Review: NCISLA “Sensu Lato” (S14E18)
We’re coming to the end of the run for NCIS: Los Angeles, with only three more episodes after this week’s “Sensu Lato,” written by Faythallegrea Claude and Indira Gibson Wilson and directed by Kevin Berlandi. Who’s to say how whether this script was changed when news of the show’s cancellation was announced, but the episode provided a strong dose of a romantic side of Densi that’s been a rare sighting these past few seasons, and a wonderful note on which to start the couple’s final arc.
And given that 98% of my notes were about this very subject, that’s what this review is going to focus on. Let’s start with the first Densi scene, a shared workout, which has become a classic setting for Densi banter over the years. It started out with Deeks expressing concerns over Rosa’s security in the school carpool. His paranoia over his daughter’s safety continued a running conversation from last week, when he was concerned over her being hurt while pursuing any possible extra-curricular activity.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this expression of anxiety. It definitely wasn’t rational. Was it the writers attempting to use his character for humor? Being ever so sensitive to Deeks’ character being disrespected, that’s what I thought at first. Then I thought maybe he was messing with Kensi, which is how I had wanted to take his thinking in the previous episode. But in neither case did it feel like Eric Christian Olsen was playing it that way. We got a clue here in his reaction to missing out on time with Rosa, but it wasn’t clear to me until later in the episode exactly where Deeks was coming from.
During the conversation, Kensi raised her concerns over the state of couple’s relationship:
Kensi: I really feel like we need to spend more time together.
Deeks: Because spending all day together as superheroes fighting crime, that, that’s not enough for you?
Kensi: OK, A, we’re not superheroes, and B, I’m talking about actual alone time, just you and me, like romance. You even remember what that feels like?
Deeks: We don’t need romance, we’re married.
Kensi: How can you say that?
Deeks: Sweetie, romance is a scam to get to what we already have.
Kensi: OK, stop. What are you talking about?
Deeks: I just think that romance is based on lies…
Kensi: This makes me so sad. I had no idea that you felt this way.
Deeks: See, more lies. But at least now we’re married and the charade can stop.
Kensi: No, I’m sorry. I don’t wanna go through life on autopilot just going through the motions, OK? It’s not healthy.
Deeks’ reactions to Kensi’s complaints seemed genuine. He responded so quickly that it felt like he was expressing his true feelings. And here’s where I differ with the way he was portrayed, because I see Deeks as a pretty romantic guy. He proposed to Kensi three different times. He’s “the girl in this relationship.” He knows all the secrets of Kensi’s “softer, lacy lady side.” And beyond all that, he likely still doesn’t believe he deserves her, and would do anything to make her happy. (Of course, he does buy holiday goodies the day after, so he’s not a great Valentine’s date.)
That’s not to say I disagree with Kensi that the duo has lost that flirty edge that used to be such a regular and wonderful element of every episode, but I blame the writers for that, not Deeks. It’s been a long-running trend that’s carried through from before they were even married. And while it makes perfect sense that having a teenager join their household would throw priorities and alone time out of whack, the writers could have found a different way to come at the problem than blaming it on Deeks’ lack of a romantic side. (Did I mention my sensitivity to Deeks being slighted?)
The conversation also set me on edge a bit merely because it showed the duo as less than perfectly happy. It was the first remotely serious disagreement they’d had since Mexico, and it hurt to see any sort of flaw in their dynamic.
Later in the boatshed, we got a better understanding of what was driving Deeks:
Kensi: It’s easy to lose touch with each other if all we discuss is the daily grind.
Deeks: Yeah, listen, I get this, but you know this, that you are the most important thing to me in the world… But also, we only have 377 left.
Kensi: 377 what?
Deeks: Days. Until Rosa graduates high school and goes out into the world. She’s gonna be a full-blown adult. And 377 days, I know that seems like a lot but it’s not, it’s only like 582,000 minutes, and if you turn that into seconds, you times it by 60, so it’s like 32 million seconds but it. Flies. By.
