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+.


Well my mom said that the torture scenes in NCIS LA Season 4 were worse than that of 24. That's what she said. I will not watch 24 because of the torture scenes.


Easy guys. It may just be my opinion, but the last scene(s) was very controversial because of how it was depicted. Was it graphic? Truthfully, it wasn't too bad. Imagination is a strong element to that scene. The camera work, the editing, and ECO's brilliant performance did it for me. (Side note: anyone think he may be a better actor than LL and O'Donnell?) I think the implicit aspect of that scene was far more terrifying--even haunting--than what they actually showed and wouldn't have been effective with a lesser actor or performance. I mean, that's why we're talking about it, IMO, because it worked. Just my two cents. It's funny, Miss Rachel, my mom was the complete opposite. 24 scenes scared the hell out of her, but NCISLA does not. Weird, right?


Rachel-the pure, innocent, goodie girl that makes everyone sick and thinks they know better than everyone.


Rachel, well how would you change the scene then? Have Siderov point a gun at Sam and Deeks instead? Gunshot as it fades to black? Because for 4 seasons, these guys have been too super human, coming out unscathed in almost every situation. This changes everything. And well, if you think about it, in some ways, it does fit the story. You may not agree with me, which I know you won't, but as violent and controversial it is, it just fits within that context. And hats off to Eric Christian Olsen for "selling" that scene.


Briana- I won't stoop to using that kind of language, but you be quiet and get away from me.


Liv- the torture scenes were not necessary in the least for this last episode.


you don't know a thing about me either. Briana-know, I was quiet and shy as can be. I realize that NCIS LA didn't even show the most violence, but the fact that they are just now showing torture scenes like this shows that they are caving into society's desire for violence. They are changing their show based on what some other shows are doing. I realize that there is a lot of violence on t.v., but they crossed the line when they put those torure scenes in the episode. I know what I'm talking about because someone I know who use to watch 24 said that the scenes they showed were worse than that. It's not a merely a social justice issue, but a moral and ethical one, so yes I will bring this issue to light. I don't need a PHD to know that if you can sit through a scene like that and not be affected that you have already been desensitized to a certain degree. And I'm talking people in general.


Kevin-you were the quiet dweeb in school who falsely thought he was the smartest guy in the room, weren't you? I feel sorry for you. Rachel-you were the crazy chick who led every protest in college or something, right? And people thought, get the heck away from me... STFU


Rachel-Please don't open the floodgates. This tv violence issue has been brought up many times in the past. Yeah, there's lots of violence of tv, but sometimes it's necessary within the context of the show or story. NCIS:LA is neither the first nor the last show to do it. It's not the most graphic even on its own network (Criminal Minds, talking to you). Why do people watch shows like Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, and other shows filled with gore and blood? (Seriously, that scene where the guy's daughter is burned alive in Sons of Anarchy Because despite the violence, a lot of them are damn fine shows. IMO, people watch NCIS:LA because of the amazing chemistry between the cast and characters. There's other appeals. Whether people tune in for the premiere, well that's up to them, not you or me. Have a good day.


Rachel-Like I said, you don't know a DAMN thing about me. So don't you dare criticize someone because they don't react in the same way as you. Where's your phD in psychology that makes you an expert in the thinking of others? Show it to me right now and I'll shut it. And don't put words in my mouth; I never said said tv violence didn't have an affect on me. People don't need wake up calls from an overly righteous individual who thinks they need to press an issue just because it's different or not exactly in the same state of mind as you. Let them decide what they want to do and watch. Look, I don't want to get into a deeper argument. So I guess we just have to agree to disagree.

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