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NCIS: New Orleans - In the Blood - Review: The 100th Episode

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Note - Before jumping into this guest review, I’d like to say congratulations to the cast and crew on their 100th episode. In a generation of DOA shows, increased competition, and shortened seasons, it is a great accomplishment. An especially big congratulations goes out to Scott Bakula for reaching the 100th episode for the first time after coming so close with Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise. To help celebrate their 100th, NCIS:NOLA welcomes Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats as their musical guest. They also bring back the prolific Jim Whitmore, Jr. to direct. He has previously directed 10 episodes for the show, which is second only to James Hayman, and has directed around 60 episodes for the NCIS franchise. Supervising producer and writer Ron McGee adds his talents to the hallmark episode too, making this his 7th script for the show.

As the episode opens, a man tries to talk his way out of trouble with a quartet of armed thugs. They push him to a storage unit but when he opens it up, there’s nothing of value inside. His days are about numbered when out of nowhere, someone else shoots the thugs and lets him escape. Meanwhile, Pride is dreaming of watching his mom play piano while he reads a Hardy Boys book. It’s sweet and serene until Pride’s annoying spirit guide pops in to snark at him and Flashback Dad thinks it is appropriate to take his preteen son to his mistress’ house with a gun in the glove box. No wonder Flashback Mom gives Flashback Dad the evil eye on their way out. Still there’s no time to sleep in New Orleans, even if the Angel of Death is your co-pilot, so LaSalle calls to ask Pride to join them at the storage container. Much exposition ensues but the bottomline is that Young Pride’s toys and Hardy Boys book are there, making his dad the prime suspect. Cassius is newly released from prison thanks to a letter Pride wrote the parole board, but he’s skipped out on his probation officer to meet up with Jimmy Boyd, the man from the opening scene.

Jimmy’s mama recently died and left him a house in Treme, so they all convene there. Either Pride’s recent near death experience has left him clairvoyant or Annoying Spirit Guide is actually the Ghost of Mistresses Past, because this is the same house Pride was just dreaming about. He comes out of his reverie just in enough time to save Gregorio and a shootout occurs. Hannah kicks butt as she takes down some White Pride chick and the rest of the group dies. That’s NCIS - 1, bad guys - 0. Well, kind of. As they examine the house for more shooters, Pride and Gregorio find Cassius beaten but alive. Cassius: “Hiya, kid. Hell of a reunion.” Ha! This is gonna be fun. To say Pride is unexcited to have his father back in his life is an understatement. Loretta’s not too fond of him either and lectures Cassius about how Pride doesn’t need this right now. Cassius tries to whine his way into some sympathy by saying he had to learn about Pride almost dying on the news, but Loretta shuts that down quickly. Loretta: “Well I hope it would make you question your parenting skills.” Man, do I love how she never puts up with nonsense. The conversation is broken up once Pride learns from the White Pride chick that Cassius planned the River Grand Casino heist 20 years ago. Legend has that the thieves got away with $3 million. Pride heads in to interrogate his father but things escalate quickly, leaving Loretta to physically intervene. Loretta: “Family time’s over.”

Back at the office, details on the robbery are sketchy because the casino didn’t want bad press. That leaves Pride to interview an old family friend, Gina Powell, who was the floor manager at the time. She introduces Pride to Todd Jamieson, who is in “risk management” and isn’t any more eager to talk about the heist than the casino was decades earlier. Thankfully Patton finds out that Jimmy Boyd is still in NOLA, so the team follows that lead while Pride goes home to sleep and finds himself mid-flashback. Young Pride gets tired of waiting in the car for his dad so he sneaks up to the house, only to find Cassius kissing another woman. Poor baby. He just got proof that his dad is a lying, cheating, no-good jerk. He also finds out that he has a half-brother in the flashback….who just happens to be standing over him with a gun in real life. Startled, he realizes Jimmy Boyd is his half-brother and acknowledges him as such. Pride: “You gonna shoot your own brother, Jimmy?” Jimmy: “Been imagining this moment my whole life, actually meeting my half brother face to face.” Pride: “Always pointing a gun at me when you imagined?” Jimmy: “No, that part’s a little bit of a surprise.” Pride’s in no trouble though because Jimmy is anti-gun. He even has the safety still on.

After a bit of banter, Pride takes Jimmy to the office where Jimmy stuns Gregorio and Patton by announcing that Pride is his brother. Their reaction is priceless and Patton makes me laugh, saying: “Pride, you sure you don’t want Sebastian to run a DNA test or something?” Bwaaahh!! Jimmy confirms that the casino money was in the storage container, having helped Cassius move it there  years ago but he doesn’t know where it is now. Before Pride can storm the hospital demanding answers, Cassius escapes. Good thing Jimmy knows where he’ll be because Cassius still needs a fake id. After some creative blackmail, Pride gets the drop-off point from his print man, but instead of arresting Cassius, the same guys who killed the white pride thugs show up again. Cassius gets away but Jimmy is kidnapped, while trying to save his dad. At a dead end, Pride heads back to his team. Gregorio: “We’re gonna find him and Jimmy.” Pride: “I hope so. I just learned I have a brother. I’d like to keep him alive long enough to get to know him.” After some exposition, they learn that Gina Powell planned the robbery and is killing off any links to it to keep her mob-tied bosses from knowing about her role. Time to find Cassius and crash a party.

