Most of the time, I think NCIS: Los Angeles fans come together to form a pretty solid consensus on the quality of each episode. I usually find myself liking episodes that others like. But today we’re going to talk about the episodes we like even when they’re not considered among the best. Maybe even episodes others have criticized… Our guilty pleasures.
To be considered, an episode didn’t have to be disliked, it just needed to be less loved than the ones we talk about over and over.
The Top 3
One indication that an episode belonged on my list was its continuing presence on my DVR, when otherwise I’ve only saved what we’d all consider the “essential episodes.” I ended up with two episodes with elements that many people (myself included) disliked, but that I still enjoy rewatching for other reasons. Plus a third episode where I don’t think there was much to dislike, but I feel guilty about the real reason it continues to hold a precious spot on that DVR. Remember, I won’t judge your Top 3 if you don’t judge mine. In reverse order of importance, my Top 3 is…
#3. “Unwritten Rule”
Yes, I booed Hetty when she took away Deeks’ motorcycle, treating him like a child, and I absolutely disliked Sam’s little jibe about Deeks not being an agent. But oh my, did I enjoy Deeks on that gorgeous motorcycle- what a sight, even if it didn’t last long. I also liked Kensi’s fierce protectiveness and the #1 Deeks Ramble of all time. What I particularly liked about Season 5 (I know, you don’t all share my affection for that season), was that Deeks was the “emotional center.” His well-being was the emotional core of the first half of the season, from his PTSD to worry over his missing his partner. It gave Eric Christian Olsen a chance to show off his great range and gave us some wonderful scenes like the one where Hetty asks him about that “emotional center.” This episode, written by Joseph C. Wilson and Jordana Lewis Jaffe, also provides a “jungle cat” sighting and Deeks’ cheeky “gimme some sugar” response when Hetty reaches for the keys. It makes me laugh every time I see it, even as I prepare to hate on Hetty.
This might be my most controversial selection. It’s upsetting to see Deeks mocked and dissed by Sam throughout, set up by some purposefully bad advice from Callen (what a jerk!) on how to “housebreak an angry Navy SEAL.” Then there’s Hunter – ugh – and an awkward, and not in an entertaining way, Kensi-Callen partnership.
On the positive (and vapid) side, I like Deeks’ short hair, and I don’t mind that controversial striped shirt. But I think the real reason I enjoy this episode, written by Dave Kalstein and Shane Brennan, is that we get to see Sam and Deeks together. They have amazing chemistry, even if they’re in the “hate” portion of their love-hate relationship. Deeks is so sweet throughout, trying so hard to bond with his new partner. He mirrors Sam’s body language when talking to Hunter. He tries to talk shop and help Sam prep for his undercover role. Yes, Sam is a total jerk throughout, but I enjoyed their scenes anyway. I laughed at Deeks’ “I will drop you like third period French” threat to the giant bouncer, and the whole “Kensi probably doesn’t need to know about the whole ‘beating up the soles of your shoes with my face’ thing.” He’s just kinda adorable in a sweet puppy dog way, and I know that eventually these two work out their differences, which makes the maltreatment easier to take.
#1. “Skin Deep”
I know “Skin Deep,” written by Gil Grant, is nothing more than a filler episode. But Surfer Deeks in a wetsuit will always be my favorite Deeks. I apologize for my shallowness, but it’s just how I feel. I would defend my selection by pointing out the great Densi banter (Donny & Marie, Hang loose bro, partida elegante anejo, the butt slap, sex wax, I’m gonna go ride a little wild surf). Then throw in the awesome Secret Agent Man vintage music and an old-fashioned bar fight, plus Shaggy from Scooby Doo jokes from the Topanga Canyon hippies, not to mention trading quotes with Lance (Truth is beautiful but so are lies- Ralph Waldo Emerson). My only regret is that we never get a really good shot of Deeks actually riding a wave. Why’d they have to make fun of his surfing abilities- can’t he have one thing he’s good at?
Also in the Running
I considered a few other episodes, but in the end decided they lacked enough “bad” parts to make me feel all that guilty about liking them:
- SEAL Hunter (Sara Servi, Frank Military): so funny (see next week’s list)
- Sacrifice (Joseph C. Wilson): more great Deeks chemistry, this time with a Mexican cop named Eva
- The Livelong Day (Joe Sachs): a Top 3 Funniest Scene with the undercover railroad inspectors
- Cyber Threat (R. Scott Gemmill): tennis playing Deeks
Next week starts a final run of pretty weighty Top 3 lists, with the Top 3 Funniest Episodes. In the meantime, go ahead, tell us your Top 3 Guilty Pleasures. We promise not to judge!
Or, return to the last Top 3, the Top 3 Frustrating Episodes.