Before my obsession with Marty Deeks began, I had never heard the term “fandom,” nor did I know of the existence of fan fiction or Tumblr. Now I call myself a fangirl, and as a fangirl, my One True Pairing is obviously Densi. They may not have had many great moments in Season 9, and their future may be just a little bit in doubt, but as we count down to the final few posts here at wikiDeeks, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the top 10 reasons why over the years, Densi has been so compelling. In no particular order, they are…
10. Undeniable sexual tension
Kensi: I emailed him some photos, private photos.
Deeks: You mean like the two of you watching the sunset at Santa Monica Pier or the kind where you’re not wearing anything but a smile?
– Densi’s second scene together, in “Hand to Hand”
By now, everyone’s probably heard Eric Christian Olsen or Daniela Ruah tell the near-mythical story of their first meeting, at the table read for “Hand-to-Hand.” Their acting chemistry was apparent right from the start, and it vividly comes through the screen in their first scenes in that same episode. Every scene comes alive: the way they look at each other in that gym, the tension in Daniel Zuna’s apartment, the outright flirting in the boatshed, and later when Deeks jokes with Kensi about getting a hug. These two had sexual tension from their first scene, and it only built over time.
Sure, there was obvious innuendo and non-stop flirting (“Touché, touché, you will not touch my touché”). But they didn’t just tease each other, they did so with world-class banter. Plus, the tension went beyond mere verbal repartee; actions served to increase it even more. For example, early on, when Kensi landed on top of Deeks after the “Deliverance” laser explosion, who didn’t think they were about to kiss? And later on they did, sharing a cover kiss while sleeping platonically together on the job in “Neighborhood Watch.” There was ass slapping (“Skin Deep”), occasional jealousy (“Plan B”, “Touch of Death,” “Free Ride,” “Parley”), and the best bed-wrestling ever (“Raven & The Swans”). All of it entertained while building one of the most intense cases of “will-they-won’t-they” ever.
9. A slow progression…
Deeks: I’m not talking about what they want, alright? Forget what they want. I’m talking about us. Alright, I’m your partner what makes you think I’m gonna let you do this by yourself?
Kensi: Because you’re my partner and this is my mother and you’re the only person I trust.
– Densi in “Blye, K., Part 2”
One of the best aspects of Deeks’ and Kensi’s thing was how it progressed through many different stages. At least up to a point (“Three Hearts” I’m looking at you), these stages felt organic and realistic, albeit ever so long-lasting. These two might not have moved at warp speed, but they definitely evolved over time. There may have been sexual tension from the start, but they also showed a good deal of antagonism in their early interactions. They barely functioned as a work partnership, lacking trust in one another and lacking hope they’d ever get along.
The writers took their time moving them from this naturally awkward beginning into something more. First there was tolerance, then by “The Job,” the beginnings of friendship. Eventually they become best friends and then fall in love. Their thing became a key element of the show, one that kept viewers coming back to see where it would lead.
8. …that progressed all the way
Life is really short, Deeks. I mean, we saw that today, and we see it every day. And I don’t know how much time either one of us has left, but I do know this: I want to spend the rest of what I have with you.
– Kensi proposes to Deeks, in “Unleashed”
Where many a series would have left Densi longing for one another forever, the NCIS:LA showrunners let them continue to move closer and closer. They kissed! They slept together! They moved in! They got engaged! These are milestones to be appreciated, because we could easily have experienced another Tiva storyline. Densi may not have moved as quickly as some of us would have preferred, but I’m grateful they happened at all. I can’t imagine rooting for these two to find happiness together for almost a decade only to be stymied by showrunners who were worried about losing the chemistry that made them great to begin with. (For the record, they still have chemistry even if the writers haven’t done them any favors in the last year or so.)
7. It’s all about trust
Listen, here, both of you. You don’t trust each other. All the fist-bumping and saying you got each others’ back doesn’t mean squat unless there’s trust. So build it soon, or risk the consequences. You got it?
– Sam to Densi in “Bounty”
Trust is a key element of any good relationship, and the writers and showrunners gave it its due with Deeks and Kensi. It’s been a key recurring theme in their story. The writers have beautifully woven it throughout their relationship, and watching it begin and then blossom between the two of them has for me been one of the most enjoyable aspects of their relationship.
They struggled mightily with trust in their early days, from their first meetings undercover in “Hand-to-Hand,” to a bit later when Deeks refuses to let Kensi handle his weapon in “Bounty.” After a lecture on the subject from Sam and a made up story from Hetty, Deeks plants the initial seeds of trust when he offers his gun to Kensi. Sure enough soon after that Kensi literally puts her life into Deeks’ hands in a room full of lasers in “Deliverance,” the first establishment of real trust between them. When Deeks reassures Kensi in “The Job” that he’ll be with her every step of the way, even if she can’t see him, he’s strengthening that trust. He’s the only person she trusts to protect her mother in “Blye, K., Part 2.” By the time we get to “Parley,” Kensi trusts him with everything. Jump ahead to “Impact” and we see that Deeks can only feel safe enough to sleep when Kensi is there with him. Later, Kensi trusts him with her dad’s knife in “The Frozen Lake,” and he trusts her with his darkest secret in “Cancel Christmas.”
