For this week’s Top 3, we’re going to put together a combination of three episodes that would be the best for any new fan to watch. If you wanted to introduce Marty Deeks to someone who had never watched NCIS: Los Angeles, what three episodes would you give them?
These aren’t necessarily the best episodes, or the best written, or the most important. Rather, it’s the way they combine into a set to show a newbie everything they need to know about Deeks. And we’re talking Deeks alone- next week we’ll do the same for Densi.
The Top 3
It was tempting to go with a trio of backstory-heavy episodes. But I also wanted to capture Deeks’ lighthearted nature, his wit and sexiness, along with his courage and his dark side. Oh, and one other note- we’re assuming that our new fan isn’t concerned about spoilers. So in reverse order of importance (but in exact order of how a new fan should watch the set), the Top 3 is…
#3. “Skin Deep”
To paraphrase something Lindy AKA Sweet Lu has often noted, when Marty Deeks joined the show, he added the LA to NCIS:LA. He’s the only team member who’s a native Southern Californian. He’s a local, with a Los Angeles-oriented job as police detective. He’s a little scruffy but he’s funny and smart. “Skin Deep,” written by Gil Grant, features Deeks at his SoCal best, surfing undercover to catch the bad guys. How could a new viewer not find him charming and attractive? This was my #1 Guilty Pleasure episode for the surfing scenes alone, but it also features Topanga hippies calling out Deeks’ resemblance to Shaggy from Scooby Do, Deeks chasing down a suspect and wrangling him to the ground, and Deeks smoothly working his way undercover with the bad guys. That is, until someone he arrested recognizes him, which just emphasizes his local cop history (and gives us an entertaining bar fight). Later he quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson to a suspect, showing he’s not just a pretty face. Plus there are some nice moments with Kensi featuring their trademark banter and flirting. How could a new viewer not want to see more after this one episode? To me, it’s a wonderful introduction to all the light-hearted aspects of Deeks’ personality.
#2. Plan B
Ah, but we know that Deeks has a dark side. What better follow-up to the fun of “Skin Deep” than to dive right into that dark side with “Plan B”? This episode reveals so much about Deeks’ past. Our new viewer may not have seen “Personal” but here they get a recap of the key facts we learned in that ep, that Deeks had to shoot his father when he was 11 years old to protect himself and his mother. But they’ll also learn that his friend Ray gave him the gun he used, that Ray became a bad guy and Deeks reconnected with him when he was undercover, and that Deeks made a connection of a different sort with Ray’s wife Nicole. For NCIS: Los Angeles, this is a lot of information!
The reason I chose “Plan B,” written by Dave Kalstein and Joseph C. Wilson, over other backstory-heavy episodes like “Personal” or “Internal Affairs” was that we actually get to see his history come to life here, with Ray and Nicole’s return, and most importantly, with Max Gentry’s appearance. For our new viewer who thinks they know the joking Marty Deeks from “Skin Deep”, meeting Max will be a shock (it was for me). He is not a nice guy. And it’s clear that he’s not just a random undercover persona- he’s a part of Deeks, the part that Deeks hates, the part that’s like his father, and that he fears might take over. He doesn’t just provide a better understanding of this usually hidden side of Deeks, he gives us a glimpse of what his childhood would have been like with a man like John Gordon Brandel. Max Gentry (my #1 Deeks Undercover Role) adds so much to our understanding of Deeks that he’s essential viewing for a new Deeks fan. If they liked what they saw after “Skin Deep,” they’re going to be utterly intrigued once they watch “Plan B.”
Now that our new Deeks fan has seen the best of SoCal, sexy Deeks and some of the worst of Dark Deeks, and has a better understanding of what makes him such a complex character, I’d like to show my newbie how heroic he is. I chose “Descent”, written by Frank Military, as my final episode in this three-hour trilogy because it shows Deeks’ bravery as well as his romantic side. Plus it helps us understand his character in more subtle ways: it shows us how his childhood has made it hard for him to communicate his feelings, and how he actually keeps his dark side under wraps by erring on the side of taking too much abuse from his co-workers.
The episode shows us two key relationships in Deeks’ life, both at key moments. Kensi is frustrated at his inability to communicate about their thing, but Deeks pushes through and provides some spectacular non-verbal communication in the form of a hilltop kiss. He and Sam have had a long history of being at odds, and it comes to a head here when Deeks finally calls Sam on his lack of faith in him, and Sam outright questions his character. Here too though, Deeks comes through and despite Sam’s (and Sidorov’s) questioning his strength, he endures torture in order to keep Sam’s wife safe. I think the episode shows us how very brave and strong Deeks is, sacrificing himself in order to save Sam from drowning. It gives us a wonderfully romantic Densi kiss, along with a wonderfully snarky one-liner about communication. But I’d need to warn the new Deeks fan that they’ll be desperate to immediately watch the follow-up, and I’d tell them how lucky they were to not have to wait an entire summer to see what happened next.
Also in the Running
- Wanted (R. Scott Gemmill)
- An Unlocked Mind (Frank Military)
- Internal Affairs (Chad Mazero, R. Scott Gemmill)
- Spoils of War (Frank Military)
- Personal (Joseph C. Wilson)
- Human Traffic (Shane Brennan)
- Ascension (Frank Military)
- Payback (Jordana Lewis Jaffe)
I’m satisfied that I’d totally hook my new Deeks viewer with this set of episodes, but I’m sure there are many winning combinations out there. What is your Top 3?
Next week we’ll do the same exercise for Densi, providing a new viewer a Top 3 list of episodes that will have them falling in love with our favorite couple.
Tell us about your Top 3, or go back to last week’s Top 3, the Top 3 Best Written Episodes.