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+.


Kevin- Furthermore, I am well aware of the fact that we live in a sick world. I don't need to watch a t.v. show to remind me of that. Also, in watching those kind of shows I am allowing my brain to be filled with junk. My mom used to watch 24 and she says that the torture scenes in the season finale are worse than those in 24. In watching shows like SVU people are inadvertently supporting the violence and societies desire for violence.


worse than the season finale of Downton Abbey!


Like many others I don't know if I am going to tune in for the season premiere. I won't be watching it live.


Kevin- IF you can sit through those kind of torture scenes as were in NCIS LA then yes, you are desensitized to violence whether you realize it or not. We live in such a society that has been very subtle about this in t.v. shows. I will not stand for it and I will not stand for other people thinking that it is o.k. I am simply sending a wake up call to those who think it is o.k. The fact that you want to watch things that are far more disturbing says that this stuff has already has an affect on you and your mind.


Didn't they practically do the same thing to Jennifer Garner (Sydney) and Bradley Cooper (Will) on Alias? And Victor Garber (Jack)?


You don't know a damn thing about them.


Rachel--I think you need to check yourself. So what if the torture scenes didn't have nearly an affect on others as it did to you? There are far worse scenes and themes in network television that may affect people's psyche much more. For example, sit through 14 seasons of Law and Order: SVU, which is sometimes based of real-life events. While not nearly as graphic, it will make anyone disgusted at how sick the world is. It's sad but it's true. I cannot get through a full episode without feeling disturbed. But I watch it because it's just a show to engage viewers. Watch National Geographic Documentaries (Inside Gitmo, for instance) with the no-holds barred, real human treatment that we place on others. THAT is real. THAT is too much. We are a country with people that are so sensitive with the tiniest break from comfort. And people like you and me just only prove it. Don't ever criticize someone for being "desensitized" to violence and questioning who they are and how it all affects them. You don't know a damn thing about them.


Just like many others, I was very disappointed with this finale because of the over the top torture scenes with Sam and Deeks. I love this show and each of the characters and sometimes it's easy to forget that it's just a tv show. It's always exciting waiting for the new season premieres after a cliffhanger finale, but not for this one. How could anyone survive such awful torture and still be the same person afterward.


Thank you Melody and anyone else who thinks that the torture scenes are too much. The rest of you might need a reality check as to how much is too much.


I hated the torture scene. It was too graphic and just sickening. You can keep an audience's attention without torture. I was awake all night - ugh.

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