Deeks & His Wonder Women: Part Three
Kensi, Hetty and Season 5
Previously we explored the childhood influences behind Marty Deeks’ attraction to strong women and took a look at how that trait exhibited itself in his adult relationships. Today we’ll examine how it’s made him so compatible with Kensi, and how it’s played into his Season 5 relationships with both of the principal women in his life.
A Perfect Partner for Badass Blye
Deeks’ ability to embrace strength makes him quite well-suited for Kensi, as both a work and a romantic partner. Early in their work relationship, fiercely competitive Kensi seems out to prove herself to Deeks, engaging in a bit of “one-upping” in “Black Widow” as she lists all the courses she’s completed. Deeks takes it all in stride; he doesn’t disagree that she’s one-upping him, but neither does he feel the need to list off all the relevant items on his resume, secure in his “street smarts” and on-the-job training. Sure, they both have some big trust issues to work out early on, like in the next episode (“Borderline”) when Kensi is dragging him around the desert and he jumps to the conclusion that she’s gotten them lost. He quickly learns that his “Tonto” knows what she’s doing and lets her take the lead, uttering a single “Awesome” when he gets her to loosen up and joke with him, and as he realizes how truly amazing his new partner is. Such ready acceptance of her abilities is likely a relief to Kensi, even if it takes her half a season (or more) to recognize and embrace it. In Deeks’ eyes by the time he’s shot in “Personal,” she has become “Wonder Woman,” a compliment she tellingly accepts rather than rolling her eyes at his exaggerated choice of words. Kensi’s eventual belief in his faith and confidence allows her to realize that she doesn’t need to work so hard to prove herself. This in turn enables her to relax into their partnership, opening the door to friendship and more.
Deeks is regularly protective of Kensi but until “The Frozen Lake,” he never crosses the line into overprotection, something that Kensi would no doubt see as condescending and sexist. For example, Kensi may have a concussion in “Disorder” and probably should be seen by paramedics, but Deeks supports her questionable decision to chase after the bad guy (although he does sensibly insist on driving). In “The Job,” another partner might have suggested calling off the meet with King after learning about his past murders, but Deeks simply offers words of support, telling Kensi, “I’m gonna be with you every step of the way.” In “Blye, K Part 2” he offers injured Kensi a car so she can pursue the bad guy, and allows her to go off alone to do just that when she asks him to stay with her mother. He’s terribly worried but he supports her, granting her request rather than deciding that he knows what’s best for her.
Kensi’s tragic past has made her incredibly tough, but it’s also resulted in the build-up of those famous walls around her heart. Deeks’ ability to be so comfortable with her strength is one key to getting through them. Kensi would butt heads with anyone as competitive as she is (although she wouldn’t respect someone with less ability or courage). She always seeks control; it makes her feel secure. Deeks is more than happy to cede that control to her, to let her take the lead. His willingness to hand over the reins is likely another product of his painful childhood growing up with no control over the whims of his violent, alcoholic father. He may have learned to live with someone else in control, but he also fears repeating his father’s domineering behavior. Both factors could result in his comfort with a take-charge partner who doesn’t hesitate to take the lead.
With Kensi, he pokes and prods here and there to push their relationship forward, but never goes too far, following her instructions in “Personal” to “respect the pace.” For example, he never makes physical contact; Kensi is the one who punches him or swats his behind. In “Empty Quiver,” he promises to take things more seriously, which gets her to agree to lighten up. In “The Debt” he stops her from revealing too much of herself when she thinks he’s leaving NCIS; he knows that once she finds out the truth, she would regret sharing her feelings. He finally acts on his own feelings in “Descent,” saying what he really means by kissing her. But he only takes this step once Kensi has made it abundantly clear through her jealousy in “Parley,” and her words before she leaves for Iran, that she is unhappy with their status quo as partners. His patience in slowly pushing past her boundaries (even before the wise words of the ghurka in “The Frozen Lake”) allowed him to gain her complete trust and eventually to win over her heart.
