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The Top 3 Episodes to Take to a Desert Island

Today we’ll talk about the episodes we love the most, the ones we’d most want to keep with us were we to be stranded on a desert island (albeit one with a solar-powered DVD player).

The Premise

In evaluating this Top 3, I thought about the episodes I tend to rewatch most often, and also about the episodes that would be the last ones I would ever delete from my DVR.

The Top 3

It killed me to leave behind my all-time favorite scene (the end of “Impact”), but the rest of the episode is far from my favorite so I had to leave it off the list. I did gravitate to episodes with some serious Deeks-related angst (no surprise I’m sure), and also to those with some wonderful Densi banter. I ended up with a little of each. In reverse order of importance, my Top 3 is…

#3. “Personal

Written by Joseph C. Wilson, “Personal” was the first episode where I really stopped and paid attention to Deeks, and to the show for that matter. Prior to that, I always played it in the background while I did other things. But there’s something about a wounded Deeks that just speaks to me, so I listened. I watched as we saw his vulnerability, both physical and emotional. I enjoyed the gentle bantering between him and his partner. I watched his heroic rescue of Kensi (a Top 3 entry for Action!Deeks Scenes) in awe. I listened to his final talk with Hetty (the #1 Deeks/Hetty Talk) and was shocked at the revelations about his childhood. I watched the expressions on his face during that talk and realized that Eric Christian Olsen was a great actor. Then I went back and rewatched every episode from “Hand-to-Hand,” and watched every other television show and movie that Eric had ever appeared in, and my obsession began. How could I leave this episode behind?

#2. “Borderline”

Written by R. Scott Gemmill, this episode only made a single Top 3 list, The Top 3 Episodes for a New Densi Fan, but it was a finalist on many of them, including The Top 3 Examples of Densi Banter, Deeks Undercover Roles, Uses of Humor to Defuse Tension, Funniest Scenes, Funniest Episodes, and Best Written Episodes. I’ve written at length about why it’s an Essential Episode. For me it’s so essential that it earns the #2 spot.

There’s something downright joyful about the Densi scenes in the desert. I’ve always thought that it’s where these two actors, and the writers and showrunners, must have gotten their first full glimpse of what Densi could be. Their banter is strong right from the opening scenes on an L.A. street with an undercover Homeless Deeks, and then in Ops joking about hygiene. There are great discussions about pet snakes, and hilarious one-liners about Jason Bourne while under fire. We learn a little bit about each character’s backstory (even though Deeks’ version is not entirely truthful). These two characters are getting to know one another, and their “little ride” in the desert is where they too begin to see the first glimmerings of what their partnership could be.

#1. Ascension

With my #1 selection, written by Frank Military, we go from the potential of a new partnership to the shattered hopes of a post-torture Deeks. The angst of “Ascension” just kills me every time I watch it. Every single scene with Deeks breaks my heart. That’s why it earned two of The Top 3 Most Heartbreaking Moments. Eric is so incredible throughout, showing us how overwhelmed, how lost, Deeks is by what’s happened to him. Plus Deeks does finally get a long-deserved apology and kind words of support from Sam. On the other hand, this episode nearly made my Top 3 Frustrating Episodes list for all the scenes where Deeks is abandoned by Kensi, and I do fast forward through the lengthy Callen-Janvier cat and mouse antics, so the episode is far from perfect. Yet the angst is so powerful that I do believe it would be the last episode to be deleted from my DVR. Now, feel free to psychoanalyze me to determine why I enjoy sadness so much that I’d want it with me on a desert island!

Also in the Running

This was a difficult exercise, as there were many other episodes I hated to part with. Among them:

Hmm, if only I could take 12 episodes with me, I think I’d be quite happy.

Next Week

Next week this series comes to an end as we take some time to discuss our Top 3 Favorite Things about NCIS:LA. Think outside the box- your Top 3 can be any three things you want! Favorite scenes, favorite episodes, or something more intangible.

Until then… I can’t imagine that anyone else shares my Top 3 Desert Island picks. Let me know your version- which three episodes would you hold onto the longest?

Or, return to last week’s Top 3- The Top 3 Scenes that Sum Up Densi.

About Karen (287 Articles)
wikiDeeks Writer & Assistant Editor. I never wrote for fun before... until my ECO-obsession. Now I love to analyze any and all aspects of the best character on television.

17 Comments on The Top 3 Episodes to Take to a Desert Island

  1. We are almost in complete agreement here.




    And the reason why for all three: because Deeks.

    I cannot live without these episodes. This is basically asking which episodes could I watch over and over again for the rest of my life. Yes. These.

    Liked by 1 person

    • peakae I certainly can’t argue with including “Descent” over “Borderline.” It’s really hard for me to picture leaving it behind.


  2. It is very difficult to choose just 3, but these are episodes that I rewatch most often:
    1) Seventh Child, I think I have mentioned these same reasons before, but I love Densi scenes, great acting (I love how Callen was written), great child actors, I love that even though there is angst there is hope too. It is a bit strange that this episode has become so important to me, because I don’t usually like so angsty episodes (especially when children are involved).
    2) Personal: I love the plot and surprises, hero Deeks and to find out a bit more about Deeks and his past.
    3) Very difficult to choose, but I choose Neighborhood Watch. I rewatch it often, couldn’t delete it and it is kind of an classic Densi episode, I think it would be nice to watch it on a beautiful island and I think it is the episode that has most Kensi and Deeks (in one episode) so when I can take only three episodes I choose this so that I get as much Kensi and Deeks to watch as possible 🙂
    It was really difficult to choose and all of those episodes Karen mentioned are so great that is hard to leave them out. One episode I would like to add, that was difficult for me to leave out, is “Black Wind”, I love those Deeks and Tomas scenes and that Granger hug.
    I hope that the season finale tonight will be so amazing that I will have to add it to my list.


