Red herrings are a powerful and useful literary device used to keep audiences on their toes. Expect the unexpected and all that. But when practically every single clue turns into a red herring, it just becomes stale.
NCIS: New Orleans Season 2 Episode 3 was a grab bag of red herrings. Each theory to explain the cause of the crash that opens the case is shot down swiftly, and that's plain frustrating.
Suicide? Nope. Accident due to G-LOC? Nuh-uh. Fudged test scores? See ya. Maybe the documentarian was out to get her? Ha. Or maybe the squad mate? Nah, he's a victim, too. Maybe the fertility shots made her press the wrong button? No, she wasn't taking the drugs yet.
As it turned out, the culprit was a bad coupling, a small part that had been outsourced to a foreign manufacturer to save a few bucks in the plane's massive budge. In more human terms, the responsible party was that obnoxious corporate rep who kept pressuring the team to declare the plane not at fault in the most blatantly obvious "the plane's at fault!" manner ever.
As a fan of police dramas, I am always, always suspicious when they introduce a seemingly-helpful corporate type. Somehow, more often then not, that person turns out to be responsible for everything.
NCIS: New Orleans pulled pretty much this exact trope last season in Season 1 Episode 2, which featured a pharmaceutical company owner infecting innocent sailors with plague in order to pad his bottom line.
Wouldn't it be a fascinating change of pace to have an honest, well-meaning corporate type?
Something superficially examined in this episode is the treatment of women in the military and in the workplace. The team questions whether the victim, Lieutenant Garrett, was treated badly because she was a woman in a hyper-masculine, high-stress environment.
There are also issues with her desire to have a family (covered extremely lightly with her top-secret egg harvesting trips). Ultimately, there are no overall judgments or answers offered beyond casual teasing over the "bro code" and such back-and-forths with the team.
Brody: You know, if Garrett was a guy, would people be questioning her?
Percy: No way! If you're pretty, you slept your way to the top. If you're smart and ambitious, you're a bitch.
Women in combat is still a touchy and even controversial topic; the first female combat-certified Naval aviator earned her carrier qualifications in 1994, and two women made headlines not too long ago for passing the insanely demanding Army Ranger training course. While we have yet to see a female Navy SEAL, I would not be surprised if we will eventually.
Back in the '90s, NCIS's parent series, JAG, dealt a few times with the issue of women on carriers and in combat, but that clearly was not the focus here in this episode. In fact, this episode suffered from what felt like a lack of focus, given the huge number of false leads that ultimately led back to the (rather obvious) culprit.
What saved this episode from being a jumbled mess was the character moments. I love the continuity of bringing back Danny and his brother (plus a mention of Brody's journalist ex-fiance and the appearance of SecNav Sarah Porter from NCIS).
We got to see Loretta stumbling along in her desire to nurture Danny, sometimes erring too far into a disciplinarian. We got to see her struggling with her desire to give Danny and his brother the best opportunities she can, but he was frustrated with himself and not being a total rock star right off the bat.
Loretta: Every fact in its place-
Danny: -brings the truth to bear.
Danny: (to Pride) She says that a lot.
Pride: Believe me, I know.
Loretta is fond of dispensing Yoda-like wisdom, isn't she? Anyway, I really enjoy her rapport with Danny. It can't be easy being mother to him and his brother under such circumstances.
Plus there was the amusing back-and-forth between LaSalle and Brody and Percy over the "bro code" and the fact that the ladies were not invited to the boys night out, which apparently involved some rather... interesting behavior from some of our main characters:
The image of Patton Plame twerking is not easy to erase.LaSalle
Someone hand me the brain bleach, please!
I now turn it over to you, my fellow viewers. What did you think of "Touched By the Sun"? Did you enjoy the twists and turns, or did you find them tiresome? What are your thoughts on the "bro code"? Let us know in the comments section below!
NCIS: New Orleans Season 2 Episode 4 is set to air on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 9/8c on CBS.
Until then, you can watch NCIS: New Orleans online to catch up on previous episodes. Cheers!