NCIS: Los Angeles is on a roll with two strong episodes in a row. This week’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” written by Lee A. Carlisle and directed by Tawnia McKiernan, continued a complex storyline filled with Russians that also provided several great scenes spotlighting Deeks and two of the show’s best pairings: Densi and Deeks & Sam.
Unfortunately, my time is extremely short this week so I’m gonna see how much I can quickly share, and then you all will have to make up for whatever I leave out.
Sweet, Supportive, and Giggly?
The Densi scene where Deeks administers Kensi’s hormone injection was a delight. It could have gone in an angstier direction, but Carlisle’s dialog kept things from getting too dark. Carlisle also gets huge kudos for the callback to “Touch of Death” and Deeks getting “fainty” around needles. The mention of his competitiveness with Danno was a great detail. Moments like this are clearly written for long-term, die-hard fans, for who else is going to have any idea what they’re talking about? And that’s why they’re so special.
Instead of angst, we got a patient Kensi encouraging Deeks to overcome his fears, and a supportive Deeks worried about hurting the woman he loves. The ending, where Deeks/Eric Christian Olsen started laughing after he went a little big with a line seemed like a clear moment of breaking character, as did Daniela Ruah’s valiant efforts to maintain her demeanor and finish her own lines. Yet the giggling only added to the scene, making it feel unrehearsed, charming and real. It’s no doubt why the director and editors chose to use the take.
The scene in the bullpen was lovely as well, and I assume Kensi’s dizziness offered a smart way to give Daniela a bit more time to work on the post-production for her directorial debut, which aired last week. Deeks couldn’t have been more supportive, just as we expect, but I loved how sensible Kensi was, actually heeding her partner’s pleas to stay behind and play it safe. Seems like a sign of progress. Also, do we think the face Kensi made was an improvisation from Daniela?
Chemistry and History
The episode’s highlight was seeing Sam and Deeks work together. They have always been the show’s oddest couple, and have always had amazing chemistry. What I enjoyed the most about Carlisle’s portrayal was how little mocking Sam did. Compared to last week’s great “Russia, Russia, Russia,” this week’s episode lacked the full-on humor that Gemmill gave us, but it made up for it in sincerity and sweetness. Instead of Sam giving Deeks a hard time, he showed respect and listened to his advice. Again, another sign of real progress.
And again, we got another incredible call-back to a past episode, all the way back to Season 2 Episode 3’s “Borderline,” one of my all-time favorites. Here’s the dialog from when we first heard about Darryl Donkins:
Deeks: [fires his gun] It’s OK. It was just a rattlesnake, it was getting ready to pounce.
Kensi: Snakes don’t pounce, they strike.
Deeks: Uh huh. This one looked like a pouncer. Listen, I’m sorry about that, but when I was a little kid, my friend Darryl Donkins’ boa constrictor tried to strangle me to death at his eighth grade birthday party.
Kensi: Darryl’s, or the snake’s?
Deeks: See, you think it’s funny but it’s not funny, alright? Paramedics had to use the jaws of life to set me free, made the front page of the Encino Times. My mom still has a copy laminated on the front of her fridge.
Kensi: Your fly is open.
Deeks: Son of a-
That Darryl would grow up to run a reptile zoo couldn’t have been a more perfect addition to this backstory, and again, was planted there for us long-time fans to really enjoy.
Sam’s willingness to even open up to Deeks about what was going on with Kam showed more trust than we normally see from him, or at least indicated how anxious and lost he was feeling about the situation. It also seemed like an example of social distancing- having the two actors on comms rather than walking together- actually making the scene better because Sam probably did feel more comfortable revealing his concerns to Deeks from a distance, and his openness in turn felt more natural than it might have otherwise.
But his words after Deeks finished- “You know, Deeks, I never would’ve thought this when we first met, but someday you’re gonna make a great father”- gave me some major feels. I’d have loved to see the camera linger on Deeks’ face just a few seconds longer before the bullets started flying, so we could really savor him taking in Sam’s words. For it was a profoundly important compliment from someone Deeks looks up to, maybe more than he should, someone Deeks no doubt sees as a great father. And it was about the thing Deeks is least confident about, and probably most terrified of screwing up.
I also enjoyed seeing the duo take on Agent Carlson in a rapid fire exchange, and the funny callback to last week’s script with her “the SEAL and the hyphenate” label. How about a spin-off with that title?
The episode offered a lot of other interesting elements, among them:
- Deeks may be the oldest ever NCIS Investigator, but it’s never going to make me – or Deeks, I suspect – feel any better about how he got through FLETC.
- Nell and Kensi’s talk was also very much in character and filled with love and support. Nell’s description of herself as “kinda your boss but as your always friend” was adorable.
- Wow those Russians must have literally flown to get from the Angeles National Forest to the Port of Los Angeles so quickly.
- Callen may be secretly operating as a double agent without the team’s knowledge, but at least here, when he had multiple opportunities to ditch them all, he kept in contact. Again, a sign of progress.
Carlisle really excelled at giving us the team as a family, and I look forward to seeing more of his work. What did you think of the episode? Tell us all about it, and help fill in everything I missed, in the Comments below.