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Essential Episodes: NCISLA “Wanted” (S4E17)


NCISLA Wanted Kensi Deeks“Wanted” (or as I like to call it, “The One With the Naked Deeks Sunshine and Gunpowder”) is the 17th episode of season 4 and marks the directorial debut by everyone’s favorite D’Artagnan, Chris O’Donnell. With Chris’ attention focused on his action behind the camera, this episode provides an opportunity for the Deeks and Kensi partnership to really shine instead of playing second fiddle to Sam and Callen. From schtolen bridal magazines to Margaret Thatcher impersonations to impossible to keep promises, “Wanted” is beyond a doubt an essential Marty Deeks episode.

…but first, THE PLOT

The episode opens with Viktor Varlamov (contract killer for Anatoli Kirkin and poker buddy of Arkady Kolcheck) being very rudely stabbed in the neck and chest while sitting on a park bench, while Isaak Sidorov watches the murder with glee from the safety of a library thanks to the Venice Beach chess park camera. The only thing missing from this scene is the wringing of hands and evil laughter. Varlamov’s murder alerts the OSP team that Sidorov might be back in the United States and trying to sell his Cold War nuclear bombs. Sam and Michelle Hanna go back undercover as David Foreman and Quinn while Kensi and Deeks team up with CIA partners Snyder and Sabatino. The end result of this episode is not good: Sidorov gets away, but not before killing Officer Snyder. If anything, the situation is worse. Sidorov is feeling the heat, and Michelle’s cover as Quinn has to be handled with extreme care after her “killing” of Kirkin in a public restaurant. The message from Hetty to Sam in the final scene is foreboding: “Spend some time with your family while you can. This is far from over.”

Tick-tock

After the opening credits roll and we get to the interesting parts of the episode (because come on, the first time we see the team is sometimes the highlight of the week), Deeks is in the armory doing inventory in jeans, a white tee shirt, and a dark gray hoodie. What? Wardrobe is the second most important part of an episode, behind Deeks’ facial expressions and ahead of the plot. But back to the story. Kensi (in a crimson v-neck, jeans, and with beautiful hair) joins him in the armory with a clipboard in hand and off-the-wall questions from a “partner survey” flying out of her mouth. Deeks is apparently terrified of headhunters and missed his calling as a school teacher/gigolo. I find it interesting that he didn’t answer “lawyer” when Kensi asked him what he would be doing if he weren’t in law enforcement. It turns out that her questionnaire isn’t so much a work-partner survey as it is a life-partner survey, which then leads to some adorable partner banter.

 

Deeks: (snatches clipboard) Hold on. How would you describe the way… that you smell. What the… this isn’t from Hetty, this is from a bridal magazine. No no, this isn’t for partner partners.

Kensi: Give it back, I’ll… forget about it.

Deeks: No, no. Why are you reading a bridal magazine?

Kensi: It was in the laundromat.

Deeks: So you schtole it.

Kensi: It’s from 2007.

Deeks: Oh my God. [insert typical Kensi look] Your biological clock –

Kensi: Shut it. Don’t say another word.

Deeks: It’s so funny ’cause I always thought that ticking was a bomb but it turns out that it’s you, wanting to make a baby.

Kensi: Stop it.

Deeks: You wanna make it with me? Make some ninja assassins?

Nell: [enters the armory, not even giving a damn that she’s interrupting an awesome Deeks/Kensi conversation] Hi.

 

Okay. Deeks, sweetie. There ain’t nothing “partner partner” about the two of you. Does Sam offer to impregnate Callen? If he does, I really don’t want to know about it.

Season 4 showed a lot of variety in the Densi dynamic, and this episode was the beginning of the spiral that led to the eventual kiss in the season finale. Throughout the year they had their ups (Kensi really wanted that bacon) and downs (we’re not going to talk about “Drive” right now), but I think that their realizations of exactly how much they mean to each other in this episode eventually paved the way towards them becoming a couple (two years later).

Who’s the Elephant?

Though not technically Deeks related, I feel like the scene with Callen, Sam, and Arkady needs a special mention just for being entertaining as hell. Sam and Callen are so married that they probably wrote the partner survey for Kensi’s bridal magazine. Kensi and Deeks discover that Varlamov had the word SLON carved in his forehead, which is Russian for elephant. Arkady explains that it is actually an old Russian prison term, which leads him to believe that the ice-pick stabber and finger chopper-offer is Dmitri Greshnev (who works for, wait for it, Isaak Sidorov). With Sidorov likely back in the States, Sam goes in to full panic when he can’t reach his wife Michelle by phone. When he gets home to check on her, she’s fine. She was busy vacuuming their television with her headphones on.

