Writing Deeks: Underdog Deeks
Marty Deeks has not lived an easy life. He’s dealt with great adversity from a young age. And he’s triumphed over it to become an attorney, a detective, and maybe someday a federal agent. It’s that ability to endure life’s harshest experiences and still come out able to laugh that endears him to many fan fiction writers.
[At his father’s grave] “You may have had an influence on my life, but you don’t define me, and you didn’t make me who I am any more than Jim did. I got here because of the choices I made and the work I put in to achieve it all. I know who I am… and I won’t ever be you,” he finished, and with long, confident steps he turned and walked back to where Kensi was waiting with the car.
Our group of fan fiction writers often comment on the way Deeks has been able to rise up from a difficult past to become a good, strong man. ZBBZL loves his “sweetness, the genuine, caring side of him that shows in moments like hugging Kensi and telling her they’re going home [in ‘Spoils of War‘], or with Brandon Booth in ‘Bounty,’ the teen whose dad was murdered and who had a conflicting relationship with him. More than his kindness, I guess that what I love about him is his empathy. The way he can relate to people and offer them the comfort or reassurance they need. And I think it’s quite amazing, coming from a man who surely didn’t grow up with any kind of emotional support.” As Jericho Steele observes, “Deeks has been through so much and yet, he is strong and loyal.”
For Jessica237, everything we learned about him in ‘Human Traffic’ and ‘Personal,’ such as having no next of kin or looking out for Detective Versey’s sobriety, influenced the way she writes him. She says, “Something about all of those moments really just struck me into thinking that here’s a kid who never really found a place to belong, and yet, rather than taking the easy way out and turning to the streets or drugs or you name it, he’s still got a good heart. A good soul…” ZeGabz points out that, “Deeks is a very unique character in terms of television males nowadays. Yes, he has a very complex past and has suffered many hardships, but he isn’t constantly brooding about it. Instead, he uses the pain from his past to fuel his desire for a better future. I think that’s why so many people connect with him as a character- he feels very real.”
“Have you ever made an instant connection with a person, Mr. Callen?” she asked him quietly, not wanting an answer. “Well, that’s what I felt when I first met Mr. Deeks. Actually, I probably felt that connection when I first read Deeks’ complete file. I had been keeping track of his work for the LAPD ever since he became an undercover officer, but when I began looking for a new partner for Kensi I had one of our analysts research his background. When I read what he had gone through as a child, I felt sympathy for what he had endured, of course, but when I met him in person, his personality was not what I was expecting in someone who had come through those kind of childhood experiences.”
She stopped, looking at Callen with that small, enigmatic smile, “He had a joy for life, Mr. Callen, that is rare for an abused child, actually it’s rare for most people. And he expressed that joy every day. That is why I connected with Mr. Deeks.”
Jessica237 finds Deeks’ inner struggles fascinating. “It’s cliché in a way,” she says, “but I love the idea of his tortured past, and him being able to rise above that enough to hide it around others, but not quite so much that he’s able to get away from it. He’s a character who (at least, in my personal canon!) has been through hell, but still he fights, and we haven’t really ever gotten an answer as to what he’s fighting for… There’s a certain strength to the character, but at the same time, there’s an almost overwhelming aimlessness to him. Where is he going, and why? Why does he keep pushing forward when he feels like he may never truly be good enough in the end?… What is it about giving up that he fears more than the pain of failure? This is the area I love to explore with him when I write him. And by that, I absolutely don’t mean I see him as some little weakling who just constantly fails. The strength there is undeniable, at least to me, and I guess that’s what draws me to him.”
Other writers are drawn to the way Deeks can laugh at the world despite the hardships he’s suffered. “What was amazing was how, in spite of his childhood or possibly because of it, he loves life and embraces it with joy and laughter,” says Sweet Lu. “Early on I questioned whether he was putting that on, like an alias, but I think now that he was just born that way. He was probably a happy-go-lucky kid who told stupid knock-knock jokes and was the antithesis to his father. I think he was as annoying to his father as he was to Sam, maybe even more irritating, especially to a drunk. He simply can’t help it.” thepixiesmademedoit likes “the light-heartedness he brings to things. I don’t mean the out and out humor and jokes, rather his ability just to shine a little light into the darkness. The way he can lift the atmosphere around him, the way he can put people at ease – even his team these days. He has a gentle, but infectious optimism and it rubs off on those around him.” Or as peanutbutterer summed it up, “He sees light where there is so much darkness and does his best to bring that light to others.”
“Thanks Deeks, I needed that.”
Deeks noted the softness in her voice and was glad that he had lightened her mood. If the only thing he accomplished during the day was to get his beautiful partner to smile or laugh, he always considered it a good day. Turning to look into her soft eyes, he again conveyed an unspoken promise to always be there for her.