    • AnneS, that’s a great list. I particularly like your reasoning for including “Neighborhood Watch”- quantity is important!


  3. Personal is definitely in my top 3. Also Sacrifice. I’d have a hard time picking just one more though. Maybe IA, maybe a YouTube compilation of my favorite scenes from Descent/Ascension/Impact, including of course all the Deeks/Sam scenes and the deleted hospital scene.


    • hoopsdiva I thought I was the only one who loved “Sacrifice.” I wish Eva would make a return trip to LA. And hah! That’s totally cheating, but I am impressed by your deviousness. I want that same compilation, as well as a compilation of all four proposal scenes.


  4. sassyzazzi // May 14, 2017 at 11:17 AM // Reply

    This is way too hard.
    I decided I would go with the three I have watched the most :

    Internal Affairs
    Neighborhood Watch

    followed by Traitor ..


    • sassyzazzi that’s a solid list for sure. I’m intrigued by “Traitor”- I may need to rewatch that one, although I do seem to recall some excellent questioning of Hetty and some fine use of a shotgun?


  5. Just thinking about picking just three episodes left me frustrated. I love so many of the episodes that have great Deeks’ scenes that choosing three seems like a betrayal of all the others, but here goes.

    #3: Plan B. I love this episode over Borderline because we caught a glimpse of Deeks’ past. We are introduced to Max Gentry and suddenly the happy go lucky Deeks reveals dark layers we had no idea were there. Other than the end of Human Traffic, it showed us a streak of violence that was very surprising at the time. ECO was mercurial in his portrayal and proved just how talented he really is.

    #2: Ascension. Best season premiere ever…so far. Having to wait all summer for this was difficult, but it didn’t disappoint. Still wanted more from that scene with Sam coming to him in the hospital, but I wrote my own version, so I can live with it. Again, it’s the ending that makes it one of my favorites. I could have done without the interruption, but ECO and Dani were so perfect in that final scene, I was moved to tears. In the end, the team rallied around him and this series could use more of that.

    #1: Personal. This is my all time favorite for all the reasons you expressed. ECO was perfect in this ep…and it caused me great gobs of angst watching him lying there in recovery, watching him struggle to understand why he was targeted, being heroic when he figures out he was just the bait and then heroically saving his partner. But it was the last scene with Hetty that cements it as my all time favorite. The revelation and the myriad expressions on ECO’s face made it the one I can never erase.

    Great series, Karen…but having to choose only three gives me an upset stomach every time.


    • Excellent list Lindy! I’m so sorry to have been the cause of so much indigestion! (It hasn’t been easy for me either.)


  6. It would be easier to take single scenes than whole episodes, but if I really had to choose complete episodes as in this week’s Top Three, I’m sure I would take Descent/Ascension and Neighborhood watch. The Season 4 finale and Season 5 premiere, in my opinion, have remained unique (so far) in NCIS:LA’s story and they represent a microcosm of everything that for me makes this show worth-watching: breathtaking action, well-written arcs, unexpected plot twists, strong feelings, undercover operations, scary villains, trust, loyalty.
    Then with Neighborhood watch I would definitely relax and enjoy my favorite TV ship: Densi. All their scenes in that episode are memorable and worth-rewatching!


  7. 1. Plan B: This is my all-time favorite NCISLA episode and the one that cemented my love for both Deeks and ECO. I liked meeting Max and how he introduces us to the dark layers of Deeks’ personality that aren’t evident cause of his happy and carefree attitude. Also, because it adds more information on his background, and show more of his relationships (Ray and Nicole) outside of NCIS and what we know of his past at LAPD.
    2. Wanted: Just for the laughs I would take this episode anywhere. The scenes in the boatshed with the CIA agents and the spa are fantastic and make me laugh every single time. Plus, the ending is one of my fave Densi scenes, with the promise and “sunshine and gunpowder”.
    3. Internal affairs: This was the hardest decision and I was between like 5 eps for this spot. Decided on this one because it shows a lot of the different aspects of Deeks personality that I really like. I enjoyed all the interrogation scenes, loved the conversation with Roberta and ultimately was super pleased with the investigation itself, the resolution of the problem (at least for the time being) and the last couple of scenes (with Kensi + the team, and Hetty).

    Also on the run: personal, the seventh child, spoils of war, crimeleon and the whole Siderov/torture ark of the end of s04 and first 3 episodes of s05.


    • Forgot to add Neighborhood watch as one ep I highly considered for my top 3.


    • Jess that’s another excellent trio that combines Dark Deeks with so much Densi hilarity. I could easily be happy with it, or with any of these others, over mine. That just goes to show how many great Deeks episodes we have to choose from.


  8. Wow, great job. I will have to defer my answer until I re-watch the series this summer. Yup, now I’ll definitely have to watch this summer!


    • Psyched I’m thinking the same thing. A summer marathon might be very enjoyable, a way to look back on Densi’s journey to their engagement.


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