Changes Underway: Deeks and the Women of Season 5
Season 5 has been a tumultuous one for all of Deeks’ relationships in the wake of both his torture and his budding romance with Kensi. The season begins with Kensi abandoning him: on the hill post-kiss in “Descent,” in Sidorov’s garage in “Ascension,” in the E.R., and apparently for a number of weeks post-torture (although she does call and drop off a cronut). We have not seen him express any anger about her behavior, but it’s certainly possible that he’d be disappointed that his Wonder Woman partner didn’t channel her fortitude into more protective behavior, or use her strength of character to provide better emotional support. Perhaps Deeks’ quickness to beat himself up when things go wrong (in “Personal” he tells Kensi “It’s one of the things I’m good at”) had him blaming himself: for pushing too far, for getting kidnapped, for not recovering quickly enough.
Given Kensi’s need for control, Deeks waits to push forward again with their relationship until “Recovery,” with the date that isn’t. He doesn’t acknowledge it as a date until Kensi forces his hand, at which point he responds by explicitly communicating what he wants. In the next episode (“The Frozen Lake”), we watch them struggle to balance their romantic relationship with their professional partnership. Deeks uncharacteristically exhibits overprotective behavior when the bad guy holds Kensi at gunpoint. This results in the most livid Kensi we have ever seen. Her punch, when viewed in the context of his childhood history, has to have been quite hurtful. He has always sought out powerful women, but here that choice appears to backfire as Kensi fails to control her anger and acts out in the same way his father would have. He may have gotten used to being hit by his dad, but experiencing something similar from the woman he loves must have, at the very least, surprised and disappointed him.
The other principal woman in his life is Hetty, and that relationship has often been strained this season, for reasons that are still unclear. In previous seasons, Hetty has acted in a very protective, almost maternal, way towards Deeks. She became his “next of kin” at the end of “Personal,” she sought to ensure his long-term employment with her job offer in “Imposters,” and she seemed to act as Densi matchmaker with her “sunshine and gunpowder” note at the end of “Parley.” This season, some of her behavior has seemed unnecessarily cruel. She frightens him in his own apartment in “Impact,” takes away his motorcycle in “Unwritten Rule,” and most importantly sends Kensi away, suddenly and with no explanation, in “The Frozen Lake.” To Deeks, any such behavior might feel particularly hurtful coming from someone who has filled a maternal role possibly better than his own mother could. Like Kensi’s punch, some of Hetty’s actions might have felt like the backfiring of his need to seek out such strong women. That either woman in whom Deeks is so emotionally invested would let him down could cause a sense of betrayal, or at least disappointment, on his part. So far he has not expressed anger at either one. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t felt it, given his reticence to ever express that emotion for fear of bringing Max/his father to the forefront. We will eventually find out whether Hetty’s motives were warranted; perhaps Deeks’ continuing faith in her will be rewarded, just as his faith in other strong women has. We know that things will change again for Densi once Kensi returns; maybe her experiencing a traumatic event will allow him an opportunity to share more feelings about his own painful experiences; those experiences should in any case position him well to be sensitive to her needs and to help her recover.
A Most Appealing Trait
Deeks’ attraction to strength is one of his finest qualities. That it has its origins in pain and suffering lends it a certain bittersweet quality for us viewers, but for the amazing women who’ve been lucky enough to have his attentions, they could only have appreciated it. Deeks’ ability to feel so comfortable with them and to celebrate their strength would have made them feel accepted in a way that they might not regularly experience. The two powerful women foremost in his life at the moment, Kensi and Hetty, have clearly enjoyed being the focus of his affections. Questions remain about the exact state of their current relationships with him, questions that will only be answered as the remainder of the season unfolds, but we’ll all no doubt be rooting for a happy ending for Deeks and his Wonder Women.
