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Review: NCISLA “Unwritten Rule” (S5E5)


Finally, we get to watch the mystery episode that was filmed AFTER season four’s finale. At first, it was thought it could be the first episode of the new season but when pictures and information were leaked on Twitter we found out it was a standalone story to be used sometime during this season. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait very long this year to be introduced to the new Wilson/ Lewis Jaffe offering. Directed by Larry Teng, this episode had a little bit in it for everybody and helped to lighten the darker overtones that started the season.

The backstory of Unwritten Rule is the usual standard fare with a kidnapped girlfriend of a former Navy intel officer (Garrett) to convince him to sell his classified drone navigation designs. Was she being used as a bargaining chip to get the ex-Navy officer to trade military secrets? More unwritten rules are discovered when the real reason for the man’s early service discharge has to do with the $75 million dollars that his new company would be earning due to the initial business deal. After Garrett realizes that his designs would be put to military use, he refuses to sell and he is forced to rethink his decision after his girlfriend is taken hostage. Everyone from former military colleagues to the Chinese government is suspect until the team discovers it’s actually the girlfriend and business partner who set up the scam to get Garrett to hand over the designs to the Chinese.

In this episode, the writers dig a little deeper into Marty Deeks head as he continues to maneuver through the after effects of his initial trauma. Deeks has decided to take to the open road and leave the past behind. He is excited to show off his new acquisition to Callen… a 865 cc, military green motorcycle. (I would love to pet your bike, Deeks!) Unfortunately Deeks doesn’t know the unwritten rule about risky behavior on an agent’s off time and he is dumbfounded to find he should have gotten Hetty’s permission to purchase the vehicle. Playing Easy Rider finally brought back that twinkle in Deeks’ eyes, but his colleagues are more afraid this behavior may be more of a symptom of or a reaction to the after effects of the trauma and the PTSD Deeks suffered at the hands of Sidorov.

Joe Wilson has written some wonderful scenes between Hetty and Deeks in the past, case in point is the final scene of Personal. This episode has a gem of its own as Deeks decides to face Hetty head on regarding his current health and mental status. He tries to convince her that Uncle Marty is back, but she’s still concerned about what’s rumbling around in his heart. Hetty utters very few words during their dialogue which unnerves Deeks. It’s obvious that he hasn’t really worked out his feelings for Kensi since the kiss and the torture. Where once he was so sure about how he felt towards his partner, now he is confused and frightened. When Hetty tells him at the end to get it checked out, she’s not talking about the Raynaud’s.

Kensi is also on pins and needles regarding her partner’s recovery. She is concerned that Deeks’ fascination with motorcycles has more to do with how he is dealing with the PTSD than trying to explain the double standard that Deeks accuses her of perpetuating. Is it really a case of risky behavior or is she being overprotective? He doesn’t want her to worry or feel like she is responsible for keeping him safe. He acquiesces and lets her boss him around, but only because he knows it’s her way of expressing her feelings towards him. Later, when Kensi pushes Deeks out of the way of a speeding van, Deeks admonishes her that he wasn’t being irresponsible….he could have jumped free at any moment with his cat like reflexes. Kensi’s not buying it but decides to take a watch and see attitude for now.

I’m not sure why it is taking Kensi so long to talk about the kiss. It was a game changer in term of taking their relationship to the next level but everyone keeps tippy- toeing around it. We all know Kensi’s phobia towards expressing her feelings and gettin hurt but is she afraid to push Deeks because of all the mental and physical trauma he’s been through? Is she just waiting for the right time? Or are her past relationships still holding her back and preventing her from any commitment. Hard to say…perhaps a bit of both.

The episode’s storyline helped to move the Densi partnership along by getting Deeks to question where he stands in terms of his relationship towards Kensi. The trauma has forced him to put their relationship on the back burner for now. Kensi may be doing her usual avoidance dance, but now so is Deeks. They are tap dancing around each other’s feelings, no longer truly communicating the real meaning behind their words again. I suspect we will eventually get to see the outcome of this behavior in future episodes.

Moments to Mention:
• Although I’m hoping that the Eric/Nell attraction either picks up steam or gets shelved, the geek squad’s fascination with the attractive Ms. Jones was amusing. (I speak geek, these are my people.) Always enjoy Nell out in the field, and this time she gets to shine again. The problem with this is that she seems to be too perfect….nailing every field assignment. It would be interesting to watch Nell fail just once and see how she recovers.
• Loved how Callen and Sam both answer Deeks in unison when he asks if they want to go in the front or back (Ah, partners in sync, I hope we’re that adorable!)
• First time I heard Deeks referred to as Beach Boy. Now that’s adorable!

Densi Face to Face:
Deeks: How come I never heard of this rule before?
Sam: Because you’re not really an NCIS agent.
Kensi: Oooooh! Touché!
Deeks: Yeah, it’s still not how you use the word Touché but you are getting better.

Classic Hetty and Deeks:

This was a special episode to highlight the special Hetty/Deeks interludes that we have come to enjoy and love so much. I had to laugh when Hetty blows Deeks off when he wants to ask her about the bike. (I cherish these conversations. I feel like we’re really bonding as a couple.) When she finally asks him to hand over the keys to the motorcycle (Gimme some sugar!) Deeks is inconsolable. Kind of reminds me of that Beach Boy song that Deeks had his fun, fun, fun until Hetty took his bike away. Like the box, will we ever see the bike again?

