Writing Deeks: Dark Deeks
We know that Marty Deeks is a very funny guy, but he also has a deeper, darker side he keeps hidden most of the time. When it does appear, it makes for great drama. We asked our group of fan fiction writers how they see Deeks’ dark side, and what it’s like to write it.
He changed into his workout gear, wrapped his hands, and took his stance in front of the bag… He hit a rhythm quickly and continued it, over and over again, until sweat began to form on his forehead and drip down into his eyes.
With every calculated swing, he imagined faces on the bag. Sometimes his father, sometimes Howard, sometimes Siderov, sometimes Max, sometimes Granger, sometimes even Hetty. He let out some of the anger he’d been keeping pent up for far too long, and it felt good.
For Tess DiCorsi, Dark Deeks is the hardest Deeks to capture. She describes him this way: “There is a dark side to that sunny surfer persona. The program has shown he is capable of great anger, regret and unhappiness. He seems to actively not be that angry, bitter, unhappy person but the darkness is there that shows itself from time to time.” Kadiedid finds his anger the most difficult thing to describe. “We don’t see it much but we all know it’s there,” she says. “In ‘Human Traffic’ and ‘Spoils of War’ we saw it and it was frightening. It was probably frightening to Deeks as well because we’ve received hints about his abusive father.”
Sweet Lu’s connection with Deeks began when she learned about the childhood origins of his pain: “…it wasn’t until I watched ‘Personal’ that the character really touched me. He was vulnerable. We find out he has no next of kin and that’s the first personal information we get. He became someone to root for and at the end when we discover he shot his own father, I realized I felt a connection to this character. He had suffered through a childhood with no control, getting to the point where he was forced to shoot his own father to survive. I was fairly certain his dad had been drinking when he threatened him with a shotgun and that I did understand. Not the shotgun part, but what it was like to live with an alcoholic, to not know what might happen at any given moment, to not have the assurance that when you came home from school everything would be calm and normal. I understood his fear, I understood his anger and how Deeks had grown up, how that uncertainty in your early years can keep you off-balance for the rest of your life. That connection cemented my feelings for the character.”
Crossing his arms securely around his body as his thoughts tumbled randomly through his head, his memories unforgiving in their unravelling. He remembered the constant smell of alcohol which surrounded his father; the volcano-like anger that would erupt unwanted and unbidden out of the most mundane of situations; the pain and humiliation that resulted from the beatings, and the feeling of helplessness that accompanied all of it.
Fan fiction writers take seriously the job of depicting Deeks’ childhood trauma. phillydi finds it challenging to capture “That little boy that was so hurt as a kid. He uses so much humor to deflect that time that it’s hard to write about his pain without changing the character we all know and love.” She observes that “There are so many layers to his character and the dark layers are very easy to hide beneath his happy go lucky nature. I like presenting events or situations that reveal the darker layers in surprising ways and force him to have to deal with times that he has obviously hidden so deeply away. He won’t do it freely so he has to be forced into it and that makes compelling drama.”
For ZeGabz, the most difficult part of him to capture is “His past, and how it affects the decisions he makes in the present. What he went through in his childhood is something I have never experienced, and it can be hard to consolidate the trauma he must have with who he is in the here and now. I want to do it justice, and I often have to think long and hard before I deal with his past, because I want it to feel as real and true as possible.”
The ramifications of that childhood trauma on Deeks as an adult make him an intriguing subject. Jessica237 sees him as “…A good soul– though the lengths he went to when he thought Kensi had been killed in Afghanistan make me wonder how pained and fractured that soul really is, and that’s definitely something I want to explore in the future.” Sweet Lu’s Deeks “carries guilt heavily if he makes a mistake or if things go wrong. He also carries anger and rage deep inside, but tries to keep that part of him hidden, unless needed. Most of all, he is a survivor of what life has thrown at him.”
Sweet Lu, like many writers, finds creative inspiration in the form of Deeks’ dark alter ego, Max Gentry. “In my stories he struggles with what he sees as an inherited darkness of soul, which comes out in his portrayal of Max Gentry in ‘Plan B,’” she says. Along with Deeks’ “inner conflict with that alias… that character added such depth to the character that I was instantly enthralled with the storytelling possibilities.”
…he felt the self-hatred crash down on him and threaten to derail his mind. Max was responsible, he kept telling himself. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t Deeks.
“You fucking bastard!” he shouted at the image in the mirror and he knew it didn’t matter which one had done it, because they were the same person and he wasn’t sure he could live with that.
“You win, daddy, you win,” he whispered. Then he washed his face and changed into the dark clothes of Max Gentry and walked slowly up the metal stairs to Camacho’s office.
For some writers, capturing Deeks’ dark side is not just challenging, but painful. Jericho Steele notes that capturing his vulnerability is difficult, and that “Pulling out the deeper, sensitive side of him tends to take me in places of his past that may be too dark and scary to venture into.” ZBBZL agrees that “…Sometimes it’s his dark side that’s hard to write about. Because we don’t get a lot of that on screen, so I have to search my own heart to go to that place I need to go to be able to write that. It’s not easy to write about hatred or self-loath or guilt. It’s not easy to turn a fun, lovable character into someone dark and angry. I have to go to a place where I feel all of those to be able to write about them. It’s an exhausting process, emotionally so.”
