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The Top 3 Deeks/Sam Scenes

Ascension Promo1

Deeks and Sam, the odd couple of NCIS: Los Angeles. Right from the start, these two have been at odds. On the surface they appear to be quite different personalities, even though deep down they really have much in common. I think it’s the differences though that make for their great chemistry, and great scenes together. Let’s celebrate this duo with a list of their Top 3 scenes.

The Premise

No major rules here, just the top scenes featuring these two together.

The Top 3

I have to say that I really struggled here between my favorite scenes with this pair, and those I thought were most significant. There are many that are great examples of the tension between them (pre-“Ascension”). There are also some wonderful scenes post-“Descent” after Sam finally saw the error of his ways. How to choose? In the end, I tended to go with significance. In reverse order of importance, The Top 3 Deeks/Sam Scenes are…

#3. The MMA fight in “Hand-to-Hand”

This is the scene (written by Matt Pyken) that started this relationship in the wrong direction. Poor Deeks gives it his all, but he can’t last a round against an undercover Sam Hanna, who has about 40 or 50 pounds of muscle on him. He does get in a few good licks in a very well choreographed fight, and he shows Sam that he’s not intimidated by him.

In fact, this was an incredibly challenging way for Eric Christian Olsen to start off his NCIS:LA run. Not only did he have to act against Linda Hunt, he had to learn all the fight choreography and carry it out against megastar LL Cool J in a gym stocked with extras from the real MMA fighting world. Not intimidating at all! If you’ve never seen this behind-the-scenes look, check it out. About five minutes in, you’ll see what happened after LL accidently hit Eric on the chin. I hope I never have a first week at a new job that’s anything like this looks to have been (a second video is here). And consider the fact that this could have been simply a two-episode run as a guest actor; at this point they hadn’t decided to commit to him as series regular. What incredible pressure he must have felt.

Deeks and Sam have had a contentious but complicated relationship, much more so than a simple fistfight could produce. But it all started here. Deeks’ unwillingness to back down could be seen repeatedly in later episodes (“Fame”, “Tin Soldiers”). Sam’s frustration with Deeks simmered below the surface from this scene on through the next three seasons.

#2. Withstanding torture in “Descent”

That frustration came to a head in “Descent.” I was tempted to name the chess scene from this episode to The Top 3, for that was where Sam’s dislike and distrust of Deeks finally became clear. So clear that it inspired my hiatus-long rewatch (and resulting obsession) of the whole series, to try to understand what caused Sam’s issues. Instead though, I’m going to pick the final scene of the episode, where Deeks is tortured by Sidorov and Andros. Sam is more terrified than I’ve ever seen him, not trusting Deeks to keep his wife’s cover safe. But he does. To paraphrase Deeks, he’s had everyone’s backs for more than three years, yet he could never do enough to satisfy Sam. Here his heroic actions finally get through Sam’s stubborn assumptions about his character. Deeks’ bravery isn’t that of someone who isn’t afraid, for we can feel his terror. It’s the fact that he withstands the torture despite his terror, and the obvious pain inflicted on him, that is so impressive. It’s the turning point for their relationship, not to mention the most haunting scene of the series and one that freaked many of us out for an entire summer. Part of its power was in the way they played Deeks’ awful screams off-camera, allowing us to understand the horror through watching Sam’s pained expression.

#1. The hospital scene in “Ascension”

I’m bringing these two full circle with my Top 3, to the hospital scene where Sam redeemed himself in my eyes for misjudging Deeks. His regret is sincere, and his heartfelt support of Deeks, who’s doubting whether he can continue as a detective, is wonderful to see. I spent an entire summer angry at him, yet LL Cool J successfully made me feel better about Sam’s character in this single scene. If I had a Top 4, I’d definitely add in the hug in “Omni”, which again was completely heartfelt and a big favorite of mine. But alas, it’s a Top 3 list, so I’m going to stick with this moment in the hospital, which is incredibly well acted by both men, moving, and important for both characters.

Also in the Running

A few other Deeks and Sam scenes that came close to my Top 3:

  • The welcome back hug in “Omni” (Kyle Harimoto)
  • The chess scene in “Descent” (Frank Military): So you’re saying it’s about my character?
  • Deeks trying to “rile” Sam in “Tin Solders” (R. Scott Gemmill): You want a hug?
  • Deeks asking Sam to coddle him in “Fame” (Speed Weed): Sam: You one of those guys who needs external validation and coddling? Deeks: Only from you Sam. You wanna coddle me?
  • Fighting about their partners in “Tin Soldiers”: Well why don’t we act like partners to save our partners so you and I don’t have to be partners.
  • Rescuing Sam from the pool in “Descent”
  • Discussing the art of undercover work in “Backstopped” (Dave Kalstein, Shane Brennan): Which one of us is the more dominant presence in this partnership? Don’t think- just answer.
  • Undercover with Sven in “Allegiance,” not because I liked Sven- I didn’t- but because LL Cool J’s straight-faced reactions were absolutely hilarious (Frank Military, Andrew Bartels)

Next Week

We’ll switch from all this testosterone to a less serious topic next week, with a discussion of Deeks’ Cheekiest Moments. There are so many to choose from! How will you pick your Top 3?

