The team members at the Office of Special Projects are known for their ability to go undercover in any situation, to blend in completely no matter the scene. Marty Deeks is arguably their best undercover operator. He’s a quick thinker who can be a smarmy businessman, a neurotic federal inspector, or even a homeless man. No one else on the team exhibits his range (something he’s not given nearly enough credit for). But what are Deeks’ Top 3 undercover roles?
This is a list of Deeks roles, not Densi roles (we’ve covered those in a separate post). There have been a few assignments where both were undercover together, but Deeks was really the only one who played a different character, and I considered those here rather than in the Densi post.
The Top 3
In the end I chose my Top 3 based on their significance in demonstrating Deeks’ undercover skills, or in the case of #1, in what it tells us about Deeks himself. In reverse order of importance, my Top 3 is…
#3. Sex addict in “Recovery”
I loved Matthew Dunkler from “The Livelong Day,” but I had to go with the sex addict Deeks played in “Recovery” as my #3 choice. While Dunkler is hilarious and gets the job done by scaring away the railroad employee who’s monitoring them, Deeks’ sex addict accomplishes his mission through much more subtle means. Written by Gil Grant, this is a rare example of the show letting Deeks play a grown-up. He’s not over the top; instead he’s using his humanity to connect with a fellow addict. He embraces his character’s troubled backstory and gets the information the team needs. And what’s more, he takes the time to offer the woman some encouraging words. We see his innate kindness shine through.
This undercover alias has made more appearances (six) than any other role, including my #1. I chose Homeless Deeks because I think he demonstrates several important characteristics of the man playing him. First, although Deeks may joke about needing a pool with a cabana in the episode where Homeless Deeks makes his first appearance (“Borderline” written by R. Scott Gemmill), there’s no denying that this can’t be an easy assignment. Deeks is tough enough to deal with smelly Artie while living in tough conditions to get the job done. Second, Homeless Deeks shows us one end of the incredible range of Deeks’ undercover abilities. He can play a charming British friend of a Brazilian model, but he can also make us completely believe that he’s homeless. My favorite iteration is the man from “The Watchers” (also written by Gemmill) with his vaguely Southern(?) accent who talks to himself as he brazenly plants cameras in the bad guys’ office. It’s a brilliant disguise because it allows Deeks to take advantage of the way most people avoid the homeless and refuse to make eye contact or otherwise engage them. It’s not dissimilar to the way Deeks maintains his actual scruffy appearance as a way to make people underestimate him.
Deeks: Oh, hey, man. Hey, man, what’s up, man? Hey, hey, man, can I bum a smoke? I’ll trade you a sip for a cigarette. Oh, come on. Come on. Just give me a cigarette. I want a cigarette; I’ll give you a sip. Got the good stuff.
The contrast in the way he speaks here compared to businessman Christopher Stone the very next week (a “slightly animated conversation” is “good for the blood”) is striking.
One final motivation for listing Homeless Deeks in my Top 3 is that he was the inspiration for our support of Pets of the Homeless. I’ve enjoyed working on our various fundraising drives, including a pledge to give $150 for every appearance Homeless Deeks makes on the show.
#1. Max Gentry in “Plan B” (and “Parley”)
My #1 will be of no surprise to anyone, but even so, I have to say that Max Gentry is far from my favorite of Deek’s undercover roles. In fact, I hate that he exists. But he’s #1 because of how much he reveals about Deeks and about the man who shaped him- his father. Max makes an appearance in “Parley,” but there I never really felt like he was playing Max so much as wearing a leather jacket to seduce Monica. But in “Plan B,” written by Dave Kalstein and Joseph C. Wilson, we see a man who gives us an incredibly clear – and frightening – vision of what Deeks’ childhood with an abusive father would have been like. Max shows us how Gordon John Brandel likely treated his son, with a hair-trigger temper, and how his attitudes towards women were no better.
And maybe even more interesting than Max himself is Deeks’ reaction to Max. He hates him with a passion. He’s ashamed of him, wanting to keep Kensi far away from him. And I think he’s afraid of him, afraid that he could become Max/his father. Max is his alter ego, the opposite of the good, kind man we see in Deeks. He’s the other side of his personality, that dark side who shot Francis Boyle and tortured an Afghani cleric. He represents part of what makes Marty Deeks such a complex and fascinating character, and that’s why he’s #1.
Also in the Running
I also loved these undercover roles:
- Matthew Dunkler, FRA inspector in “Livelong Day” (Joe Sachs)
- Jason Wyler in “Hand-to-Hand” (Matt Pyken)
Next week we start a discussion about things we wish had been done differently, starting with the Top 3 Scenes I’d Change. In the meantime, what are your Top 3 Deeks Undercover Roles? Tell us all about them in the Comments below.
Or, return to the last Top 3, the Top 3 Action!Deeks Scenes.