With Sidorov back, Quinn is going to need to make good on the job he hired her for: killing Anatoli Kirkin. Greshnev makes it difficult for Sam to watch Michelle’s back when he plants Varlamov’s murder weapon in Sam’s car and he ends up in jail. In a typical Hetty move, she leaves him there to keep him and the mission safe.

As far as the elephant in the room is concerned, I don’t know if it’s really Babar. I think it is Isaak Sidorov’s emotional attachment to his beloved Quinn.

Master of Disguise

I’m pretty sure that in the boatshed scenes with Officer Snyder (played by the also very talented Marcus Giamatti), COD just turned the camera on and said “screw the script, you guys just have fun.”

I don’t think I can say enough times just how awesome Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah are in this episode. Their characters have to display an extremely wide range of emotions and make every transition seamless. I would love to see interactions like these on the show more often. Those two have ridiculous chemistry on screen, and I don’t just mean romantic chemistry. The characters of Deeks and Kensi (as partners and as individuals) are sorely underused and under-appreciated. This becomes more evident every time I watch an episode like “Wanted” where they are really allowed to shine.

When Kensi and Deeks have to go out into the field with the CIA partners, Snyder and Sabatino turn the tables on them separately and start prying into their partnership. The spies do a great job of getting underneath the skin of the NCIS partners who are clearly in denial of the status of their relationship.

 

Sabatino: I wouldn’t want to step into the middle of something.

Kensi: Something?

Sabatino: Yeah, between you and your partner.

Kensi: Between me and my… haha, there’s nothing going on between me and, um…

Sabatino: Deeks?

Kensi: Yeah. No, no no no no, we are not a good match. We, we’re barely good partners.

Sabatino: That’s good, for you. For both of you really.

********

Snyder: I’m smiling out of the irony that while I’m sitting here stuck listening to your incessant babble-

Deeks: Why thank you.

Snyder: My partner’s up there hitting on your smoking hot partner.

Deeks: Yeah, well, doesn’t really matter. He can hit on her all her wants, the fact of the matter is that she is a stone cold fox. Emphasis on stone cold.

Snyder: Well, just be happy that she’s your partner…[insert very pointed look] and not your girlfriend.

 

Those silly spooks are so perceptive.

Later on, Kensi cooks up a plot to help Quinn hold up her end of the contract with Sidorov. They’re going to “kill” Kirkin, but need his cooperation in the assassination. It turns out that Kirkin and I have a lot more in common than I would have originally guessed, seeing as how hot shaggy blonds are his sexual preference as well. Deeks has to go undercover at the spa that Kirkin frequents to try to convince him to go along with their plan using his manly wiles.

Can I just go ahead and thank R. Scott Gemmill and Chris O’Donnell for the spa scene? It’s basically everything every Deeks fan in the world needs on a daily basis. Competent!Deeks. Funny!Deeks. Naked!Deeks. Okay, I suppose all Deeks fans don’t need him naked on a daily basis, but a lot of us do.

After the spa wonderfulness, Quinn “shoots” Kirkin at a restaurant (with yet another undercover Deeks, wow, how perfect is this episode?!) and thus sets up the big meet-up between her and Sidorov. This scene feels out of place in a way to me, but not in a bad way. In an episode that has been full of humor and playfulness, suddenly Sidorov shoots Snyder and Greshnev is prepared to do the same to Michelle before Sam (who broke out of prison, because well, he’s Sam) gets to him first. Because this story is ongoing, the infamous Russian arms dealer escapes and lives to see another day. Greshnev and Officer Snyder, though, do not.

I enjoy the sudden serious turn of the episode, because I appreciate it when a show can shock me and make me emotional. This was part of the problem with Season 6 for me. Few of the episodes gripped me and made me care about anything other than the fact that Deeks desperately needed a haircut.

Sunshine and Gunpowder

All of a sudden, offering to review this episode doesn’t seem like such a good idea. I mean, how do I talk about this scene without turning into a stage 5 fangirl with my caps lock key permanently on? It will be difficult, but I’ll try my best. Don’t be alarmed if I start shouting.

