Dave Kalstein once told me on Twitter that if Deeks was a real person they would probably be best friends. I remember finding this statement both revealing and endearing because it told me a lot about the writer and a little bit about the man too. As a writer he gets a chance to mold this fictional character into one that he truly understands inside and out... his likes, his dislikes, his joys, his sorrows. But as a friend, it also told me the kind of company Dave likes to keep... compassionate, brave-hearted champions who love life and always give more than they take. Surely this is a composite of our hero Marty Deeks? Yes, no surprise why Dave and Deeks would be BFFs!
In last week’s feature story about Our Favorite Writers of NCIS: LA, wikiDeeks contributors touched on a few of the reasons why Kalstein scripts stand out among some of the other writers when it comes to telling the story of our favorite character. Kalstein has a unique perspective of what makes Deeks such a special part of NCIS: LA, and this prompted us to come up with a few questions that are guaranteed to get the Densi Fans out there talking, including that controversial punch in “The Frozen Lake”! Let’s see what he has to say….
Eric Christian Olsen is an impressive actor and has truly brought Marty Deeks to life. As you've watched him over the course of the series, has his skills as an actor changed how you write for his character since you first began working with him and did he surprise you in any way?
The first thing that impressed me about ECO was his way with words, how he could take a challenging block of dialogue and make it sing. But after working with him for a few months I started to realize he's capable of more than just comedy and flirty banter. He really thrived on darker material, too. That's what inspired the episode "Plan B" and creating Deeks's undercover alias "Max Gentry". I try to write to a character's true persona - which is not always the same persona that the audience sees most of the time. Most of the time we see Deeks as the joker of the team but I find the best stories for him when I think of the brilliant, street-wise undercover cop that Hetty recruited from the LAPD. Eric nails the humor beats so perfectly that sometimes I need to remind myself to challenge him with more dramatic work. And he always rises to that challenge!
The Densi fandom has become so popular. Do they affect how you write for these characters at all?
The Densi fans are my favorite because they always provide an authentic, emotional response to what they see. Sometimes they're so smart about Kensi and Deeks that I wonder if they're in the writers room, too! They affect me most with their collective energy; the passion they bring to the show's fan base. Whenever I write any Kensi/Deeks material I know that they're watching very, very closely and expecting something magical. I try my best to meet those expectations. And I don't mind when they burn me down on Twitter every now and then! That's part of the fun.
We know the Frozen Lake metaphor came from your study of Sayoc. Can you tell us a little more about this philosophy (what does the Frozen Lake symbolize in Sayoc?) and why you decided to use it to represent Kensi and Deeks delicate relationship and the challenges they face?
Sayoc Kali is a martial art that trains the mind as much as the body. If we have ways to handle physical conflict then we must also have ways to handle non-physical conflict: the conflict within ourselves. Pamana Tuhon Christopher Sayoc uses “The Frozen Lake” as a lesson for his students to realize what their internal conflicts are and how to defeat them. Once you acknowledge there is a thing you want so badly that you’ll do anything – even ruin your relationships or yourself to get it – then you can create a plan to make sure that doesn’t happen. Since the show has established that Kensi is trained in Sayoc, it made sense to me that she’d express her feelings this way to him. She wasn’t just telling him a story, she was actually training her partner by giving him a tool to understand the emotions they have for each other. A fight is only chaotic when you lack a formula to handle it. Emotions are the same way. By telling Deeks about the Frozen Lake, Kensi did what she always does – she trusted her training. And that’s what Sayoc was created for in the first place: protecting the ones you love from harm, both physical and emotional.
Few things have stirred up stronger feelings in the Densi world than the punch Kensi threw at Deeks at the beginning of “The Frozen Lake.” Can you talk about what you think prompted Kensi’s action, and how you think Deeks felt about it? Also, do you think we’ll ever see it discussed in the future?
Kensi’s punch came from a purely emotional place. She wanted so many things in that moment… She wanted to get the bad guy, sure, but most of all she wanted things to work out with Deeks. In the heat of that moment – the violence, the danger, the new dynamic to their partnership – Kensi’s emotions simply got the best of her. Deeks should’ve taken the shot at the bad guy but he didn’t want to risk killing Kensi, even though she told him to put the job first and pull the trigger. That punch was her way of saying: “You’re screwing up our thing!” And Deeks was probably thinking at that moment: “I’m screwing up our thing!” Like any hero, Kensi Blye has her flaws. She doesn’t like to talk about emotions or open up. By punching Deeks, she failed her partner. That’s what brought on the Frozen Lake discussion. It was Kensi’s way of owning what she did and trying to find a solution. Maybe another writer will bring up that incident again in the future but it won’t be me. I feel like they resolved that issue at the end of the “The Frozen Lake.”
We would like to thank Dave for taking the time to answer our questions and adding a personal dimension to our special feature on the writers of NCIS: LA. Also, a big thanks to CBS Press for their help in facilitating this Q&A. What are some of your thoughts on each question? Leave your comments below, and let us know what you are thinking! Tonight, don’t forget to watch Dave’s final script of Season 5 — “Three Hearts.” Enjoy!
Diane Volpe is a Contributing Editor at wikiDeeks.com. Follow her on Twitter: @phillydi