The NCIS: Los Angeles Christmas episode is always something to look forward to. Through the years, we’ve enjoyed classics like “Free Ride” and witnessed key Densi developments in episodes like “Humbug,” “Cancel Christmas,” and “Answers.” “If the Fates Allow,” written by Andrew Bartels and directed by Dan Liu, continued in that tradition, gifting us with a happy outcome for Deeks’ season-long troubles.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
The episode’s plot revolved around the plight of Callen’s one-time foster brother Raymond (played by Demetrius Grosse), unjustly accused of drug smuggling. Raymond had once lived a life of crime that began when he defended young Callen from a bully. Grosse and Shelley Robertson, who played Raymond’s wife, couldn’t have been more likeable, and they made us root for Callen and the team to clear their names.
The well done flashbacks (thankfully no de-aging techniques were needed) and the whole story provided an absorbing glimpse into Callen’s life as a young boy in foster care, and a window into a key moment that helped shape the man he became. We can see the lesson he learned as a kid – that he needed to fight his own battles in order to protect the people he cared about – reflected in his lone wolf tendencies and willingness to take on bad guys everywhere.
The episode contained several very romantic touches, including every scene with Raymond and Shelley together, as well as when Raymond told Callen about how meeting her changed his life. His encouraging Callen to make a commitment certainly could have planted the seeds for an eventual proposal. It’s hard to picture Callen settling down as a married man, but I’ve made my peace with Anna, so if she’s around for good, I can live with it.
The whole storyline, with a look back at a key moment from Callen’s troubled childhood and a heavy reliance on flashbacks, made me absolutely crave the same treatment for our longed-for “Deeks, M.” I want to see exactly what went down when little Marty shot his father. That tale could have actually made for a great, if bittersweet, version of this Christmas episode, showing us where Deeks has come from – the childhood events that continue to drive him today – just as he embarks on a new chapter of his life with NCIS. Unfortunately, showrunner R. Scott Gemmill has remained non-committal about a look at Deeks’ past, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Let your heart be light
The episode provided updates from a few other characters as well, with Sam’s daughter returning for the holidays and looking all grown up. (Her act of swimming onto the boat has to be the most creative way yet to generate an excuse for social distancing.) Sadly, she wasn’t ready for a cozy Christmas with the new woman in Sam’s life, but at least Sam and Katherine seem to be progressing in their relationship. I couldn’t help but feel that Sam got shorted at episode’s end, though. A quick shot of him having a candlelit dinner with Katherine would have helped reassure us he was in a good place.
We also got the return of Eric Beale. Was he in character? At this point I honestly have no idea. I was also confused about the state of his relationship with Nell. The lack of hugs from anyone on his return felt a little cold, as understandable as it was. At least Deeks made some physical contact, reaching out and placing his hand on Beale’s shoulder. Their conversation was lovely, filled with gentle humor at Beale’s expense, Beale’s heartfelt aspirations to end homelessness, and Deeks sweetly foregoing asking for financial aid and acknowledging that he is, in fact, one of the lucky ones.
Our troubles will be out of sight
Early on in the episode, Deeks succinctly sums up what we’ve all likely been saying for many months, which is that “2020 sucks.” We learned that Kessler has dropped breadcrumbs about relocating to Asia- but are they genuine or just a ruse to make Kensi drop her guard? At least Kensi still seems unaffected by her interaction with him. One of the things I’d have appreciated seeing at the end of “Raising the Dead” was a “Silo”-like conversation where we learned what she had really thought of having to deal with him. Based on her continued nonchalance about the encounter, I can only assume that she hasn’t let him get to her.
More sad feels continued as we headed into the final scene, seeing Deeks sitting at his now empty – and former – desk. Yet the glumness didn’t last long, as Deeks revealed his plans to pay for the house. His “I don’t need a Christmas miracle if I have you” line may have been a little sappy, but I found it incredibly romantic, as was his gesture to sell the bar. It actually reminded me a little of O. Henry’s holiday story “The Gift of the Magi” where the two characters each sacrifice something they hold dear to make the other happy. And that’s Deeks, willing to do whatever’s necessary for his ladybird.