Other writers have actually found themselves writing an increasingly dark version of Deeks, often paralleling the pain that TV Deeks has experienced, most notably in Season 5. peanutbutterer observes that her Deeks has “gotten darker. The cockiness and the ease with which he presents himself have turned more into a front instead of just being character traits. We’ve always known he had a rough backstory, but the more trauma and heartache we see him experience on the show the more real it becomes- and the harder it is to write him as genuinely carefree and light.” For aslycsi1315, her Deeks “is so much darker than the television Deeks in that I let his emotional scars show more than the show does.” He’s grown darker in more recent stories, influenced by “Ascension,” “Impact” and “Spoils of War.”
ZeGabz has seen her Deeks become darker, but for a positive reason: “My Deeks has gotten a bit darker. Part of it is due to me developing as a writer and not being afraid to delve into the darker aspects of his character, but mostly, it’s because the NCIS:LA team has begun to delve into his darkness. Which for me, is fantastic. Characters are always at their most interesting when they’re at their worst, in my opinion.” Jessica237’s Deeks has undergone a similar transformation. “…as I’ve gotten more confident in my ability to write in this fandom,” she says, “I’ve felt more confident about going to deeper and darker places with him. That’s definitely nothing I would have attempted doing when I first jumped into this fandom.”
He tries to stop the tricks his mind is starting to play on him, but it’s no use. He tries counting, tries reciting things silently in his head, but despite all of that, despite every little breathing exercise he attempts in order to hold onto what little bit of control he has left, Deeks can’t stop the rush of adrenaline from storming the gates to the very heart of him. Within moments, he’s dizzy, his heart pounding furiously against his ribcage, almost as if trying to escape. It’s trapped, imprisoned just as he had been.
Just as he is.
With that realization, the panic storms him quickly, overwhelming him until he’s completely unable to catch his breath, no matter how desperately he gasps for air. He’s merely lying in bed, tossing back and forth and yet he feels as if he’s tried to run a marathon. He feels crushed; it’s as if the ocean, his oldest and most loyal friend, has abruptly turned on him, stripping his board away and pulling him under, wave after wave after wave; he can’t surface.
It’s exactly like drowning.
Wow, that’s a lot of darkness! Hang in there with us for one more week of the dark side as we tackle a variation on Dark Deeks we’re calling Doubting Deeks. This is the Deeks who suffers from low self-esteem and low expectations for himself. He’s a commonly occurring character in fan fiction, and we’ll talk to our writers about why they are drawn to write him this way, and how frustrating it is to see a man as good as Deeks continually doubt himself. That’ll be it for the dark, we promise! The following week we’ll look at the Deeks who fights for what he believes in, the Deeks we all root for to succeed, to conquer his demons and to be happy. (And then, yep, there will be Densi.)
Want to Read More?
To find the stories quoted above, follow these links:
bookdiva, “Hey Baby”
thepixiesmademedoit, “Natural Equilibrium”
Sweet Lu, “Discord”
We also asked each writer to recommend a short story they thought best represents their Deeks. ZBBZL named an angst-filled story that shows Deeks in a very dark place. She describes “Marching On” (angst/drama) this way: “One of my two speculative stories about the Season 4 finale. I wanted to deal with Deeks and his PTSD after the torture. Since I’m not happy with the show for not really dealing with his PTSD, I think that this story did it more justice… Deeks is suffering, and reluctant to let Kensi help him. There’s self-loath and guilt and fear. Things we don’t see enough on the show.”
Or, go back to the previous Writing Deeks, The Pain Behind the Humor.
A special thanks to @thewingsofnight for creating the wonderful artwork.
Great insights! Dark Deeks exist and he comes out under extreme pressure or when summoned for undercover cases. I agree, Deeks presents a lighthearted, fun persona, but many episodes have pushed his control to the point where the dark side emerges but Deeks’s innate goodness tamps it down. These moments onscreen are powerful. I find myself empathetic and wishing that I could help, willing Kensi and the entire team to step in to help deal with the aftermath…alas, we can only imagine it ..or go to fanfic to read what may have happened behind the scenes.
This heigtened interest in a character is a new experience for me. I’ve been a loyal fan of many shows but no one character has beckoned to me as the character Deeks. I enjoy the unveiling of his backstory and the flashbacks throughout the seasons. I hear this season will be one where we get more and I for one can hardly wait. Although the writers have been fantastic in creating Deeks, ECO deserves credit for bringing all the subtle nuances to the screen. The writers’ give him the opportunity to riff and the pay-off speaks for itself. Bravo to ECO for bringing this character to life.
Great job pulling all the fanfic writers together to give us these wonderful insights. It feels as if I know everyone and we are sitting around just chatting 😊. This series is beyond awesome! I’ve said this site has become my guilty pleasure and my “go to” before heading off to work. Yup, it’s news on the radio instead of the telly. The excerpts chosen are beautifully crafted and evoke strong emotions. Kudos to all the fanfic writers. Thank you, Karen 😊
Thank you, Reader1976! I’m glad we got to cover the topic of Dark Deeks, since it seems like he’s going to take center stage on the show at some point this season. Don’t we all just want to help him deal with his pain? Like you, I can say that I’ve never been nearly as obsessed- oops I mean passionate- about a fictional character. I think it’s the combination of the character, the fact that the actor who plays him is so amazing as both an actor and a person, and the presence of things like fan fiction and social media that just encourage the obs- passion.