While that trust has had its share of tests, in “The Debt” and “Parley” when Deeks lies to Kensi about undercover operations, and during the Internal Affairs arc when he fails to come clean to Kensi about the circumstances of his first partner’s death, over time their gains far exceed their losses, helping them draw closer and closer.
6. They changed each other for the better
Deeks: In the future, I will, uh, I will try to take things more seriously.
Kensi: I, I will try and lighten up.
Deeks: I’d like that.
Kensi: I would like that too.
– Densi agreeing to meet half-way, in “Empty Quiver”
It’s not just that Densi’s relationship evolved over time, it’s that each character evolved individually too, and largely as a result of the other person. When you compare the Kensi and Deeks we meet in Season 1 with the two people we see today, they’re barely recognizable.
Season 1 Kensi Blye is tough, capable, brave and can kick butt, so nothing’s changed there. But she’s also pretty darn serious. Sure, she could be sarcastic from time to time, but she was never truly playful. She never laughed, or should I say cackled, like she does now. Deeks taught her how to loosen up, how to enjoy the silliness in life. I also believe that his unthreatening nature (see #5), his total comfort with and support of Kensi’s bad-assery, helped her to relax into their partnership. That relaxation in turn allowed her to embrace the funny. What a wonderful gift.
In addition, Season 1 Kensi carries heavy burdens over her ex-fiancé, her father’s death, and her estrangement from her mother. Deeks helps her deal with all these issues, freeing her up to move forward with her life. Deeks has had his own issues to deal with, from coming to terms with his traumatic childhood to handling the – dare I say – murder of his ex-LAPD partner. Kensi is right by his side through everything (again see #5), helping him move from hiding his past to being able to discuss it openly.
In contrast to that “Empty Quiver” quote, I’m not entirely sure that Deeks really began to take things more seriously. I do think, if we can judge by his “Party Marty” nickname, he had been living a solitary life filled with less than meaningful relationships. When he joins the team, he plays up his apparently shallow nature, flirting with nightclub managers and bragging about lying to his dates, but I think he is just hiding his real self. Over time, the safety and love he finds with Kensi allows him to reveal himself to her and the others. Being able to share the darkness of his past and to be vulnerable with another person has helped Deeks mature.
And of course, how can we talk about improvements without discussing the duo’s infamous communication skills. They were unable to discuss their feelings for the longest time, resorting to childish jealousy and suffering shared frustrations before Deeks finally uses his non-verbal communication skills on that hill in “Descent.” Even with that small breakthrough, it takes a lot longer for these two to actually talk about their feelings. They finally begin in “Recovery” and “The Frozen Lake,” only to be delayed again by a little trip to Afghanistan. But over time, they get better and better. Sure, there are still a few issues around secret-keeping that need to be addressed, but these two are now fully capable of discussing difficult subjects like actual adults, and that was not the case when their partnership began. They’ve helped each other grow, and again it’s been incredibly satisfying to watch.
5. Loyalty and support
Deeks: David Blake’s car was tampered with. His brake lines were rigged with a small explosive. Looks like he was murdered.
Kensi: You don’t think it was-
Deeks: Not for a second.
– Kensi and Deeks, in “Blye, K.”
Loyalty is one of both Deeks’ and Kensi’s defining traits, so it’s no surprise to see them show it towards one another so unwaveringly. Even in the face of life-changing injuries or potential murder charges (“Blye, K.”, “Internal Affairs”) they each steadfastly stand by their partner, in Kensi’s case even when she may start to believe that he’s guilty. They’re fiercely protective of each other, both willing to do anything to protect the person they love.
They also support one another in (nearly) everything. While Kensi might have to occasionally shoot holes in Deeks’ latest wacky scheme, they still want each other to succeed. One of my favorite qualities of Deeks is his absolute comfort with Kensi’s impressive strength. He is never threatened by her, merely awed and maybe a little turned on by her talents and skills. He’s never afraid to challenge Kensi, but he does so in an non-threatening way; Deeks doesn’t need to one up her, even as her competitive nature keeps her from being quite so gracious. That has to have been a quality Kensi had trouble finding in a partner of any kind, and it’s one of my favorite aspects of their partnership.
4. Stereotype-bending role reversal
Deeks: Okay, so why is he carrying a .22? It’s a girl’s gun.
Kensi: I’m a girl.
Deeks: Well, you’re not a real girl. You’re like You’re like Wonder Woman, and you know, Wonder Woman wouldn’t carry a .22.
Kensi: Compliment accepted.
