As fans of NCIS Los Angeles, we all have our favorite episodes that stand out and speak to us more than others. These are the episodes we love because of the moments they give us regarding our favorite relationships, or the intriguing character development that comes with exciting and interesting plot twists that make an episode stand out in our minds more than others. These are the scripts that are watched over and over again and contain magical scenes with lines that are burned into the memories of fans’ minds forever.
It’s easy to focus on the actors who give breath to these scenes, but we here at wikiDeeks would like to take a step back and focus on the writers for a change. They are the ones who write for Deeks and Densi the dialogue and moments that NCIS:LA fans cherish so much. This is the first in a two-part series in which we will touch on some of our favorite writers of the show and why their Densi-centric episodes are so special to us. In this first part we will examine two of the foremost Densi writers: Dave Kalstein and Frank Military.
I think the most obvious first choice of many Densi and NCIS:LA fans for our favorite scriptwriter would be Dave Kalstein. He has been with the show since the beginning and has written many key moments and scenes in the Deeks/Kensi storyline as they have continued down their journey to something more than “just partners." Kalstein is also responsible for episodes that really explore Deeks' character and give us insight into his history.
One of the first major episodes that gave us a look into Deeks’ past was "Plan B" (co-written with Joey Wilson). In this episode Deeks assumes an old alias in order to protect his childhood best friend. We really start to realize there are many layers to the Deeks’ onion here. This is where we meet alter ego Max Gentry and for the first time see a mean and violent side of Deeks which he tries to hide from Kensi. Kalstein’s writing really lets viewers into these characters' past lives as we learn more of what made them the people they are today. wikiDeeks contributor Lindy feels, “His writing opens up the character and lets us see inside his mind and his emotions. He gave us a look at a vulnerable character, one we root for because he isn't a one dimensional character.”
While Deeks may be relied upon for comic relief on many occasions, there are times when he can show another side and have a completely different persona. Kalstein realizes the importance of not making Deeks overly silly. There are reasons why Hetty wants Deeks on the team, and Kalstein makes sure we know why in episodes such as "The Debt" where Deeks is forced to leave the team to go undercover without Kensi's knowledge. He effectively shows us what a valuable asset Deeks is and how Kensi struggles with her emotions when it comes to their partnership.
The trust that exists in the Kensi and Deeks partnership is never more on display than in this Kalstein-penned episode. In "The Debt," Kensi finds herself faced with “more than partner” feelings when Deeks is taken off the team and works tirelessly to help clear her partner’s name. We see the favor returned when Kalstein wrote the concluding episode to "Blye, K: Part 2." As Lindy notes, “He shows us a deep connection between Kensi and Deeks, one that's real and raw.”
Finally, one cannot do an analysis of our favorite Kalstein episodes without touching on the episode that was a game changer for Densi…"The Frozen Lake." Kalstein had the responsibility of living up to fans’ lofty expectations by showing us how Deeks and Kensi's partnership changed after presumably their first night spent together. With expectations high, he stepped up to the challenge and gave fans a real treat. While there was no physical contact between the two during the episode, there were many great Densi moments as these two struggled to figure out where they both stand now that their relationship stepped up to the next level. Kalstein did a great job of showing how each of them were struggling with this transition, both on their own, and as a team. As wikiDeeks writer Mel points out, “he gets how they compliment each other, but how they are really very different people.” In fact, some of the episode’s strongest parts weren’t even in Kalstein’s words, but in what he didn’t have the characters say. Lindy points out that he “writes scenes for both of them that allow the actors to express their feelings without any words and he knows they can handle that, respecting them for the fine actors they are.”
Overarching the entire episode was the metaphor of the 'frozen lake' which is the reason why, according to wikiDeeks' Contributing Editor Diane, “'The Frozen Lake' was my all-time favorite Densi episode! It symbolized what was going on in Densi's relationship so perfectly." Ultimately, Deeks and Kensi both realize that they can slowly work their way across this frozen lake and are willing to work and fight for their "thing." To me, Kalstein really kept the characters true to themselves not only in the way they dealt with the aftermath but as they struggled to come out of their comfort zone and decide to move forward. It’s safe to say that when fans see an upcoming Kalstein episode, we know we’re in for a treat!
One of the main turning points in the Densi relationship was the finale in Season 4 and the subsequent aftermath in the Season 5 premiere. These episodes, “Descent” and “Ascension,” were both penned by Frank Military. In the finale, “Descent,” we witnessed Kensi and Deeks finally confronting their feelings straight on. It’s almost as if Military could hear the fans and was speaking for us. Kensi’s frustration over Deeks “never saying what he means” finally got it out in the open that these two definitely have something special going on. There was no more dancing around. Military did a great job of showing that actions really do speak louder than words when Deeks finally walks right up to Kensi and kisses her leaving no doubt as to what he wanted to say.
Military followed up “Descent” with the action packed season opener, “Ascension.” The expectations were high and as Lindy points out, Military “doesn’t shy away from harsh reality” and he’s “not afraid to show that things can go wrong and the consequences the characters suffer because of that.” Military set things up beautifully for Season 5 and really gave fans some heartbreaking scenes between Densi. It was almost painful to watch Kensi have to tell Deeks that he needs to sit in the chair a little longer and at the end to hear Deeks admit to Kensi “that place I went to in my head to, uh, stop the pain, was you” pretty much broke all of our hearts.
Military is also responsible for earlier gems such as “The Job” which, for Diane, was the episode “which made me fall in love with Densi. That episode made me realize Deeks loved Kensi, even if he didn’t know it yet. He was so protective of her in that episode. It was a turning point in their relationship.” Mel goes on to say how Military’s script showed that “not even a year into knowing her (Kensi) and his (Deeks) reactions when Kensi was in danger were so interesting and telling.” It seems that if there are serious situations that need to be dealt with when it comes to Densi then there’s no one better suited than Military. All we have to do is look at last week’s episode, “Spoils of War,” which will always be remembered as one of the best episodes ever written for Deeks. The raw emotions displayed on screen by all the characters during this episode brought the show to an even higher level of fan devotion. The script was an important next step in the Densi storyline.
Let us know what your favorite Kalstein and/or Military episode is and why? Join in the conversation! Next week Dave Kalstein will join wikiDeeks for an exclusive interview with our writers as we ask him some hard hitting questions about Deeks and Densi and how he writes for these two characters in particular. In Part Two, we will also take a look at some of the other outstanding Densi writers such as Joe Wilson, R. Scott Gemmill, Gil Grant and don’t forget Shane Brennan. See you then!