The Top 3 Examples of Densi Banter
Banter. It’s one of the three NCIS: Los Angeles staples, along with bromance and booms. Sam and Callen have their own special form of bromantic banter, but of course we’re going to focus on the Densi variety. When Deeks and Kensi do it well, their banter rises to the level of a 1930’s screwball comedy. What makes it special is the way it combines fantastic writing with the showrunners’ willingness to let serendipity happen, thanks to the improv skills of Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah. (Plus, we need something happy to discuss amidst all the angst over comatose Kensi!)
This week’s Top 3 was one of the most difficult but also funnest to select. Thinking about these scenes just makes me happy. I limited the Top 3 to individual scenes even though it was tempting to discuss entire episodes with stand-out banter (most of them will end up in our future discussion of the Top 3 Funniest Episodes).
The Top 3
At various times I had completely different scenes in this Top 3, depending on whether I was looking primarily for comedy, for sexiness, or for significance to Densi’s development, because their banter can include any and all of these disparate elements. My end result included a little of each. I should point out that with these lists, I’m trying to avoid choosing just my favorite examples, if only because that feels too easy. Instead with each new list, I’m trying to use ever so slightly less personal criteria.
It didn’t surprise me that R. Scott Gemmill was responsible for many of my finalists (7 of 11), but I was a little surprised to see he was the only writer named in the Top 3. Kudos, and many thanks, Mr. Gemmill! With that, in reverse order of importance, The Top 3 Examples of Densi Banter are…
#3. It’s like America and France made slow, sweet love and had a pastry baby.
This scene from “Impact” wasn’t on my list of considerations at all until I had this post nearly completed. Spoiler alert: It is my all-time favorite scene of the whole series. But I usually don’t think of it as a banter-filled conversation. It’s obviously not as lighthearted as most Densi banter, but when I thought about it longer, I realized that it’s actually the banter that makes the scene. Kensi and Deeks haven’t seen each other for several weeks, not since the heartbreaking end of “Ascension,” and when the scene starts there’s an awkwardness between them. But then they start bantering about their take-out and a special pastry, and they immediately fall back in step together. It’s like the banter is their lifeline back to where they were before the torture. It pulls them back to themselves, and it’s beautiful to watch. It’s not the funniest or the sexiest, but it’s the most moving example.
Deeks: Is that Yummy Yummy Heart Attack?
Kensi: Yep, three F’s from the health department and still going strong.
Deeks: Yeah, if ‘F’ stood for ‘Fabulous.’ Did you get the, uh, drunken pigs?
Kensi: With extra kimchi- you’re welcome.
Deeks: I think I just felt a shiver. Want me to, uh, grab something to drink?
Kensi: Oh, no, no, no. I have got you covered, my friend.
Deeks: Wow, one day you are going to make somebody the perfect… personal assistant.
#2. Touché, touché, you cannot touch my touché.
“Recruit” gave us this delightful scene that we’ll always think of as “The Touché Scene.” It makes my Top 3 because it’s a wonderful example of all three of the elements I listed earlier. It’s super funny (Okay, that’s a human resources violation). It’s very sexy, what with the metaphorical sword-touching, not to mention the non-verbal communication from Kensi. And it’s significant to them, for it’s a special moment about nothing that becomes a private joke, one they return to again and again. And we always enjoy seeing it reappear, for we got to share in the moment when it first happened.
Deeks: Alright, you know what? Let me just drop some knowledge on you for a second, alright? It’s French. It comes from fencing. It means “to touch.” So, if I were to touch you with my sword, then you would say “touché.”
Kensi: Then I wouldn’t say it because you ain’t never touching me with your sword, Zorro.
#1. Have you seen my corgis? They’ve run amok.
This “Wanted” scene wins my vote for the most spectacular banter, and some of the very funniest. Kensi and Deeks are on such a roll here. They are tormenting Officer Snyder and loving every minute of it. The reason they’re having so much fun is that they’re both equal partners in the wordplay. Instead of mocking each other, here they’re working together to mock Snyder. From the entertaining DVD commentary for the episode we know there was plenty of improv, and clearly Daniela held her own with Eric in that department. It’s just a brilliant example of the art of the banter.
Kensi: Oh, you’d be a good spy. He’s very sneaky.
Deeks: I prefer stealthy.
Kensi: Okay, he’s very stealthy.
Deeks: Also, I’m a master of disguise.
Kensi: Oh, you should see his Margaret Thatcher impersonation. Uncanny.
Deeks: Uncanny. Huh? Margaret Thatcher on a cold day? Who’s gonna see that coming?
Kensi: Not me. Hellooooo, it’s Maggie. And then, bam!
Deeks: Bam! Except for, that sounded a little bit like the queen…
Even once the Top 3 was chosen, the final order changed about four times. Like I said, this was a challenge, and this particular list seems to be subject to dramatic changes depending on my mood.
Also in the Running
These other fantastic banter-filled scenes came close to making my Top 3:
- The Malibu Ken discussion from “Borderline” (R. Scott Gemmill): He’s not anatomically correct either.
- Martha Steward my ass from “Neighborhood Watch” (Christina M. Kim): Wait, so your plan here is to ply him with your abundance of… cookies?