Thankfully, Deeks’ and Kensi’s non-Kessler troubles were taken care of thanks to
Santa Hetty. She seemed downright jolly at the opportunity to spread Christmas cheer, and her happiness really sold the whole scene. Her admonition to Deeks to “Never let age stand in your way” was a perfect line for her character to share, and exactly what he needed to hear – he’s got to have been feeling his age since learning he wasn’t eligible for FLETC last episode.
Now the big question is, does Deeks still need to sell the bar? I was never a fan of the bar idea originally, and it still seems much too time-consuming if you’re also trying to raise a family, but I have loved the team scenes there, along with watching how much happiness Deeks gets from playing host. I hope they hang onto it. (Plus, it’s one more filming location on the Paramount lot that would seem particularly valuable this season.)
Our troubles will be miles away (or will they?)
I hate to end this review of a lovely episode on a “Bah, humbug” note, and yet… And yet I have to admit I was left somewhat unsatisfied by the FLETC resolution. The issue is really the path Deeks has taken to becoming an agent. Many of us have wanted to see it happen for a long time, yet Deeks never chose to sign those papers Hetty gave him so long ago. He saw his identity as being “a cop,” and for all these years, he’s refrained from taking Hetty up on her offer. With this current arc, he was put in a corner and left with little choice. His identity had been ripped away from him, and if he wanted to continue working with Kensi (and protecting her from Kessler) and bring in enough income for a house, he must have felt he had to join NCIS. His lack of agency here took a good deal of the satisfaction out of an outcome that should have been a moment of real celebration for this character.
And while of course we all expected Hetty to swoop in and wave her magic wand, in some respects it would have been more gratifying to hear that Deeks earned his spot thanks to his stellar work over eleven years, and the sacrifices he’s made to defend his country. I mean, they owe him this and more, don’t they?
And while Deeks’ words to Kensi – “I’m going to FLETC” – came with a beautiful smile, might they also have carried a tinge of doubt? It could have just been the good kind of shock and surprise that comes with truly welcome and unexpected news, but it felt a little like Deeks couldn’t believe he was really doing this thing that he’d never apparently wanted to do. It’s also the exact opposite of what he’s repeatedly said he does want, which is to have them both out of danger and raising a family. It felt like he was more relieved to have a plan and an income, than happy to get to do what he’d long dreamed of doing.
Still, it’s the resolution we needed to give this character a way to stick around and stay involved, so I’ll take it. Kensi sure looked ecstatic. I can only hope that the ribbing he’ll receive as the most junior of agents won’t be too nasty. I know Sam and Callen will take joy in giving him a hard time, as big brothers do, but I hope it comes with respect for his decade plus of experience, especially when compared with the two actual junior agents they’ve treated more kindly than they ever did Deeks. What can I say? I’m protective of my favorite character.
- The truly disturbing opening where we worried about a Black man stopped by a white police officer felt like heavy subject matter for the opening of a Christmas ep, but good for Bartels to include it.
- The mission closing down at the holidays was yet another great excuse to forego using a lot of extras.
- Was everyone’s childhood friend named Ray?
- Push-ups! I don’t really have more to say on the matter, but thanks Mr. Bartels.
- Brooch alert! Nell is even starting to dress like Hetty. Is she slowly going to ease herself into pantsuits with scarves to go with that brooch?
- This is two episodes in a row where a man gets angry at Fatima in Ops. This time it was definitely uncalled for, but at least she got an apology.
That’s it from me. Tell us all your thoughts on “If the Fates Allow” in the Comments below. I’m pretty sure my view about the ending will be a minority one, and that’s fine by me. It’s boring if we all agree! I can’t wait to hear your takes.
Finally, here’s to a much happier 2021 for you and yours, and if you celebrate, have yourself a merry little Christmas, from all of us at wikiDeeks!