The Top 3 Uses of Humor to Defuse Tension
One of the many special skills Deeks brings to the team, one that no one else really has, is his ability to defuse tense situations with a few funny words. It’s not easy to do, for when people are stressed, they’re apt to react poorly to someone joking around. Yet Deeks consistently pulls it off. I see it as one of his defining characteristics precipitated by his tough childhood (discussed at length as part of the Bringing Up Brandel series). Today we’ll list the Top 3 examples where Deeks demonstrates this particular talent.
This one’s pretty simple. I allowed for instances where Deeks defuses humor for the team, for Kensi, or even just for himself.
The Top 3
I ended up with a Top 3 that had a little of everything, including what might be his all-time funniest line. In reverse order of importance, my Top 3 is…
#3. Worrying about getting pummeled by Viggo Mortensen in the bathhouse in “Wanted”
Deeks’ discomfort with his undercover assignment at the Russian bathhouse in “Wanted,” written by R. Scott Gemmill, is made quite clear when he expresses his fear of a naked Viggo Mortensen jumping out to “pummel” him. It might just be the funniest one-liner he’s ever uttered- it’s certainly on the short list. (It’s a reference to the movie Eastern Promises, in which Mortensen’s Russian mobster character fights off the real bad guys in a bathhouse while naked.) Chris O’Donnell’s brilliant direction of this scene just adds to Eric Christian Olsen’s performance. (According to the DVD commentary, he instructed the actors playing the Russians walking past Deeks to try to rub up against him.) This is an example of Deeks trying to distract himself by joking around, and it feels natural, utterly unforced except by Deeks’ nervousness. Plus it makes me laugh out loud every time.
#2. Joking about the LAPD plumbing getting backed up when meeting the team in “Hand-to-Hand”
This scene in the boatshed in “Hand-to-Hand” (written by Matt Pyken) where Deeks finally comes face to face with the whole team is a great one. I’ve long admired the way ECO holds his own against these famous actors with their established working relationships, just as Deeks holds his own with these seasoned federal agents. But his little joke about not working as close to the water except when the plumbing gets backed up was our first glimpse into his real personality. Prior to this, we had just seen the rather serious Jason Wyler. This first attempt to defuse humor makes the list not for its hilarity, but for how it gives us insight into his personality.
#1. His “Everything is gonna be fine” note to Kensi in “Blye, K”
This is definitely the sweetest use of humor on my list. In a wonderful scene in “Blye, K.,” written by Joseph C. Wilson, Deeks shows up at Kensi’s apartment to try to find out why she’s become a murder suspect. But it becomes apparent that he’s also there to show his support. That he pre-planned this humorous moment shows us his thoughtfulness and his anxiety to make Kensi feel a little better about what’s happening. It’s downright romantic. His obvious pleasure at having succeeded in lightening the moment gives us a clear window into his motivations. His faith in Kensi, expressed earlier in the scene (“Not for a second” would he think she’d murdered someone) combined with his ability to make her laugh in such dire circumstances makes this scene one of the series’ sweetest.
Also in the Running
I considered plenty of other great moments. Among them:
- Post-explosion in “Deliverance” joking that he just peed in his pants (Shane Brennan, Frank Military)
- Joking about the ending of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and telling Kensi that his father didn’t spend weekends teaching him to be Jason Bourne, while taking fire in “Borderline” (R. Scott Gemmill)
- Talking about using his bondage safe word of “noodles” and quoting Conan the Barbarian as the team prepped for the “Kill House” (Dave Kalstein)
- At the end of “Wanted” asking Kensi to put his cryogenically frozen body in her bedroom if he’s killed in the line of duty (R. Scott Gemmill)
- Giving his credentials as “M-O-U-S-E” in the face-off with French intelligence agents in “Absolution” (R. Scott Gemmill)
- Whining about losing his endorsements as a professional soccer player hit by a car in “The Job” (Frank Military, Christina M. Kim)
- Yelling, “I hate Romania!” as he’s pursued by Comescus in “Lange, H” (Shane Brennan)
- Answering the phone, “Go for the American infidel” in the midst of interrogating the cleric in “Spoils of War” (Frank Military)
- Telling the machine-gun toting bad guy in “Lockup” that he looks fat in his jeans in order to get him to use up his ammunition (Christina M. Kim, Frank Military)
Next week we’ll continue on the general topic of humor as we tackle the Top 3 Funniest Scenes. In the meantime, what are your Top 3 Uses of Humor to Defuse Tension? Do you see it as a defining characteristic of Deeks? Tell us in the Comments below.
Or, return to the last Top 3, the Top 3 Most Wanted DVD Commentaries.
