Rumors are flying in the NCIS:LA fandom about what might be happening with our favorite character, Marty Deeks, and the actor who plays him, Eric Christian Olsen. As much as I don’t even want to contemplate some of the possibilities, hopefully it will make us feel better to share our collective theories and concerns.
Full disclosure: We at wikiDeeks have nothing to disclose. We have no information about what might or might not be happening. We know nothing more than any other fans. Our decision to close down the site at the end of the season stems much more from a myriad of personal reasons and time constraints than anything else.
Season 9’s Failed Reset
Over the course of Season 9, we’ve seen a lot less of Marty Deeks than in any season since he joined the team. This has in turn impacted the amount of Densi for us to enjoy. In contrast, the two newest team members, Harley Hidoko and Shay Mosley, have been front and center in many episodes, much to the consternation of many Deeks and Densi fans, and likely other fans of the great dynamic set by the show’s core duos.
It’s no secret that Eric Christian Olsen seems to have negotiated a bit of a reduced schedule this season. His Instagram account shows him traveling to far-flung destinations while the show was shooting. Over the years many cast members have made similar arrangements, such as Chris O’Donnell attending the Pebble Beach Pro Am golf tournament every year, or LL Cool J hosting the Grammy’s. But ECO’s absences have been noticeably more prolonged than his costars’, with the obvious exceptions of Daniela Ruah’s two maternity leaves and Linda Hunt’s long absence at the start of this season.
For many of us Deeks and Densi fans, ECO’s absences have had a detrimental effect on our enjoyment of the show. Deeks may have appeared in every episode, but his reduced screen time has sometimes forced him into more of a supporting or background role. There’s been only a single Deeks-centric episode (“Can I Get a Witness”). Even “The Silo,” a big Densi episode, was primarily driven by Kensi’s storyline of preventing nuclear holocaust.
Conversely, many of us have failed to embrace the newest cast members, particularly Nia Long’s Mosley. But it’s been the presence of Andrea Bordeaux’s Hidoko who’s most thrown the team balance out of whack. She’s triggered an endless series of partner swaps that has left even those of us who’ve always enjoyed an occasional swap with our heads spinning, yearning for the good old days of the bromance and romance brought by the core pairs.
So who’s to blame here? Are the showrunners failing to utilize our favorite detective to his fullest potential? Or are they doing the best they can given ECO’s frequent unavailability? For me, the answers depend a bit on ECO’s longer range plans. Below are a few theories. Note that I do not assume that the showrunners want ECO to leave or are intentionally writing less of him. Frankly that would be too crazy a decision to contemplate.
Scenario #1. ECO Wanted What He Got – A Slightly Lessened Workload
In this scenario, ECO negotiated more time off over the course of the season, but he’s not going anywhere next year and his schedule will continue as is. I don’t know if we can hope for anything more. The bulk of ECO’s time off seemed to be spent with family, and I say more power to him to negotiate the best possible schedule for however he wishes to balance work and family time. I don’t think he owes the show or the fans anything, and he needs to make the best decisions for his career and his family. Plus, slightly less ECO sure beats losing him entirely.
In this scenario, I would guess that Hidoko might be elevated from recurring character to main cast next season. That would make any time the showrunners have spent this year developing her character as worthwhile, even if they failed to smoothly integrate her into the core partnerships. I’d hope that in the future, they might find a better way to deal with their odd number of agents so that we could have a bit more focus on Deeks, not to mention some actual Densi screen time.
Scenario #2. ECO Wants to Scale Back Even Further
This is where things start getting less pleasant to consider: it’s possible that ECO is planning to scale his time back even more next season. Heck, he could even pull a Nate/Peter Cambor and downgrade to a recurring character, or simply move further in that direction. That bar could become Deeks’ future. In this scenario, ECO isn’t just looking for more family time over the course of the season, but he’s wanting to scale up his time working on other projects.
