Why the Body Stitchers Case Is Working So Well on ‘NCIS: LA’

Body Stitchers Case on 'NCIS: Los Angeles'
Spoiler Alert
Ron P. Jaffe/CBS

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for NCIS: Los Angeles Season 14 Episode 3 “The Body Stitchers.”]

When we think of NCIS: LA, we think of explosions. But with an ongoing case — first introduced in Season 9 and continued in the latest episode — the only words we can use to describe everything that’s going down are very disturbing.

As introduced in “The Monster” in Season 9, there’s a network of serial killers who chop up bodies and sew the parts back together in a twisted Frankenstein — and people pay to attend the unveilings of the “art.” What’s worse: The team is constantly one step behind them. The latest episode again ends with (some of) these killers still out there and planning something much worse in the future.

So much about the case is different than what we’re used to seeing on the CBS drama, which is partly why we can’t help but be hooked. Here’s why the case is working so well:

Cliffhanger After Cliffhanger

In Season 9, the team realized that the killers were actually people they’d spoken to during the course of their investigation, and they were still on the loose when the episode faded to black. Now, in Season 14, the team does end up with one of those people in custody, while another slits his own throat and a third is shot by, at the time, an unknown person. The fourth is still free.

And now “The Body Stitchers” ended with Sam (LL Cool J) realizing that FBI Forensic Psychologist Mark Collins (JD Cullum) from the BAU is actually “Vincent,” the “Master” of the network … but it was too late. Collins was already planning the next steps for he and the others, and it sounded like both NCIS and the FBI will only have the chance to catch them when they make their horrifying return.

NCIS: LA has had investigations that stretch across multiple seasons before — remember the mole and the CIA? — but there’s something about this one, something that seemed like it should have been a one-off case but instead is something that places the team on shaky ground (and haunts them), that makes the fact that it does so stand out above those.

Eric Christian Olsen, Alicia Coppola, Daniela Ruah, Caleb Castille, Medalion Rahimi, and JD Cullum in 'NCIS: Los Angeles'

Michael Yarish/CBS

It’s Unsettling

Crime scenes can get bloody, watching team members — including Sam, Kensi (Daniela Ruah), and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) — get tortured during cases is tough, and Kessler’s (Frank Military) sickening threats may make us want to look away, but none of that has anything on the visuals from the Body Stitchers. From the stitched-up bodies to just thinking about what these killers are doing, there’s a reason why Kensi said, “sickest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, put all of us in a very dark place,” upon hearing they were back in “The Body Stitchers.”

Even the Predictable Takes a Turn

Honestly, there was something off about Collins from the beginning and enough moments sprinkled throughout that the reveal that he is “Vincent” wasn’t surprising. However, we weren’t expecting just how twisted he was. As Sam realized the truth, we saw Collins talking to Albert “Al” Barrington (Rob Nagle) — the only one from Season 9’s group to still be free — and Michael Jeffries (Derrick A. King) about his plans for their return to the spotlight.

Because of Collins’ position in the investigation, he was able to manipulate Barrington’s profile as to where he would be heading. “We did good. Got rid of the idiot amateurs who were going to get us caught,” the psychologist said. (He was the one to kill one of their own.) “We’re going to lay low for a very long time now. … Eventually, when we do come back together, I’m thinking that we stop making conventional bodies. I mean, why make a body with two arms when you can make one with five arms? Three legs? Maybe a head growing out of a stomach? Think about it. What would Picasso or Dalí do?” (We’re both looking forward to and dreading what’s coming up next with them after that.)

Familiar Faces for Us to Worry About

Not only are the killers familiar — “The Body Stitchers” left one from “The Monster” in custody, meaning we could see Cindy Ferguson (Teya Patt) again before Vincent and the others’ “eventual” return — but it also brings back longtime franchise vet Alicia Coppola (who plays FBI Senior Special Agent Lisa Rand and was Lieutenant Commander Faith Coleman on JAG, then NCIS). And we have to admit: We’re glad that right now Rand can come back again because we definitely worried that at one point, one of her body parts would end up in one of the Stitchers’ artworks — though that could still happen.

NCIS: Los Angeles, Sundays, 10/9c, CBS