Review: NCIS: New Orleans "Rogue Nation"
4.5Overall Score

NCIS: New Orleans” season 4 returns with one of the best episodes in its four-season run. Picking up from where “NCIS: New Orleans” season 3 left off with “Poetic Justice,” Special Agent Dwayne Pride (Scott Bakula) is on leave after his unconventional, and less than legal takedown of Mayor Hamilton (Stephen Weber).

As “Rogue Nation” opens, a military escort is hijacked. While investigating, the NCIS New Orleans team discovers that the big rig stolen in the heist was filled with nuclear waste. Special Agent Paula Boyd (Becky Ann Baker), filling in for Pride, quickly hands the case over to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. DHS asserts that chatter suggests the caper is an ISIS act and that the nuclear waste is a dirty bomb. Further, it’s believed that the bomb is destined for a city other than New Orleans.

But NCIS believes otherwise. As such, they choose to continue their investigation through unofficial channels. As Agent Sona Percy (Shalita Grant) states matter of factly, “So we’re going rogue again.”

From the onset, there’s a renewed energy which permeates “NCIS: New Orleans” for its season 4 opener. “Rogue Nation” begins with Percy, Sebastian Lund (Rob Kerkovich), and Tammy Gregorio (Vanessa Ferlito) in the NOLA NCIS office. Frustrated, Percy exclaims that she’s unable to find the forms she’s supposed to fill out. “Did you try form 5480/26e?” It’s a refreshing change of pace with Sebastian assuming more work in the field or NCIS office, and less in the lab with corner Dr. Loretta Wade (C. C. H. Pounder).

There’s a ton of chemistry between Gregorio and Percy. Several times, the two say the same thing at the same time, and at the conclusion of “Rogue Nation,” Percy and Gregorio agree to become roommates. The unacknowledged romance between Percy and Chris LaSalle (Lucas Black) remains a prominent subplot. Even Gregorio comments of Percy’s love life, “Oh, you’re looking, you just need to get things straight with LaSalle first.” Credit not only the actors on this but the “NCIS: New Orleans” writers.

I enjoy how Pride gets back into the action. As Dwayne explains to Patton Plame, aka “Triple P” (Daryl “Chill” Mitchell), he needs some time off to figure out his state of mind. But when New Orleans faces a threat that’s ignored by both the FBI and DHS, it’s Pride who must once again save the city. It’s at the encouragement of his team, as well as interim Mayor Taylor (Amanda Warren) that Pride returns. When Pride makes an unofficial return, LaSalle says what we’re all thinking: “Good to see you back in the saddle again, King.”

Observations:

If “Rogue Nation” is any indication, “NCIS: New Orleans” season 4 is poised to be one of the series’s finest entries. There’s a new opening which features clips from its third season, but that’s not all that’s fresh. The team seems to have come into their own. A great chemistry really pops between Gregorio and Percy, and I like how the sexual tension between LaSalle and Percy continues.

Sebastian is notably more confident in his fieldwork, yet underneath he’s as goofy and geeky as ever. Similarly, LaSalle seems to have graduated from comic relief to a strong sidekick for Pride. In Dwayne’s absence, it’s LaSalle who fills those shoes.

Bakula truly shines in “Rogue Nation,” not only as Special Agent Pride but as series producer. Plus, there’s a delightful scene featuring Bakula singing and playing the keyboard. Bakula is no stranger to stage work with a background in theatre, and it’s fun seeing Pride display this element of his persona.

I enjoy interim Mayor Taylor, who I suspect will become the new mayor of the city before the season’s over. While Special Agent Boyd vacates the NCIS New Orleans field office at the end of the episode, I doubt she’s gone for long. In fact, I rather hope she reappears since Boyd and Pride share a storied past. Ultimately, “NCIS: New Orleans” season 4 started off strong with “Rogue Nation.”

Your turn: What did you think of “NCIS: New Orleans” episode “Rogue Nation?”