was presumed that he killed Janvier back in the season 3 finale. His return was a nice way to bookend the season. When they saved Janvier and got him to agree to help them facilitate the purchase of the nuclear weapons from Sidorov, no one at NCIS seemed concerned with his loyalty.

Why? He killed Lauren Hunter and had no reason to help them. Janvier even said he wanted to die, so why wouldn't he want to get revenge on Callen and the NCIS for what they did to him? When he ultimately betrayed them by tipping off Sidorov, it shouldn't have been a surprise. Janvier was the Chameleon and talented at manipulated people and moving pieces into place. And, while he may still be in US custody, he's won. Unlike fake shooting last year, will Callen take him out this time for real?

Meanwhile, Sam and Deeks are being tortured for information about Quinn. Sidorov really loves her. Though, he seemed determined to find out that she had betrayed him. After all the torture Sam withstood, it still wasn't enough for Sidorov to believe Quinn was clean. Instead, he moved on to Deeks to torture him and in an even more horrific manner than Sam. The damage to Deeks will be permanent, if he even survives.

One complaint I had about Deeks' answers is why didn't he say, "Quinn who?" By saying that she wasn't an agent, wasn't he acknowledging that he knew her? Maybe I misread that scene, but that threw flags up for me. At least he had a good explanation about why he showed up to save Sam. As a LAPD officer, he had to respond to prevent a murder of someone regardless of whether they are an agent or even a criminal, right?

Meanwhile, Michelle's life literally hangs in the balance. Will the plastic sheeting hold her long enough for Kensi to get to her and pull her up? I can't imagine that she will die, at least not that way. It would be doubly tragic if she died and the guys withstood the torture to protect her. It definitely would be a shocking conclusion.

Odds and Ends

  • The nuclear explosion just to prove it would work was quite a dramatic display. 
  • The aftermath of Deeks' undercover relationship and his inability to discuss his relationship with Kensi didn't go away. If anything, Kensi was more frustrated with him than before. His answer: a Kiss! No words needed. With one simple move, he expressed his love for her. She didn't expect that from the look on her face, but she also didn't push him away. If Deeks survives Sidorov, they need to have a real, honest heart-to-heart. If he dies, it will make her pain even greater.
  • Sam's disrespect of Deeks was more front and center than ever before. Sam's mean comment after Hetty made the assignment and then cruelty towards Deeks while playing or not playing chess was over the top. I'm not sure it was all necessary to get the point across. Despite Sam's issues with Deeks, the LAPD officer risked his own life to save Sam and now is being tortured for information that would threaten Sam's wife. Deeks must hold strong. I want Sam to beg for forgiveness for his unfounded mistrust and maliciousness towards Deeks.
  • Does Janvier really have a daughter? Or, was that just a ploy that he used to get NCIS to lower their guard towards him?
Were you frustrated by the way the episode ended? Do you think Deeks will hold strong? Will they all survive? If not, who will die? The kiss: Did it make you happy? 


Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (859 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


@Deb, I agree. and WOW,, good to know that there are passionate fans of NCIS LA on this site : ) It's a lazy Sunday pm and came back to check on this site....gotta agree with everyone who's watched the episode more than once. I too, re-watched it a week later and came back on this site to say that it really was an awesome episode! The torture scenes were fleeting and not that graphic. It truly was the acting, the sound effects, the filming, the pace that led our imagination to fill in the spaces. As I've said, the imagination has no head filled in the spaces and so well that my mind literally went blank when the episode aired. I recommend watching it a second time if you've only watched it once. The kiss the second time around was even better ; )


I went back through the comments and realized that it was Tanner not Kevin that brought up the Alias dental torture connection. Thanks Tanner. I watched the show, but didn't remember it till I read your comment and my daughter confirmed it.


I personally think the torture scenes were well done. They were not graphic in any way. I don’t think that people who were not upset by the torture scenes are desensitized to violence. Rather, we understood that there was a purpose. It was supposed to make you uncomfortable and perhaps cringe. It was supposed to make you aware that there are real stakes and real jeopardy for characters you have attachments to. This is not a reality show, but a scripted fictional one that occasionally gives us a chance to think about real consequences. There was a lot going on in this episode, the torture was only a part of it. But that torture will have a huge impact on all the characters and their relationships going forward.


As far as realism, the torture is probably one of the more realistic parts of the show and the fact that it hasn’t been addressed with the main characters before this actually surprises me (although Dom was kidnapped and tortured behind the scenes in season 1). Undercover agents know they run the risk of torture and death if their cover is blown and they accept it; but this is the first time we get to see it. The shootouts they have where they are outnumbered and outgunned but still manage to blow away half a dozen bad guys and walk away without a scratch isn’t realistic IMO. That violence doesn’t seem to bother anyone because nobody cares about the henchmen; there is no attachment. This is different.


The tortures used weren’t new either. Jack Bauer was electrocuted repeated in one episode until he went into cardiac arrest, then they had to cut him down and revive him. As Kevin mentioned, the dental torture Deeks suffered had been done on Alias years ago. (My daughter reminded me of this too.) Sydney (a woman) was also an undercover agent (sound familiar). The only reason I can see that anyone had a difficult time with this was the heart wrenching screams made by Eric Christian Olsen. There certainly wasn’t much to see, no blood or gore of any kind. And Sam’s reaction to the electrocution was rather subdued. Maybe that last scene should be watched without sound. It would make a big difference.


I just got back from a trip and came here to see if the furor over the torture scenes in the finale had died down. Apparently for some it hasn’t. To compare this to 24 makes no sense to me, I watched that show and the torture portrayed on 24 was far worse than this. It was pervasive throughout and the perpetrators were not always the bad guys. Jack Bauer resorted to it on a regular basis to get the answers he needed. And this is worse on other network TV shows today. Some have been mentioned. Others include The Vampire Diaries (in the so called family hour) and Supernatural which target teens, pre-teens and young adults. The torture and violence in these shows make this look like a cake walk.


David-My mom likes NCIS LA, but she was thoroughly disgusted by the torture scenes in the last episode. She also thought the plot was dumb. She liked the pace of 24. She just didn't like the torture scenes.


If by goodie girl you mean I didn't do what most people did in High School (drugs,alcohol etc.) than I guess you're right. However, I don't think that I know more than everyone.


I agree with you about Eric Christian Olsen. He has really shown the depth of what he can really do in this last episode.


Liv-I would suggest that the last episode doesn't even get to that point. As I stated before, I thought the plot was dumb. Every episode up until this one was good. I did like the kiss between Kensi and Deeks. However, that does beg the question if Deeks will survive, because he has now admitted his feelings for Kensi.

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