This week’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles gave us the first real Deeks-centered storyline of the season. Written by Chad Mazero and directed by James Hanlon, it may not have risen to the same level of high drama as Mazero’s previous outing “Internal Affairs” (co-written with R. Scott Gemmill), but it delivered a good team episode with some fantastic Deeks-Bates chemistry.
Bates is One of the Good Ones
Whew, a big sigh of relief was had by many of us with the reveal that Bates was – of course! – not a dirty cop. That was merely a nasty rumor Whiting was foolish enough to believe. Luckily for us, Bates as a suspect provided an opportunity to get him into the field with Deeks, enabling us to fully enjoy Patrick St. Esprit’s curmudgeonly lieutenant. I’m pretty sure I didn’t follow all the details of the plot, but it didn’t matter when every scene with Deeks and Bates made me laugh.
Bates: Let’s cut the crap.
Deeks: I think it’s pretty obvious which one of us is the officer and which one of us is the gentleman.
Bates: I’ve had kidney stones that passed easier than time with you.
Deeks: [to Simon] Listen, Mommy and Daddy fight. The important thing to remember is it’s not about you…
Bates: [to Simon] Is there any way we can speed this up? I need to get home soon so I can reconsider all my life choices…
His appearance included laugh out loud banter that easily rose to the show’s high standards for hilarious wordplay. Again, I must make the case for a spin-off featuring Deeks and Bates as partners or in-laws or anything really, as long as they get to play off one another. (And come on, he has got to meet Roberta – they would have just as many wisecracks flying between them, a match made in heaven.) This week’s banter was Deeks and Bates’ best yet, surpassing the somewhat over-the-top version we had in the season premiere “Party Crashers.” This dialog felt slightly more disciplined, as if the two were sticking to the script or were more focused with their improv.
It was also nice to see Bates’ character developed a little bit more, which happened when he explained to Deeks why he wasn’t dirty (“I can’t control everything Deeks. But my honor – that’s one thing I can control”). Of course things didn’t stay serious for long, with the duo going right back to their fantastic banter as bad guy Wallace walked through the door.
Wallace: Do you have any idea who you’re talking to?
Deeks: Based on the lack of emotion in the forehead, I’m saying a spokesperson for Botox?
Wallace: Who are you?
Bates: You’re not gonna see us again, that’s the way this works.
Wallace: Oh great. So I’m shelling out money to a bunch of mall cops.
Deeks: Oh that is an offensive stereotype, besides malls can be very scary places. Have you been to a Hot Topic lately?
Wallace: Some federal agents showed up at my office. We are running out of time. So what I need from you is to SHUT UP and help me see this deal through.
Bates: I don’t like the cut of his jib.
Deeks: His jib is not cut well.
I love you Kensi, but I would pay money for more episodes featuring Bates and Deeks as partners.
No Mosley? No Problem
There were a few people missing from tonight’s episode and I have to say that their absence made the entire thing feel, well, better. Mosley and Hidoko’s unexplained absences (which are in fact explainable by the episode being filmed at the end of Season 8) gave what became a strong team-centered episode a more traditional NCIS:LA feel than some others this season. Even though Deeks and Kensi weren’t together and Hetty is far far away, everything seemed more balanced. It felt downright refreshing to let the team do what the team does (to borrow from the upcoming 200th episode title). And Mosley and Hidoko being gone gave Mazero just a little more time to spend developing Bates and Whiting’s characters, which added to the episode. I did keep wondering where Mosley was, given her disdain for Deeks thus far. I can’t imagine she’d have much approved of how the team handled this case, given its lack of a military angle.
Even Stone Cold Whiting Isn’t Immune to the Deeksness
With the return of Bates, how could Detective Whiting not be far behind? I still enjoy Karina Logue’s take on the proverbial thorn in Deeks’ side. This time we even saw a little softening in their relationship. Their opening scene was all about Whiting exerting her power via blackmail to get Deeks to do her bidding, and we saw his open frustration as he walked away, slamming the interview room door. But it turned out Whiting called in Deeks’ help in part because she wasn’t sold on Bates being dirty and wanted to give him a shot to clear his name. Combine her good motives with her apparent non-hatred of Deeks (“I have nightmares about Deeks friending me on Facebook – it doesn’t mean I don’t want him safe”) and by the end of the episode the two felt more like they were actually on the same side, fighting together against corruption. It really does seem that no one is immune to the Deeksness.
