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Spectacular Yet Fleeting: 14 Years of Fantastic Fandom


We’re all coming to the end of an amazing journey following Marty Deeks, the best character on TV. As Eric Christian Olsen might put it, the time we spent has been spectacular, yet fleeting. We thought we’d take a look back at what originally drew our wikiDeeks contributors into the fandom, and reminisce about some of the many highlights from a decade spent previewing, reviewing, fic writing, art making, and interviewing about NCIS: Los Angeles and Marty Deeks.

A Rocky Start

Let’s go back to the beginning and remember how we all became such devoted fans of the show. Some of us watched from the start. Of this group, several came from the mothership with a desire to check out its spin-off. Others were drawn by actors whose work they enjoyed, including Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J, and Linda Hunt. 

Almost none of us early adopters were sold on the show at first. Colleen “thought the character chemistry was off.” Lindy thought it just “seemed like a typical crime drama.” Gayle found it “a struggle to really connect and be ‘pulled in,’” and she actually stopped watching mid-way through Season 1. I kept half-watching more to enjoy the way the show celebrated my hometown with its location shooting, but I paid little attention to the stories or characters. Psyched was too unimpressed with the pilot to keep watching, but her husband did.

Love at First Sight

And then Detective Marty Deeks showed up and everything changed. Colleen put it this way: “Rather than being drawn to Deeks, Deeks drew me to the show. I was hooked once he was a part of it. Eric [Christian Olsen] is an incredible actor.” Diane was ready to give up on the show when Deeks arrived. “He was real, compassionate and so vulnerable,” she remembers, adding, “It was love at first sight.” Randy liked him because he:

…was unlike any character that I had seen on any show. He was unkempt, rough around the edges, brash, a little arrogant, and seemed to be the lost stray that followed the team home in a thunderstorm… He came from the streets of L.A. and he brought that realness to the show and gave the other characters another perspective from which to view the world.

Gayle’s friend encouraged her to give the show another try at the start of Season 2, and Deeks got her immediate attention. “One of my first thoughts about Deeks was ‘Who is that over-the-top dude?’, she described. “It was clear they set him to be a challenging partner for Kensi. So I was interested to see how one would work to get under her guard, her reaction to this clearly opposite character, and the overall fit with the team.” 

Season 2 Densi actually pulled me out my of inattentive viewing, but not until Kensi was lying on top of Deeks after the “Deliverance” explosion. I said to myself, “Whoa, who is this guy and why aren’t they kissing?” and went back to rewatch his prior episodes to figure that out.

Lindy noticed Deeks’ “smile, cockiness, and humor,” and her affection grew with “the acting power ECO exuded in every scene” of “Human Traffic.” But with “Personal,” she made a truly, well, personal connection with the character:

That episode hit close to home. When it was revealed that he had shot his father, I instinctively knew his dad had been an alcoholic, even though it was never expressly stated. I felt that revelation deeply. I knew what it felt like to be in fear of what a drunken father was capable of. ECO brought that fear to life in Deeks. I could relate to what he had gone through as a child, so I became emotionally attached from that point on.

Psyched, who’d been half-watching with her husband, didn’t really start to pay attention until Densi went “all in” in Season 6’s “Humbug.” At that point, as I had also done, she went back and rewatched the show from the start. Like Randy, she found herself appreciating Deeks as “the outsider, the odd man out, and the one they really didn’t like. And yet he kept showing up, showing off on occasion, proving himself, and slowly but surely becoming a member of the team despite his ‘less than’ training, appearance, and professionalism (i.e. the best humor of all of them).”

Others didn’t even watch the show until after it had begun. Em was drawn to pictures and edits of Densi and started watching the summer after Season 6. She too was “very disappointed during the first season until Deeks came on board. The show was good, but Deeks made it so much more exciting.” She was “drawn in by his humor, charm, intelligence, and of course that fluffy hair. No one else was like him.”

Pat started watching the show because, “It came on and I was too far away from the remote to change the channel!” She was drawn to Deeks, “because of the chinks in his armor.  His armor was banter, but he couldn’t hide his genuine caring for the underdog, nor having become beguiled by Kensi.”

And Brenda’s interest in the show actually increased when she went looking for episode reviews and stumbled onto wikiDeeks. She said, “Having people to discuss the episodes with really enhanced my enjoyment of the series, because there are often interesting things to discuss and debate. Having like-minded folks that caught different parts of the episodes also made me watch a little closer.”