Great list! I absolutely agree with your first and second choices. My list would replace the Viggo Motrensen comment (since I didn’t get the reference until this, thanks!) with M-O-U-S-E, because that’s the one that makes me laugh out loud every time I see it.
Thanks Psyched! Glad I could shed some light on a rather obscure reference. And yes, M-O-U-S-E is pretty spectacular.
Praesidium – Kensi is tearing up, Deeks embraces her, and then diffuses the tension with “Even underneath this adorable veneer …. Kensi laughs and says ” and just like that the moment is way gone.” “That’s ok. I’ve got more moments.”
Merry Evasion – the long long distance phone call at Christmas from Afghanistan to LA. So much emotional tension going on, for all we know this is the first actual contact in weeks after revealing of emotions to each other, and they keep it to light banter.
Internal Affairs – Under arrest, in interrogation with Whiting and with Bates.
There are actually so many and I do love the bath scene of Wanted. Ah the good days. I miss them.
Sigh. It makes me want those days back and lose selfish, sulking Kensi that we have now.
Great list peakae! Deeks telling Kensi about Monty and him making pot roast was so typical and gave that “Merry Evasion” scene such a bittersweet quality. A great example.
I think all the examples you mentioned are great, but if I had to choose my favorite ever is one from The Debt (I know, I’m quite obsessed with that episode…): Kensi gets into Deeks’ car and he goes, looking at her definitely far from friendly look, “Did anyone ever tell you how cute you are when you’re homicidally angry?”. Charm and humor, the perfect Deeks’ combination that made me (and maybe Kensi too…) fall in love with him!
Cladani there’s nothing wrong with a little obsession! That’s a delightful example and I can so easily picture their faces during that conversation. Very memorable.
I didn’t quite get the reference about Viggo Mortensen, and now I do (thank you for that).I always hold my breath whenever I watch that scene, and the afterward happenings, I just don’t like it. He was almost drowned, poor guy and he didn’t even get a credit, except for smelling like a wet dog, or something similar, don’t remember it well now. Hate when they treat Deeks like that.
I like the scenes you mentioned in your list, and it was hilarious, how we got to know what Deeks is like, based on his humor diffusion skills, even in Hand-to-Hand. I actually started watching from season 2, with Human Traffic being the first episode with Deeks I watched, and it wasn’t until few months after I finished season 2 I watched season 1 and watched the two episodes where he first makes an appearance. That was back in 2013… Wow, it is a long time from where are we standing now. I like how you point out that it gives us a little insight of who Deeks is.
Also, your number one scene is on place, because he is just there, supporting his partner, without a doubt, which is such a sweet gesture that warms your heart. And it also gives us insight in Deeks that uses humor to diffuse tense situations, and that he learned it long time ago, possibly when he escaped his father’s beatings. And we get to know a person that’d do everything for his partner, as it is proven over and over again throughout the years.
From the other scenes that are on your list, I’d like to point out the M-O-U-S-E scene, which is very hilarious, and I laugh every time I watch it. Absolution is one of my funniest episodes ever, with Gesundheit, Callen and Sam running from the dogs and that scene when Sam realizes his Challenger is, and the and with Matthias.
Post explosion in Deliverance is also a funny scene. “I need to pee.” “I think I just did.”
Jason Bourne reference is also one of my favorites and when he has to pee every two minutes while they are in the dessert. And that adds to me just finishing the Bourne Trilogy, right about the time I watched the episode.
And I think it was in Drive, but I’m not sure, when he was supposed to watch Kensi and he was wielding that sign, and wore cap and sunglasses (hope I’m not wrong about the episode). I know that episode is really hated by everyone, but I have to acknowledge Deeks’ work and being it undercover he tried to diffuse the situation by using humor (I think he was saying something even when he crashed in the body shop if I’m not mistaken). Long time no see of Drive, and I don’t really remember.
Can’t seem to think of another scene right now, so this is my list for now.
Thanks Natalie! I think it’s interesting how Deeks’ character evolved over the first few episodes. He was more subdued and serious and it took awhile for him to loosen up. I’ve always assumed that we’re seeing the writers slowly wrap their minds around the comedy gold that is ECO.
I like the “Uh Oops” line after he shoots the cardboard cut-out of Hetty.
Yes evelynmarie! That’s one of my all-time favorites. It definitely needed a mention here. I think it was the #1 Cheekiest Moment though. It’s so funny and makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it.
Another favorite of mine.
Sam, Callen and Deeks break into a building (I think in one of the Blye episodes) and Deeks goes: “Can you guys do me a favor. Maybe not scream out ‘Federal Agent’ this time because that’s when they start shooting”.
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Hah! Yes, I remember that. It’s very funny.