One of NCIS: New Orleans's biggest chronic problems since the very beginning has been its uneven writing. Well, that and the villains themselves.
Those two issues came together in NCIS: New Orleans Season 2 Episode 24 for one doozy of a second season finale.
Honestly, I'm still scratching my head over this one.
I predicted that Russo may be dirty from his initial appearance, but that doesn't mean I liked the idea. Russo's whole involvement came off in extremely heavy-handed fashion, which was definitely not helped at all by the incredibly narmy way in which Ivan Sergei acted after he dropped all pretenses.
Seriously, that performance would not be out of place at a convention featuring William Shatner, all the Goa'uld from Stargate SG-1 ("Kneel before your god!!!!"), Terrence Stamp, David Caruso, and Brian Blessed. It was all I could do not to just burst out laughing at the absurdity.
I'd go so far as to suggest that there was enough ham there to set the entire United States for Thanksgiving for the next five years or so.
I'm a patriot. Just not for your side.Russo
Ivan Sergei is a capable actor, so I didn't understand at all why he suddenly turned into Mark Dacascos on Iron Chef America. (Seriously, check it out on YouTube. It's hilarious.)
To make matters worse, Russo's apparent motivation was... feeling under-appreciated at work? I think? I ask you, how does this make sense? As Patton pointed out, Russo on paper made a Boy Scout look corrupt, and for all Russo's scenery chewing, I still don't get why he decided that blowing up the Coast Guard was somehow a good idea.
And I'm still not sure why he set off that bomb and blew up his own compatriot at the beginning of the episode! How did he even have the phone number for that bomb? Did he just want to blow up the South African mercenary for the Evulz?
Even more perplexing? Apparently, the entire Department of Homeland Security was completely helpless without Russo's leadership. Seriously. A guy who's a senior field agent. Not a Director, not even an Assistant or Deputy Director. A field agent. And shouldn't DHS have had an Interim Director if the agency was without a Director while General Matthews was in the vetting process?
It would have been far more interesting if pretty much anything had happened with Russo instead of this. For instance:
- Russo had crossed the moral event horizon while trying to protect the United States and was willing to go to any lengths to stop the bad guys, despite the fact that this was transforming him into one himself.
- Russo was suffering from a complex psychological event that made him fabricate an elaborate hoax, and there never was any terrorist plot to begin with.
- Brody's suspicions about Russo were revealed to be her own insecurities and fear of personal loss stemming from the death of her sister.
- Russo was a loyal DHS agent, being framed by another, dirty, DHS agent similarly to how General Matthews was handled.
Sigh. There were just so many more interesting (and definitely more coherent) ways this could have gone.
Beyond the whole Russo debacle, there was the bizarre... thing... that was happening between LaSalle and Percy. LaSalle, who never really showed any overt interest in Percy beyond being a work colleague and friend, suddenly chose that moment to get chivalrous and protective?
LaSalle [hugging Percy tightly]: I'm glad you didn't die.
Percy: You're an ass!
Time was of the essence, and LaSalle wasted precious moments trying to keep Percy off the boat despite the fact that she was the most qualified person there to disarm the bomb! I know a fair few members of law enforcement, both male and female, and I don't think any of the ladies would appreciate that any more than Percy did.
And the way he grabbed her and pulled her close at the end of the episode? If a male colleague of mine had done that to me, I would have felt extremely extremely uncomfortable.
This entire episode was a disappointing, poorly-written mess. I've read fanfiction that was more coherent than this episode. Though I guess I'm set for my Thanksgiving ham.
Now that I've finished ranting, I will note a few things I did enjoy about this episode:
- The mercenary's freaked expression when he heard the cell phone ring, at first thinking it was the bomb, was made blackly amusing when the second cell rang and his bomb blew up anyway.
- Buckley, Pride's new bar manager, made a brief appearance at the end of the episode, and Scott Bakula got to show off his musical skills once again. I wonder if we'll ever get to see Buckley play a mean banjo?
- Brody figured out that something was off with Russo and later got really close to clone his phone. (Though how did she ensure that she was cloning his Super Secret Phone and not his work phone?)
I wish I could say that I enjoyed this finale better than the NCIS: New Orleans Season 1 finale, NCIS: New Orleans Season 1 Episode 23, but at least that episode's plot was somewhat coherent, even if it was a total let-down from the buildup.
A few final thoughts before I turn this discussion over to you:
- Either Russo's office has some fantastic insulation, or really loud knock-down, drag-out brawls are normal operating procedure at Homeland Security, because no one busted in until after Brody aerated Russo.
- Sebastian might as well have just told Brody right off the bat that he was handing her Chekhov's Stun Gun. The thing practically had a neon sign flashing over it saying, "This will be used later!"
- Since our heroes knew that the bombs were capable of being set off by cell phone calls, why did no one think to bring a phone jammer when they boarded Heritage Star?
- HSI is Homeland Security Investigations, more or less DHS's detective squad. Going by his apparent investigative duties, Russo really should have been part of HSI himself.
- Unanswered question: where did all that HMX explosive come from in the first place? The stuff isn't like TNT; it's complicated and difficult to produce.
- Be sure to check out our NCIS: New Orleans quotes page for some of the notable quotes from this episode.
And that's a wrap for NCIS: New Orleans Season 2! If you missed this episode, be sure to watch NCIS: New Orleans online to catch up! NCIS: New Orleans has been confirmed for Season 3 coming this fall. Until then, grab your gear, learn things, and have fun!