There’s still time for a little more analysis:
- How is it that Deeks, who is so driven to protect, manages to avoid being overprotective with Kensi (at least until “The Frozen Lake”)?
- Should Deeks be angry with Kensi for any of her actions this season? Do you think he’d ever express it?
- Given Deeks’ background and the way he sees Kensi’s strength, what went through his mind when she punched him in the jaw?
- What about Hetty? Do you think Deeks is putting too much faith in her decisions? Do you wish that he’d express anger towards her, or at least demand a fuller explanation?
- How does Deeks’ new occasional partner Nell fit into his views? Is he as embracing of her super smarts as he is of Kensi’s feats of physical strength? Might Nell’s recent show of grit in “War Cries” have made him feel more comfortable with her?
Tell us your opinions in the Comments! Special thanks to Sweet Lu and Densiland for their reviews of earlier drafts of this series. Their feedback is most appreciated.
Your analysis never fails to amaze me. What a great series of articles. You made us think and delve into our feelings about Deeks and the women he admires and cares about.
The show has never given us much to go on as far as Deeks’ childhood goes, which leaves us guessing at best, but you have brought up good questions that I hope they eventually get answered. Deeks tends to hide so much of himself, especially details about his childhood, although he has hinted at it, calling his father a “terrible human being” in Ressurrection, and challenging Kensi when she complains about her painful childhood, asking if she wants to get into a crappy childhood contest with him, suggesting that she’d lose. I was shocked when Kensi slugged him in the jaw and still more shocked he never called her on it or blamed her for it. As you said in this piece, he seemed to accept it and I think that bothers me more than her punch. It made me sad, actually. It almost seemed as if he felt he deserved it. I would love to see a scene where Kensi tries to punch him and he physically stops her, leading to a conversation that reveals the reason and more information about what he went through as a child.
As for Hetty, her actions this season have really disappointed me and again made me sad. Deeks comment about him being her favorite should have taken a hit after her lack of empathy and any sign she gave a damn about his torture. That actually shocked me and like you said, he accepted her comments and her actions and that has bothered me. He still kind of struggles to gain her approval and it’s painful to watch when she doesn’t give it or even respond as in Unwritten Rule when he tells her he knows she worries about him more than the others. Does she? I have wondered about that this season, especially in Impact, when she said she didn’t want him back if he wasn’t the same man. That was simply too cruel to accept and it shook me. I have loved Hetty from the beginning, but now, not so much and that makes me sad too. I have high hopes for the rest of the season, let’s hope some of our questions and emotional needs are met.
Another wonderful article with some amazing insight! Keep them coming!
I personally think the scene with Kensi punching Deeks in the mouth was the most surprising scene this season… so far. Not sure what was going thru Kensi’s head at that point in time! She crossed the line of physical contact with that act, a lot more aggressive than just a punch in the shoulder. Not only does he not want to hit a women based on his childhood experiences, but Kensi also decided to “hit” him in the one area where he was tortured before and had dental work done afterwards. I actually expected Deeks to possibly have a panic attack after that happened. Then, to top it off, she walks away from him without a word said after the punch. Bet that drive back to OPS was an interesting ride!
Thanks Sweet Lu and jrwjr. You both raise interesting points about the punch. I would love to see a scene like the one Sweet Lu envisions where he stops her from punching him again, but I’m afraid that will only exist in the mind of some fan fiction writers and not on our TV screens. We’ll see. And Sweet Lu, I completely share all your thoughts, feelings, and wishes about Hetty. I would be so happy if any of my many “emotional needs” can be met before the end of the season!
Great analysis, as always.
“How is it that Deeks, who is so driven to protect, manages to avoid being overprotective with Kensi (at least until “The Frozen Lake”)?”
Absent background info on his parents, one can only speculate. However, I wonder if his mother was abused – did he feel the need to protect her, a role that he was still too young to fulfill? Is it then a comforting contrast to be with a “Wonder Woman” who can protect herself?