*deep breaths*

Deeks and Kensi watch Officer Sabatino talking on the phone, as he accepts condolences from Assistant Director Granger on the loss of his partner. It’s very important here that there are only the three of them in the boatshed, where earlier in the day it had been four. The thought has to cross both Kensi and Deeks’ minds that on any given day in the future, it could be one of them putting up a strong front in the loss of the person they entrust their life with on a daily basis.

Sabatino comments to Kensi than when this mission is over, they should grab a celebratory drink. There is a slightly awkward silence before Deeks butts in and says “sounds great.” It’s a nice tension breaker for a second, but Kensi still has a lot on her mind as she watches Sabatino walk out of the boatshed with his head down.

 

Kensi: Promise me you’ll never do that.

Deeks: What’s that?

Kensi: Get yourself killed.

Deeks: Well, the good news for you is that I have a natural aversion to death, so…

Kensi: [she turns to face him, clearly upset] I’m not kidding.

Deeks: Okay.

Kensi: Okay.

Deeks: But if I am killed in the line of duty, you do me a favor?

Kensi: Yeah.

Deeks: Cryogenically freeze me and put me in your living room?

Kensi: [laughing, because he just has a way of making her do that] What on earth would I do with your dead frozen body in my living room?

Deeks: You’re right, I guess the bedroom is much more intimate. [she turns around to walk away in mock disgust, but he is still trying to cheer her up] What? I’ll be in suspended animation, you won’t even have to feed me. That’s way better than an aquarium.

Kensi: Good night.

Deeks: You smell like sunshine! [she closes the door behind her as he appears lost in his own thoughts] And gunpowder. Two of my favorite things.

 

I was almost able to dictate that from memory, as I’m sure most Densi fans are able to do. This scene is amazing on so many levels. As non-romantic partners, it shows that they are more than just the comic relief that they are (or were) often relegated to being. They are two individuals who rely on each other and need each other. Sam and Callen have that same connection, the almost unhealthy codependence on each other. This is an element I wish the show would center more episodes around. It is far better when it focuses on the characters instead of poorly planned cases of the week. (That is a more recent complaint on my part – it used to do a better job with balance and have more exciting cases than it does now.)

But obviously, this interaction is much, much deeper than just two partners who can’t bear the thought of losing each other to violence. They have tiptoed around their feelings for each other for years, and it’s been relatively tension free. It was just part of their dynamic. But to start this episode, Kensi lies about a partner survey in order to ask Deeks questions that she knows are meant for romantic partners. Though in the future, she will blame Deeks for his lack of communication, she is the catalyst for his sudden confusion about their status. And at the end of this scene, the aforementioned confusion is beyond evident on his face.

Which leads me to the real star of the show here: Marty Deeks’ face. HIS FACE.

Sorry, I couldn’t avoid the caps lock there, it just had to be done. His face is as powerful as the words he speaks. You can see the wide range of emotions that he goes through in a matter of seconds as he figures out that his words aren’t as playful as he originally intended, and you as a viewer are able to understand the depth of his feelings for his partner at the exact time he realizes it.

Knowing what we know now, the look of fear on his face has even more meaning when you go back and watch this episode. At the time we didn’t know that he was living his little side life as Max Gentry with Monica the diamond-stealing hostess. You have to think that lie has to weigh heavy on his heart. He has chosen to keep this assignment a secret from his partner, knowing full well she would be upset with him if she found out about it. With as close as he and Kensi have become, he probably hopes that his assignment (and Monica) will disappear quietly into the night with none of the team ever realizing it existed. Of course, that didn’t happen, and Kensi is more upset at the revelation than he probably imagined she would be.

Season Long Arc

I’m going to try not to sound bitter here, but I have said numerous times that the show-runners and writers should go back and watch season 2-4. Seasons 2 and 3 had outstanding individual episodes, and season 4 had this fantastic season long storyline that was nurtured and not forgotten about (and actually made sense). Even though “Wanted” was an episode that relied on the ongoing story of the season, it is still one of my absolute favorites. When a show makes you care about the characters and how the villains they are defending their country against affect their lives, you end up with memorable episodes like this one.

 

If you want to read more NCISLA fiction by hermionesmydawg go to FanFic.net.

11 Comments on Essential Episodes: NCISLA “Wanted” (S4E17)

  1. Reading this review was seriously like reading all the thoughts in my head surrounding this particular ep (and the series as a whole). Which was weird.And confusing. And you couldn’t be more to the point!

