“Assets,” the third episode of the new season, gave us a solid hour beautifully directed by Tawnia McKiernan. Better yet, Kyle Harimoto wrote a script filled with important moments for many team members, including a number of delightful Deeks and Densi scenes. Now this is the NCIS: Los Angeles I want to see.
The episode was really about the future- for Deeks, for Densi, for Sam, and for the entire team. Harimoto threaded quite a few conversations on that topic into the episode, but particularly elegant was the way he contrasted Sam’s shift from tied down to set adrift (literally) with Densi’s discussions of how to create a future with major responsibilities. I could almost see their respective roles on the show swapping positions before my eyes.
It’s easy to see why this episode was slated to be the second of the season, for it sets out a number of potentially season-spanning storylines a lot less chaotically than the premiere did. For example, Harimoto gave us the best indications yet about how Sam’s processing Michelle’s death. He’s still hurting, but at least he’s clearly thought through his next steps. He’s kept the kids involved, and his plan for scattering Michelle’s ashes from his new boat feels right to me. It may be a bit dramatic to give away a house full of furniture, but I’m not gonna judge. After all, it’s not just Michelle whom Sam has lost. With Kamran going away to school, he’s completely alone now, at least on a day-to-day basis. It’s good to see that his friends are looking out for him. Heck, one of them moved all his furniture out of his house and another plans to help him refurbish his boat!
We went right from that opening scene of a Sam relatively at peace with moving on from his loss to one of a Deeks pretty worried about being forced to move on from NCIS. It was refreshing to see that Mosley is capable of smiling. Only Deeks could coax that one little grin out of her- he can wear anyone down given enough time. As I was reminded in a recent fan fic, no one can resist the Deeksness! [Update: There were actually two charming fics, one from Psyched right here at wikiDeeks, and another from gremlin2318 at fanfiction.net.]
As frustrating as I generally find Mosley, she does pose legitimate questions, in this case about why Deeks wants to be at NCIS. His answer was funny, and I get why he went with humor, given that he doesn’t know Mosley at all. Yet I found myself wishing he had given her a serious answer. He once again makes himself out to be a goofball, when we all know he’s capable of responding in an incredibly thoughtful way. He’s saving the world on a weekly basis, he’s challenged to be the best he can by his team and his partner, he’s respected and protected in a way he never was at LAPD, he has a big family around him, and yeah, he gets to work with his fiancée. I hope that he gets the chance to revise his answer sometime in the future- I’d love to see him fight to stay, and to express all that NCIS represents for him.
Deeks: Mosley, hey. Sorry, uh, Assistant Director Executive Director Executive As- I’m pretty sure there’s, there’s a Director and an Assistant in there somewhere- I’m sorry, am I fired, again?
Mosley: How long would you keep talking if no one stopped you?
Deeks: Many before you have searched for the answer to that very question.
The highlights of the episode were the charming Densi conversations. As we’ve seen many other times, the subject of children came up. Deeks has been thinking quite seriously about what his future may hold, and it apparently includes tiny pink wetsuits and surfboards for little Princess Sunshine Deeks. Wow. The duo had a great serious moment discussing their respective futures. I was surprised to hear Deeks talk about not wanting to have people shoot at him, when just last week he was bored to death stuck in the boatshed interrogating their suspect for the whole day. And later in this episode after they take out the motorcycle shooters, Deeks seems more like a guy enjoying the adrenaline rush (“I really wish we could have worked out our differences with words”) than someone having second thoughts about getting shot at. But still, how can they not worry about their dangerous jobs should they bring little Athena into the world? They merely have to look at what Kam and Aiden are going through for a real live example of the damage their job could do to a family.
What was refreshing here was that they both seemed on the same page about wanting to have children. I’d lost track of who wanted kids and who didn’t, they’d switched places so often. And of course tomboy Kensi might think she’d be a better mother to a son, but she has to know that her daughter could certainly take after her tomboy mother. (I do totally agree that not all girls like pink.) Either way, Deeks and Kensi talking over one another about the hypothetical nature of their discussion was pretty adorable.
Kensi: I know, I know, I know. Things are changing.
Deeks: Yeah, well maybe we should take that as a sign.
Kensi: A sign of what?
Deeks: Maybe it’s time to take the next step. You know, maybe it’s time to take, maybe it’s time to take our next step.