The Many Layers of Marty Deeks

The more we learned about Deeks, the more fascinating he became. Colleen appreciated that, “He keeps it real. He’s smart. He’s loyal. He’s funny. He cares. A lot.” Thereʻs also his famous ability to defuse tension with humor. Several contributors spoke about how complex he was. Brenda described it this way:

Initially… he was someone who was upbeat and added a lot of fun to the episodes, but without taking away the seriousness of the cases. But it was also clear from the beginning that there was so much more to the character than what you see on the surface and that was intriguing. As the series has unfolded, of course, we’ve seen that to be true in many ways, and what we have learned about him has been additive to his character, but never taken away from the initial impression of who he was… I’m grateful that though the writers have put Deeks through some stuff, they’ve never done anything that has permanently changed who he is or shown us a side of him that we couldn’t embrace and love. We always knew he had layers, and some of them would be painful, but he is fundamentally a kind, solid, and decent person and they’ve never changed that.

Lindy also appreciated those layers, pointing out that they weren’t all positive: “It was his complexity that kept the character fresh. There was so much going on underneath those surfer good looks. There was a well hidden darkness under that sunshine smile.” It was exactly that dark side that fascinated some of us, and moved us as we watched him overcome it. Em loved “that Deeks fought so hard to be the antithesis of his father and has succeeded so wonderfully as a friend, husband, and now father himself.” She appreciates his “desire to protect those around him and his strong sense of justice and need to do what’s right, even if it leads him to cross lines sometimes. ” Similarly, Psyched liked, “that he’s the least perfect of the characters. He has a messy history (that we really should know more about), he’s done bad things but is still a good person, and has probably demonstrated the most growth out of all the characters.”

Lindy commented on Deeksʻ vulnerability, especially when compared to the rest of his nearly invincible team. She also pointed out how much he changed one of those team members because, “He wasn’t afraid to make us feel the emotions of the moment. Even more so than Kensi. She was trying so hard to be tough, that in the beginning it was hard to relate to her. Deeks changed that. Changed her, and the show was all the better for it.”

Several commented on his courage and determination, and how he made the team better. Randy summed it up this way:

Deeks brought a freshness to the team and out of all of them, he was the most relatable. He balanced out the groups’ way of seeing things by challenging their perspectives and giving them someone who knew what it was like to have the entire deck stacked against them but yet could turn all of that to an advantage. He didn’t quit, he always tried to make them laugh (even at his own expense) and he always had their backs … even when they didn’t have his… He turned out to be intelligent, brave, professional, competent, and liked to draw outside the lines. Deeks was the perfect complement to the team that all too many times played their parts all too serious and did things the ”government” way… He showed Callen the true meaning of improvisation, he gave Sam a run for his money in thinking quickly on his feet, and Kensi, well he showed her not to judge a book by its cover. 

And of course, there’d be no Deeks without ECO. Brenda talked about his performance, saying, “His face and body language is very expressive and the way he embodied the character really gave depth to so many of the moments where there was no dialogue.”

A Romance for the Ages

Not only was Deeks the best character on TV, he was part of one of the best TV couples of all time. As Diane said, “They were so perfect together and the chemistry was undeniable from the beginning.” Brenda also found a lot to love with the couple, including “ how they could go from silly to serious in a heartbeat. How ECO would seem to ad lib and Dani would just go with it. Deeks never treated Kensi as anything less than fully capable of doing her job and absolutely respected her expertise for the work. All the car scenes, the banter walking up to doors while pulling out their guns, the bickering while on stake-outs – love those!”

One aspect of the relationship cited by multiple contributors was how, in Pat’s words, it “was able to build slowly and satisfyingly over time.” Randy loved that, “…the way Densi evolved over the years so that it didn’t feel forced… What was different was the slow progression, from reluctant partners to partners that they could trust to friends to best friends to more than friends to lovers to soulmates. There were ups and downs, there were times when they made us believe it was over between them, the will-they-or-won’t-they times that were so frustrating, to them becoming something special that will now live only in our fantasies (unfortunately). “

Gayle said, “Densi, to me, felt different than most other flirting/fighting, will-they-or-won’t-they TV couples. We got to learn and understand them as individuals and their backgrounds that justified why they were who they were, again as individuals. This then made their personal conflicts with each other as partners and a potential couple make perfect sense. It was from this we realized Densi would be a long, slow, complicated journey – and I was there for every aspect! The vulnerability, authenticity, and general ‘messiness’ of Densi is what made them so realistic and relatable.”

