NCIS: LA, 8x06, Home Is Where the Heart Is
OH MY GOD TWO SHIPS. There are two working ships right before my eyes on the very same show. What is this beautiful, glorious madness. And then there was even more supporting stuff, all of which I'm going to talk about before the second ship.
I don't know what percentage of time was spent on non-case material, but I consider each non-case-related scene that includes at least one of my three darlings* to be the equivalent of a Christmas present, and I have an enormous pile at my feet that I'm busy opening up. Strap in.
(*Eric is a half-darling. He needs to be in close proximity to Nell in order for me to delight in him as a character.)
Densi 1: What time is it? / Time for you to get up and give me a kiss.
Well, let me just live inside that first scene forever...and can I take a moment to appreciate how close he's pulled the sofa to her bed? Close enough to, say, reach out and hold her hand before fallng asleep. I would also like to appreciate the fact that his excessively long and lanky frame does not quite fit on said sofa, which is probably not helping combat the feeling that he's slowly getting worn down by all this.
I love her expressions on the wistful "a limo to take me home?" and her slightly more serious "I don't want to be here anymore." And the fact that there is just enough levity left in the scene to joke about how clean the house is in her absence and get a genuine giggle out of it.
And the closing hand kiss. I cannot believe I am still in the first scene.
Densi 2: If you wanted a leg massage, all you had to do was ask. I know a guy. I'm talking about me.
I love that she's stubbornly trying to get her muscles working on her own. I love that she's already irritated and "not in the mood" for his usual jokes -- something of rarity, for her to be that serious about it. I love that he switches over to his best Concern Voice, and it does absolutely nothing except incite her to snap at him, just because things are Not Happening The Way They Should and everything is an annoyance and he's the closest target. I love that he seems to get that.
I've decided to hedge all my bets that this show will behave now that I've consigned myself to watching in real time, and so one of the things I'm really interested to see is the conflict that arises from Kensi being stubbornly independent and not liking the feeling of having to rely on others. Not even the world's most devoted guide dog of a partner.
Densi 3: Since when do you turn down fire meat?
I love that all it takes is one tiny thing, one old man shuffling in a walker, to torpedo her mood and send her into a silent downward spiral with visions of her immediate and perhaps permanent future, and that Deeks is too distracted procuring the fire meat to notice the shift right away.
I like how she turns away from both of them, Barely Holding It Together, until the delivery guy is gone. I like that he doesn't go the overly saccharine route with reassurance when she asks in a particularly heartbreaking way what's going to happen to her, and that Kensi still snaps at him for being naively optimistic. He's not being naively optimistic and he knows it -- as he points out, the doctors are making a lot of positive noise, remember? -- but Kensi's worked herself nicely into a doomsday place.
And to be fair, he didn't directly answer what would happen if she didn't get better. He was thinking "we'll cross that bridge if we have to, but there's no reason to stress unnecessarily," but you could also read it as "I don't know let's not think about it," which probably pressed on some fears of hers, in addition to rising frustration
I also like that he misjudges her being ready for humor, goes one step too far with the "Bionic Woman," and gets himself blacklisted before he realizes it. His bewildered attempts to take her back in before he realizes she's specifically mad at him are equal parts sweet and heartbreaking, especially when he doesn't force the issue. WORLD'S SADDEST PUPPY EXPRESSION WATCHING HER GO.
aprylynn: I assumed he’s hurt because she doesn’t want to be around him anymore. And I’m sure that’s part of it. But how much of his hurt is that he knows she’s struggling and hurting and scared and angry and he would love nothing more than to take it all away from her but he can’t?raccoonsmate4life: Exactly! I feel like he’s more hurt because she’s hurting and struggling and he can’t fix that part of it for her. This is undoubtedly one of the most difficult things she’s ever faced and the potential repercussions threaten to change everything she uses to define herself. And like you wrote in your post ep - it’s not even like she’s actually mad at Deeks, she is just scared and discouraged and doesn’t know how to deal with that yet. Even after all this time with him, she can’t bring herself to let him see her at her “worst” - largely in part because this is so much worse than I think she ever thought it could be.
I'm glad we finally got see a scene that was just her, getting her own information from/speaking directly with the doctor. I like her having an active voice in her care, now that she's able to do so.
So the one ingredient that I think is really missing in this otherwise marvelous circus of support is that Deeks does not have a bro. He's got a loving if overbearing mom, a kind almost-mother-in-law, work buddies who casually check how things are going; I'm pretending that Nell is his emotional support animal should he ever be in desperate need of a comfort hug when Kensi's not around; and he's got Older, Wiser figures to provide him with verbal encouragement, but what he does not have is a guy friend equipped to have serious talks about emotional well-being and/or provide Support Hugs (similar to but distinct from Comfort Hugs), someone around whom he doesn't have to have this outward appearance of Handling It, because that is really not his strong suit.