Kensi: Deeks. I love that you love being in a family. And that you love doing family things, because I do too. Of course. But I just don’t ever wanna lose touch with being us.
Oh sweet, sweet Deeks. His little ramble about the passing of time was quintessential Deeks, revealing so much about where his heart is. You know he’s literally counted out how much time he actually has to spend with Rosa before she goes off to college and then who knows where in the world after that? They’ve been given such a gift with Rosa, and yet they’ve had precious little time to enjoy her being with them. It’s got to be so bittersweet, and Sensitive Deeks wants to literally make every second count.
It shows just how important being a father is to him, something we’ve known since Season 2. Understanding the painful motivations behind that impulse makes it even more beautiful to see such a shining expression of him having what he’s always wanted, even if it is, to borrow a phrase, spectacular yet fleeting. It’s probably the single most satisfying part of the show getting to continue through these last few seasons, to actually be able to witness Deeks having all his dreams realized.
It’s also beautiful to see how directly these two are able to talk about things that are bothering them. While Deeks clearly hasn’t shared the reasons for his desperation to keep Rosa close by, he is able to let Kensi know that she is his world. It summons images from long ago, when neither of these two could bring themselves to talk about their thing. It’s another reason the conversations in this episode were so enjoyable, but also so bittersweet, because of the way they showed how far the two have come.
The duo then handle an ever-so-brief undercover moment at the pesticide company’s greenhouse. (Seriously, who takes a tour of vegetables grown by a pesticide manufacturer, and who samples the products? Is that an actual thing?) Deeks and Kensi were funny here as they struggled to stay on the same page, with what might have been some improv’d lines. Still, I took their struggles as more signs of them being out of sync overall. Have they ever struggled so much on an undercover assignment? I’d have preferred a more competent effort, which could still have played off of the topic of romance.
The final scene was something many fans have been waiting for, a true return to a flirty, fun Densi that’s been in short supply for quite a while as the couple’s story lines have focused on wedding planning, trying to get pregnant, adoption, and parenthood, leaving little time for the kind of sparks that were common earlier on in their partnership. First though, I gotta ask, doesn’t Kensi hate flowers? Or has she softened her stance over the years?
After last week, where we really didn’t get any kind of wrap-up or deeper exploration of Deeks’ concerns, it was a relief to see the pair get a nice closing scene that allowed him to redeem himself for his reactions earlier in the episode. I think Kensi’s doubts must have freaked him out even more than they kind of freaked me out.
There was so much to enjoy here, but one highlight has to be the physicality of watching Kensi root through Deeks’ back pockets.
Deeks: Get in there, take what’s yours.
Kensi: I’m so sorry.
Deeks: Tip your waiter.
This immediately took me back to “Out of the Past,” where we watched Kensi pull a chip reader out of Deek’s back pocket in a memorable exchange. While Claude and Wilson, newer writers for the show, may not even have been familiar with the earlier scene, it still provided another nice example of how far the duo have come (in this case, Kensi is now free to grope Deeks to her heart’s content). Other memories it conjured were from a gift and note Deeks gave Kensi in “Seoul Man,” and the little “Everything’s going to be fine” note from “Blye, K.”
Deeks: I know that we have so much on our plate, but the last thing I wanna do is lose this. I don’t wanna lose the thing that got us here. Although, full honesty, you rockin’ those torn up Levi’s was a big part of our thing.
Kensi: Why’d you think I wore them on every single date?
Deeks: Well, they worked.
[Kensi smiles and Deeks is home.]
Deeks: This feels like ten years ago.
Deeks: I don’t wanna lose that spark. I don’t wanna lose us and I definitely don’t wanna lose you.
Kensi: Keep this up and you might be seeing a whole lot more of me. What’re you gonna do about it?
The reference to the dates during which Kensi had sported torn up Levi’s confused me. When did these two ever go on an actual date aside from one outing for “tacos”? Did they go on dates once they went all in? But if they were already all in, why did Kensi need the jeans to “work”?