Special Episodes

We asked each contributor for episodes that were particularly meaningful, and we got examples that spanned the length of the series, with Seasons 2 and 5 marking particular high points for Deeks and Densi stories. In chronological order, we start with “Human Traffic,” Dianeʻs favorite, she says, “because it features the serious Deeks that I fell in love with. [There was] so much passion in Eric’s performance.”

Psyched provided a long list, but focused on another Season 2 episode, saying, “One of the less obvious ones for me is “Empty Quiver,” because it begins with Deeks and Kensi complaining to each other and Hetty that they don’t seem to be working out as partners. It ends with what I think is the first turning point in their partnership and relationship: Deeks offering to take things more seriously and Kensi offering to lighten up. They did, and in my opinion, that was what started them on the path we know and love.” 

Randy chose “Personal,” saying, “This episode showed how much Deeks had come to mean to the team (especially Kensi) in such a short time, even though the rest were a little reluctant in showing that. It also displayed just how strong a character he was and that he and Kensi were forming a deep partnership that would take them very far together.”

Diane loved “The Job” “because that’s when I realized he loved [Kensi].” Colleen mentioned “Neighborhood Watch” as well as several Season 5 episodes, and was grateful for “Seeing the fan wish Densi come to fruition as actual Densi on the show.”

Em and I, the angst lovers in the group, cited the “Descent”/”Ascension”/”Impact” arc, as did Colleen and Psyched. For me, the shocking Season 4 cliffhanger really exploded my budding obsession and led directly to my involvement with wikiDeeks. Em had a similar experience, saying the eps “resonated with me from the first time I watched them. I immediately sought out every piece of related fanfic I could find. I also think it was a turning point in the show as well as for Sam, Kensi, and Deeks and their various relationships.” Gayle and Brenda were also moved by “Impact.” Gayle described it this way: “To see Deeks post-torture struggling, withdrawing, and questioning himself was so out-of-character and heartbreaking. The vulnerability was stunning. Then in the end for Kensi to begin to reintroduce normalcy and the genius of ‘Pastry Baby’ and ‘It’s a Love Story’ let him, them, and us know he would be OK.”

The Afghanistan arc also had a lot of fans. Brenda cited the “go for Santa” scene in “Merry Evasion,” saying, “…it gave me hope that maybe the writers would have Kensi and Deeks eventually end up together.” Pat appreciated how much we learned about Deeks in these episodes, as well as during Kensiʻs recovery post-Syria. Psyched talked about “Spoils of War,” saying:

No matter how many times I’ve seen it (or maybe because of how many times), I’m always surprised by how I engrossed I get in this episode, and how much it makes me feel. From the opening sequence… you can cut the tension with a knife. My heart breaks to see Kensi looking so broken in the few scenes she’s in, and I love how she leans into Deeks before he holds her. None of them care when Callen and Sam see Densi in that embrace, because the entire team put their lives (and soul, in Deeks’ case) on the line to get one of their own back and all that mattered was that they were successful.

Randy talked about the Season 8 finale, “Unleashed.” He said, “They had just lost Michelle and even in the midst of all that, the team, especially Kensi, was able to focus on what was important… cherish the time you had and rejoice in the time you have left. Her proposal was unexpected and unique, while Deeks’ response was sweet and completely him. All this came after her recovery and her seemingly rejecting Deeks’ proposals and questioning their future together. It was the perfect engagement scene that captured the essence of both characters but also displayed exactly how well they fit together as a couple. It gave us the beautiful combination of sunshine and gunpowder with sweet and scruffy.”

Lindy also chose an arc from later seasons: “A Line in the Sand”/“Ninguna Salida”/“To Live and Die in Mexico.” She said, “I think I was a little jealous of Kensi in the beginning, and didn’t want them to get together. Over time they won me over. But after their argument in the garage before they flew to Mexico to save Mosley’s son, I wasn’t sure whose side to be on… That whole storyline was perfect. Kensi realized how much she loved him and showed it by dragging across a desert. I never doubted they should be together after that and neither did they.”

Saying Good-bye

As we approach the end of the series, and the end of the site, many contributors are taking the looming change hard. For many of us, the show has been a comfort during hard times in our lives. It was for me, providing an escape during a time of stress. Em felt similarly, saying, “It saw me through some difficult times. It’s been an anchor, and largely a joy, which I can’t imagine ending.” For Lindy, “The show offered comfort during hard times, and I will miss that feeling.” For Psyched, “The show has also given me things to look forward to, to write about, to discuss, analyze, and make predictions about, to distract me (both when I’ve needed it and when I haven’t), and not to mention all kinds of feels.” 

