It doesn't take a first-rate NCIS investigator to deduce that NCIS: New Orleans Season 1 Episode 8 was all about relationships.
From poor Petty Officer Bell's catfished romanced with the fictional Maria Garcia to LaSalle's rocky relationship with his brother, "Love Hurts" returned to the concept again and again.
They didn't take the totally obvious route, either - Pride's strained marriage was only mentioned briefly. Instead, we're treated to an expansion of the NOLA family: Sebastian's girlfriend and LaSalle's friend and brother.
I've read many complaints over the past seven episodes about Sebastian being annoying. Quirky characters have a habit of unfortunately revolving around their quirks. This time, however, Sebastian shared an actually meaningful scene with Pride in which Sebastian got to share his quite justified feelings of annoyance about how everyone else thought that his girlfriend was imaginary or catfished like Maria Garcia.
It reminded me a bit of a similar situation on ABC's Castle, with Detective Ryan having to produce his girlfriend Jenny just to prove to his colleagues that he wasn't making her up.
Though I have to admit that I found Ryan more immediately likeable than Sebastian, whose quirkiness can sometimes get rather grating.
Anyway, it was nice when Sebastian got to introduce his yeti-loving girlfriend to the team, rather than drawing out the question of whether she was real or not. Hopefully, they'll keep going strong even after having met in person!
We also got to learn more about our favorite 'Bama boy LaSalle: he's got a charming, if apparently unreliable, brother! And a very good friend, Chief Petty Officer Phil Martino, who was also shown to be a dedicated dad for a sick little boy. I always like it when we get a reminder that our protagonists actually have lives and friends outside of work. I can just see LaSalle showing up at that hospital and charming the socks off of all those kids! Though for a minute there, I was helplessly suspicious that Martino would have something to do with the death - thank goodness I was proven wrong!
LaSalle and Martino were clearly close, their relationship serving as a funhouse mirror for LaSalle and his actual brother. I'm guessing (hoping?) that LaSalle will manage to catch up to his brother one of these days. It was so sad to see the disappointment in LaSalle's face when he learned that his brother had been gone from the diner for six months.
LaSalle: My brother's issues aren't physical.
Martino: But they're no less real.
Then there were Petty Officer Bell and "Maria Garcia." The concept of catfishing is not a new one, but this relationship would have been funny if it weren't so tragic for Bell. The poor man was head over heels for a fictitious woman pieced together from scraps online by a hacker. Bell was so enraptured by her that he was writing corny notes for his intended proposal, as in this NCIS: New Orleans quote:
Brody: [reading] "Whenever I'm having a hard time, I think of you and realize we are perfect for each other."
LaSalle: Sounds like the lyrics to a Celine Dion song.
The situation only became more ludicrous when you added in cyber-stalker Rodney Abbott, who took the relationship with a non-existent person to delusional extremes, like shooting Bell's dead body. Sadly, there are people like Abbott out there in the world, creeps who will latch onto people and form imaginary relationships with them. Abbott's case is pretty extreme, because Maria Garcia never even existed in the real world.
The climax of the episode at the restaurant with the assassin was silly and predictable; as soon as LaSalle went back in for Martino, you just knew that the place was going to blow up with them escaping at the last minute. Bad luck for the owner of the restaurant, don't you think? Hope his insurance covers assassination bombs.
Speaking of assassination, did anyone else find Claudine Bouchard's plan insanely complicated? She hired a hacker to create a fake woman to romance an an admiral's assistant so she find out his passwords and infiltrate his network and learn the admiral's itinerary and bomb a lunch meeting he was having with members of an anti-drug task force. Whew!
Her plan depended entirely on being able to figure out Bell's passwords by tricking him into revealing personal information about himself. What if his passwords weren't like the combination on President Skrood's luggage ("1-2-3-4-5!")? And how did she find out that Admiral Hume was going to be at this very specific task force lunch, anyway?
All in all, I find myself willing to forgive the overly-dramatic finale (they did have some entertaining fight choreography) thanks in large part to LaSalle. He is fast becoming my favorite part of NCIS: New Orleans.
What do you think, NOLA fans? Did you enjoy learning more about LaSalle? Will he ever find his brother? Do you think Sebastian's relationship will last now that he's met his girlfriend in person? Let us know in the comments below!
Remember, you can always catch up on recent episodes right here at TV Fanatic when you watch NCIS: New Orleans online!