Going into this week’s climax of the mole storyline, I found myself wishing that “Payback” had been penned by ever-reliable showrunner R. Scott Gemmill. But I have to say that Jordana Lewis Jaffe outdid herself, giving us an episode with suspense, intensity, emotion, and well-placed humor. Director Terrence O’Hara also contributed to the ep’s success with well done action and pacing throughout.
Full disclosure: I’m just starting to write this at 11:00 pm Monday night (thank you flight delays!), having returned from a weekend trip and finally watching the episode. To make this doable, I’m going to keep things on the short side and stick with what we most like to talk about here at wikiDeeks- how the story impacts our favorite character and his ladybird. I know you all are anxious to discuss!
Violence Solving Violence
Aside from knowing Joelle was back, I had somehow successfully avoided all spoilers over the last couple of weeks. The scene where Deeks barged into Sabatino’s interrogation and started beating on him utterly shocked me. The intensity of the violence had me literally gasping as my hand went to cover my mouth. Deeks was like a runaway freight train in his forward momentum, while also being so serious and focused on the task at hand. If I were Sabatino I’d have been pretty scared.
Not for the first time, we got a very clear window onto Deeks’ dark side, the part of him that learned at a very early age that violence stops the bad guys and gets results. As Eric Christian Olsen has said, “This character obviously has issues of violence solving violence, especially when it comes to women that he cares about.” While Deeks normally represses his violent urges, here he unleashed them in full force in an effort to get information that will save Kensi. It was basically a repeat of “Spoils of War,” only his team was there to witness it, and to keep him from going too far. (It could also have potentially been a glimpse of an enraged Deeks out to protect Tiffany from Frances Boyle.)
It also made me think about the first time Deeks witnessed Kensi being abducted, in “Deliverance.” At that point in their partnership, they were barely friendly. Kensi wasn’t anywhere close to the one person Deeks cared about the most in the world. In that episode, Deeks felt horrible about what had happened but he remained so self-contained. He blamed himself but expressed no anger. No chairs were thrown. In “Payback” he is absolutely frantic, desperate to save Kensi. He simply couldn’t survive losing her.
What was great about this scene was that it managed to be simultaneously shocking (nicely directed by Mr. O’Hara) and yet unsurprising, since it sprung from what we already know and understand about Deeks’ character and motivations. On a shallower note, Deeks slamming the door open and hurling the chair out of his way was, umm, attention grabbing, as was his roar of anger right before Sam stopped him. Speaking of hurling, it was impressive and somehow amusing how easily Sam picked Deeks up and hurled him to the side. The man is strong! And even as Sam and Callen tried to keep Deeks under control throughout the episode, they kept their efforts as low key as possible and never threatened to pull him from the case.
Callen: So what’d I miss?
Sam: Not much. Sabatino says he doesn’t know where Ferris has Kensi and he’s been working against these people.
Deeks: Which is a big fat post-truth.
Sam: Deeks tried to break his face.
Callen: Goin’ off book for this one, huh?
Sam: There is no book for this one.
Too Close to be Partners?
When Sam, Callen and Deeks had arrived at the church I was already beginning to wonder if they should pull Deeks from the case (not that he’d have let them). And then when they were back in the boatshed after Deeks punched Sabatino and hurled a second chair across the room in front of Joelle and Hetty, the concerns only increased. It made me think back to Hetty’s conversation with Nate in “Impact,” when she asked him if Deeks and Kensi were too close to continue working as partners. I do hope that’s something the showrunners continue to explore. I’m not so sure myself that they should be working together.
But then Deeks focused his anger on one person who definitely deserves it- Hetty. Words cannot express how thrilling it was to hear Deeks let Hetty have it for putting Kensi at risk. Again, there were great parallels to an earlier episode, this time with Kensi’s admonishment of Hetty in “Internal Affairs.” If only Hetty had taken his words to heart rather than responding with sarcasm. Oh, Hetty, how much I simultaneously enjoy your attitude in one scene and then despise it in another. Despite Hetty’s annoying response, Deeks’ standing up to her was one of my favorite moments of the season.
Deeks: [Roars and throws chair]
Hetty: You feel better?
Deeks: I can’t do this. I can’t do this, he’s not giving us anything.
Hetty: He may not have anything to give us.
Deeks: No. No, I can’t live with that.
Hetty: You might not have a choice, Mr. Deeks.
Deeks: That is awful rich, Hetty, considering you’re the person that put her in this position in the first place. It’s not enough to get your whole team locked up, now you go and kill every single person who might know where she’s being held?… Let me be perfectly clear about this. If Sabatino doesn’t know where she is, that means she’s in this all by herself. You understand what that means, right? If anything happens to her… that’s on you.
Hetty: Now, do you feel any better?
Whether or not they address this confrontation in the future remains to be seen. I don’t think they need to, but it sure would be interesting.
Taking the Shot
On the other hand, I was disappointed when Deeks told Hetty that Kensi wasn’t ready. He’s usually not over-protective in that way, always respecting Kensi’s abilities. It’s a sign that he’s lashing out about anything he can think of, but also of how all that Kensi’s been through has impacted him. I think it would only be natural if he continues to feel overly protective when Kensi and he are finally back in the field together, and I hope the show will explore that dynamic.
