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Essential Episodes: NCISLA “Bounty” (S2E8)

NCISLA - Bounty - Deeks

The episode opens with a man (later revealed to be Sergeant Thomas Booth) buying a greeting card at a convenience store.  He puts the card in the mail and is shortly ambushed in a parking garage by masked men who carry him away.  Is he a loyal soldier or a man willing to sell secrets for profit? Post credits, the episode starts with Kensi and Deeks in the shooting range and a little friendly competition. It’s early in the second season and there’s still a little bit of one-upping between the partners as they feel each other out.

Kensi: Can I see your gun? Deeks: My gun?  What for? Kensi: It’s a Beretta 92FS, right? LAPD issue? Deeks: Actually, yeah. Kensi: NCIS agents carry Sigs.  I just want to see how yours fires. Deeks: I’m sorry, you want to fire my gun? Kensi: You’re acting weird. Deeks: I just don’t like people firing my gun. Kensi: Okay. Let me just hold it then. Deeks: I don’t like people holding my gun. Kensi: You can fire mine. Deeks: I don’t want to fire your gun. I don’t want anything to do with your gun. And it’s not personal. Kensi: Feels personal.

Have a Thing about My Gun

This episode reveals how particular Deeks is about his gun. The laidback Deeks who goes along with anything and rolls with the punches is suddenly on high alert, clearly protective of a slight quirk in his personality. We get some interesting logistical knowledge about how NCIS is different than LAPD, and why they carry different weapons. In a way, Kensi asking to hold and fire Deeks’ gun is probably her way of trying to connect with Deeks, but it backfires and brings to light the tenuous trust between the two newest partners.

Deeks: I honestly just don’t understand what the big deal is.
Kensi: You don’t trust me. I’d say that’s a pretty big deal, wouldn’t you?
Deeks: I just have a thing about my gun.
Kensi: At this point in our relationship, after all the stuff we’ve done—
Deeks: —I’m sorry.
Kensi: What?
Deeks: Did you just say “relationship”?
Kensi: No. I said partnership, okay? You’re very annoying.
Deeks:  Maybe I just need a little space.
Kensi: You’re on my desk.
Deeks:  Shhhh.
Sam: Listen, here, both of you. You don’t trust each other. All the fist bumping and saying you got each other’s back doesn’t mean squat unless there’s trust. So build it soon, or risk the consequences, you got it? And for the record, I was meditating.
Callen:  Oh, is that was meditation sounds like? Because I call that yelling.

This is one of my favorite examples of the early dialogue between Deeks and Kensi, with that hint of exasperation from Kensi, Deeks’ slight overreaction and trying to cover it up with humor, the limits of Sam’s patience, and Callen’s trying to steer clear of it all by burying his nose in a newspaper.  And as annoyed as Sam is with Deeks and Kensi in this scene, he has a point about trust. It’s all well and good to talk about it, but Kensi and Deeks still haven’t been tested. And even that won’t come about for several more episodes.


Kensi and Deeks spend a fair amount of time during the episode questioning whether or not they can trust one another. Their approaches to investigating a crime scene, questioning suspects and witnesses, and reacting are still quite different from each other. At the beginning of the episode Deeks isn’t quite ready to trust Kensi with his gun, something he later reveals is a huge leap of faith for him, and Kensi takes it as a personal insult because she doesn’t yet understand the reasons why.

Hetty tells a story (later revealed to be fabricated) about how Sam and Callen came to trust each other. Even as a lie, it seems to have the desired effect. Deeks later confronts Sam and Callen, saying how much he respects the trust they have built between them. It’s a nice moment that shows how seriously Deeks takes things, a good counter to the humor of earlier and when he told Kensi he maybe needed some “space.”