And Bates is no exception, for despite how annoying he always finds his detective, at episode’s end he invited him to come back to the LAPD. Still, whether he’s at LAPD or NCIS, it’s got to suck for Deeks to have the specter of Whiting’s return hanging over his head. Logue and Eric Christian Olsen both played this complicated relationship beautifully, and I for one am glad that Whiting may return yet again. It will at least mean another Deeks-centric episode.
A Dearth of Drama… and Densi
Maybe my expectations are permanently low for having the team support Deeks, but I enjoyed how they all immediately jumped into action to track him down. Their sense of urgency was much improved over what we saw in “Internal Affairs.” In the boatshed, it almost felt as if Sam and Callen were about to fight Bates over Deeks, which would have been so gratifying for him. He shouldn’t have been so quick to play peacemaker between the two groups.
Later in the ep we got the best explanation from Deeks yet on why he wants to continue liaising between the two organizations – “I’ve kinda got the best of both worlds right now, right? Representing LAPD’s finest and with NCIS working with a team that I respect the hell out of.” Too bad he couldn’t have mustered that explanation for Mosley. Thank goodness Bates accepted it. After all, as he pointed out earlier in the episode, he does have the power to commandeer Deeks anytime he sees fit.
Bates: Well, just remember that for one fleeting moment I had something nice to say about you.
Deeks: It’s going straight to the diary.
Bates: I’m moved. Alright. I gotta get home. Wife #3’s just betting for a reason to leave me…
Deeks: See ya. I miss that moustache.
Bates: I quit ya, Deeks.
I loved the callback to the moustache insults from “Internal Affairs.” With this show it always seems to give the continuity a boost when the same writer is involved in an on-going storyline.
As much as I enjoyed every scene of the episode, I never felt a ton of suspense once Deeks crashed his pretty red truck past the police cruiser. It became more about banter and teamwork than about any juicy Deeks- or Densi-related dramatic scenes. I’d have been excited to see them investigate the dirty cops and take on some bad LAPD officers, or even try to go undercover with Wallace to the meet, but alas there was no time. We’ve seen relatively little drama from Deeks and Densi so far this entire season. It really made me wish for the long-sought (and maybe never-to-be?) “Deeks, M.” episode. After handling Season 5’s PTSD and Season 8’s Kensi recovery storylines with so much vulnerability, Eric Christian Olsen deserves more chances to show off his dramatic skills.
- Someone needs to tell the CBS staff person in charge of drafting episode descriptions for my DVR that Bates is not Deeks’ “former partner,” unless there’s more to their backstory than we’ve been told.
- Nice red truck Deeks! Is that the first time we’ve seen it?
- Aww, I’m a little disappointed in Deeks’ attitude about cats (“notoriously evil and hard to trust”). Did Monty have a run-in with an intimidating tabby?
- Alex Wyse, who played bioengineer Simon Atwater, did a nice job of playing the (stereotypically) nerdy scientist. It can’t have been easy to rise to the high level of banter displayed by ECO and St. Esprit in that interrogation scene, but he held his own and contributed to the scene’s success.
- Nell practicing her knife skills in the opening scene only to put them to use in the field by episode’s end felt a little too neat. I’d have rather seen her do so a few episodes down the line.
- Love all the talk about purpose with Callen and Sam. How sweet is it that Callen sees his as making sure Sam lives his life to the fullest? And how lovely is it to see him express that caring to his partner?
- We got a much better feel for the direction Hetty’s storyline is heading, as it looks as if the team may need to stage a rescue sometime soon. Hmmm, seems like it would make for a good 200thepisode story, although I don’t believe that’s in the plans.
I simultaneously fear and can’t wait for next week’s Frank Military penned episode, given that it might give ECO a chance to show off his dramatic skills with at least one great Densi scene, even if they’re not physically together. Given the relative dearth of Densi so far this season, I can only hope it’s as good as ECO has described. Military is my favorite NCIS:LA writer for his ability to bring the angst as well as to work the personal into the case, but he definitely scares me (that’s a good thing in my book).
While we wait, be sure to tune in later this week for new installments from Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal, plus the Drabble of the Week. In the meantime, what did you think of “Can I Get a Witness?” Did it live up to your expectations? Are you a Bates supporter? And are you mad or glad that we likely haven’t seen the end of Whiting? Tell us all your thoughts in the Comments below.