To me the most convincing evidence for such a move is the podcast ECO did with Matthew Del Negro, AKA Kensi’s ex-fiancé Jack. Del Negro has a podcast series called “10,000 ‘No’s” where he interviews successful people about how they overcame all the rejections and failures they experienced along the way to achieving great things. In it, ECO talked a lot about his producing work. He seemed very passionate about it, and had clearly been working hard to learn the ropes of producing and to build a team with whom he had a number of projects in the works. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to maintain such a business in his spare time between takes.
In this scenario, perhaps Deeks would stay working with NCIS as he sets up his new bar. It’s been abandoned for some time, so it will likely take a lot of work to prepare it for opening. He’d continue with his briefer appearances, with longer absences justified by his need to oversee renovations. (Or, maybe the bar won’t work out and there will be a different set of excuses for his absences.) It’s hard to imagine Deeks wanting to leave Kensi with other people watching her back, but that’s exactly what’s been happening for much of this season, so I guess it wouldn’t feel too out of character for it to continue. At least he could tell himself he’d be available for duty any time something went really wrong for the team. And of course he’d be available for a beautiful Densi wedding, perhaps on the 10-year anniversary of their partnership.
Hidoko could become a main cast member. Or, the showrunners might look to bring in more of “new Deeks,” someone who might fill the gaping void left by ECO’s absence (as if it could ever really be filled). Deeks brings humor, he lessens the tension with his silliness, he’s experienced, he’s open, he’s scruffy, he’s so many things that Hidoko is not. The most important are that he’s incredibly confident, charismatic, and charming. Hidoko is far too serious to fill in any Deeks-sized gap. She doesn’t banter. She barely even smiles! I do like her, but don’t see her as a long-term replacement for Deeks. The show would revert back to its Season 1 vibe, with a group of people who veer too easily to the stiff and serious. Perhaps Hidoko’s very seriousness is proof that ECO’s sticking around, since the showrunners clearly haven’t tried to create a new character with any similarities to Deeks.
Scenario #3. ECO Wants to Leave Entirely
OK, I haven’t even wanted to contemplate this, let alone put it in writing, but there could be a chance that ECO leaves the show at the end of the season, or maybe sometime in Season 10. In this scenario, it’s even harder to imagine how Deeks leaves NCIS altogether without Kensi. Coming up with a storyline that doesn’t make that decision feel out of character would be challenging. I mean, if they want to have kids, Kensi’s the one who’d need to be out of the field before Deeks would. Perhaps they’ll come upon a small child who’s been orphaned that they’ll decide to adopt? I think I read such a fan fic recently but regrettably can’t remember the author. I like this idea, since I think Deeks would be a wonderful stay-at-home dad. But of course I loath the idea that we’d lose more than an occasional appearance from him.
Scenario #4. Wishful Thinking
I acknowledge that this scenario is pure fantasy, but I wanted to end on less depressing note. Just maybe, LL Cool J is the one who’s leaving. That season-finale gunshot wound finally does him in and serious Hidoko comes forward to take his place. Of course, those would be literally and figuratively huge shoes to fill and I don’t see Hidoko as quite up to the task, even if personality-wise she’s more of a match for Sam than she is for Deeks. The show would no doubt suffer from the loss of such a great character as Sam Hanna, and the huge presence that LL Cool J brings to his work. On the other hand, perhaps ECO’s absences this season were because he graciously wanted to let the new characters establish themselves, and he comes back next year full-time. All that Densi we’ve been promised? It’s all in Season 10 with ECO and Daniela front and center in the storytelling. Hey a girl can dream, right?
Time Will Tell
We will know soon enough what’s going on with that bar, and whether Deeks ends up making a life-changing decision about his future. And even if he does, it could always just be part of a season-ending cliff-hanger, and Deeks could be back full-time next season. There’s no need to get too worried just yet. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.
What are your theories? What’s keeping you up at night? How do you think the showrunners should be handling things? Tell us in the Comments below.