Kensi: I know, I know, I know I know I know.
Deeks: Listen, I’m not saying that you have to quit this job that you love ‘cause that would be selfish I wouldn’t say that. But maybe it’s time that I do.
Kensi: No because that would be selfish of me and plus, what would you do?
Deeks: Honestly I have no idea, but what I do know is that, you know, whatever job I take I’m just not gonna be coming in contact with people that are constantly trying to shoot me. I just, I can’t imagine, you know, kissing our daughter good-bye in the morning and then we spend the rest of the day wondering if one of us is going to get shot.
Kensi: Did you, did you just say “daughter”?
Deeks: Did I not mention that before? A little, little Princess Sunshine Deeks?
Kensi: No. Nooo.
Deeks: You don’t like that name?
Deeks: That name’s fantastic. It’s my great-uncle.
Kensi: Um, yeah, no, um, how ‘bout Athena?
The way they spoke over one another at the end and Deeks’ line about his great uncle had to have involved some improv. Scenes like this one- maybe because of the improvisation involved- feel so energized that you can almost see the sparks fly between them. It’s something that had been missing in the first two episodes, and it was reassuring to see it back.
Props also go to director Tawnia McKiernan. Right from the gorgeous opening shot straight up from the bottom of a swimming pool, she gave us interesting angles without being distracting or gimmicky. Just a few moments later in that same opening scene, the shots taken from water level added to the suspense because we couldn’t see any farther than Lieutenant Elder. I also liked the nice angle through the broken glass down to Kensi and Deeks as they tried to figure out where the sniper had hidden.
The scene where Deeks and Kensi take on the three gunman on motorcycle was particularly exciting. It always gets my attention when our team starts off outnumbered and on their heels like this scene did. The view of the rear windshield getting shot out, taken from the front of the car looking past Deeks out the back, put us right in the middle of the action. I flinched along with Deeks as the glass and bullets went flying. And how cool was it to see Deeks kick out the windshield so he and Kensi could play chicken with the remaining two bad guys? That was another terrific shot taken from straight in front of their vehicle as they drove forward, guns blazing. Now, was that correct procedure to drive at the bad guys, or should they have stopped and hid behind their doors? Hmmm. And did it feel at all realistic that Deeks took out two bikers while none of the bad guys landed any of their many, many shots (well, except the ones that killed the Audi)? Nope, but then that’s to be expected from this show.
- Who did Lieutenant Elder pay off to have that whole pool to herself?
- How fun was it to see David Olson making another appearance? I’m glad Sam has at least one non-work friend he can rely on. Here’s hoping we see even more of this real retired SEAL playing a TV retired SEAL.
- OK, I’ll let Mosley order Deeks to do away with the full beard (as much as I enjoyed it), but she better let him keep the scruff or we’re going to have words.
- Had they not rescheduled this episode, I don’t think the similarities to the Las Vegas shooting would have registered with me. Still, better to reschedule than risk upsetting anyone.
- Keith Stiger had me fooled. His rather long description of Elder’s suspicious behavior had me feeling like something was hinky with him, as if he were trying too hard to frame Elder. Guess I am just too suspicious. (Or, might Callen’s vow to follow every lead mean this story might continue some other time?)
- Yes, Callen, your house really does scream “International Spy.”
- I get why they have Mosley plotting to break up the team, after all we need tension and drama. But that she would come in with that specific plan without first seeing for herself how they operate makes me lose respect for her as a leader.
- Deeks and Kensi either drove slowly, or had a hard time commandeering that vehicle to follow Sam and Callen to the Stiger’s house. Couldn’t they have just squeezed into the back of the Challenger? Oh, that’s right, they needed to let Sam and Callen take center stage in the last shoot-out.
Before this episode ran, I rewatched “Reznikov, N.” When I saw Shane Brennan’s name all over the credits, I found myself thinking about how glad I was that the show is now in R. Scott Gemmill’s hands. As difficult a season as Season 8 was, I’m still optimistic that he and his writers are going to tell great stories about these characters this year.
Be sure to check back later this week for new installments of Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal plus the Drabble of the Week. And stay tuned for another new episode next week, “Plain Sight.” (Contrary to what we saw in the promo, I’m sure Deeks and Kensi will at least make an appearance.) In the meantime, what did you think of “Assets”? How does it compare to the first two episodes? And did you see the same Densi sparks I did?