All hail the Prince of Darkness! Frank Military has done it again, bringing us an NCIS: Los Angeles episode full of enough intensity to make the typical case of the week ep feel like an entirely different series. With fantastic direction from James Whitmore, Jr., “The Silo” was easily the best Season 9 episode so far. Oh, and did I mention the amazing Densi scenes? If you’re not a Densi fan, you’ll probably want to skip this whole review. The angst was strong in this episode, yet for me it only resulted in a celebration of this amazing couple and their epic romance. I’m just proud that I could tear myself away from rewatching the final scene long enough to get this darn thing written!
Saving the World from Nuclear Holocaust
We know that many Frank Military episodes come with darkness and angst. What set “The Silo” apart was how it created high suspense right out of the gate and never let up. This is what a well executed “ticking clock” story looks like. Or more precisely, feels like. For I felt the intensity immediately and found myself literally on the edge of my seat. I had mentally prepared for seeing my OTP suffer at Military’s hands, but I hadn’t expected to be so sucked into the plot. This is where Whitmore really added to the episode. His heavy use of purposefully jumpy hand-held camera shots left me feeling like I was right there in the room with the team, almost as if events were happening too quickly for traditional cameras to even capture the action. He even made us feel like a fly on the wall during the Densi phone conversation, shooting part of the it from around a corner, as if we were eavesdropping on Deeks. The camera work as well as the non-stop story developments – with little pausing for joking banter – conveyed a great sense of immediacy and urgency. I don’t think I’ve felt this involved in the plot of an episode since “Descent.”
Military is like some of my favorite fan fiction authors who aren’t afraid to go to dark places. I love their work because that darkness results in so much drama and emotion, but I also fear them, for I’m never sure exactly how far they might take Deeks and by extension, me. Military is the same writer, after all, who tortured Deeks with amateur Russian dentistry, so we know he truly is capable of anything that can get past the CBS censors. His episodes often feel more like programming we’d see on cable TV, where the material doesn’t have to be watered down. Here the stakes were made terrifyingly high, and I fully believed that Kensi’s life and the fate of the world really hung in the balance. It’s an amazing feat considering that we knew Daniela Ruah had already returned to film the very next episode.
Afraid of Losing His World
Right from the start, Deeks and Kensi were thrown into turmoil as Kensi was whisked away to Colorado. At least this time she got a few minutes to communicate with Deeks (yes, Hetty I still hold a grudge). Of course their prior petty argument was forgotten as they focused on the dangers of Kensi’s new assignment. For the rest of the episode, we got Intense Deeks who was out to protect not just any woman in danger, but the one who represents his whole world. When he leaned into the professor’s space to assure him just how intimidating Sam could be, it definitely felt like more of a genuine threat than a mock effort to intimidate their suspect.
And then there was Mosley, who shockingly was at least somewhat understanding of Deeks’ frantic worry and unrealistic demands. Rather than use his near panic as justification for kicking him off the team (for the moment anyway), she at least gave him a place to focus his energy. Of course, she didn’t show much empathy, maintaining that strong veneer of executive assistant directorship. I honestly can’t tell if this is a decision on the part of the actress or the showrunners, or if it’s just all that Nia Long can offer. I sure hope it will change.
Throughout the episode it was painful to see Deeks in such distress. His insistence that Kensi “doesn’t need to do this” to the EAD was difficult to watch because as Callen pointed out, there was no way Kensi would have left the scene even if Deeks had contacted her. He just desperately wanted her away and was willing to take on Mosley to make it happen.
Throughout the episode, Eric Christian Olsen showed us through Deeks’ words, expressions and actions all that he was experiencing, and how devastating it would be for him to lose Kensi. The immediacy of the direction that made me feel like a witness to a documentary and the desperation ECO conveyed were a powerful combination. I teared up during the phone call because I was so viscerally feeling his pain.
Deeks: Kens, Kens.
Kensi: Hi Baby.
Deeks: You need to get out of there, alright? If- If- If the launch doors open there’s-
Kensi: Hey could you just listen to me for a second?
Deeks: I need you to get in a car and I need you to drive away as fast as you possibly can because-
Kensi: Deeks, stop! Stop, Babe, stop for once in your life, stop talking… I know what’s going on.
Deeks: OK so then then then just leave.
Kensi: I can’t.
Deeks: What do you mean you can’t?
Kensi: I can stop this from happening, I can stop people from getting hurt, I’ve got to do it, OK?
Deeks: OK, yeah, you can stop this from happening, but so can other people, alright? So just let somebody-
Kensi: I love you so much.
Deeks: Hold on. I love you too, that’s not the point. Stop for a second. You don’t have to do this, let somebody-
Kensi: And I’ll love you to the end of time and back.
Deeks: Kensi! Kensi! Kensi! [Throws chair.]
