Sometimes your basic standalone episode hits the spot, and sometimes it doesn't
Elvis Bertrand returned on NCIS: New Orleans Season 5 Episode 20.
How you felt about this episode had to start with how you feel about Elvis, a semi-reformed hacker that Pride befriended and helped out of a jam.
How you feel about Elvis has to start with how you feel about Tom Arnold, the actor playing Elvis. People tend to love or hate Arnold.
He's no longer married to Roseanne Barr, so points for that.
Still, he said a lot of objectionable stuff during that time which people hold against him until this day.
I've got no problem with Arnold nor Elvis. We've all made mistakes and said stupid things. Move on.
Elvis is a grade-A scenery chewer, and trouble does tend to follow him.
But the last time we saw him, he was part of the irregular team had helped to save Pride from a well-placed bureaucrat on NCIS: New Orleans Season 4 Episode 23.
So the last time Elvis appeared was on the side of the angels. That's got to count for something, right?
Of course, he immediately threw away any goodwill that remained from that time by hacking the NCIS computer system.
First off, I must protest that the episodes in which Elvis appears usually don't feature Patton, so Sebastian ends up filling in on computers. Elvis would get away with so much less if Patton were there.
Sebastian makes a good sidekick for Elvis, and it's a great learning opportunity for him. But he isn't the counter to Elvis that Patton would be.
Anyway, once again Elvis meant well. This time, instead of doing something he thinks would benefit society he was working to save his daughter Wendy.
Yup, as frightening a thought as it is, Elvis is a father.
No woman hung around with Elvis long enough to conceive. Instead, Wendy was the result of a sperm donation which Elvis had made.
That makes more sense. Sperm banks aren't as picky as most women.
Still, there are few secrets that Elvis can't hack, so when he got curious, he found out who his sperm had produced.
And who knew that hacking and a thirst for social justice were traits that could get passed along? I would have thought those came from nurture, not nature.
But let's pretend genetics work that way. It's better for this narrative.
So Elvis decided, unwisely, to insert himself into his adult daughter's life, and she wasn't interested. So he was content to stalk from afar, never a wise move.
Wendy saw an inherent injustice in the lottery and decided to make it her life's work to create an algorithm to determine what the winning numbers were going to be and to supply those numbers to worthy people, those who are making a difference in others' lives.
Wow! That seems just like something Elvis would do, sticking it to The Man. Quelle surprise!
But her best intentions went awry, because of a perfect storm of circumstances.
Her girlfriend went to a loan shark to borrow money to keep his struggling gamers' club afloat. That certainly seemed like a winning business model, coaxing gamers out of their mothers' basements to come together and play in one place. Doesn't that run contrary to the concept of MMORPGs?
Then one of her winners violated the lottery-club rule about flashing cash. He got killed when he got between Wendy and the loan shark. Since he was a Navy recruiter, NCIS got involved with the case.
Wendy seemed just as skilled as Elvis as a hacker. The two of them working together would have been something.
But instead, Elvis kept running interference for her, even though she didn't want it, and kept Pride and his team from doing what they do best: tracking and protecting Wendy.
She didn't help herself either, refusing Elvis's help and running away from NCIS.
So Elvis fouled up their stakeout and got himself captured by the loan shark instead. Still, he kept leaving clues for Pride to find so that he could get tracked.
'Pride got sucked into this adventure through another unlikely scenario: dropping off case files at the right time to learn about the current case and, well, take over again.
Hannah has learned by now that Pride is her supervisor and he's gonna do what he's gonna do.
Then Pride had to hang around, rather than taking off to New York for Laurel's concert, because he was the only one that Elvis would trust.
Frankly, that was a good call, since the only one there who also liked Elvis was Sebastian. Gregorio doesn't like him at all. Of course, she has a long list of people against whom she harbors grudges.
It was enjoyable listening to Pride and Elvis ruminate about their parenting missteps, with both missing important moments, Pride because of his work and Elvis because, well, he was often a wanted man.
It was good that Wendy's algorithm magically disappeared so she wouldn't have to go to prison. She and Elvis didn't make peace, but it certainly felt like a step forward.
Maybe Wendy could recur next time instead of Elvis, in, say, another year.
To check out Elvis's previous appearances, watch NCIS: New Orleans online.
Were you glad to see Elvis again?
What did you think of Wendy?
Are lotteries flawed?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.