NCIS: New Orleans interview: Daryl ‘Chill’ Mitchell, Kurt Yaeger reflect, look forward

PattonTonight’s NCIS: New Orleans episode was a powerful story like no other. Through “In Plain Sight,” we had a chance to see a wonderful story of acceptance and overcoming obstacles — especially when it comes to Patton Plame helping out an officer named Kevin Simms who was struggling with being wheelchair bound. He helped to give Kevin a greater sense of purpose in doing battle with some bad guys, and he also helped him to find a greater sense of community.

Leading into this episode, we had a chance to speak with both Daryl “Chill” Mitchell (here) and Kurt Yaeger (here) all about some of what they were excited for viewers to see. Now, we have some additional reflections from the two. Below, Mitchell discusses the powerful themes of visibility that are present here, while Yaeger touches on potentially coming back at the very bottom of this interview.

CarterMatt – I think what this episode did a great job of is just showing the process that someone goes through after realizing that they’re not like everyone else. We see Kevin go through this in a powerful way, and I know for me personally, I’m blind in one eye and legally blind in the other and I had to go through a period of acceptance of that. It’s this feeling of recognizing who you are, and trying to find a way to move forward.

Daryl “Chill” Mitchell – Just like me and you talking, we learn that so many people have so many disabilities and you just can’t see them. They gotta live in silence, but they’re hurting inside. So when you see me, and you want to hold the door for me, or you want to let me in the elevator first, or you want to carry my bag or push me through the airport it’s because you know it’s me and you want to be courteous. All of these things, for the most part, I could do for myself, but people often don’t see other people’s pain. A lot of people need support, but when you look at them you just see a regular person.

I thought about something the other day — wearing eyeglasses is a handicap, but because everybody wears them, they’re just eyeglasses. No! It means your eyes don’t have the ability to see at 100%. Because it’s common, it’s accepted as normal. Eyeglasses aren’t normal! Like what you just said, unless you tell them ‘I’m blind in one eye’ they’re not going to see that. It’s a disability — if everyone took those glasses off, they’d be at a disadvantage.

There are a lot of people in this world where their disability is in their mind or inside their body and you don’t see it. You don’t have compassion for it. I’m glad that people can see mine and they can give me some courtesy, or I can go see somebody and they’ll talk to me. When a therapist tries to talk with me, it’s appreciated but I’m like ‘have you ever been paralyzed?’. ‘No.’ There’s only so much they can help me as a person who’s been paralyzed. Maybe they can help me with some anxiety, but not the actual fact of not being able to able to walk.

There are a lot of people out there, man, and I hope they get a chance to look at this show and say ‘you know what? Let me go deal with this situation.’

What I appreciated the most about the episode is that it both started and ended with an athletic event, with these characters in wheelchairs doing something that a lot of able bodied people wouldn’t do. Did you like how this ended, with Kevin joining you for a game?

Of course. It brings it full circle. Just accept it — you ain’t going to be able to move ahead until you accept it. Come on in and sit down. You’re in the room.

I gotta give a mention to the Paralympic team who came out. We had real players on the floor. I hope this helps people contribute to the Paralympics. They showed up and showed out; it was really cool.

Where else do you want to see the character go moving forward? I know I’d be interested in seeing his romantic life picked up again.

Oh definitely. I’d like to see us get a little more personal, and also when it comes to him living in the city. Patton is big in the city and there are a lot of things about this city that I love that haven’t been explored — things I do and places I go. I be in the Bayou, the water, the woods — I want to explore some of that stuff where Patton is out with his fellow ‘Crocodile Hunters’ and stuff like that. There are so many different things I want to do — to show off more mobility and show that there are so many different things people should get outside and do. There’s a lot to do in this city, and I’d like to see Patton get his own side business, as well. Maybe a computer store or a place where he does some computer repair where you’ve got people with disabilities working.

Would Kurt come back for more?

We asked him this question at the conclusion of our interview, and here is what he had to say:

If they wanted to, I would happily say yes. I think there’s a lot of room for it. I think it would obviously be good for me and my career to heavily recur on a show like this and get mass exposure, but I think the way this character is written lines it up for so many powerful story arcs, whether it’s ‘will he get the help?’ or ‘can he actually help Chill’s character be more and more the man in charge, since they have to go through Chill to get to me since I’m the NOPD guy who gets stuff done?’

My character lost a leg, but his spine is bruised and split, not disconnected. Does that mean that he possibly does recover? Daryl’s character is going to be in a wheelchair no matter what, but let’s say a couple of episodes go by and he’s like ‘[Kevin] hasn’t called me back,’ and then you eventually see me walking in with a cane because the swelling actually went down. What would that do to [Patton]? He lost the person he was helping? He didn’t recover; I did.

For more news on NCIS: New Orleans, including a full review for tonight’s episode, be sure to visit the link here. Also, let us know in the comments what you thought about “In Plain Sight” overall. (Photo: CBS.)

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