In the absence of a brother, this is where a father / genuine father figure would come in handy as an emergency substitute, but we're short on those too. I can't believe Granger is the closest thing he has.
But don't get me wrong, this scene was still fantastic in terms of things Deeks needed to hear and things he needed an opening to realize/say outloud. Deeks looks so surprised about being asked directly how he's doing. Everyone's questions are always about Kensi. Hetty's sussed out his needs and made arrangements to accomodate him. But here's the last person you'd expect to care about your personal well being doing exactly that. (also, this is the point where I realized Deeks is wearing the same clothes he slept in.)
-"At this point I can't tell if I'm comforting her or just myself." Awww. + "Well, if it comforts both, does it matter?"
-"Kensi, god bless her, she puts on a good face, I just don't know if I'm doing a great job." Relevant fact: this is right before she stops putting on a good face.
-"The only way you'll fail her is if you quit." I was never worried he would, but oh god please let this be one writer writing in THREATENING CODE to other writers/showrunners.
-Tacit permission to continue taking leave and go back to the hospital. The only thing that makes me as giddy as this ship is other people i.e. supervisors recognizing and supporting the strength of that bond as Basically Marrieds. That's a thing you have to earn through years of battle-worn devotion to UST before you make it to the Promised Land, but it's worth it.
Deeks + Work Buddies
The war over the tickets did make me laugh, but I'm mainly referencing this because it was such a relief to hear that Deeks was going back to the hospital again that night, undaunted by the No Visitors rule. Fictional characters handling things better than I would, part 1398573.
I also really like that not one episode passes without the...Hardy Boys, I guess I'm content to start calling them instead of the Brothers McSmirkerson... asking for Kensi updates. I just really delight in how Deeks chooses to respond each time (and Sam's wordless shoulder squeeze in response to Deeks' thin joke about his charm having its limits is not bad, in its emotionally limited way). You don't often get to see characters exposit stuff you already know.
Deeks & Nell
a.k.a. my what-the-hell-is-this-chemistry-called-a
I love so much about everything re: Deeks' reaction to the Wonder Twins being creepy with their pretext of "game controller hand strengthening exercise" for hand caning. I have never so badly wanted to College Roomate AU 4 full grown adults quite so hard. The thought of these three + Kensi sharing a house with even less maturity on their side than currently exists, and having insufficient personal boundaries to keep them from walking in on potentially scarring scenes, is too good not to exist.
Also, Deeks' immediate dismay and futile attempt to warn Anna not to let Nell drive her car made me very happy. PARTNERS 4 LIFE.
Oh! I almost forgot Nell asking "how's our girl?" at the beginning I am immensely pleased with the way she always uses this phrase. Though it is not particularly helping quell my alternate headcanon that Nell is bi and actually has a crush on both of them. Or the fact that this leads to me OT3-ing them before confusing myself and thinking, "Or do they just remind me of sisters?" Damn your indefinable chemistry with everyone!
I thought I was going to get by without mentioning the case, but I did not account for how much I would suddenly care about him deftly snaking cameras through warehouse windows and suddenly making a high-stress job look easy compared to everything else he had thrown at him today.
Bitches [In This Case Actually Don't] Get Stuff Done
Nevertheless, if Nell can't partner with Deeks all the time, I am more than happy to see her join up with Anna. They don't strike me as two people who'd have good work chemistry, they're such completely differently styled characters, but they seem to have made instant friends and I like them so much individually that I love it.
OK, so I recently stumbled across the cheeky non-confirmation scene where Eric has lipstick he claims to be jam on his cheek, but I still can't tell what their actual deal is. I thought there was a kiss on the lips in this one, but Tumblr informed me it's on the cheek, so it's still murky. Although one person said their headcanon is that "they're dating and just haven't mentioned it because no one asked," and that's what I've decided to go with.
I love that he is dramatically overreacting to the low-level injury, between torturing himself playing the explosion footage over and over and the barely repressed panic when asking Callen about her well being and "how do we get this guy?" The shaky sigh of relief when told she's fine is an excellent touch.
And when she's back...I love that when asked "what are we doing?", he just blurts out "worrying to death about losing you." (to which Nell is like, 'I briefly lost consciousness. A helicopter did not land on me. Down, boy.')
I very much like when he gives up on trying to be calm and contained and just grabs her into a glomp hug because he needs to hold her. And finally, that tiny rarity of Nell relaxing into it, letting herself be comforted. (oh man. Are there intentional/unintentional parallels to Granger's speech going on here? I NEED FOLK WHO META).
P.S. After 4900 replays of this scene and the earlier one with Deeks, I finally noticed that they're not alone in the room; there are extras in the background. UM...is this always how it is? I always assumed they were alone in there unless the team dropped by; are there really coworkers who just put on headphones every day and ignore the very public flirt game going on behind them all the time??