What We Know
The first mention of Mama Deeks was in “Borderline” when he tells Kensi that his mother “still has a copy” of an Encino Times front page article about the time the paramedics had to use the jaws of life to save him from Darrel Donkins’ boa constrictor. Eagle-eared viewers might have been surprised when Deeks is shot just a few episodes later that he does not ask for his mother to be contacted in “Personal,” nor was she named as his next of kin:
Kensi: Is there anyone you want me to contact? Friends, family… girlfriend?
Deeks: I’m not dying, am I?
Kensi: Not yet.
Kensi: Next of kin?
Deeks: Good question.
Another good question is where exactly Mama Deeks is that Deeks doesn’t have her come to the hospital when he is shot, and where is she for the next five years during which we hear nothing about her?
We know that when we first meet her in “Citadel,” it is likely that Roberta does not live locally, as Kensi realizes just before they’re introduced that, “Your mom got here two days ago and she’s been staying with you.” It appears she’s there again (or still?) several episodes later because Roberta is at Deeks’ house when LAPD arrives to search the place in “Internal Affairs.” We might assume that she has moved closer by the end of the season as she invites Deeks and Kensi to “come by tonight” to meet her boyfriend in “Where There’s Smoke...” But just in case that was the boyfriend’s house they were going to, it’s a pretty safe bet that Roberta has moved to the LA area by the time of “Party Crashers” because Deeks is able to visit her home in the middle of his workday.
We know that Deeks loves his mother and credits her for the man he has become. He tells Roberta in “Internal Affairs,” “After [dad] was gone, this – you and me – that’s what makes me who I am.” And in “Into the Breach,” he says, “The only thing that matters is you did a great job with me Mama, and I want everybody to know that. More importantly, I want you to know that. You know that, right?” Deeks insists on a mother-son dance at the wedding and they see each other regularly enough since Roberta starts working at the Squid & Dagger, so they currently seem to have a solid relationship.
While it may be a good relationship, we fans also know that any scene with Roberta and Deeks is comedy gold in great part because “Crazy Bertie” (Deeks’ own description) exasperates her son like no one else can. Mama Deeks is opinionated, has an active social and sex life, and doesn’t know the meaning of the word boundaries (see their “I don’t hate anything” convo in “High Society.” Deeks has called her out on being both condescending and sexist (“Why don’t you go empty a bedpan or something…And what man becomes a nurse? A doctor school drop-out, that’s who,” from “Ghost Gun“), and can be generous with the verbal jabs/insults (“And people ask me why I only have one child,” also in “Ghost Gun”). Roberta tends toward exaggeration and can’t keep a secret (“I told you, they’re secret agents. They do this stuff all the time. Kensi almost got herself killed last year getting Osama bin Laden,” in “This is What We Do“). Just because he loves his mother doesn’t mean Deeks doesn’t get frustrated when he spends too much time with her. Which is probably why he describes the prospect of her bartending at the Squid & Dagger as “a terrible plan” in “A Diamond in the Rough.”
What We Don’t
We don’t know for sure, but now that we’ve gotten to know Roberta it’s possible that Deeks didn’t want his mama at the hospital unless he was going to die because she is not particularly good in a crisis. Remembering what she’s like later when Kensi is in the hospital and recovering at home, one gets the impression that Deeks was fully aware it would have been too exhausting to have Mama around unless it was time for a final goodbye. He might not have wanted Bertie identified as his next of kin because he didn’t want her to have the pressure or responsibility of potentially making life-or-death decisions on his behalf (we’ll just ignore the fact that as a lawyer Deeks should have known how to avoid that task falling to his mother). But this doesn’t explain why we heard nothing about her for such a long span of time.
Was it simply a matter of distance – did Roberta live so far away that Deeks didn’t want to bother her with a trip to L.A. unless he was going to die? Was their relationship relegated to the occasional phone calls that became fewer and farther between because they lived so far apart? Also, we don’t know when Roberta’s second marriage was – maybe she was married then, making Deeks less likely to want to interrupt her life? Could this marriage have put stress on their relationship in other ways, making that a time in their lives when there was little/limited contact between mother and son? Timing wise, maybe she moved to LA after the marriage ended and wanted a fresh start and/or to be closer to her son.
