As we move the annual NCIS: Los Angeles Christmas episode in a few weeks, it’s hard not to think back a couple seasons to “Humbug,” the Christmas episode where Deeks and Kensi went all in. It was also a key episode for Callen and his girlfriend Joelle, who at the time did a mighty fine job pretending to be freaked out at learning Callen’s true identity. Both relationships have changed a lot in the past two seasons. One was explored in this week’s episode, written by Andrew Bartels and directed by the aptly named Benny Boom. Unfortunately for a website dedicated to Marty Deeks, “Fool Me Twice” was all about Callen and Joelle, with only a few Densi moments to enjoy.
Shuffling Identities, Shifting Allegiances
I had liked Joelle the schoolteacher and thought she was a good influence on Callen. Too bad she wasn’t real. I almost always enjoy when the show explores the ramifications of long term undercovers, particularly when there’s a personal relationship involved. Here my enjoyment and my emotional investment were a bit hampered because I didn’t remember the details of Joelle’s involvement with the mole and the rogue CIA group. (Maybe that’s because they were never clear, maybe it’s just my failing mental powers.) It made it harder for me to decide whether or not to feel any sympathy for her plight or to think she could be telling the truth. Still, Elizabeth Bogush did a nice job playing Joelle/Beth/Jane’s shifting story and Chris O’Donnell and her scenes held my interest.
We also got to see the non-spy side of Beth’s family, listening in as her husband Nick discussed their marriage with Kensi. Hearing him describe his experience of knowing Joelle was sleeping with other men because of her job made me immediately wonder how Deeks and Kensi would handle such a situation. We’ve seen it happen before they were together with Monica in “Parley,” and maybe after they were together with the rich “douche” in “Command & Control.” At that point they seemed to easily manage it, but how interesting would it be to see it play out in an episode now that they’re each others’ world?
Likable but Limited Densi
The single Densi highlight of the episode was their conversation interpreting Kensi’s wedding dream. And yikes! Deeks took the news that she dreamed about Jack far better than I did. I’m glad to see he’s feeling so secure about his place in Kensi’s world. (Oh that’s right he is her world. Kudos to Kensi for making him believe that.)
And what are we to make of the fact that no wedding plans have apparently been made? We already knew they hadn’t set a date (no, 2018 is not a leap year Deeks). They both seem more than ready to take the plunge. Could their ongoing discussions about the future be holding them back from taking concrete steps to move forward? I hope that once they are ready to get on with the planning, they opt for something simple on that beach we’ve read about in so many fanfics. But however they do it, here’s hoping we don’t have to wait two more years to see it happen.
Kensi: Deeks, my mom has been great. It was a dream, OK? It didn’t mean anything. Let’s just forget I said anything.
Deeks: So you dream you’re getting married to your ex-fiance Jack, and when he puts the ring on your finger it turns into a spider and you don’t think that means anything?
Kensi: No, I think it was random electrical impulses firing in my brain, that’s all.
Deeks: Really, because this website says that if you’re dreaming about your ex, you’re actually dreaming about your current relationship. So that would mean that Jack was me and I gave you a spider which is an overbearing mother which is my mother- oh my god I gave you my mother.
Kensi: Wow, that’s awkward.
Deeks: Why is that awkward?
Kensi: Because I kinda sort of squished the spider.
Deeks: You squished my mom.
Kensi: I squished a spider.
Deeks: You squished my mom.
Kensi: I didn’t squish your mom.
Deeks: You squished Berty.
Kensi: I love your mom, OK? Let’s just drop it.
Deeks: No dropping it, ’cause you’re right, I’m sorry.
Kensi: Thank you.
Deeks: Just breathe. Breathe with me… Speaking of which, I forgot to mention my mom put together another binder of flower arrangements she wants to go over when you get a chance.
Kensi: Are you kidding me?!? That’s like five bi- oh, wait. You’re messing with me.
Kensi: You’re not funny.
Deeks: It’s pretty funny.
Kensi: No it’s not funny.
Deeks: I’m pretty sure I just saw those random electrical pulses shooting out of your ears right there.
Kensi: You’re the worst. You’re literally the worst.
A cute scene, but I think the true highlight of the episode for me is actually the 25 seconds of Instagram magic Daniela Ruah posted while filming this scene. You can see it by scrolling down Tess’ fantastic episode preview to what she describes as “the musical portion of the episode.” Eric Christian Olsen’s silliness is utterly charming, and you can easily see how it shines through into the scene itself. It’s wonderful to see them having fun together and it’s one of the many reasons their pairing is so amazing.
A Crowded Cast
I really like Hidoko and enjoy her interactions with the regular cast. She and Sam seem to have developed a strong working relationship, and their banter at the end of the episode about saving each other’s life was pretty adorable. Still, I can’t help but feel that her presence comes to the detriment of the regular cast. Deeks and Kensi didn’t make an appearance until 13 minutes into the hour. And how many total lines did Nell even have? Of course, I’m not a huge fan of Nell (or god forbid Eric) in the field, but I would have enjoyed seeing Deeks and Sam working together, taking turns saving each other’s lives. That’s the kind of bonding we can never have enough of. I also wonder if maybe this expanded cast of characters has come at the request of the four leads wanting to spend less grueling hours filming?
Mosley was largely back to her old, somewhat annoying ways of not wanting to take the team’s instincts and advice into account. She listened more than in earlier episodes, but for me she still comes off as arrogant and unlikable. Sure, she generally went along with their plans, but imposing unnecessary and unrealistic two-hour deadlines feels less like extra drama and more like an unpleasant lack of team cohesion. I did appreciate her assessment of Hetty’s “illusion of access” in the midst of all her secret-keeping. But come on, who wouldn’t want to try out the 3D headphones?
- Please don’t use the “Clambake” as a safe house – I’m kinda fond of her already. It looks like Sam (and Callen) have been putting in a lot of hard work fixing her up and I’d hate to see her go boom.
- The warehouse scene with Hidoko and Sam was nicely put together. When they spotted the camera I said, “Oh &!$%.” When the door slammed shut I repeated “Oh &!$%.” And I said it a third time when the fire started. Nicely unexpected and exciting.
- Of course Deeks was all over the child care. Yep, he’s definitely “a good kid.”
- Is it just me, or did Nick bear some resemblance to Sullivan?
- Deeks was darn cute working the mail cart looking for the bad guy (“No mail for you!”).
- Mosley’s new office is pretty sweet. What a great job the set designers did at finding the perfect spot for the new space. I love the way it looms over the bullpen, and particularly how it dominates Hetty’s desk. Even its modern aesthetic inside the historic building fits with Mosley’s character coming in from outside and trying to shake things up. The one element that I haven’t figured out yet is that tall white object… Is it a statue? Does it serve a purpose?
- Now we have more bad guys (or gals!) lurking out there – a whole syndicate! Seems like there’s an ever-lengthening string of not quite resolved stories the showrunners have to draw from for the second half of the season. I only wish we had some memorable bad guys like Sidorov lurking out in the shadows. I’m particularly unexcited about the rogue CIA group since I wasn’t a fan of how the original mole storyline played out; however I do think Sabatino is a fun character so hopefully we’ll see more of him at some point.
Come back later this week for another edition of Deeks’ Surf Long and Kensi’s Journal, plus the Drabble of the Week. In the meantime, how did you like “Fool Me Twice”? Was there enough Densi to keep you happy?