The Top 3 Deeks Undercover Roles
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.
#2. Homeless Deeks in “Borderline” and “The Watchers” (plus “Parley”, “Inelegant Heart”, “The Grey Man”, and “High Value Target“)
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.
I really liked it when he was undercover as the homeless man in “The Grey Man” because of how he interacted with the other homeless man. Deeks, sat/stood next to and was respectful; of the other man, even when it was clear he would not be able to help him. I think that demonstrates one of Deeks’ more outstanding qualities: his compassion.
Awww, Psyched I love the point you make about Deeks.
Oh, and I might have to rate Matthew Dunkler just a little bit higher than the sex addict simply because of the hair. 😉
Fair enough- your list, your criteria, LOL. But seriously, that “Livelong Day” undercover assignment really is one of my favorites. It is so so funny.
My number one is Matthew Dunkler; his character was so unexpected; love the bathroom scene “most women buy me a drink first” LOL! Max Gentry is probably his most famous undercover; he’s third on my list and Homeless Man is always perfect which makes puts him second on my list. I feel ECO is such a great actor he can play anything with perfection IMO :-)!
Love your list!
Thanks Olapa! I loved the Dunkler assignment because I think there had to have been plenty of improv involved. And the scene (where they’re not in character) where Kensi throws the frozen apple off Deeks’ head makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it.
Fantastic list – wouldn’t change a word!
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One of my favorite undercover roles Deeks played was in Human Traffic. Granted, he was working it for LAPD, but it gave the LA team a taste of how he operated before he joined them. It escapes me now if that character had a name, but right out of the gate in the second season, we see his dedication to the job and willingness to put himself in danger for the greater good. Loved the interaction between Deeks and Hetty in this one when he came to her for help in finishing that mission, rather than LAPD.
John Dale Sully was the name I think.
That’s right. Thanks!
OhBuddy I can’t believe I forgot this one! A very important role indeed.
1) Max Gentry, really bad, sexy dude. Plan B. We don’t get to see Darker Deeks much but he’s there. Deeks is sunshine and light and I want to see more of his demons.
2) Max Gentry, smart criminal. Parley. Wish we could have seen him more undercover with Monica at the club before she stole the diamonds but he’s the voice of reason at the safe house.
3) Deeks. The Debt. He’s undercover on his own as himself banished from NCIS trying to find a mole at LAPD.
I’m glad you brought up The Debt. It’s one of my favorite episodes. I don’t see it as an undercover role though, in the same sense as the others, because he was being himself as he was when he was with LAPD. That undercover role gave us a chance to see how he behaved as a cop and it was so different from what we had seen before this episode when he was with NCIS. There were no jokes, no lighthearted banter, just the tough detective that he is and it was a revelation. It’s one of the best examples of ECO’s talent as a dramatic actor.
Excellent list peakae! I would have liked to see Max at the club too. With Monica he didn’t seem as dark a character as he had in “Plan B.” Is that because he was doing a generally “lighter” version of Max in order to seduce Monica? Or because he was at wit’s end dealing with her shenanigans and getting very ready to break cover altogether?
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Even if I understand the reasons why Max Gentry is your number one, Karen, I still have conflicted feelings for the two episodes in which he appeared, Plan B and Parley, so I can’t choose him as my favorite. I’ll pick a less dark one: Matthew Dunkler (Livelong day). I could watch his scenes over and over again without getting bored. It’s a pity he hasn’t made an appearance since that episode. Yes, Matthew is definitely my number one!
Yes, Matthew Dunkler needs to return!
I can’t argue with any of your choices, Karen, so I will add just a minor one. Not sure what the episode was, but Deeks was asked to stop a woman from leaving so they could question her. As she was backing out of her parking place, Deeks pretended he had been hit by her car and when she ran to him he pretended to be a soccer player who’s career she had just ended. He was hilarious and even got a smile out of Kensi. He made up the character in a matter of minutes, showing how amazingly good he is. I also love the smarmy businessman. He actually made me dislike my own favorite character. The British guy you mentioned was also a favorite and I would love to hear him do that accent again, even if he did make fun of himself afterwards.
That was an awesome scene you are referring to there. I think that was from The Job, where Kensi went undercover as a thief with Stan King.
Thanks Buddy…that was a super ep, just couldn’t remember the name. Deeks was so worried about Kensi in that ep…and the end scene where he brought her a smoothy…I think…priceless.
Good examples Lindy! Smarmy businessman Christopher Stone made my Top 3 Densi Undercover Roles so I left him out of the running here. I loved the soccer player- that little smile he coaxed onto Kensi’s face was just wonderful.
How about Sven? Too funny! My fave though, is Max Gentry, because it gave us a glimpse into Deeks’ past. ECO was absolutely brilliant.
Hi my list of undercover Deeks and Kensi are most differently
1-Justin and Melissa (married)
2-Kensi the crazy wife in the bank (Endgame)
3-Kensi undercover tattoo chick (holyshit!!!!) deeks was drooling
4-Kensi as shy EA to Deeks’s hardass boss (Darcy? i am trying to find the episode I am sure its season 3 if you can help me ) it screams a less gross 50 shades to me
5-Karen and Mathew from the livelong day
6-Kensi undercover with Stan King. Deeks’ nearly had a heart attack.
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