Could Bertie have been in rehab (okay, probably not for five years straight, but maybe off and on)? Experiencing vertigo and disorientation in “The Sound of Silence,” Deeks commented, “Pretty sure this is how my mom spent the Sixties.” Roberta also claimed, “I was a good hippie,” in “Into the Breach.” Perhaps she had a relapse of substance use later in life and needed help to stop. She might have decided to leave her old life because there were too many triggers and that prompted her move to the L.A. area. (I have to credit wikiDeeks commenter Patricia Abbott for planting this seed in my brain and providing the supporting evidence.)
Finally, is it possible that Deeks and his mother were estranged by more than distance, and if so, why? The events of his childhood made them a tight pair, so what might have strained their relationship to the point that they didn’t talk and/or see one another for years? There are any number of things that could come between a mother and son, but knowing their histories and personalities, some might be a little more likely.
For example, Deeks spent a great deal of time becoming a lawyer and for some unknown reason, then chose to become a cop. Could they have had a falling out because Deeks left a safer career for a more dangerous one? We know Roberta worries about Deeks and Kensi because of their line of work. Guy says as much to Deeks in “Forasteira“: “Bert really worries about you guys.” And who could forget this exchange outside the VA hospital in “Ghost Gun”:
Deeks: You’re smoking? What are you doing?
Roberta: I’m dying… from being worried sick. That’s what I’m doing. That’s what I’m… doing.
Deeks: Okay. Just stop.
Roberta: You know, I just can’t take this anymore. You and Kensi and this whole secret agent thing.
Deeks: All right.
Roberta: It’s just too much.
Deeks: No. We’re not secret…
Roberta (to the people nearby): My son and his fiancée are secret agents.
Deeks: Wow. Nope. Kensi is a special agent, not a secret agent, which is fortunate, considering you just told a group of strangers. Also, technically, I am a cop.
Roberta: Yeah, well, technically, you could still get shot every time you step out the door.
Deeks: Well, people die stepping out of the shower.
Roberta: Not from people shooting at them.
Deeks: Actually, I’ve seen a couple of those, too.
Roberta: Martin! Really?!
Perhaps Deeks and Roberta didn’t keep in touch with one another because any contact/discussion only led to a rehashing of the same argument about his dangerous profession? Or was it even more serious – that one refused to interact with the other after such an argument? His transition to OSP liaison wouldn’t have helped matters, as Deeks was probably getting shot at (not to mention almost blown up) more frequently than he did with LAPD. This scenario might also explain why we were suddenly graced with Mama’s presence in Season 7. It’s possible that, knowing Kensi was “the one,” Deeks wanted her to meet his mother, and so started mending fences sometime prior. Maybe he even thought it would be helpful if Bertie knew Kensi was not only his girlfriend, but his partner at work – who else would keep him safer than she would?
Why It’s Important
From what we know of Deeks and Roberta’s relationship now, it is curious that we didn’t see or hear anything about her for such a long time. This is one of the most important, and certainly longest, relationship Deeks has. For a man as loquacious as our favorite detective, how is it possible that he didn’t speak about her for five years? Yes, NCIS: Los Angeles is an action/ crime drama show, and as a result we don’t know as much about any of the characters as we might like to. But the absence of any information about Roberta Deeks, the team members’ relative who has been in more episodes than any other (11 to date compared to seven for Sam’s wife Michelle, the runner-up) is a plot hole that begs to be filled.
It’s also an anomaly: information about Kensi’s, Sam’s, and Callen’s families has been parceled out in dribs and drabs over the course of the series. Yet Mama Deeks went unmentioned for five years only to turn up out of the blue to enjoy a loving, if somewhat trying relationship with her son. As much as we appreciate all the time we get to see them together, Deeks (and Bertie) fans would like to know if there’s a story behind her absence.
What do you think? Tell us in the Comments below!