– Deeks and Kensi in “Personal”
Another special aspect of this relationship is the way these two characters relate. Kensi is “Wonder Woman,” the person with extraordinary training and the ability to take on men twice her size. She’s the agent. She drives. She can slit your jugular vein 11 different ways. She generally kicks butt. She is pretty great at communicating her feelings now, but for a long time, she kept a lot inside. As a sign of her improved communication, and in another extreme gender-bending move, she’s the one whose proposal actually gets them officially engaged.
Deeks is the character who sometimes shows vulnerability. He’s more likely to express his feelings, maybe not for Kensi right away, but in general. He admits his fear in “Kill House” and his self-doubt in “Command & Control.” He definitely expresses anger, maybe a little too easily. In short, he can be emotional, at least more so than his partner. As Kensi has said, he is the stereotypical girl in their relationship. ECO said it well when “The Silo” aired: “Love this amazingly strong female character. Love that Deeks is the more emotional part of the relationship.” It’s so fun to see that two people can have a fascinating relationship even if they don’t conform to gender expectations; in fact, it just makes them all the more interesting.
3. Stunning emotional scenes within the constraints of a procedural
It’s a love story.
– Sleepy Deeks telling Kensi what happens next in “Impact”
NCIS: Los Angeles is a procedural, something I’ve always found consistently frustrating. I’ve always longed for the cable TV version of the show that would be more about the relationships and wouldn’t have to solve a case every week. Alas, it’s not to be. Still, within these procedural constraints, we do occasionally get moments of true drama, moments of real emotion that make me gasp or make me cry. Many have come courtesy of Densi.
These two characters have individually endured a lot, and the scenes where their partner comforts them are always beautifully done. Think about the end of “The Job,” when they are just becoming friends. Then there’s the final scene of “Impact,” the end of “Spoils of War,” the boatshed scene in “Praesidium,” the end of “An Unlocked Mind,” and proposal number one at the end of “The Seventh Child.”
It’s not just comfort. Sometimes it’s raw emotion. Take the garage scene in “Blye, K., Part 2,” where Deeks talks about “us” and Kensi tells him he’s the only one she trusts. Or the good-bye scene in “The Debt.” The heartbreaking bullpen scene at the end of “Ascension.” The forgiveness scene in “Cancel Christmas.” Or the intense final scene of “The Silo,” with the two grappling with the dangers of their job and what it means for their future. And so many more.
2. High caliber acting and improv that adds a special spark
I mean, look at that. It’s like America and France made slow, sweet love and had a pastry baby.
– Deeks about Kensi’s pastry gift in “Impact”
We know from all those stunning emotional scenes that ECO and Daniela are amazing actors, but their skills range far beyond the drama. They’re masters of humor as well, and they can banter like a couple from a 1930’s screwball comedy. One of the things that has helped them stand out is their ability to improvise. ECO may take the lead on the improvisation, but he’s always been quick to complement Daniela’s ability to react to his change-ups with aplomb.
Think about famous improvs such as the corgis running amok in “Wanted.” That scene has such a joy to it. Deeks and Kensi, and I think ECO and Daniela, are clearly having a grand time agitating poor Officer Snyder. Another famous example is the “pastry baby” reference in “Impact.” That amazing scene is beautiful, but the pastry baby joke, and Kensi’s reaction, give it such an unrehearsed feel. Their ability to improv imbues many of their scenes with a sense of unpredictability and naturalness that other character interactions can lack. I mean, Sam and Callen have wonderful banter, but have either of them ever said or reacted to anything in a scene that didn’t feel scripted?
1. An epic romance
Kensi Marie Blye, will you please wake up and marry me?
– Deeks proposing to comatose Kensi in “The Queen’s Gambit”
All these elements combine to create an absolutely epic romance. This is a couple who has overcome more than we probably could have dreamed up, and now they’re together and planning to stay that way forever. To the end of time and back. Think about the incredibly romantic scenes we’ve watched. All the references to their Thing. Remembering each other’s attire when they first met. Sunshine and gunpowder. Getting across that frozen lake. Satellite phone Christmas calls across the world. Going all in. Physical therapy via holding hands. Four proposals, every one of them special. How many TV couples get four(!) amazing proposals? The truly are each other’s everything.
A decade of delights
Deeks: Hence the ten-year rule.
Deeks: You should always know your partner at least ten years prior to marrying them. You date me for a decade, you deserve my hand in marriage.
Kensi: That sounds so much more like a punishment than a reward.
– Densi banter in “Standoff”
Yep, Deeks called it back in Season 2, Episode 6. Somehow it’s totally fitting that we seem to be heading for a 10-year relationship before we get to a wedding. Thanks to Eric, Daniela, the showrunners and writers for creating these characters and bringing them to life so wonderfully that we’re compelled to root hard for them to be together, and to be happy.
There’s actually one more element of Densi that I think is worth discussing. It’s probably my favorite thing about them, and I’m putting it into its own post, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, I know we’ve had a lot of discouraging Densi developments of late, but instead of dwelling on the disappointments, let’s think back over the years. What have you most valued and enjoyed about this couple?