It's true that not all series find their rhythm right off the bat. Just look at, say, Season 1 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, for instance. NCIS: New Orleans Season 1, alas, suffered from similarly uneven writing.
So if you were hoping to end NOLA's freshman season on a high note, I'm afraid NCIS: New Orleans Season 1 Episode 23 probably left you sadly disappointed.
One huge, enormous let-down for me was the treatment of Captain Messier (Dylan Walsh) as the mole. It came out of left field, character-wise, despite the fact that he was pretty much the only viable suspect who would have knowledge of the prisoner transport route that led to Baitfish's demise.
Think about it: he had to have been perfectly willing to allow the deaths of all those marshals, plus the NCIS agents with them, in order to get at Baitfish. And all because Sasha seduced him? The revelation was incredibly, incredibly rushed. Like, "Great, he's the mole! Let's get a key piece of info from him and then only mention him once for the rest of the episode!"
Indeed, the whole "Messier is a murdering mole" thing barely even affected Pride and the team. I know that they were under a lot of pressure to stop the terrorist plot, but surely Pride could have spared more anger and personal pain over such a betrayal, if not of him then definitely of his city. Anyone? Bueller? No?
But even worse of a fizzle was the Big Bad, the "storm" Baitfish mentioned as coming. Storm? Seriously? At worse, Solomon Ekpo rates a mild drizzle in terms of impact.
Ekpo (a supposedly ruthless terrorist) conveniently left Messier alive in order to give Pride the crucial information that resulted in the team showing up just in time to stop the Grand Plan! Remember, this was the guy who slit the throat of a completely innocent sailor in order to keep his arrival a secret. So why bother with a bomb and not just kill Messier with a gun or a knife?
The biggest problem with Ekpo as a Big Bad was that he had not been seen or even mentioned before this episode. Pride said the storm just became a hurricane, but Ekpo never made any real impact. He killed one guy, sure, and he came up with possibly the worst plan ever to take out a nuclear facility.
(This plan, by the way, bizarrely required Ekpo himself to infiltrate the country to execute it, instead of dispatching some of his minions from Terrorist Group du Jour.)
The episode acted as if Ekpo were somehow supposed to be scary and all, like Ari Haswari from Seasons 1 and 2 of NCIS. At no real point did I, as a viewer, feel any sort of jeopardy for our heroes; even the cold open was more confusing than anything else.
As it was, we were left laughing as Ekpo poked in futility at his trigger button and waited for LaSalle to show up and kill him. I did like, however, when Pride took out the henchman with a well-timed knife thrust. Nicely done, though I half-expected that rock to fall on the guy's head.
In other news, Pride turned to his surprisingly-helpful incarcerated father Cassius, who turned out to be a font of useful information. In fact, Cassius provided the name of the mole! And Pride seemed actually friendly towards his father. But will he let his daughter speak with him?
Here's to hoping that the writers of NCIS: New Orleans find their solid ground next season.
Here are a few thoughts about this episode in closing:
- Sonja Percy and Sebastian Lund? Really not sure what I think of that one.
- Who'd be up for Percy joining the New Orleans NCIS team next season?
- How did Ekpo and his henchman spend days in a cargo container with those Ecuadorean women and not leave even a trace of themselves behind?
- In gratitude for his father's help, Pride wrote the letter of recommendation to the parole board, the same letter he swore in previous episodes that he'd never write.
- If Cassius Pride is the LeBron James of the Professional Corruption League, does that make Councilman Hamilton the Kobe Bryant?
Loretta: Safe for tonight.
Pride: Tonight. Tomorrow's another story.
That's a wrap for season one! Agent Pride and his team will return next season for more adventures in crime-solving in the Big Easy. 'Til then, you can kick back and enjoy all their previous cases right here at TV Fanatic when you watch NCIS: New Orleans online!