While investigating the Thomas Booth crime scene, Kensi keeps Deeks on his toes, throwing him the car keys to follow while she chases a suspect (Jafar Khan) on foot. Deeks makes an affronted comment about being her sidekick and Kensi goes off on her own, without really checking to see that Deeks is following. It says quite a bit about Kensi’s usual method of managing on her own. She takes charge, and Deeks comes through for her in the end. She catches the man, but he’s about to get the upper hand when Deeks arrives to help secure the suspect. He wonders if their tag teaming is how Sam and Callen would do it and Kensi remarks that one of them would probably crack a one-liner. It’s an interesting moment into the early way they are still feeling out their partnership, trying to find that trust that later becomes so natural to them.

Fathers & Sons

Deeks and Kensi make an effort to connecting with Brandon Booth, son of the murdered suspect. While keeping an eye on him, Deeks again confirms his difficult relationship with his own father while talking to Brandon about his own absentee Special Forces dad. Deeks also uses his hometown advantage to connect with Brandon, claiming to have grown up in Reseda. It seems to work on Brandon, as does Deeks’ discussion with Brandon about his father being a careful man who lectured him about making a plan after high school. His later statement to Brandon that his father moved to Iowa brings into question the entire heartfelt conversation with Brandon since we learn later in the season that up until that point Deeks had no idea where his father was. It appears that Deeks is a far better liar than he seems, and is able to spin a web when the situation calls for it, as it does when he needs to connect with Brandon.

However, Deeks understands enough about the relationships between fathers and sons that he goes on his hunch that Sergeant Booth sent sensitive information to his son. It’s because of Deeks that the team acquires the photo sent to Brandon Booth by his father with hidden information on the time and location of the master bomb maker Thomas Booth was tracking. Despite the potential lies Deeks spun for Brandon, he cares enough that he shows back up at Brandon’s apartment at the end of the episode and gives him the photo of his father. It suggests he’s not quite as at peace with his relationship with his father as he gives off earlier in the episode and it adds another complex layer to Deeks and his past that still hasn’t been fully revealed.

A Pretty Big Leap of Faith

Deeks: I carry a Beretta 92FS because the manual safety saved my ass one time during a gun snatch attempt by a junkie. And if the magazine ever jams, I can just pop a bullet straight into the chamber. (Holds out his gun for Kensi to take.) Take a look.
Kensi: (Shakes her head.) Maybe some other time.

Deeks willingly (though he’s visibly nervous) holding his gun out for Kensi to take at the end of the episode is a small gesture, but an important one for him.  Additionally, the gesture is just as important as Deeks opens up to Kensi about why he’s a little sensitive about his gun.  And Kensi’s listening to Deeks in that moment, and the way she seems to sense the heaviness of his opening up and offering his gun, it wipes away her earlier irritation and the feeling that Deeks’ “gun thing” was something personal.  She accepts that it’s something about him and it doesn’t reflect on any lack of trust in her. She accepts that they’re still building their trust and doesn’t try to push it further by taking his gun in that moment.  She takes the gesture for what it is and accepts the trust Deeks is giving her.

Memorable Moments

  • Deeks and Hetty banter a little about her appearance at the Boat Shed as a “harbinger of doom,” which is a nice little insight into their easy give and take. Deeks isn’t hugely intimidated by her, and she lets him tease her.
  • Just a little smidgeon of jealousy from Deeks when Khan leaves and he’s noticed “James Bond” slipped her his phone number.
  • Deeks telling Sam and Callen that he has a lot of admiration for the trust they have for each other.

Final Thoughts

This is one of my favorite early episodes with Deeks because it’s a great example of the give and take he and Kensi are still working through and feeling out. Their issues with trust, something that doesn’t come easy for people like them, are a nice undercurrent to the action of the episode. I like that it’s Deeks who finds the missing link of information the team needs in order to catch the bad guy, and that he uses his skills with people to deduce the connection. It’s the sixth episode Dave Kalstein wrote for NCIS: Los Angeles and only the second episode he wrote once Deeks arrived on the show. The sharpness of the dialogue, specifically at the beginning with Sam and Callen when Sam lectures Kensi and Deeks about trust, gets to the heart of all the characters and conveys who they are in perceptive and humorous ways. I think it also shows some great, subtle insight into the potential that Deeks has as a character, something Kalstein brings to light with Deeks’ history with LAPD, his father, and how he’s beginning to be tested with Kensi.