The first step is easy with the perks of Pride’s new job. He has Texas Highway Patrol set up a roadblock and stops Cassius before he can get to the border. They chat about how Cassius set up Pride’s Little League coach by planting drugs in his vehicle just because he wanted Pride to get more playing time. Yikes! Talk about rough parents. I bet they had trouble finding a replacement. Pride, however, has no problem finding the missing casino cash lined the in ceiling of his dad's Caddy. Busted. Getting Jimmy back is a little tougher though.  Pride confronts Gina at the Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats concert and brings out the $3 million in cash, which gets Jamieson’s attention. He takes everybody up to the roof and has his men bring Jimmy up too. In exchange for his brother, Pride has to give them the cash and Cassius. Pride agrees, Jamieson’s men shoot up Cassius’ Caddy (although he’s not in it), and Jamieson shoots Gina for good measure. Jamieson is about to shoot Pride too when the cavalry arrives. Jimmy manages to get a gun and saves Pride’s life. Yeah for brothers!

Now that the heroics are all over, Cassius turns on the charm to his boys but neither are buying it. Even Jimmy has soured on him, given that he was headed out of the country while Jimmy’s life was in danger. Cassius: “I always knew we’d get out of this mess. We make a good team.” Pride: “I think we’ve got a different definition of team and we.” Jimmy: “You were almost to Mexico.” Cassius is slick though and has exchanged his info on the white supremacists for a one-way ticket to Witness Protection. There’s a reason why he rose to become New Orleans’ top fixer. With Cassius no longer on their hands, Pride and Jimmy are free to get to know each other better and hang out at the bar, talking smack about their mothers’ gumbo recipes and listening to Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats again. All is fabulous until Annoying “I’m not your spirit guide” Spirit Guide shows up again. Pride is sleeping with Jimmy on the couch in the other room. She warns Pride that she’s his clock and it seems like time is about out. I am getting seriously bad Dallas vibes here. Time for her to go.

My Thoughts:

It was great getting some more background on Pride’s rocky childhood and Scott Bakula’s interactions with Stacy Keach were phenomenal. That was my favorite thing about the episode. I remember Keach from his Mike Hammer days, so it was fun to see him play such a slippery character. That being said, the entire episode revolved around Pride so there wasn’t much time for the other characters. That’s especially a shame due to it being the 100th episode. I would have liked it to have more of a team feel.

Speaking of teams, the new kids are great. Hannah’s introduction is a perfect example of how new characters can be integrated without causing unnecessary upheaval and drama. (Looking at you, Moseley on NCIS:LA.) I love how she isn’t threatened by Pride taking a more active role in their cases than he should technically have given his new job title. Plus, she takes on the leader role without having to bully others into following her lead, making her a true leader. I hope when Pride inevitably returns as team leader, she sticks with them as second in charge because TV can always use another smart, capable, kick butt female character. I also really liked the introduction of Jimmy. He’s a good foil for Pride, but he’s still basically a decent guy. Sure he gets into some trouble, but he’s not trying to hurt people. I think that by having Jimmy as a recurring character, it will give Pride more dimension and they have great bromance chemistry as well.

My biggest issue here is the continued presence of Annoying Spirit Guide. I found her irritating in the premiere and I’m not sure why she is still around. I know we are supposed to be concerned about Pride’s health but that could be easily achieved by adding in more sleeping and other health snippets. It was even more annoying in this episode because Pride was seeing things he needed for the case but before they actually came in play. It would have made more sense to have the snippet about the book after he found it in the storage container, not before. The things in the case should have been a springboard for his memories, not the other way around. The continued presence of this angel of death is giving me a bad feeling. I do not need a do-over. I need the show to conclude this particular plot pathway before I no longer care how it plays out.

Grade: B

Best Scene - Cassius tells his boys that he’s heading to WitSec and that he loves them
Best Character Interaction - Pride and Cassius
Best Magic Trick - LaSalle getting out and under the Caddy without Jamieson seeing him
Best Come to Jesus Moment - Loretta tells Cassius that he’s a bad parent
Best Reaction - Gregorio and Patton learning Jimmy is Pride’s half brother
Most Kick Butt - Hannah

Best Quotes:
1. Hannah: “Pretty sure DC wouldn’t approve of me bringing the regional SAC onto a tactical op.” Pride: “Can’t disagree.” Hannah: “As long as we’re clear on how we’re p** them off this week.”
2. Cassius: “Seeing my two boys together just warms my heart.” Pride: “Could have happened a lot sooner if you’d had been honest.” Cassius: “We all got regrets in our lives. I guess that I’ve got more than my share.” Jimmy: “I regret ever letting you through my front door.”
3. Gregorio: “Cassius Pride, New Orleans legend. Fixer to politicians and gangsters alike. Had his finger in every corrupt pie in the city.” Hannah: “Guess that apple fell far from that tree, huh?” Patton: “Whole other orchard.”

Screencaps from SpoilerTV, Seat 42F, Stacy Keach Work Page, CBS, Living New Orleans, and IMDb.

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