But then we got that awesome rescue scene. Once more, huge echoes of the past rang through my mind. This time it was “The Frozen Lake” and Deeks’ hesitation to take the shot. Here there was no hesitation whatsoever. In fact, I don’t think Deeks could have taken the shot any faster! Sullivan/Ferris didn’t even get to finish his threat. So even as Deeks may worry about Kensi’s abilities, and even as their closeness stopped Deeks from functioning at a fully professional level, at least he’s able to perform his duties when the moment calls for it.
Then he could finally check on Kensi and talk to her, and their reunion couldn’t have been any cuter. Kensi actually looked both relieved and happy. As in happy with herself that she had held her own with Sullivan; the silver lining here is that she’s proven to herself and everyone else that she’s more than ready to be back in the field. Kensi also seemed happy that Deeks had taken the shot. “Double tap to the head? You must really love me.” What a classic Densi line. It reminded me so much of my #1 Sexiest Scene, when Deeks threatened Michael Saleh, who was pointing a gun at Kensi, in “Greed” (“Let me make this perfectly clear. If you harm her…”). Kensi looked about as turned on in this scene as she did in that one. Their words to Sam and Callen couldn’t have been more perfect…
Callen: Kens, you OK?
Deeks: Dad, get out of the room!
Sam: Kensi, you alright?
Kensi: He said get out of the room!
The End of the Mole(s)?
In the end, I don’t know what to think of the mole storyline. There were so many moles! I wish Joelle had been a little more evil rather than turning into a somewhat hapless CIA agent who somehow got to get out of her assignment tracking Callen when she decided she felt bad about it. Or was that just a line? I mean, didn’t she have to be in on Kensi’s kidnapping since she swapped places with her at the church? It was creepy to think of her sitting at the boatshed gathering intel, all the while pretending to be so sweet and innocent. I only wish we’d had a more calculating turn for her character.
Also, I wish that Sullivan developing feelings for Kensi could have been handled with a bit more finesse, as it could have been interesting rather than kind of awkward (and was she “a job” or did he want revenge?). I have no idea how Sharov was ever involved in both Russia and Afghanistan. But I do like that Sabatino got away. He is so slimy, and hopefully he’ll be back in the future to cause more mayhem for the team.
- What in the heck was the point of Callen phoning Sullivan/Ferris at the beginning? They had to assume he’d move locations and leave his phone behind. That was the weakest point of the episode, as it seemed like a very stupid move on Callen’s part. How did they know Sullivan was about to cut off Kensi’s leg? “Forcing him to change his plans” meant that they had no chance of rescuing Kensi. Oh, right, but then the episode would have ended after only 10 minutes, hee hee.
- Dare I say that if The Top 3 Sexiest Moments hadn’t already run, some of Deeks’, shall we say, determined behavior to find Kensi might have made the list?
- Nutella? That’s mighty sweet Callen, although a questionable use of NCIS resources to send someone out to the store for a snack.
- Deeks may have doubted Kensi, but I loved how confident Sam was. Kensi is as tough as nails. You’ll see. She’s gonna make the bastard pay. Overall Sam couldn’t have been more supportive of Deeks, both last episode and this one. Just beautiful to see.
- More nice callbacks to the past with the reminders that Sabatino and Michelle had been friendly co-workers.
- Finally, someone was able to write a very funny Eric who didn’t seem completely ridiculous. I loved his scene with Admiral Chegwidden. Speaking of the admiral, he seems pretty funny. I’m unfamiliar with his character from previous appearances on JAG or NCIS, but he was instantly likeable, so him sticking around might be a good thing for the show. (I do feel compelled to mention though that it wouldn’t have killed the showrunners to bring in a new character of color to up the cast’s diversity level a bit.)
- Under pressure, Deeks doesn’t simply take the shot. He first makes sure he has Callen’s back before he goes to help Kensi. Maybe he can keep working with her after all.
- I assume Kensi’s happiness in the final scene was possible because she knew that Granger and Hetty were really alive? After all, she had seen those horrible photos on the bad guys’ phones.
- Also adorable was Deeks carrying Kensi over the threshold. It reminded me of “Raven & The Swans” but might it also be foreshadowing? Let’s hope so!
- Callen razzing Sam for introducing him to Joelle was classic bromance. Callen chopping his Joelle-gifted dining table was hilarious. And also very much in character, much more so than had he talked about his feelings.
- Oh, Granger. I’m glad he got to shoot the bad gal and share a few words with Nell and Hetty. That’s a much better way to go out than simply never regaining consciousness. (By the way, what kind of badge did that would-be assassin flash?)
- I’m still rooting for Detective Whiting to pull through. No news is good news?
Well so much for keeping things short, LOL. At least I set a personal speed record of two hours to get the review done. I’m sorry I don’t have more time to ponder this episode. We got a lot of interesting Deeks material to go along with his confession to Whiting in the last ep. I also appreciate how in character everyone was throughout, and how many previous episodes Jaffe managed to summon up in my thoughts. I am looking forward to her next outing. And finally, I’d be remiss to not point out how fantastic Eric Christian Olsen was in every scene, showing us a Dark Deeks who’s desperate to save the woman he loves.
What did you think? Are you happy with the resolution of the mole storyline? Do you think it’s even resolved? What did you think of Dark, Determined, and Desperate Deeks? And did you love the Densi reunion at the end?