NCIS: Los Angeles returned from its latest break in what we always figured was going to be an interrupted season with NCIS: Los Angeles 12×10 The Frogman’s Daughter,” an episode that turns out to be pretty dynamic, entertaining and actually emotional, not just because Kam Hannah has turned out to be a much better character than any of us could have anticipated, but because this show always knows how to handle family dynamics, and of course, never misses the mark with Densi.
This has been a pretty irregular season of the show, mostly because they haven’t always known how to tie the cases to the characters we already know, or at least to something we’re already invested in, but since this case involved Kam, Sam’s daughter, and since the shadow of what happened to Michelle, Sam’s deceased wife, is hanging over us, that was never going to be a problem. Which didn’t mean the case was going to be effective, just emotional.
But in this show emotional is almost always synonymous with effective. If “The Frogman’s Daughter” works is because Sam is emotionally invested – and mostly right – and that, in turn, makes it so the rest of the characters are, and, of course, so we are. Especially, as I mentioned before, with the ghost of Michelle Hanna looking over our shoulder.
Kam, as a character, has also been set up enough that, at this point, she’s not just believable, she’s engaging. So much of what she does in this episode works not just because she’s Sam’s daughter, but because it all adds up to what we’ve seen of her to make up the image of yes, Sam’s kid, but also just …Kam. And that’s good, steady, if not terribly complex storytelling.
Another thing that works, even if we didn’t get enough of it, is Sam and Callen. For about twenty five minutes of the episode it felt like Sam was lost, and even though Roundtree, Kensi, Deeks and the entire team was trying to help, even though they know him and love him… the only person who could have really helped was missing: Callen. And when he came back, nothing was suddenly fine, but you could see it in Sam’s face: He now had someone to lean on.
Callen is also the one to say “Sam” when Sam needed him to, when the show needed him to. This is still problematic storytelling, let me be clear. Cop shows are all trying to straddle that line and say hey police brutality is bad, but when our characters do it, it’s justified and the truth is, they’re still all sending the wrong message. You can’t have your cake and eat it too in this respect, and for all NCIS: Los Angeles has never been as bad as other shows in this regard, I don’t believe this was the right episode to attempt to straddle that line …especially considering how they have Sam, of all people, behave.
I want to believe this is just the show struggling with how to tell these stories and that they will go on to address it in future episodes, but I can’t say I’m too confident. As much as this show has done a great job of addressing more than most shows, this is still the basic problem with cop shows, and unless they tackle it head on …this whole what’s the line deal is going to feel disingenuous, no matter what they do or how many protests they feature.
There are still some things missing from this show, some issues that go beyond the general optics that all law enforcement shows are having to deal with, you know, some gears that never quite lock into place in season 12, the most important one of them all being Hetty. I understand the restrictions NCIS: Los Angeles was faced with season 12, especially because of the pandemic, and the need to keep Linda Hunt safe, and I’m the first one advocating for being as careful as needed with her, but the thing is, we have seen Hetty disappear again and again, for reasons that don’t always make much sense, so when the show actually need to make her disappear and have us just accept it …it rings a bit hollow.
And of course, there’s the lack of answers regarding Anna, because, I mean, they need to keep at least one mystery alive and well, or something. But I’m not exactly complaining about that, because it feels like this episode needed to be about Kam …and about Sam.
Hopefully the conversations raised in this hour, about what it means to bring kids into this world, try to protect them, about what it means to stand up for what’s right, and what it means to exist in a world where the police are constantly against you, aren’t forgotten. They shouldn’t be. If NCIS: Los Angeles dares to go head on in this regard, they would be breaking the mold, yes, but they’ve already proven they’re better than most procedurals on TV at doing that. So, why not?
Things I think I think:
- I figured this episode was going to start with Sam knowing right away that something was wrong, but it was still kind of upsetting to see Sam knowing right away something is wrong.
- Kensi and Deeks are my emotional support OTP.
- Eric is never gonna leave now, right? Good. I never wanted him to leave.
- I didn’t see this show pulling a Meghan Markle joke, but here we are.
- 52 house rules seems like… a lot of house rules. Not that this is the moment to complain about them.
- Okay, I have to say it …Thank God Deeks cut his hair.
- I love seeing Densi talking about their issues with getting pregnant and treating it like a them issue, which it is.
- Why is it that everyone on this show always runs when they hear the words “Federal Agents”?
- “I knew something would go wrong without her mom around” killed me, okay?
- Me getting emotional about Kam Hannah? No way.
- Perfectly aware we’re only like halfway through the episode and he had some stuff to deal with, but …where’s Callen?
- “I wear a hijab, I’m immune to peer pressure.”
- Kensi and Deeks DON’T look that old, what in the world?
- Or does me thinking that mean I’M old?
- Look, I was really glad to see G back in time to help Sam. Even more glad to see Kam is no damsel in distress, cause yes, that’s what I expected of her.
- So cute when G’s all like “Can you promise to try?”
- Obviously, Sam was out of line. It’s hard to blame him, because the storyline makes it so, but shows like NCIS: Los Angeles needs to do better than write it like this. They’re still selling a story where police brutality is not only accepted, but always justified.
- Where’s ….Nell? I would love if there was a least a mention of why characters aren’t around for important moments.
- I love when Kensi asks Deeks to stop and listen to her, and he does, and they just communicate, okay? How do shows struggle with this so much?
- “I didn’t break 43” lol.
- She did break 43.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think about NCIS: Los Angeles 12×10 “The Frogman’s Daughter”? Share with us in the comments below!
NCIS: Los Angeles airs Sundays on CBS.