Let’s start by acknowledging the obvious: It’s TV. Anything and everything is possible! Like so many fictional beings, especially those with questionable character (like the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Loki), even those shown to be deceased somehow continue to re-emerge. So could Deeks’ father actually be alive? Of course.
What We Know
Let’s take a step back. Way back. All the way to Season 2’s “Personal.” In this single episode where our relatively new liaison officer is shot, we learn:
- At age 11, Deeks shot his father.
- His father’s name is Gordon John Brandel.
- His father had been listed as next-of-kin. (More on this below.)
- We are further told after being released on parole, two years later he perished in an auto accident.
Talk about character backstory and development! And like any good treasure trove of storytelling, we’re left with more questions than what we started with!
What We Don’t
While we are not specifically told why Deeks shot his father, the series leaves consistent breadcrumbs of a poor and challenging upbringing, likely layered with one or more types of abuse and/or alcoholism. Learning more about Deeks, it’s easy to see the protective youth taking such an extreme action more for someone else than simply to save himself.
Between the difference in name and next-of-kin listing, we initially presume Deeks’ mother is in some way gone, whether that be abandonment, escape, or her own death. This presumption lingers for FIVE long years until the shocking appearance of Roberta (Bertie) Deeks. Yet, it’s not one of those dramatic moments. No, she’s simply in his kitchen and meeting Kensi (and all of us) for the first time (in “Citadel“).
There’s no explanation as to why Deeks’ last name isn’t Brandel. Perhaps Roberta married (and divorced?) someone else after Mr. Brandel and that Mr. Deeks adopted Marty? Perhaps Deeks was Roberta’s maiden name she elected to revert back to and didn’t want Marty lassoed with the negative connection to the Brandel name? We also don’t know why Deeks listed his father vs. mother as next-of-kin, which brings us to…
The biggest “what we don’t know” applies to virtually everything associated with this show – Was Hetty telling the truth? (Who else wants to join me in a coin-flip on this one?!) Is Deeks’ father actually dead, or is Hetty choosing to protect Deeks from the truth? Was this her way of helping put those traumatic memories in the past? Is there something even more sinister about this man that Hetty wants to protect Deeks from? Was there a factual action or characteristic of Mr. Brandel that justifies Hetty’s decision, or is she again controlling the situation based on her own whims? The world may never know…
What We Might or Might Not Know
One piece of this gets really confusing. In writing this, I had reviewed the dialog (from my DensiLand blog, of course), but various members of the wikiDeeks Team chimed in with conflicting interpretations. Early in the episode, the doctor utters to Kensi, “Uh, the nurse mentioned that there’s no next of kin listed.” However, at the very end of the episode Hetty states, “…I thought it would be appropriate to update my files on your next of kin. Gordon John Brandel. Your father.”
As with good entertainment, referencing the script wasn’t enough, so I reviewed the actual show. (Remarkably, my Tivo was already cued-up to this end scene.) Living up to Callen’s description, “Hetty’s a riddle wrapped up in a mystery inside an enigma clutching a hand grenade.” In short, trying to interpret Hetty’s statement – if Deeks’ father had indeed been listed as next-of-kin on LAPD and/or NCIS documents – remains open to the personal viewpoint of the audience. Was it listed somewhere with LAPD/NCIS? Did it just not get shared with the hospital staff? Was Hetty intentionally hiding it? (My personal take on all of these questions is yes – and we’re happy to hear your understanding in the comments!) Perhaps writer Joe Wilson can provide us clarity?
Why It’s Important
The “why” seems to take on different iterations based on where Deeks has been in his life, but one basis appears firm: this directly relates to how Deeks relates to others. This childhood event of shooting his father and the reason for doing so may have been one of, if not the, driving forces that put him on the path to being a lawyer, shifting to law enforcement, accepting a broader role with NCIS, and of course his personal relationships with the team. At the time of this writing, we’re able to most easily connect it to Deeks’ potential concerns about being a good husband and hopefully future father. Both Deeks and Kensi have openly expressed trepidation about their relationship and future family based on the less-than-ideal role models they themselves had.
If his father is (unlikely) still roaming the world, did jail set him on the “straight and narrow”? Will he be looking to make amends with his son? Would Deeks actually forgive him and welcome his father into his life? Or will this be just one more thing Deeks needs to protect himself and his “family” from in the future?
Then, as always, it’s another instance to gauge Hetty’s trustworthiness…
What do you think? Do you believe 1) Hetty and 2) Deeks’ father is truly deceased? Based on where Deeks is in his life, how important is this now? How do you think the knowledge of his father’s death impacted Deeks life over these past few years – and beyond?