Side note: The motorcycle featured in the episode actually belongs to Eric Christian Olsen!

Another classic Hetty/Deeks moment:
Deeks: My head is right…feeling good…feeling strong. Could rock out fifty burpies for you right now if you asked me to.
Hetty: How’s your heart?
Deeks: My heart? My heart’s great, are you kidding me. I’m running sub 5- 30 miles, I got a new road bike, thinking about doing a Malibu iron man. I’m like a Shaolin monk with a young bull mixed with like a very charismatic cheetah.
Hetty: I meant your emotional center.
Deeks: My emotional center? I don’t think I follow.
Hetty: I’m pretty certain you do.
Deeks: Ok, let’s just say for the sake of argument that I do follow you then I would say that it is fine, I would say that it’s better than fine. I would say it’s phenomenal. You heard what I said about the Shaolin monk, right…. with the cheetah? Ok, I understand that you worry about me, more than the others mostly because I’m your favorite, obviously. Don’t say otherwise or it will break my heart. But I want you to know that I’m great, I’m better than great….Kensi’s great.
Hetty: I see.
Deeks: What do you mean…you see? What? Did Kensi say something other to that…because if she says something that contrasts to that I think that’s because at this point it’s difficult to explain…it’s personal feelings that….ok…oh wow….no…I’m not going to fall for this. I’m not one of your other little minions. I’m not gonna fall for your Jedi mind tricks. Is it getting cold in here? Because I feel like it just got rapidly cold in here…like I need ear muffs because my fingers are tingling.
Hetty: Could be early signs of Raynaud’s.
Deeks: What’s that?
Hetty: Look it up….better yet…get it checked out.

Come back next week for my review of Big Brother. Leave your comments regarding this episode. Let us know what you think.


Title: “Unwritten Rule”
Writers: Joseph C. Wilson, Jordana Lewis Jaffe
Director: Larry Teng
Original Air Date: October 22, 2013


Diane Volpe is Contributing Editor at Follow her on Twitter: @phillydi

About Diane (402 Articles)
Founder, Writer and Contributing Editor of wikiDeeks. Always wanted to put together a talented team of writers and graphic designers who loved NCISLA and Marty Deeks in particular! My dream came true! Hope you enjoy what we have created!

10 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Unwritten Rule” (S5E5)

  1. Great review! Loved Deeks’ monologue with Hetty.


  2. You always manage to find the best in an episode and you picked out a couple of my favorite parts. Can’t go wrong with Deeks on a motorcycle no matter what Hetty or the “pack of jackals” have to say. His conversation with Hetty was the best, although it really wasn’t a conversation at all, just his nervous ramblings. I thought the one line that rang true was when he told Hetty he knew she worried about him more than the others. I hope that is true for his sake. The writers haven’t given us much of the kindness that Hetty usually shows toward Deeks this season and I miss that. I did love the ending with Deeks in a sexy new hoodie
    and leather jacket hand slapping Hetty and saying “Give me some sugar”. That was the best. Great to read your reviews again…you were missed.


  3. I really liked the scene with Hetty. Could Deeks have been more adorable as he rambled on, digging himself ever deeper? And yet at the same time there was a sweetness and vulnerability there too. I loved when he told her that he was her favorite, expressing what I want to believe is the case. This scene and the one at the end at least felt like somewhat more typical Hetty-Deeks interactions, compared with her behavior in Impact. Oh, and I really like the longer hair that he was sporting here.

    The scene with Kensi about post-traumatic stress was frustrating, because come on, for how long can she just call herself his “partner”? But at least she addressed the problem he’s dealing with, and more clearly than ever expressed her concern for him. I had assumed after Impact and then Omni, that Deeks was on a straightforward road to recovery, which seemed a little disappointing in that it was so easily taken care of. Now it seems to me that maybe Deeks has continued to struggle, and has expended a lot of effort trying to convince himself, as well as everyone else, that he is fine. I hope they continue to explore this and that we get some more real Deeks angst before he is finally truly good.

    And thanks very much for that photo. I’m not a huge motorcycle fan. I find Harleys unappealing. But that Triumph was unbelievably beautiful and it suited Deeks so perfectly. When I saw the Instagram post from ECO that it was actually his own motorcycle, well, as Deeks once said about Callen’s ex-wife, I think his “hotness meter just went up about a bajillion points.”


    • Karen, your comment about Deeks “hotness” level going up is right on the mark, except I think it’s higher than a bajillion, whatever that may be. We might have to create a new word to describe it. He definitely had the hair working and the outfit. More, please!!!


  4. Oh, FYI I think you have the wrong episode number in your review title, should be 5×05.


    • Actually, 4.25 is the correct episode number. It is consistent with the script associated with it. They filmed this episode at the end of last season, knowing it would air during season five. Episode 5.05 is this week’s episode, “The Livelong Day,” which was filmed before last week’s episode (5.06), “Big Brother.”


  5. awesome job as always dear. the conversation between hetty and deeks was way beyond amazing. I love it when deeks rambles and hetty listening to him and then making him more confuse was just incredible. The last scene on between hetty and deeks was fun an amazing. Love the “give me sugar” part.
    ECO on deeks was a glimpse of heaven for me.
    loved your review. You were really missed


  6. Good job Phillydi . Don’t know why but i have bad feelings when Sam said ‘probably because you’re not really a NCIS agent’. Just my thought.


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