The transition has officially begun on NCIS: New Orleans Season 4 Episode 18, all wrapped up in a mission south of the border.
In case you somehow missed it, Shalita Grant is leaving the series.
Unlike when Zoe McLellan bolted during the summer between NCIS: New Orleans Seasons 2 and 3, the producers have had the opportunity to make Percy's exit feel more organic to the narrative.
That is, if by organic I mean hitting viewers over the head with it for about 10 minutes an episode. Subtle, no. Effective, yes.
Related: NCIS: New Orleans' Shalita Grant Exits
First, let's talk about the mission (case feels a little small for an international, inter-agency effort) that intermittently interrupted the departure drama.
Any mission that started with a middle-of-the-night call and vague directions was bound to be complicated, and this one was.
So Pride called Sebastian, who would be slightly more effective than Loretta in a firefight, and Percy. Only he got Gregorio instead, because, well, Percy had a thing. Gregorio actually said a personal meeting she couldn't get out of, but still that doesn't fly. (And neither did Percy. Yuck, yuck, yuck!!)
With that weak-ass excuse and his earlier orders, Pride must have had his fill of vagueness for one day.
It turned out that he had been recommended as an investigator by a dead man, Lt. Daryll Watkins, who Pride had kept from being wrongly convicted of a crime sometime in his colorful past. The legend grows.
Watkins wasn't there to greet Pride since he had been cut down during an ambush at a druglord's compound. It seemed the druglord had somehow been tipped off that the army was coming to arrest him.
Related: NCIS: New Orleans Season 4 Episode 17 Review: Treasure Hunt
So Pride had to find the mole in this super-secret drug indiction unit, in Argentina, I think.
Fortunately, there were quite a few survivors of the raid, so Pride had a healthy-sized pool through which to sort.
Here's where the investigation should have ended. There was a CIA agent on the raid, and the CIA agent always does it. It's like in TV Scriptwriting for Dummies. Then they could have just gone back in for Watkins' body unmolested and called it a day.
Sebastian and Gregorio instead had to shift through the candidates, with first the token local, then Watkins' No. 2, Green Beret Sydney Halliday, falling under suspicion.
Everything pointed to Halliday, but Pride knew in his gut she was innocent. And, whatta ya know, the sneaky CIA agent was setting her up.
Pride convinced the colonel in charge to take everyone involved in the first mission, including the two suspects, back on a mission to retrieve Watkins' body and his laptop with all the secrets on it.
That was when Connolly, the CIA agent, revealed himself to everybody but the viewers, who had figured it out when he first appeared. Halliday, for some reason not in handcuffs although under arrest, shot Connolly after Benecio, the local she had accused earlier, takes a bullet meant for her.
MIssion accomplished, much later than necessary.
Related: Watch NCIS: New Orleans Online: Season 4 Episode 17
Next, let's go back to Percy's ill-kept secret. The path to her leaving has been lit up like an airport runway.
As Percy's roommate, of course Gregorio knew, so she could run interference for her.
Then Percy told LaSalle, who acted all hurt that he didn't find out before her BFF.
When talking to Patton, LaSalle made it all about himself, fearing that Percy was leaving because he had rejected her. Christopher, she's moved on from you. She outgrew your charms. Percy's gotten more action this season than you have.
At the same time, Percy talked to Loretta to get some of that homey wisdom that is in far too short supply around headquarters.
Pride was the next to the last to find out (Sebastian with the ear plugs was naturally last). Fortunately, Isler had given him a head's-up so he wasn't totally in the dark.
That's only right, since Isler threw her the lifeline back on NCIS: New Orleans Season 4 Episode 15.
So we now know Percy will be off to the FBI's International Unit (FBI: Beyond Borders has a catchy ring to it).
Fortunately, her replacement was featured in this episode. Sydney Halliday knows how to follow orders, unless they are contradicted by her moral compass (sound familiar?). She's getting cashiered from the Army, and will be adrift, looking for new ways to serve.
At least the producers resisted having Pride give her his card.
Yep, color-by-number storytelling.
Still, based on one episode, I think she'd be a good replacement for Percy. She seemed to have captured Pride's respect, and she's looking for a new commanding officer to follow.
To catch up on this season, watch NCIS: New Orleans online.
What do you think of how Percy's exit has been handled? Do you like Sydney as her replacement? What else do you want to see covered over the rest of the season? Comment below.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.
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