Gayle spoke about how much Kensi has meant to her, saying, “While being entertained by and writing for wikiDeeks, it’s actually the character of Kensi that was the root of my loyalty. I happen to share a number of life experiences and personal characteristics with Kensi, making her relatable for me. Watching this character was a type of self-reflective therapy that I didn’t know I needed. “

NCIS:LA has also provided a creative outlet for many. Em said, “It’s inspired me to write more than I ever anticipated and grow in many ways.” For many of us, it inspired our first foray into writing fan fiction. For others, the challenge of debating a show-related topic and possibly even taking a side they disagreed with offered a fun way to collaborate.

Contributors also enjoyed the sense of community, of being able to talk to others who shared their obsession. As Psyched described, “No one in my ‘real life’ knows of my ‘interest’ (read: obsession) with the show, Densi, or Deeks, so it was great to have actual discussions with many of [them].” Randy liked hearing from others, saying, “I really enjoyed the different perspectives about Deeks that were shared on the site… I always appreciated the candidness that the others expressed… even those about Deeks’ hair, physique, eyes, ears, teeth, laugh, strut, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum.“

Lindy has experienced a range of emotions since hearing the news. “I knew this day would come,” she said, “but now that it’s official, I vacillate between sadness and anger. I get mad at CBS and the other NCIS shows, even though I know that makes no sense.” Although some were mentally prepared for the end, the abrupt announcement that left showrunners with little time to properly wrap up story lines caused some disgruntled feelings. Colleen shared, “It should not be ending! They all deserved to know well in advance when it was going to end so they could write a proper final season. And we as fans deserved to see that. CBS can kiss my grits.”

Perhaps what makes parting so difficult is that it marks the end of a decade-long working relationship among team members who have become friends. Many of us have met up in person, and everyone shared an appreciation for the talented team around them. Diane will miss the team, saying that the show’s end has been, “Heartbreaking. I’ve met and worked with so many creative and deep down good people. I will miss working with them all. That will be the hardest part.” I’d be remiss if I didn’t give full credit to Diane for being such an amazing leader over all these years; without her there’d be no wikiDeeks.

Still, we are all working ourselves toward acceptance, even as we dread the sadness of the finale. Brenda offered her perspective, saying, “Realistically, it’s been fourteen seasons, so that’s hard to complain about. They have had significant longevity in a business that rarely grants that. So, I keep telling myself it’s OK. But I expect the finale will be a gut-wrencher and next fall with no new episodes will be sad.“ 

Gayle shared, “We are reminded people evolve, times change, and we have to move on. Fourteen seasons will always be impressive and I feel I’ve been part of the journey along with the cast and crew. …As much as this hurts, it’s best to end while there is still a high level of respect and adoration.” Randy summed it up most concisely, saying, “Alas, parting is such sweet sorrow and we have heard the chimes at midnight.”

Highlights from the Team

We asked each team member to share a contribution they were most proud of. If you haven’t been with us for the whole ten years, check out some of the great earlier work mentioned here…