In the meantime, tell us about your Top 3 Deeks and Sam scenes. What stands out for you in their checkered history?

About Karen (287 Articles)
wikiDeeks Writer & Assistant Editor. I never wrote for fun before... until my ECO-obsession. Now I love to analyze any and all aspects of the best character on television.

10 Comments on The Top 3 Deeks/Sam Scenes

  1. I love how Sam actually hides his feelings through his rocky attitude , Fighting shadows episode he tells Kensi not to tell that it is actually okay for him to be dating Kensi vice versa . and the moments from Omni when Sam is protective over Deeks for the recent events.


    • DENSISHIPPER I have loved every tiny little moment of Sam looking out for Deeks that we’ve gotten since Ascension. Omni had a number of them that meant a lot to me.


  2. I love the relationship between these two and how it’s been portrayed throughout the series. There have definitely been some great moments between them. I can see why it was hard to choose only three!


  3. Good topic! We need way more Deeks/Sam scenes. With Anna (blech) partnering with Callen, let’s get them together.

    An extension of Ascension, at the hospital, when Deeks pushes the doctor away, and Sam says “Leave him alone!”, and Deeks turns to look at Sam when Kensi left.

    I do like the scene in the hospital when Sam tells Deeks he’s a great cop and will make a great agent.

    The torture scene in Descent. Knowing Deeks was forced to watch and then endure his own for Sam and his wife after saving Sam from drowning.

    Down the road, maybe a “top 3” could be “Top 3 missing scenes”. The scenes that were implied but weren’t filmed. 🙂 Like the scene of Deeks saving Sam. It was talked about but not on screen.


    • Thanks peakae! I can’t believe I forgot the ER scene from Ascension- that’s quite a moment between them! And what can I say, great minds think alike? Come back the week before Christmas for the Top 3 Missing Scenes. 🙂


  4. I was really looking forward to your Top three this week because I have always found Deeks and Sam’s interactions and dialogs very interesting and I have always liked these two characters together (I think the writers should let them have more scenes together, hopefully this season).

    #1 Ascension (5×1) You’re gonna make a great agent
    I have loved, literally loved, the hospital scene between Deeks and Sam since the moment it aired and I can’t help it being my number one, too, because I think the Siderov arc is still unparalleled in the show. Both actors did a great job in this scene, and the moment felt genuine and not forced. I had hoped, though, that we would see something more between them in the following episodes, some recognition of what had happened with the torture and the fact that Deeks had saved both Sam’s (directly) and Michelle’s (indirectly) life. Another missed opportunity in which I think both LL Cool J and ECO would have shone.

    #2 Borderline (2×3) I’m from Brooklyn, Huckleberry
    I know that the scene I’m referring to involves Kensi and Callen, too, but the interactions between Deeks and Sam there are hilarious. This would have been my number one if I hadn’t been so attached to the Descent/Ascension finale/premiere. The way Deeks rambles worsening the situation and digging a hole the more he talks about his ivory complexion and fair skin and Sam’s darker one, more suitable for the desert, has always been one of my favorite “early” Deeks’ scenes. When Kensi intervenes pulling Deeks out of the room, I remember I was laughing out loud. Even Sam’s exaggerated remark “One of these days. I’m gonna kill him.” was hilarious and Callen’s, “Maybe he grows on you.” could only end with Sam’s reply “So does ringworm.”

    #3 Recruit (4×2) Deeks falling asleep on Sam’s shoulder
    This episode didn’t only give a us the memorable “Touché scene” between Deeks and Kensi, but also another precious gem: Sam genuinely interested in Deeks’ Jordan vacation photos (unlike Kensi) and Deeks falling asleep on Sam’s shoulder during the flight back home. In my opinion that scene was perfect and it was only kind of ruined at the end of the same season in the famous chess scene (Sam: “It’s not about your hair. It’s about what it says about you as a person”. Deeks: “So you’re saying it’s about my character?” Sam: “Yeah, something like that”).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great Top 3 Cladani! Borderline is one of my all-time favorite episodes, and although Deeks made me cringe a little bit in that scene, you’re so right that Sam’s reaction and his ringworm line were fantastic. And yes- that Recruit scene is adorable! That’s the Sam-Deeks relationship I want to see more of.


  5. Agree with everyone’s comments. I have never been a big fan of Sam’s as I still feel he treats Deeks with disrespect sometimes (in the season Talion Sam really annoyed me through the whole espisode). I do think the two characters are alike as they always have everyones backs and care about the people they love and would do anything to protect them. I would like something to happen with Callen and Deeks to make Callen give Deeks some more respect (I have never forgiven Callen for his comments and lack of caring for Deeks in Internal Affairs. I have to say that I Sam & Deeks have been supportive of Deeks so far this season.

    Liked by 1 person

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