“Any time Kens, any time.”
Some writers focus on Deeks’ ability to handle rough times. For example, in the excerpt that opens this post, thepixiesmademedoit quotes Deeks during a visit to his father’s grave. He’s “having a conversation, of sorts, with this man laying dead at his feet. It just felt like something Deeks would say, it felt like the sort of inner strength he carries with him that would come out in such a moment.”
imahistorian’s Deeks has “been able to face demons from his past, and has used those experiences to… evolve… Usually I’ve given him doubts, or at least some kind of adversity to overcome. In the end I want him to come out stronger, so if that’s feeling more confident or accomplishing something that might have seemed impossible, I usually try to set up a situation where actions will allow him to get to that point… Ultimately I want him to change and grow as a character. And I think at least a good part of that should come from within. Others can be there along the way, but I like writing a Deeks who propels himself forward, one who affects the world even as it affects him, and doesn’t let the world control him.”
Like all of us, these writers actively root for him to overcome all that life throws at him. As Sweet Lu puts it, “So, why do I write about him? I write about him because I like him, because I want him to prevail in life, to win the race, to triumph over his childhood and because of that connection on the most basic human level… In my stories Deeks might have struggles, and he does suffer doubts, but he will always triumph in the end. He is a survivor and an overcomer.” ZBBZL sums it up this way: “I don’t want easy and simple. I like complicated and struggling and tough and dark. I like a character who can overcome their fears and issues to make their own destiny; Deeks definitely is one of them for me.”
“…I mean, come on, Kens. Indiana Jones is, like, the greatest superhero ever,” Deeks replies.
“He doesn’t have any super powers.” Not that she knows of, anyway.
Deeks shakes his head as if it was the silliest thing he’s ever heard. “Exactly. He doesn’t need them, and that’s what makes him so great. He can get all battered and bruised and nearly knocked out cold, and then he rises and defeats them all, with something as ridiculously simple as a whip. No super powers, no super strength, just his wit.”
Kensi finds it funny (well, not funny, but for lack of better word that’s the only one that comes to her mind) that he would be so passionate about a fictional character, but can’t help herself when she thinks that those are the words she could use to describe him, if ever she was sure he could never know she uttered them.
There’s still plenty more about Deeks’ personality to explore, and in future posts we’ll look at some special varieties of Deeks, including Direct Deeks, Competent Deeks, and my personal favorite, Surfer Deeks. But for the next several weeks we’re switching gears to focus on Densi! Next week we’ll find out why our group of fan fiction writers is inspired to write about Kensi and Deeks and their ever-evolving Thing.
Want to Read More?
To find the stories quoted above, follow these links:
thepixiesmademedoit, “Natural Equilibrium”
Sweet Lu, “Life and Death”
Jericho Steele, “Aunt Hetty”
We also asked each writer to recommend a short story they thought best represents their Deeks. Three writers named a story that shows a bit of Underdog Deeks. Belle Walker describes her story “Someday” (drama/romance) this way: “On the surface it appears to be a tale about Kensi wanting a child, but as you get deeper into it, the essence of it is really about Deeks falling in love — in love with his partner as well as in love with the idea of being a father and a husband. And that’s pretty much what my version of Deeks ultimately wants — really just to be happy with his choices and to share his life with the few people who matter the most to him.”
On her story “July’s Christmas” (friendship/hurt/comfort), Sweet Lu says, “He is undercover as a homeless man to do surveillance on a clinic bringing young pregnant girls up from Mexico and selling their babies to wealthy couples. This is the Deeks I love. It highlights his ability to do deep undercover work under difficult circumstances and showcases how much he cares for the vulnerable people he works to protect. He is strong, slightly funny and dedicated to helping others.”
In “Vividly,” (romance/drama) ZeGabz shows us the Deeks who uses his humor and kindness to light the darkness for others. She says, “It’s told from Kensi’s point of view after Ep3x24 [‘Sans Voir, Part 2’]. It’s slightly AU because I wrote it before 4×01 [‘Endgame’], but it shows Deeks at his best: steadfast and good, for lack of a better word.”
Or, go back to the previous Writing Deeks, Doubting Deeks.
A special thanks to @thewingsofnight for creating the wonderful artwork.
Besides Deeks’s sense of humor and his ability to use it to defuse or lighten any situation, I do admire his ability to overcome. That’s what made me a fan.
It is such a treat to read the thoughts behind how our fan fic writers perceive Deeks. Loved reading the excerpts chosen from each fan fic writer, too! Great read. 😄
Thanks Reader, glad you enjoyed it!