  • Diane is proud of conducting many great interviews over the years, but the top of the list has to be talking to ECO about the great “Mother.” (Post-wikiDeeks, find her at fanfiction.net under phillydi.)
  • Colleen has been responsible for the overall site design and for many fantastic art pieces. She didn’t name a favorite, so here’s one of my – and ECO’s – favorites. (Find her at @DeeksFreak on Twitter and Instagram.)
  • Lindy is most proud of a collage she did to accompany one of her Halloween stories, “The Great Hobgoblin and the Freak Show.” (Find her at Sweet Lu on fanfiction.net and @lulairishbroderick on Instagram.)
  • Randy is most proud of a short story about a Marine vet who had lost his son and was now on the streets (“Short Round“). Inspired by a short scene from the show, Randy said, “…being a veteran myself, it really stuck with me and I just wanted to highlight the struggle that so many of our brave men and women in uniform face when they have to adapt to living in a civilian world.” (Find him on fanfiction.net under JerichoSteele.)
  • Brenda is most proud of her contributions to our “Bringing Up Brandel” series that looked at how Deeks’ traumatic childhood impacted the adult Deeks we saw on the show. Shes also proud of her Season 10 review of “Into the Breach,” which she wrote the day after her mother passed away. As she described, “The episode content was so serendipitously perfect that I’m still a little in awe at how that worked out.” (Find her on Twitter @BP_NP.)
  • Psyched is most proud of collaborating on one of our Debating Deeks installments. She and I debated the state of Densi after Mexico, and we had a great time pulling that discussion together. (Find her @psyched1328 on Tumblr and as Psyched on fanfiction.net.)
  • Em is proud of a couple of fan fics that show the range of her writing. The first is “Some Days You Lose”, which features a dark and angsty conversation between Nell and Deeks. The second is “Work in Progress,” which features the growing relationship between Deeks and Rosa. (Find her on fanfiction.net, archiveofourown.org, and Tumblr @ejzah.)
  • I’ll just add that along with the Bringing Up Brandel series that taught me so much about trauma, the other piece I’m most proud of is the one on the literary references in “Mother.” ECO and his writing partner managed to pack in so much into their fantastic episode, and it was fun to unpack it. Oh, and I was proud of overcoming the stress to interview ECO and Frank Military. (Find me @anonkp on Tumblr and fanfiction.net.)
  • Our other contributors didn’t name something they were most proud of, but know that Pat’s fan fics are all wonderful and you can find her at aMUSEment345 on fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org. Gayle contributed a wide variety of wonderful work, from Deek’s Surf Log to debates to features. You can find her @densiland on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr. Alyssa and before her, Tess, contributed detailed episode previews week in and week out. Find Alyssa @mashmaiden on Tumblr and Phnxgirl on fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, and find Tess as Tess DiCorsi on fanfiction.net and @typingtess on Tumblr.
  • Thanks also to our former contributors who brought so much talent to the site: wingsofnight, hermioneismydawg, Divergent338, Monique, ecolookhere, Bridget, Mel, and Claire.

Thanks for the Memories

Q&A Video with ECOEach contributor spoke about memorable experiences in the fandom, and they ranged from getting a chance to meet ECO and others working on the show, to having cast members repost their work, to enjoying the collaborative aspects of putting the site and its features together. We can all enjoy the fact that wikiDeeks will live on forever in the form of two different DVD audio commentaries. 

Many hope the show lives on in some way through fan fiction, and a number of us still have unfinished stories we hope to post someday. As Gayle put it, “No matter what, we will forever have the opportunity and ability to dream about these characters’ futures.”

Finally, we all share a huge sense of gratitude to all those associated with the show who took the time to interact with us on social media or be interviewed for the site. We wouldn’t have stuck around for so long without the incredible generosity of ECO, who made our efforts so much more fun. As Lindy put it, “Thank you Eric Christian Olsen for fourteen wonderful years of laughter and tears. What a strong character you created. I will miss Mr. Deeks.”

We will miss you, Marty Deeks. Thanks for the memories.

—–

How are you coping with the end of the show? What are some of your fondest memories of the past fourteen seasons? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

About Karen (287 Articles)
wikiDeeks Writer & Assistant Editor. I never wrote for fun before... until my ECO-obsession. Now I love to analyze any and all aspects of the best character on television.

4 Comments on Spectacular Yet Fleeting: 14 Years of Fantastic Fandom

  1. Catherine Betham // May 8, 2023 at 9:59 AM // Reply

    I was very proud of being able to contribute 3 Essential episodes back in the day. Karen and Diane have given us such a great community and friends. thanks for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another fantastic insight into the unique and layered fictional romance that we have all come to love as “Densi”. Such a great platform from which to inspire other writers in creating characters with depth to their personalities.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the Deeks character and ECO for bringing all his humor and expressive vulnerability to the role, but I have to acknowledge the writers. They created Deeks and some of our thanks need to go their way. Shane Brennan for creating Deeks, and some of my favorites for exploring all that he could be. Thanks go to Dave Kalstein, who turned me into knots trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about, but who showed his fondness for the character that I really appreciated. Joe Wilson for Personal, along with Shane Brennan. Frank Military for his dark look at the world and for giving Deeks depth. Line in The Sand is one of my favorites, allowing ECO to show just how good he is. Scott Gemmill for Belly of The Beast and many others. And Andrew Bartels, who had a light touch and was always kind to the character.

    Thank you writers for giving us Marty Deeks. You gave us a character that moved us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lovin2readfanfic // May 12, 2023 at 10:08 AM // Reply

    I’ll miss NCIS: LA. It was the only NCIS show worth watching once they brought ECO on as Deeks. I’ll still have fan fic to read though and my DVDs to watch when I need a Densi boost. Thanks for this inciteful review of the show. It really took me back.

    Liked by 1 person

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