Dr. Brenda, this is one question I really don’t have a theory for. Are you saying that these women are so the opposite of his mom that he actually sees them as almost invincible? I’d love to hear more about your theory.
OK, so I’m new here and I don’t want to be annoying…but I’ve spent a lot of time in my professional life studying about and working with individuals who have experienced various sorts of trauma, especially as children, so that informs my perspective. Here is what I am thinking….There is a variety of responses to childhood abuse/trauma. Some children experience what is known as “parentification” – where they take on parental roles and either assume responsibility for younger siblings or feel responsible for a parent who is ill/abused. This is obviously stressful for the child because they lack the maturity and resources to fulfill they role they are assuming. As adults, they may have an “over-responsible” nature. Alternatively some feel like they don’t want to be responsible for others – e.g. determined not to have kids because they already fulfilled the parental role. Some resent both the abuser and the victim for not allowing them to have a childhood and having to grow up too soon and be too responsible too soon. In terms of their life as a whole – some childhood abuse/trauma survivors spend their whole lives unconsciously recreating the chaos they lived in as children. Some appear to function normally as adults, determined to have a completely different life than their childhood, but have a high tolerance for stress/chaos.
So – in relation to Deeks: he has a pretty crazy job but a functional life, so that is consistent with the high tolerance for stress/chaos of an abuse survivor, but obviously one who has fairly effectively coped with his prior trauma as his life is fairly stable. He doesn’t talk about his mom, so who knows what she was like. But I wonder if having a partner, like Kensi, who is very strong and capable, feels “safe” for two reasons: 1) she could take him, so he is not going to end up abusing her because she would not allow it. This is “protection” against becoming the monster his father was. 2) She can take care of herself and is the anti-thesis of the weak victim who needs his protection. He clearly has an affinity for the weak and down-trodden, as seen in his work. But he might not want that in his personal life because he’s already “been there, done that” and wants a life that is the opposite of his childhood, so no needy girlfriends. The strong woman is the guarantee that he’s not going to end up shouldering the responsibility for someone who is overly-dependent and unable to fend for herself, thus avoiding a repeat of the “crappy childhood” scenario he has already lived through.
to be honest, I don’t think Hetty going to his apartment was cruel. Yeah she scared him, but he wasn’t answering anyone’s calls and she just wanted to check on him. She knew that he wouldn’t open the door since he didn’t with Kensi, so she probably thought that the way she did it was the only way to get into contact with him. And I also don’t think it the whole taking of the motorcycle was cruel either. You mention that she has like a maternal roll in his life and what do mothers do? They protect. They also, well at least most, don’t do favorites. She was doing just that. She, in her mind, was protecting him by taking the motorcycle away and she wasn’t playing favorites since she made the rule of being safe out of the workplace for everyone, not just him.
Now, the whole thing with sending Kensi away…..I just don’t get that. That………I don’t know……that was just confusing! LOL
Thanks mountaingirl for your faith in Hetty. It helps me to hear other people expressing that, as I have been questioning her so much this season. I’ll grant you that the motorcycle was all about protecting Deeks. But I found the scaring him and the way she talked to him in his apartment in Impact to be oddly cold. She made him feel guilty about leaving Kensi alone, and told him he needed to decide soon whether he wanted to come back. Maybe it was her attempt at tough love, but the look on his face when she said that just killed me- he was really hurt. At any rate, I think the whole Kensi decision will at least eventually be explained more fully, which I really look forward to. And I do have a few more theories about Hetty’s behavior, but I’ll save them for my next article, all about Deeks and Hetty’s special relationship. Thanks for reading!
heh, just because I have faith in her doesn’t mean I agree with everything she does. I just try to see the light in the darkness. I mean, I wouldn’t really want to be around a person who somehow knows everything.
a little speculation, I bet she will turn in a resignation again (she did it when Dom was missing and she did it with Callen….I believe she did it one other time, but I can’t remember when) and maybe she will be the one to leave……or maybe leave for a time (they didn’t say that the person leaving was leaving indefinitely…..).