Still, Deeks’ mention of where they were ten years ago was the episode’s most direct reference to their long journey together, bringing up even more memories of the path the two have traveled together. As bittersweet as it is to reminisce as the show’s end approaches, that scene must have been even more emotional for ECO and Daniela Ruah to play together. Deeks saying “This feels like ten years ago” might just as well have been ECO telling Dani that. These two actors have had such an incredible run together, bringing sparkling chemistry to so many episodes, and this scene felt like a small encapsulation of all they’ve achieved.
It was a bit disappointing to see the scene end without a kiss. When Kensi turned around to see if they were alone, I almost thought they might head straight to the burn room, the setting for sexy scenes in countless fan fictions. Alas, we had to make do with watching them walk out of the mission with Kensi continuing the groping, which was charming in its own way.
- The cold opening had way too many creepy crawlies for me. In fact it might have been the most disturbing yet! But you gotta love ECO’s enjoyment of shouting out, “We have recovered the moths! The moths have been recovered!” when they finally rounded up the bad guys.
- I like the fun side-by-side and sliding screens, as the team worked together from different locations to put the clues together. It gave the information download a lot of pizzazz.
- Sam’s closing conversation with Kilbride had several nice beats. Kilbride telling Sam that he’d learned from his son that, “It is never too late to explore other pathways” showed that that relationship is moving forward. And Sam’s final line, “You haven’t got me yet, Hetty,” was fantastic, although it made the whole proposal a little creepy (which is not inappropriate). Finally, what’s in the envelope?
That’s it from me this week. Come back later in the week for new editions of Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal, and a new Drabble of the Week. And stay tuned for some special features to celebrate the wonderful times we’ve spent being fans of this great show.
In the meantime, how did you like “Sensu Lato”? Did you enjoy the Densi as much as I did? Tell us about it in the Comments below.
A/N: Thanks to Lyssa for
I am in total agreement with you on this episode, 100%.
This is what I posted on Wikideeks for Mr. Romance at your Service: Deeks’ Surf Log 4/23/23 by Diane.
“Finally, an episode worthy of “NCIS: Los Angeles”! It took them long enough to have a great story and plenty of Densi moments. Too bad it took so long to get an EP that we can really enjoy. Hope the rest of the season follows suit. Missed the Kensi and Deeks banter and the love and connection that these two actors have shown for 13+ years.”
I am truly going to miss your reviews and I am so glad to have been able to enjoy your work @ Wikideeks.
All the best in everything you do moving forward.
An additional note on your review, [Kensi smiles and Deeks is home] is a great reference to “Expiration Date”. I think that Kensi smiled exactly like she did in that episode, what do you think?
“Your smile is so perfect.
And there it is.”
Good review, Karen…as usual. Hard to believe there are so few episodes left to review. I will miss reading your take on things. As for this episode, I realized I no longer care about the storyline. I just want to enjoy watching Deeks. As for this episode…not my favorite even though there was a lot of Densi. It felt a little like season two mixed up with later seasons after they adopted Rosa. Deeks seemed scattered, although I did laugh at his imitation of a rabbit eating lettuce. The best part was the ending and Deeks’ smile while Kensi rifled his back pocket. I was hoping there would be hints about their future, but no such luck. I’m expecting a soft landing for the end of this show. Not many sparks coming…just fading off into the sunset. Loved it while it lasted.
NEED DENSI KISSES!!!!!
Hey Karen, I love reading your insights into the episodes! I was just as confused about Deeks’ apparent attitude toward romance until that last scene. The fact that the concert tickets were actual tickets indicated to me that he’d gotten them sometime before that day–when else would he have had time to get tickets like that (as opposed to e-tix that he just would have printed out and look completely different) during the course of the episode? My head canon is that he got the tix some time earlier and was waiting until Kensi had a bad day to give them to her as a “cheer up” gift, when her complaints about their lack of romance gave him the perfect opportunity.