- Discussing marriage boundaries in “Neighborhood Watch”: I plead completely innocent, but totally intrigued.
- Post-smallpox injection in “Touch of Death” (Michael Fazekas, Tara Butters, R. Scott Gemmill): Oh, and um, for the record… I don’t sleep with anything on… unless it’s a costume.
- The bathroom scene in “Neighborhood Watch”: It’s like an episode of Dexter in here!
- The partner survey in “Wanted”: So basically, anything in a Tarzan movie?
- Discussing Tahoe plans in “Free Ride” (Tim Clemente, R. Scott Gemmill): There is no doubt in my mind that that is double-black-diamond rated.
- Talking about Public Defender Deeks in “Paper Soldiers” (Jordana Lewis Jaffe): Rebel without a due process clause?
Next week we’re going to continue avoiding the angst, with another fun Densi topic: The Top 3 Densi Undercover Roles.
In the meantime, what are your Top 3 examples of Densi banter? As always there are no right or wrong answers, just lots and lots of great scenes to talk about! Might there be some “Neighborhood Watch” fans out there who aren’t so happy with my picks?
1) Cancel Christmas. “That was a trick question wasn’t it. I was supposed to say world peace, right?” And fun in that it was Kensi being the silly one and Deeks the straight man. Role reversal.
2. Black Budget. “Are you eating the crime scene?”
3. Inelegant Heart. “You can’t wash out ghost.”
Runners up – Live Long Day. Bathroom scene. Not as much banter. More like silent banter.
Exchange Rate. Shower Scene. Deeks in a shower. ‘Nuff said.
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peakae I LOVE that your list has absolutely no overlap with mine. And I can’t believe I forgot “You can’t wash out ghost,” one of the funniest scenes ever. And Livelong Day has a couple of my favorite scenes, including the bathroom. Your “silent banter” is a perfect description- you could enjoy the whole scene with the volume off.
Big part of their “banter” success is their awesome sense of timing. I love it!
Joanne that’s a great point. They really do have perfect timing. I wonder if that also contributes to their chemistry, and if ECO’s sense of timing is what helps him have amazing chemistry with just about everyone he acts with?
Wow, Karen, I really enjoyed your list! This feature is getting more and more interesting and it’s so much fun to take part. This week I definitely needed something lighter to cheer me up after last angsty episode and the heartbreaking proposal scene. I’m still not over it. At. All.
1) My all time favorite Densi banter is the “Touché” scene without doubts. It is golden, pure perfection. Everything works there: the humor, the innuendo, the body language, the looks, the smiles, the dialogue. It’s a gem that I could keep watching over and over again without getting bored and I’m sure every time it would make me smile. When actors and writers together can make the magic.
2) All the dialogue in “Neighborhood watch” about Kensi’s bra, boundaries, being married, right side vs left side of the bed, starfish and snoring. They were already clearly both totally intrigued by the other. Another little gem inside an episode that was an unexpected gift for all the Densi lovers.
3) All this dialogue in “Dead Body Politic”:
DEEKS: It’s gonna make a really interesting anecdote for my memoirs.
KENSI: Freaks, Geeks and Deeks?
DEEKS: Wow. Pretty quick on the trigger there. How long you been hanging on to that one, huh? I mean, it’s clever, but it’s not that clever. So how long? Like, a week?
KENSI: I came up with it in the shower this morning.
DEEKS: Hey. Psst! Hey! Thinking about me in the shower? She’s thinking about me in the shower!
Another perfect funny moment, so Deeks and so Kensi. I’m sure the dialogue was greatly helped by ECO and DR’s performance there.
Sometimes I miss Season 3&4 for all these gems.
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Thanks Cladani, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series, and especially that you’re enjoying participating- that’s just what I was hoping for! I think I had a mental block about “Dead Body Politic” because it’s one of my least favorite episodes, but you’re right- that shower discussion is terrific. And there’s a sense of joy and silliness to “Neighborhood Watch” that few episodes can match. I so with Christina M. Kim could come back and write more Densi magic.
Great list Karen. Agree with all of them.
These may not be banter as such but some favourite lines if that counts!
I loved the scene in Impact where Kensi visited Deeks and the line “it’s a love story”.
Another favorite was the scene in Fighting Shadows in the park and Kensi calls Deeks a ‘lean mean sex machine’. All scenes in Neighbourhood Watch, one of the best Densi episodes.
The line in Recovery where Deeks says “ I don’t want to be here with you right now, I want to be at my place right now with you”
The line in Wanted, “You smell like gunshine and gunpower, two of my favourite things”
And also Descent, “Hows that for communication”.
My all time favourite of course is the shower scene in Exchange Rate. There should be more of them!!
Thanks Donna Marie! I love your list of best lines. Spoiler alert- I think some of the ones you quote might work their way into future lists.
Can I have a replacement? Replacing #1…
Raven and the Swans. The hotel room outside where the poor bell boy just doesn’t get this weird couple and then the play fight. THAT’s my fave. 🙂
peakae, hah! You are always welcome to change your list. Writing these posts, I definitely have had to go through a few different versions of some of them. Some of these topics are really challenging! (And that “Raven & the Swans” scene where they’re wrestling is also one of my all-time favorites. I kept that episode on my DVR forever just queued right up to it.