Deeks’ intensity was completely understandable. How many times has he nearly lost Kensi, or thought he had lost her in the case of Military’s “Spoils of War“? His experience as her caretaker last season was repeatedly mentioned throughout the latter part of Season 8, with him minimizing it each time Kensi brought it up. He almost has to have some form of PTSD from all that he’s gone through in worrying about her. To me it’s a wonder they can work in the field together at all without him becoming terribly (and counter-productively) over-protective. I think it’s a tribute to the faith he has in Kensi’s abilities that he can even bear to see her in danger on a typical case of the week.
So Where Does that Leave Us Exactly?
The two were safely reunited by episode’s end, but that reunion did not involve Kensi running into Deeks’ loving arms, at least at first. Instead it was more complicated, messier, and therefore more real. What a brilliantly written and acted scene this was. It easily earns a spot among my all-time Densi favorites. ECO and Daniela are both so good here, each of them conveying so many emotions just by their expressions. There really aren’t even that many words spoken…
Deeks: Well it’s official, I’m never gonna criticize your grilled cheese again.
Kensi: It was the… hardest thing I ever had to do.
Deeks: What’s that, making the grilled cheese or single-handedly saving the world from nuclear holocaust?
Kensi: Making that call to you… Ugh, how long are we gonna do this for?
Deeks: I mean, you’re the one that wanted to stay in so why don’t you tell me.
Kensi: I don’t know.
Deeks: That’s great.
Kensi: I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know.
Deeks: I can’t go through what Sam went through. I mean, honestly, I don’t even know how that guy gets up in the morning… What are we doing?… You’re everything for me. And, um, I hate feeling like this… because you’re my world.
Kensi: You are mine. [They kiss.] You’re my world.
Deeks is still upset when Kensi arrives, refusing to turn around to even look at her. Instead he tries to use humor to defuse the tension he’s feeling, a very Deeks-like move even if he is the source of said tension. We can see the confusion and disappointment flit across Kensi’s face but she adjusts, sharing something with Deeks that conveys just how important he is to her. The way the conversation pivots from Deeks’ frustration to such complete honesty and full communication is breathtaking, particular for these two. It clearly illustrates just how far they’ve come as a couple. Yes they can communicate extraordinarily well without words, but look at them also actually speaking to say what they really mean! This skill of theirs has developed so organically over (so many) years that it feels earned and real. It’s a tribute to how well they’ve been written.
Their discussion was difficult because the questions they’re trying to answer about their future are difficult. Kensi even more than Deeks has always defined herself by her job. I don’t think she’s ever pictured herself pursuing another career (unless you count bounty hunter). Even with her Season 8 injury arc that was initially advertised as forcing her to consider alternative paths, we never saw her be anything but 100% focused on returning to fieldwork. As much as she may want a family, she doesn’t quite seem ready to consider other options.
Deeks on the other hand has actually engaged in an alternate line of work. He can probably more easily imagine a life outside of law enforcement, or at least one outside of such a continuing line of fire. But he’s got to feel torn in what he wants for Kensi. He’s always been incredibly supportive of her as an agent, as recently as this season’s “Assets” (“I’m not saying that you have to quit this job that you love because that would be selfish, I wouldn’t say that”). Even when they were just partners, he always showed complete and utter faith in her abilities as “Wonder Woman.” He seems torn between wanting to continue supporting her desire to continue in her dangerous job and desperately wanting to make sure she’s not taken away from him like Michelle was from Sam. Thank goodness the showrunners have continued to show the ramifications of Michelle’s death, and not just on Sam. Here we see how affected Deeks has been and how much that massive loss has helped him realize what’s at stake every day out in the field.
This episode even came close to answering my #1 biggest question for ECO, which is what either of these two would do if they had to choose between their partner and a mission, like Kensi kind of did in “Ascension.” Kensi’s decision in this week’s episode wasn’t quite that same type of choice, but Deeks’ reaction pretty much told us what he would do. It’s hard for me to envision him choosing a mission over Kensi even if she told him to and there were many lives at stake. I think Kensi’s decision is a bit harder to gauge.
Deeks and Kensi’s discussions about future plans, from musing about becoming personal trainers in the South Pacific to more serious discussions about parenthood, have slowly and realistically evolved to this point. The issues they’re grappling with are so relevant to where they are in their lives. What I don’t see is a way to resolve this particular dilemma for the duo without pulling one or both of them out of the field. As fantastically handled as this continuing arc has been, it’s not clear that it can be resolved in a way that’s satisfying to us fans while staying true to Densi’s continuing growth. I do look forward to seeing them try.
To the End of Time and Back
I’ve always appreciated how much Deeks has meant for Kensi in terms of her character’s growth and her happiness. What hit me as I watched the spectacularly romantic ending of the final scene was an appreciation for Kensi Marie Blye, who’s been able to make Deeks happier than he ever could have imagined for himself. I found myself thankful that the two had been able to finally find each other. These two people were both alone for so very long. They had to fight so hard and for so long to develop their relationship. They have had to battle so many other hurdles (IA investigations, helicopter crashes) to stay together (and alive). Now they are each other’s everything, and it’s beautiful to see and to get a moment to celebrate it. They can now figure things out by talking about them, and the emotional honesty they both shared added to the feeling of celebration because it in itself was such an indicator of how far they’ve come. It all also resulted in a big puddle of tears.