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  2. I agree. Season 4 made me fangirl. I felt that the stories and characters were becoming more balanced. I was thinking about season 6 and how the private contractor company would have provided a season long villian as our heroes did not “get the big fish” or use the small ones as bait. There is so much to like in this episode like sunshine and gunpowder it was an awesome mix. Thanks for writing it keeps me going.

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  3. Donnamarie // June 23, 2015 at 6:57 PM // Reply

    You are so right about Eric Christian Olsen and his gorgeous face. He dosent have to say anything and you can tell what he is thinking. He and Daniela have great chemistry (the whole cast does) but their relationship is what makes fans watch this show every week. Season 6 to me was more of a Callen & Sam show. I loved the episode Humbug (of course who wouldnt). The show needs to capatalise on the huge fan following of Deeks & Kensi. I hope the writers take notice of our thoughts!

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  4. Can I nominate one for consideration? I was watching Season 2 on Esquire and we got to 2/16 – Empty Quiver. Not a heavy Densi episode, but I contend that up until then K & D were just having fun with each other. Here we have a pretty competent Deeks as he takes out the 1st shooter in the warehouse & then gets the last guy and the physicist all by himself, but the scene at the end when he’s watching here eat fast food & he sits and says he’ll try to be more serious and she looks back and says she’ll try to lighten up – the look between them was “The Beginning of the Thing” in my opinion. The laser rescue scene may have started it, but I think that was the “I’m in”, at least for Deeks and the beginning of it for Kensi”. After that you had Personal where she is totally in pain at him being shot, they start standing together at situation table in the next few episodes, and then in The Job he is so upset about her being “alone” undercover, the first real “I know Fine doesn’t mean Fine” scene between them, etc., and we have (I think) our first together at one of their places scene at the end. So – just my opinion – I really liked Season 2. It was before she really started being so mean to him :-)!

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  5. Great review! I was enjoying reading it and was compelled to watch the episode once again and agree with all said above (especially strikethrough parts).
    One could see the moment when they both become aware of actual feelings toward each other, and I must inform you that I am not really known for my observation skills ( wouldn’t recognize the moment even if you slap it to my face).
    But I recognized Empty Quiver as essential episode for them too. Apart from being one of the best episode in general (to me), it ishows indeed the deepening of the thing, and the scene where they agree to be more considerate of each other is one of the best between them. It is somehow full of some kind of the acceptance of the inevitable that is yet to come. So I second the motion of Laura Ann to review also Empty Quiver.
    What I still haven’t figured out and I would really appreciate any help in that matter is what Hetty wanted to say when she sent him envelope via Kensi with words “sunshine and gunpowder” at the end of Parley. Many things came to my mind but none makes really sense to me…

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  6. This was so fun to read. Made me watch it again today. Loved naked Deeks…not that we got to see much, but more than in any other episode. In my head, I believe when Deeks said the sunshine and gunpowder line it was the first time he realized he was falling in love with Kensi.

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    • But the question is why did Hetty send Deeks the note with the quote “Sunshine and Gunpowder”? To tell him she heard what he said in the boatshed? She approved, disapproved, that she agreed with his assessment/observation? I kinda want to think that she had these two in mind all along and she’s acknowledging his insight! Other than Afghanistan (which they HAD to do because Daniela was pregnant) she has sort of been supportive? She knows – and she hasn’t separated them, really. Just let them worry – so that maybe they figure out on their own they have to “keep it out of the office or else” rather than her verbally having to warn them? Kind of a make it work guys and I’ll leave you alone management style :-).

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    • Reader1976 // July 8, 2015 at 7:09 AM // Reply

      I totally agree. The sunshine and gunpowder line is THE MOMENT when Deeks realized he was falling in love with Kensi. What a great review…I love re-living episodes with such a great review.

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  7. For the earlier “Densi moments,” I think Neighborhood Watch (3:22) is right at the top. I wonder how the two of them would get along with Brett and Paulina now?? A strong second is “Raven and the Swans” (4:22) and the hotel room. Scenes like these are priceless!

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  8. A most excellent review of a most excellent episode. You are exactly right about Deeks’ face. The way ECO can convey every thought and feeling through that face is a great talent that is rarely utilized to its fullest on the show. This episode was so fun with the Viggo Mortensen jokes, the corgi jokes, the Area 51 jokes, and then the heartbreaking end. And looking back after Descent, it was actually a powerful foreshadowing of the events of the season finale that I don’t think I really appreciated at the time. Thanks for reminding me of how great the show can be.

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  9. I am reading this review in April of 2017 and I agree seasons 2,3 and 4 were the best. The writer is right on.

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