It’s been a long time since the last Deeks centric episode. There has been little detail on Deeks’ past, his background or his real character. This may not have been the eponymous “Deeks, M”, however the knowledge that Deeks had been arrested for murder and the question of how he would be freed, set expectations high and gladly, ‘Internal Affairs’ did not disappoint. There is drama and intensity, plot twists and subtleties, with a healthy dose of humour and some terrific acting by Eric Christian Olsen.
Plenty of episodes have explored the character flaws and background of Callen, however it’s the turn of ‘Internal Affairs’ to reveal the dark side of Deeks. Glimpses have been previously revealed – Max Gentry is an undercover alias that Deeks is not proud of, and one that makes him think he is no better than his father – it is this aspect of Deeks that is called in to question.
Deeks has been arrested for the murder of Francis Boyle, his former (corrupt) LAPD partner, and interrogated by severe looking Internal Affairs Detective Ellen. The tone for the episode is set when Steadman, another former partner of Boyle’s and equally as corrupt, bursts into the room and attacks Deeks. Lieutenant Bates hauls him off and is thanked with a wise crack from Deeks’ about the porn star moustache Bates is sporting. Steadman is an angry man after Deeks’ blood, Bates is his protector, Whiting to single-mindedly obtain a confession from Deeks, who is clearly intending to make smart ass comments throughout.
The scene setting again does not disappoint. On the surface Deeks is not taking the charges seriously, insisting on coffee and relaying stories of monkeys pooing coffee beans which taste similar to the crap he’s drinking. The constant deflection is a clever defence mechanism. By not providing direct answers, none of his words can be taken as an admission of guilt.
Deeks is denied bail – cue jail scenes at the precinct. He is heard singing and asking for a harmonica; either the gravity of the situation has not hit him or he is refusing to comprehend how serious his situation is. The jail scenes are set pieces, and Deeks is forced by first his mother and later Kensi, to confront the reality of his past and his murder charge. Deeks reassures his mother that the only person he blames for their past is his father, not himself any more. His abusive childhood motivated him to enter law enforcement, to help and protect the innocent. His past has shaped him into the man he is today, and he has his mother to thank for that, although she is not as sure. Roberta Deeks has already called Kensi at work as LAPD tear apart Deeks’ home. She later tries to speak to her son during his one phone call to Kensi. Roberta is somewhat skittish, concerned and confused as to how best to help. In a later scene at Kensi’s home, she almost begs Kensi to not let Deeks down, as she feels she did when he was a child.
Kensi’s visit has a slightly accusing tone; the team has discovered one of Deeks’ aliases has been sending monthly payments to a prostitute’s alias Julie Sanders. As prostitute Tiffany Williams, she was his informant seven years ago. Deeks assures Kensi that he’s helping her start a new life. He regains her undivided trust by admitting his is in serious trouble and about to be moved to County Jail. It may be only one of two moments of honesty from Deeks during the entire episode. Kensi storming off leads to another important set piece as she confronts Hetty, pissed that she appears to not be doing enough to clear Deeks’ name and secure his release. But Hetty has indeed been working on a Machiavellian plan of extreme cunning.
The season’s theme of trust is prevalent not only with Deeks, but also with Callen. Sam arrives in the bull pen asking after Deeks and stops in his tracks as he sees that Callen has spent the night on the sofa, half heartedly lying that he worked late. Joelle had kicked him out of his own house and it must have been some argument for her not to have left and gone home. Interestingly, Callen’s answer to the row was for him to effectively run away. At least he is honest enough to admit he has to let her go. There is more straight-talking from Sam as he tells Callen he’s destined to have a longer relationship with the sofa than any girlfriend, and later describes him as a sullen loner who keeps to himself; a classic description of every serial killer. Ironically, Callen is now the only main character not to have been accused of murder, and it is the socially charismatic Deeks who is the actual murderer.
The bull pen scene puts the brakes on the urgency to investigate Deeks arrest and Granger even chastises the two senior agents, believing they should have been aware of this. Callen fails to utter a word during the briefing in Ops and then confronts Hetty. She brought Deeks to NCIS therefore she will have dug deep but she fails to divulge anything of worth, save for saying “the truth does not take sides, only we do”.
The breakdown of Callen’s relationship, contrasts starkly with Kensi and Deeks. Kensi is fighting to prove Deeks’ innocence and she is literally blind with anger and the passionate desire to free her lover and prove his innocence. She has deliberately(?) forgotten their conversation in S07E06 Unspoken, where Deeks said he would protect her if she killed someone for the right reasons. Later when the team discover Deeks is being held at gunpoint by Steadman, Kensi orders LAPD to secure the boatshed. Granger overrides her, reminding her that LAPD are more likely to believe Steadman than Deeks. She is clearly thinking as a lover, with her heart instead of her head. When the pair eventually embrace, it is difficult not to feel for Callen as he looks wistfully on. He has already buried his feelings as he asks Sam why he never hugs him like that. Maybe one day Sam will…
Four years ago (S03E10 The Debt), Deeks was sent back to LAPD to flush out a mole, who turned out to be IA Officer Quinn, assisted by crooked lawyer Monica Lee. Nell and Eric discover that Quinn escaped from jail about a day before Deeks’ arrest and the team start to unravel more evidence of LAPD corruption. During Sam and Callen’s interrogation of Deeks’ prostitute Tiffany, they find out Quinn used her to set up Boyle so he could steal his illicit stash of drugs and weapons. Tiffany believes that Quinn killed Boyle, although she had escaped before Boyle could kill her.
The team manage to save Deeks and stave off the IA murder charge – for now. All seems well but Deeks makes a pit stop before meeting the team for celebratory drinks. It is the closing scenes which really make this episode. The Deeks / Hetty conversation is quiet and honest. Hetty reveals she orchestrated everything (in advance). She approached Quinn and offered him a new identity and transfer to a medium secure prison, in return for his cooperation and the location of the stash he stole from Boyle and Steadman. Hetty has also arranged for the stash to be planted in Steadman’s garage. She openly asks Deeks why he killed Boyle. The turmoil running through Deeks’ mind in written across his face and the pause before he responds causes a flicker of emotion on Hetty’s. Deeks says that Boyle was going to kill Tiffany. He is a very messed up character – possibly more so than Callen, as his is much more internalised.
Trust issues again are at the forefront. Deeks does not know how to tell Kensi his secret and Hetty’s final words are that the easiest way to keep secrets is to have no one to share them with. If he trusts and shares with Kensi, then it will no longer be his secret alone. If he does not share with Kensi then he carries the burden and that may be the undoing of them. The choice is his and at some point further down the line, the lies will come back to haunt him as will the Internal Affairs charge. The case is not resolved and is another thread for the writers to tug at a later date.
There are still inconsistencies; Momma Deeks may now have a first name, but there is no explanation or questioning as to where she has sprung from, considering such as fuss was made in season two about who was Deeks’ next of kin. There was also repetition of dialogue; the Callen to Sam comment about why he never hugs him like that is a throwback to Spoils of War, and Sam telling Callen that he’s a loner who keeps to himself like most serial killers, refers to season five’s Big Brother. But minor niggles apart, this was a fantastic episode. Deeks is a much more interesting character when he is dark and serious. Dramatic and intense episodes such as this and Spoils of War provide Eric Christian Olsen with an opportunity to show how well he can act, and how unstable Deeks can be. The twist that Deeks did commit murder may have been somewhat predictable, but the murkiness surrounding the circumstances was a surprise, as was how manipulative Hetty was with her team and Quinn. The fallout from this episode, whether it be later this season or next, will be just as fascinating to see. Roll on Deeks, M.