NCIS: LA “The Seventh Child” Review (Season 7, Episode 19)

NCIS: LOS ANGELES The Seventh Child

NCIS: LA went down a very serious road with “The Seventh Child,” in a storyline I’d expect more from the flagship, NCIS, or the mothership herself, JAG. I’ve mentioned numerous times before that this show is the more lighthearted of the three: the sun, the sand, not being surrounded by the politics of DC. What I find interesting in my own watching as a viewer is that every time NCIS: LA has an episode with darker material, I enjoy it more. And every time one of those episodes airs, I always make note of the fact that this show is capable of doing the difficult storylines that many may think it can’t (name your reason: it’s a procedural, the actors, etc).

And it doesn’t get more difficult/serious/intense/pick your word than kids who were born via surrogate, sold on the black market, and then brainwashed to be suicide bombers. Not to mention the fact that the episode opened with two young brothers on the run, and one of them not making it out alive. THAT IS SOME HEAVY STUFF (all the more painfully poignant considering the horrific attacks in Brussels). Thankfully, everything was treated delicately by the writers and our stars. There were no jokey Eric/Nell scenes littered about. I’ll even let Deeks’ inappropriate talk of circumcision at the office slide because the other scenes he had with Kensi continued the exploration of their relationship, one I’m glad the show is doing. Their discussion of marriage feels like an honest next step, and I’m curious if he’ll pop the question at the end of the season.**

**Though I’d think the two of them being married would mean they can’t work together as partners anymore. Then again, they shouldn’t be working as partners now. Hollywood!!

Taking all that into consideration though, this episode would have fallen apart without a strong child actor working opposite Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J. Gavin Lewis was fantastic. Not only did he have pages and pages of dialogue to tackle, he had material that no kid should really have to process at such a young age. And it can be argued that good child-acting is the result of a good director and editor, but the skill must still be there. I worked at an acting studio for kids/teens and could tell right away the ones who had that special spark. Lewis has that, and I have a feeling he’ll be popping up more and more due to his work here. O’Donnell also played wonderfully opposite him, with the perfect amount of compassion, sincerity, and empathy. Nadir’s decision to call Callen “Grisha” at the end felt earned, not shoehorned in, due to what we saw the man and boy experience. It was done in a very sensitive and beautiful manner by O’Donnell, and I honestly think people forget that the guy can act. Any 21 year-old who can play opposite Al Pacino, and play well, is good in my book.

My top episode of the season so far. What is yours?