Warning: Post contains minor spoilers
“NCIS: New Orleans” season 4 episode “#1 Fan” opens with Special Agent Dwayne Pride (Scott Bakula) making an uncharacteristic decision. Pride aims to take a weekend fishing trip with his daughter. When a mysterious woman, Martha Roberts (Dendrie Taylor) appears and insists that there’s a serial killer murdering young women in the Gulf of Mexico.
While Roberts insists she’s Pride’s mentee, Dwayne doesn’t recall meeting her. Just before Pride leaves for his trip, Roberts quips “Time to learn things, Agent Pride.” Martha kidnaps pride, tying him up in a remote cabin. From a detailed set of pictures and documents, it’s clear that Martha has been following Pride’s storied career for some time.
Meanwhile, in Pride’s absence, Agents LaSalle (Lucas Black) and Gregorio (Vanessa Ferlito) continue to investigate the murder of Officer Petty Kirk. As per usual, Sebastian (Rob Kerkovich) finds a lead in the case.
Part way through the episode, Pride is rescued by the NCIS New Orleans team. In a surprise move, Pride convinces them to accept Martha’s help.
At the onset, I almost expected a show similar to “Star Trek the Next Generation” episode “Captain’s Holiday.” In a way, it is a similar set up with the captain (Pride in this instance) getting unwittingly dragged into an investigation rather than enjoying his time off.
In Pride’s absence, LaSalle once again proves a worthy replacement. “NCIS: New Orleans” season 4 offers a hearty dose of maturation all around, but particularly for Christopher. He’s no longer the comic relief. Similarly, Sebastian continues to shine and play a meaningful, essential component of the team. Nevertheless, Sebastian remains as geeky as ever, an inclusion I, as a fellow geek, quite appreciate.
Particularly, “NCIS: New Orleans” episode “#1 Fan” delivers a fresh take on mental health. It’s unfortunately still a taboo subject in film and television, and often mishandled. But in “#1 Fan,” the clearly suffering Martha Roberts isn’t treated as a criminal. Despite kidnapping Pride, Roberts is included as a valuable part of the investigation. Later, at the culmination of the episode, Pride encourages her to get help rather than pressing charges.
“#1 Fan” stands out as one of the deeper, more nuanced “NCIS: New Orleans” episodes. Fittingly, it concludes with Pride commenting “can’t let work stop you from living,” when he reveals that the fishing trip will, indeed, happen. A complex case which handles mental illness brilliantly, “#1 Fan” embodies what makes “NCIS: New Orleans” such an enjoyable series.