I am loving this series of articles. I love your walk through past episodes, knitting together all the impressions we viewers have been given. Amazing analysis. The progression through the seasons for Deeks and the women in his life, especially Kensi and Hetty is fascinating. The writers have done an outstanding job in bringing us along.
I agree that Deeks is protective of his women when it is warranted and at the appropriate time. Deeks has the discipline to be an LAPD liaison and do his job. Deeks understands Kensi’s need to prove herself as good or better than any other agent. She is “kick-ass Kensi” amidst all the male agents in the field and therefore he has her back. He supports her in the field as an agent and not as a ‘female’ agent. In the field, they have a job to do and they each do it trusting that their partner has their back. However, once the case is closed, Deeks is protective and demonstrates it by showing up at Kensi’s place with a shake, a burger for him and beers. He also steps in during a case when he sees Kensi going off track as in “Blye part 1&2” . He tries to “bring her in” and he is scared that she is on a mission that could end badly. However, he “gets” what she is going through and his presence and support allows Kensi to continue and end the mystery about her Father’s death.
In the field, they have a job to do and they do it well. The spilling over of any personal feelings/actions during a case has been fascinating to watch. It gives us a glimpse into what is going on inside their heads but there is the struggle to be professional and at their best as an agent on the case. Therefore, I was thrown off balance when Kensi punched Deeks but quickly adjusted as the scene unfolded. Kensi was right that he had the shot and any other day, all day long, Deeks would have taken the shot, but…it’s not any day, is it? The punch did serve the purpose of allowing the two of them to examine whether they can work together and move forward in a personal relationship. The “frozen lake” analogy gave Deeks the clarity and discipline to do his job as an agent. When the bullet went ‘zinging’ past Kensi’s head, he was all business. Deeks, the LAPD cop is back and in control. At that moment, I knew that they can work together in the field and still have a relationship. Alas, that is not to be…but fingers crossed.
As for Hetty, I am still a fan and I trust her years of experience and I do trust her training. When she said that she didn’t want him back, I understood that “business is business”, NCIS is not an office desk job, it is a job that requires a clear head, quick thinking and reflexes. I also thought that she was reminding Nate of that so that his sessions with Deeks would accelerate his progress towards recovery. It’s easy to have empathy and cut people slack when they go through a traumatic experience and Hetty was making sure that Deeks was on his way to recovery. Hetty knows that Deeks respects her and therefore when all of Kensi and the team’s efforts to contact Deeks failed, she appeared. I thought Hetty was quite gentle with Deeks. I do believe that Hetty has a soft spot for Deeks and although she insists that she doesn’t play favorites, she gave Deeks the satellite phone to contact Kensi. If that isn’t playing favorites, what is? 😉
This is just fascinating stuff. Love everyone’s comments. And the photos are awesome as well 😊
Mountaingirl, you made me laugh with your comment about being around someone who knows everything. I agree, it seems pretty creepy.
Dr. Brenda, you are so far from annoying- your perspective and ideas are very much appreciated! The different outcomes you described for recreating or avoiding childhood stress are fascinating. And I definitely see Deeks’ high tolerance for that stress. Your words make me even more curious to find out more about his mom.
Reader1976, thanks for your kind words. I agree that for all the complaining I might occasionally do about the writing, when you look at the arc that Deeks and Densi have traveled since the end of Season One, it’s quite impressive. I really like your observation about the discipline that Deeks displays in refraining from over-protectiveness, and the respect he has for Kensi that motivates him to treat her as an equal partner. Your perspective on the punch as a catalyst that forced them to talk about their changing work dynamic is also interesting. I’d like to think that it wasn’t necessary to force the frozen lake conversation, but your thoughts definitely put a different spin on things. And another Hetty backer- I love it! I just wish I could see her through your and mountaingirl’s eyes- I really do want to believe that Deeks is her favorite.