I think ECO said it better than I could with his Instagram post: “Breaking news! @danielaruah kills it tonight! Love this amazingly strong female character. Love that Deeks is the more emotional part of the relationship. Thank u @ncisla for such a compelling love story to play, and such a interesting episode to explore the human condition; What it is to love and be loved. What it is to fear the loss of that love, a love that gives identity and significance to a man that’s searched his whole life for something to invest himself in.”
Is the Prince of Darkness a Closet Romantic?
As much as we talk about Frank Military’s dark stories, we should take a moment and give him credit for all the Densi goodness he’s provided over the years. Think about it. He supplied their first real moment of trust in “Deliverance,” the first time I saw them as a potential couple. He gave us what I consider a Top 3 Most Romantic Scene when Deeks tells Kensi “I’m gonna be with you every step of the way. Even if you don’t see me, I’ll be there,” in “The Job.” He gave us a Top 3 Sexiest Scene with that iconic hilltop kiss in “Descent.” Then there was the “your smile, your laugh… everything” that got Deeks through torture in “Ascension.” And don’t forget about that amazing hug at the end of “Spoils of War,” that sweet stolen kiss in the boatshed in “An Unlocked Mind,” and the first proposal in “The Seventh Child.”
The man knows Densi. What makes many of these moments so powerful is that they’re preceded by some of our favorite characters’ toughest times. Because we’ve watched them suffer, these emotional scenes where they finally get a moment of happiness, or at least clarity or relief, are all the sweeter.
And this brings me to my last point. Given that this review has largely been about
gushing about celebrating Densi, the episode made me think about how important these two characters are to the entire show. Sure, they get second billing to the bromantic leads. But with apologies to the Callen fans out there, Deeks and Kensi really represent the heart of the show, at least for me. Other than Densi, we rarely see much deep emotion from any two of the show’s characters together. Callen has had plenty of emotional scenes but he’s usually been alone at the time. Sam has shown emotion since Michelle’s death, but Callen has maintained a certain emotional distance even as he supports his partner. Neric have had a few emotional scenes but never any with quite the drama as Densi have achieved fairly regularly. ECO has had the opportunity to bring strong emotions to scenes with other characters, notably Sam in “Ascension” and Hetty in “Internal Affairs.” But it’s only with Daniela where we truly see those emotions reflected back with the same power. Densi’s multi-dimensional relationship fills what would otherwise be a sizable emotional deficiency for the whole show.
- The scenery at the “Colorado” missile base was gorgeous!
- Was anyone else having flashbacks to “Deliverance” when the bad guys brought out the lasers?
- I was not a big fan of Mosley’s decision to keep information from her team. It seemed harmful to expediting their investigation and added unnecessary drama to a plot that didn’t need more. But kudos to Sam for shaming Harley into not ratting them out to their boss.
- Super creepy bad guy Professor Holmes, well played by Jason Downs, could have felt cartoonish. But when he calmly told the team, “You could be surrounded and you wouldn’t even know it,” it just felt ominous.
- Harley’s not a ton bigger than Nell but she handles herself with so much more confidence when taking on the bad guys. I find her much more convincing as a field agent. And I love how much all three boys enjoyed her taking down the professor. You sure can’t accuse any of them of being intimidated by strong women, and that’s maybe one of my favorite things about the whole show.
- Kensi sure can pick ‘em! Has she ever dated anyone who wasn’t mentally ill or a criminal? (I know, Jack wasn’t mentally ill when she met him. And yes, I’m including Deeks in this list.)
- The only moment where the direction seemed a bit off was with Kensi’s final takedown. Watching her struggle to slowly crawl down the tunnel, while realistic, seemed a little stiff and sure felt like it gave the bad guys time to react. It made me wonder if maybe the FBI shouldn’t have just have rolled a bunch of grenades down the hole and/or used a robot to deliver them. But then we wouldn’t have had all the amazing drama!
- Now Mosley is on board with killing all the bad guys? It sure didn’t take long for her to learn the ways of the West Coast.
- Wait, what? The mission has a roof?!
Episodes like these are the reason I keep watching, the reason I patiently sit back and try to enjoy eps that focus on other characters or those with a lighter feel. I know that we need the banter- we can’t always have darkness. But eps like “The Silo” are the ones that make me feel, that make me cry, that make me love these characters. As I said at the beginning, all hail Mr. Military- and please write more frequently!
Come back later in the week for what are sure to be intriguing installments of Deeks’ Surf Log, Kensi’s Journal, and the Drabble of the Week. And tune in next week for the show’s 200th episode, “This Is What We Do.” In the meantime, did you enjoy the drama, or did you miss the banter? Were you as affected by the angst as I was? I can’t wait to hear what everyone thought, so tell us in the Comments below!