How much further out on the ledge can Pride go?
That's the question that continued to be asked throughout NCIS: New Orleans Season 3 Episode 23.
And the answer was it's still too early to tell.
For a while now, Pride has known in his gut that Mayor Hamilton is up to something.
It's too bad that can't even remotely be considered proof in a court of law.
Pride spent this entire episode flying around trying to prevent Stone and his hit-men from assassinating...well, someone, at first.
Eventually, it was that crusading congresswoman who didn't do herself any favors ignoring Pride then eating or drinking whatever was placed in front of her. No wonder she didn't make it out of the airport.
And the big problem with Pride reacting rather than acting is the optics. A shootout on a crowded street then driving through the al fresco dining area just doesn't look good, especially when your target is a skilled media manipulator such as Hamilton.
Pride is also giving ammunition to said target who decides whether NCIS will be invited into his city. Hamilton has all kinds of stuff to hide, so it would be simplest just to force NCIS out. And Pride made that easier.
It doesn't help that Director Vance is being tied up by a political appointee (SecNav), while some middle-level bureaucrat with no stones is telling Pride to stand down.
Finally, Pride got to see a little of the bigger picture. Hamilton wants to build a shipyard in Clearwater, which the congresswoman opposed. So Pride found out who the target is.
A few things I pondered: How did the assassins know the congresswoman liked seafood? Was the admiral who invited her to a seafood lunch in on it? Why couldn't she just give a good political answer such as "I'll take it under advisement" so she could get out of town alive?
Better yet, who's behind the Clearwater development? It's obviously more than Hamilton and a bunch of hired guns. Hamilton gets jobs for his city and higher office, but what's in it for his shadowy backers? Besides owning Hamilton, that is.
Pride wasn't faultless in this episode's developments. He was running on fumes and making mistakes as a result. It's a shame his bar got blown up since that's been the most consistent location for New Orleans color. Hopefully, it will be back and better than ever for NCIS: New Orleans: Season 4 (The Final Season).
As Loretta preached, Pride needed to use his team instead of trying to do everything himself. I know he was trying to protect them, but by running wild, he got the unit suspended anyway.
We discovered what a legal scholar LaSalle was. He got Percy freed by essentially telling the judge, "There's a storm a-comin.'" If only they'd considered that argument for Reid on Criminal Minds.
Then there was Sebastian pulling that esoteric red tide analysis out of his chemical kit.
And Patton, suffering with backward computers in the morgue yet still staying a step ahead of the city's cyber-crime units.
On NCIS: New Orleans Season 3 Episode 24, I truly expect either LaSalle or Gregorio to take over while Pride goes rogue in the shadows. I figure it's Gregorio that gets Isler and the FBI involved, although I have no idea how. I also expect guest stars galore.
The Hamilton storyline has got to get sewn up in the finale or face another fan revolt bigger than the Brody kerfuffle. Once it's exposed how much of a snake pit the mayor's office is, I expect that NCIS will once again be operating in the Big Easy.
To catch up before the finale, watch NCIS: New Orleans online.
Is Pride on the edge or in control? Who leads the team in his absence? Who is pulling Hamilton's strings? Comment below.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.