Don’t worry good readers, PhillyDi will be back soon with her amazing reviews. In the meantime, just consider me “sort of a temp.”
It’s no secret that fans are waiting impatiently for the looming showdown in Afghanistan, something we’ve been hearing about since the season began. Given the level of distraction generated from obsessing about Densi’s fate for so long, this episode was a solid effort to keep us entertained, and to keep the impending anxiety at bay a little while longer. Joseph C. Wilson, a writer capable of epic Deeks episodes like Plan B and Personal, as well as completely Deeks-free ones like The Gold Standard, gave us some fine Deeks moments with a nice range of emotion, from silly to serious, from frustrated to worried. But before we focus on Deeks, let’s cover the plot.
The Story This Week
We open with the assassination of an ATF agent named Kevin Clark. He was part of a joint task force investigating Navy sailors running into trouble while on shore leave, engaging in criminal activity and becoming easy targets for blackmail. The team follows leads involving Japanese yakuza, a gang informant, and a career criminal/“street level independent contractor.” The investigation ends with Sam going undercover as a sailor out for a good time. When his cover is blown, Deeks and Callen launch a successful rescue operation that also keeps scores of other undercover agents safe and brings down the ATF agent on the take. But enough about plot. For me it’s all about the characters…
The Three Amigos
Since Kensi’s departure, Deeks has been working more closely with Sam and Callen. And while the teasing hasn’t slowed, its tone has changed. You can sense their fondness for him now, and Deeks feels it too. The post-credit opening has Sam and Callen needling him about missing Kensi and not being “on the same page” with them during an op. Deeks responds by describing them as his two older brothers. We’ve all wanted to see this type of relationship between Deeks and the two older men, but might this be the first time any of them have actually used the word “brother?” It makes me unbelievably happy for Deeks that he’s gained such a feeling of family (even if I’m not sure that Callen has done much to earn the moniker). As they walk out of the armory, Deeks looks genuinely frustrated, raising his arms above his head and cursing, just like a little brother whose big brothers won’t let him win an argument.
Throughout the episode, there is quite a lot of discussion about Deeks’ job satisfaction. The job references actually started in the previous episode (“Fish Out of Water”), when Sam referred to him as a federal agent, and Talia the DEA agent encouraged him to check out the DEA as a potential employer. Here Deeks complains repeatedly about having multiple cases in a day, with Sam reminding him that he’s not a real agent, Callen observing that Deeks doesn’t seem to like his job, and Sam offering that he might not be “cut out for the job.” The less inspired final scene also contains similar references to his “employment status.” It feels like the guys are trying to do all they can to hint at and pressure Deeks to finally become an agent, an official part of the team (and the family). It’s as if they’ve fully accepted him and want to make it official. Or maybe that’s just my wishful thinking?
The Partner Parade
ATF Agent Stone gives Deeks a key reason for Agent Clark’s murder: “Clark was working without a partner when he should have been.” In Kensi’s absence, Deeks has rarely worked solo, instead moving through an apparently endless series of temporary partners. This episode was no different, as he bonds with his latest partner, Agent Bauer, joking about his “casual Tuesday” undercover biker outfit. When they finally need to work together, they do so effortlessly, creating a (very funny) distraction, taking down the guards, and arresting the main bad guy.
Deeks also gets to partner with Callen to back up Sam, even sharing a wee bit of banter: when Callen warns him about talking to strangers, he replies with a sarcastic “Thanks, Dad.” They too work well together, connecting the clues to realize that Sam may have walked into a trap, with Deeks stressing their need to be prepared to come to Sam’s rescue. They time the diversion perfectly, working in sync and definitely “on the same page.” But when has Deeks ever not worked in sync with his teammates when things turn serious?
Finally, Deeks is worried about his real partner. I loved the emotions that played out on his face as he hesitated about whether to ask Nell about Kensi. Nell seemed at a loss for words for how to reassure him: is she as worried as he is? “I imagine she’s safe… I mean, she’s a big girl,” are not exactly convincing clichés. To his credit, Deeks stayed professional and focused on his job despite his apprehension.
Kensi Goes AWOL
Speaking of Kensi, the writers and show runners have done an impressive job handling Daniela Ruah’s maternity leave so creatively. They’ve managed to include her in every episode, even if just barely so. To paraphrase Agent Stone, Kensi too has been working without a partner when she should have been, and now she’s disappeared from the base. She seems to be on her own personal mission, we assume to find out what her ex-fiancé is up to and why she’s been ordered to kill him. She’s walked straight into the Wolf’s den, taking an unbelievable risk. I don’t think Deeks would approve! Not since the lasers of “Deliverance” has Kensi looks as scared as she does when she climbs down off her horse and into the custody of the bad guys, and rightfully so. I wonder if her completely unprofessional behavior, not to mention utter failure to complete her mission (at least so far) will carry any professional repercussions.
- Was it just me, or did Agent Clark bear an odd resemblance to Deeks, complete with blond hair, beard, and plaid shirt?
- Might Deeks’ offer of “bottomless pitchers at O’Malleys” mean that he, Sam and Callen have been spending some regular off-hours time together?
- I liked the slightly random use of parkour when Sam and Callen chased down the informant. It reminded me of Callen’s opening dream sequence in “Human Traffic.”
- Deeks just doesn’t seem to be able to stay cleaned up. When he’s not playing a janitor or a homeless man, he’s in (or on top of) a dumpster. This was the third time I can think of, the others being “The Watchers” and “Purity.”
- Deeks is always funny when faking an accident, just as he was in “The Job” when he pretended his soccer career had been ruined. I bet he was a little bitter seeing Agent Bauer getting to ride his motorcycle though (I know I was).
- Callen (and COD) did a nice job on the ledge, similar (but not quite 10-stories-up-impressive) to Deeks/ECO in “The Debt.”
- When Sam got tasered, my mind immediately went to seeing him electrocuted in Descent. Not a happy memory.
- Nice job Sam did faking out the bad guy by taking the bullets out of his gun. Looks like I’m not the only Die Hard fan out there.
Deeks: You know what? I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have two older brothers… That I hated. Now I know… Isn’t there some sort of agent union mandate that prohibits like multiple cases without like a massage in between?
Sam: “Yeah, but it doesn’t matter, you’re not an agent.”
Deeks: I just keep opening the doors, you just keep walking through ‘em.
I’ve got nothing… Except, I have to believe that when Deeks was sitting down at his desk as everyone else was getting up to leave, he was planning to try to text Kensi again. I’m glad we didn’t see it though- it’s way too sad to think about.
Buckle up everyone, it’s going to be a crazy few weeks.
Title: “Between the Lines”
Writers: Joseph C. Wilson
Director: Dennis Smith
Original Air Date: March 18, 2014