Until Hetty took an unfortunate turn for me in Season 5, many scenes between her and Deeks- always wonderfully acted by Eric Christian Olsen and Linda Hunt- were among my all-time favorites of NCIS:LA. I do believe that Deeks is Hetty’s favorite, and I think at one point, at least, Deeks looked to her as much more than a boss. Regardless of the way their relationship has changed over time, they always have sparkling chemistry with one another, making their scenes a highlight of any episode. That’s why this week we’re talking about The Top 3 Deeks/Hetty Talks.
There weren’t really any rules to this topic, just that the two characters needed to be conversing, ideally alone.
The Top 3
This list could have taken a number of different directions. It could easily have represented my favorite conversations, the ones that make me happiest to think about. It could have included the best written examples, or the talks where both Hetty and Deeks were well represented. Or it could have included the most important discussions, those that had the largest ramifications for Deeks. In narrowing my list, I found myself thinking most about whether a conversation held some significance in terms of character development, but in the end my choices took all of these factors into account. In reverse order of importance, the Top 3 Deeks/Hetty Talks are…
#3. Discussing Deeks’ LAPD undercover op gone bad in “Human Traffic”
This is one of my all-time favorite NCIS: Los Angeles scenes. Written by Shane Brennan, it gives us a Hetty and Deeks who come across as straightforward, serious and caring adults. Hetty hasn’t hesitated to rush out to meet Deeks (at the same bar where she offered him his job the previous season) to assure herself that he’s in one piece after nearly being killed in an explosion. She looks up from her “Russian Scrabble Ouija board” to ask him, “You’re not too badly hurt?” with genuine concern. And Deeks shows such openness here: shaken by his near-death experience, regretting the death of his partner, and anguished at the thought of the “abducted, underage and drugged girls” who would be victimized by the men he’s been trying to bring down. He’s so wonderfully unguarded here, for the first time since we’ve met him back in Season 1, and we can clearly see the man who’s driven by an almost irresistible compulsion to protect vulnerable women.
My favorite part of the conversation is when Hetty tells Deeks she’ll look into the case, but “I have no jurisdiction over the LAPD. They could simply tell me to ‘Bugger off.’” He responds without hesitation, “Well I’d like to see ‘em try.” The sincerity in his utter faith in her is compelling. He doesn’t let her size, her age, or her gender diminish the respect he clearly holds for her. And that is one of my very favorite characteristics of Marty Deeks.
#2. Discussing Boyle’s murder at the end of “Internal Affairs”
This scene briefly sat at #1 on this list until I decided that its big reveal was ever so slightly less important to our understanding of Deeks than knowing that he shot his father. It is a quiet yet mind-blowing scene, brilliantly written by Chad Mazero and R. Scott Gemmill, and brilliantly acted. We were surprised- and yet not surprised at the same time- to learn that Deeks killed his ex-partner and covered it up, and that Hetty went to extraordinary (and illegal) lengths to throw Internal Affairs off his trail. But beyond the shocking reveal, we see an exhausted, overwhelmed Deeks who is shaken by all that he nearly lost, and a man who knows he needs to come clean to his girlfriend but realizes he risks losing everything by doing so. That Hetty would have gone so far to help Deeks makes us understand how much she really does care for him, even in the face of several seasons of questionable behavior. My only quibble with the scene, and another reason it didn’t end up as #1, is Hetty’s mysterious line about keeping secrets that can be interpreted in two opposing directions. I always prefer when characters speak clearly and simply, rather than in metaphors or in this case, riddles.
#1. Discussing Deeks’ next of kin at the end of “Personal”
Speaking of huge leaps forward in our understanding of Deeks, how could I not include this moving scene, written by Joseph C. Wilson? For “Personal” is the episode where I finally sat up and started paying attention to NCIS:LA (yes, I was a little slow, but I’d like to think I’ve made up for it since!). This quietly dramatic reveal of the most significant moment of Deeks’ life gave us a vulnerable Deeks (the way his mouth quivers as he reluctantly agrees that the shooting was in self-defense gets to me every time) and a kind Hetty, who rushes to reassure him she’ll be quite willing to serve as his next of kin (I know, don’t get me started on Mama Deeks’ whereabouts). The scene is indeed a revelation in our understanding of Deeks, one that explains the man we know today, the one who is driven to protect people, particularly women, possibly even to the point of murder.
So I guess a caring Hetty and a vulnerable Deeks are the recurring themes in my Top 3. Yep, that’s a winning combination for sure.
Also in the Running
There were quite a few other wonderful conversations that didn’t make my Top 3:
- The sunshine & gunpowder note in “Wanted” (OK, it’s a one-way conversation, but I loved it) (R. Scott Gemmill)
- Discussing Max Gentry and debts to old friends in “Plan B” (Dave Kalstein, Joseph C. Wilson)
- Taking the liaison job offer at the end of in “Hand-to-Hand”(Matt Pyken)
- Offering a job as NCIS agent in “Imposters” (R. Scott Gemmill)
- Discussing Kensi’s time living on the street in “The Fifth Man” (Dave Kalstein)
- Checking on Deeks’ emotional center in “Unwritten Rule” (Joseph C. Wilson, Jordana Lewis Jaffe)
- The “No one should live out his life alone” talk at the end of “Plan B”
- Jumping out from the curtains at his apartment in “Impact” (hah- just kidding- this would never make my list!) (R. Scott Gemmill)
We’ve covered a bit of Deeks and Kensi, and Deeks and Hetty. Next week we’ll look at one other NCIS:LA pairing that I love to discuss, with the Top 3 Deeks/Sam Scenes.
In the meantime, tell us your Top 3 Deek/Hetty Talks. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers! Give us a full explanation for your picks or just your short list. Which talks made your Top 3?
Or, go back to last week’s topic, the Top 3 Densi Undercover Roles.