Title: “Bounty”
Writers: Dave Kalstein
Director: Felix Alcala
Original Air Date: November 9, 2010

Mel M. is a contributor at Follow her on Twitter: @imahistorian

About Mel (4 Articles)
Historian, traveler, photographer, reader, writer, avid movie and television fan.

5 Comments on Essential Episodes: NCISLA “Bounty” (S2E8)

  1. Kudos, Mel! Oh don’t we miss and long for those days when every word wasn’t weighted with potentially hurtful gravity? You did a wonderful job of painting one of the initial (& rare) instances where Deeks shows vulnerability. More importantly it’s virtually the only time we see Deeks (vs Kensi) displaying “trust issues”!


  2. The scene that struck me in this episode was the one when Deeks talks to Brandon about his father. I’ve always wondered if the writers even knew Deeks’ backstory at this point. At the time we took his comments about his father as the truth, well, maybe not entirely, but we had no reason not to believe what he said was the truth. It was a sensitive moment and we caught a subtle glimpse into his feelings about his father and a possibly unhappy childhood. The scene pulled back the curtain and let us see the possible depth in this character, something we all still crave. We know now he was lying, and as Mel says in her review, it reveals just how believable a liar he is and how easily he can do it. He did connect emotionally to the teenager, and when he brought the card back to him in the end, he had written a message from the kid’s father on the back of the photo. He understood the longing the boy had for a loving father, and that was something Deeks was intimately familiar with and he couldn’t leave the boy without the hope that his father cared for him. That was truly touching. Thanks to Mel for this wonderful recollection of an early Kalstein episode without metaphors, just true, heartfelt emotion.


  3. Coming into this show at the beginning of season 3 I haven’t’ seen most of season 2 and the latter half of season 1 episodes. So these look backs are actually quite helpful.

    I have seen a couple of the major episodes like Personal and Plan B, but that was before I had really fallen head over heels with the Deeks character.

    Having said that I really like how its really only Deeks that can get under Hetty’s skin and I don’t mean that in a bad way. At least they seem to have a different sort of relationship than Hetty does with the other members of the team.

    I have my moments of liking and not liking Densi… I wonder if I were to go back and watch Season 2 in its entirety and watch the blossoming of the partnership/friendship if it would change my viewpoint?

    To the same degree however, season four was painful to watch… the way the team would belittle Deeks constantly was angering and to me sort of came out of nowhere! Could I go back and watch to when the team didn’t trust or respect Deeks? I am not sure I could stomach it…

    Wow this so didn’t touch on much from this episode… sorry for my ramblings!


  4. Great review, Mel! This is one of my favorite early Densi episodes for exactly what you described, the theme of trust. I think the way the writers let the two of them struggle early on made their eventual trust feel so well-earned and satisfying to see.

    On re-viewing this ep post-Season 5, however, I had an rather angry reaction to Sam’s little lecture. It sounded so hypocritical given his apparent complete lack of trust in Deeks after working together with him for almost another three years. Grrrr. And Deeks was so sweet and funny (“I’m derailing”) with Sam and Callen at the end. He really put himself out there with the big compliment about trust with two guys who never extended him the same kindness and only interacted with him in a mocking way.

    Deeks telling Brandon that he didn’t have to talk about his dad, and Kensi agreeing that she wasn’t going to talk about hers, certainly takes on a whole new meaning given what we learn about them both in future episodes. And although clearly Deeks was lying to Brandon about his relationship with his father, perhaps there was some truth mixed in. My money would be on the quote he attributed to his dad about never amounting to much; I bet he heard that and far worse as a child. The last scene with Deeks and Brandon was nice on first viewing, but knowing about Deeks’ horrid relationship with his own dad makes it quite bittersweet, with Deeks trying to give Brandon the closure that he never got from his father, as Sweet Lu described. I wonder if at this point he’s still holding out some small hope that he might someday get a similar message from his dad.


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