Callen’s Corner: Adjusting to Deeks



There has been much discussion during Season 5 over Callen’s attitude towards Detective Marty Deeks, after he told him “I don’t want you here.” But if we look into the history and the circumstances around the two, that is not what Callen is really saying. From the beginning, Callen has been pretty much on the sidelines with the issues Sam has held for Deeks. Tension was between these two, not Callen and Deek; although, Callen has joined in the banter to tease the detective over the years. Callen was being Team Leader, ensuring that Deeks was truly ready to return to the team, before anyone’s lives were put at risk. From the beginning, we’ve seen Callen stick up for Deeks to Sam:

Callen: “Maybe he grows on you.”
Sam: “Like ringworm.” (Borderline 2×02)

An interesting moment happened early on in Fame (1×20), that most probably became vital for Callen to trust Deeks on their team. Hetty chose him:

Callen to Hetty about Deeks: “You don’t want him as a liaison, you want him as an agent.”

Callen: You do your homework, don’t you?… In choosing agents. Deeks didn’t end up in this building because we need some LAPD liaison. You’ve been watching him for a while.”
Hetty: “There is a value in being patient.”

These two men appear to have some similarities in their background, which have made them great at undercover work. Yet, Deeks is known with his gift of the gab, whereas Callen only talks if he needs to. They are like the LA version to their DC counterparts: DiNozzo and Gibbs. Over the years we’ve seen Gibbs head slap DizNozzo, only to discover he loves him as a son. The relationship between Callen and Deeks is more of an older brother relationship, where both men have encountered similarities in their background of having it tough and growing up in foster care. This was reflected recently in Between the Lines (5×17):

Deeks: “You know what? I’ve always wondered what it would be like having two older brothers that I hated.” [Spreads hands out] “Now I know.”


Callen has played the big brother role with Deeks over the years and this was evident in his advice to Deeks in Between the Lines. “Thanks Dad.”

On the outside, Deeks appeared in the early days on the team to be struggle for acceptance. But the truth was he knew they trusted him. Although tension simmered underneath between Sam and Deeks, Callen trusted him. He proved his worth when he saved Callen in Fame (1×20):

Deeks: “Oh, come on. What? You got some sort of Superman double back flip where you can dodge bullets? I mean you can’t tell me I shouldn’t have taken that shot.”
Callen: “No. I’m glad you did.”

From the look on Callen’s face, he was thankful for Deeks saving him.

Callen went in unarmed to help rescue Deeks from Lazik in Human Traffic (2×01), pretending to be a drug dealer, trusting Sam and Kensi to have their backs. Callen, Sam and Kensi ignored Deeks punching his boss for his words over Jess Trainer and getting her killed to save his own self from bring caught.

Callen trusted Deeks to have Kensi’s back, and we all remember back in Identity (1×01), that Kensi was Callen’s favourite agent. And we cannot forget that Deeks proved his loyalty to Callen when he followed him to Prague and Romania to rescue Hetty.

From the beginning, it was Callen, Sam and Kensi against Deeks, but over time, as Kensi and Deeks grew together as partners, Callen and Sam have learnt to respect him, even through their differences. There have been some funny moments when Deeks has put his mouth in it, such as when he refered to Callen and Sam as being old. Callen and Sam found it hard to refuse giving him a ribbing over it. Not to mention Callen teaching Deeks a lesson early on with the team in Fame (1×20). When Callen realised that Hetty had put a $5,000 limit on a $50,000 credit card, he ordered more champagne.

Hetty: “$50,000 limit. However, *if* more than $5000 is charged to this card, I will come for you with my letter opener. Is that clear Mr. Deeks?”
Deeks: “Got it. Wait, what? You want me to sign this? Cause it’s Cal – it’s Callen’s card.”
Hetty: “You’re the guarantor.”

Later in the club:

Callen: “I’m supposed to look like I can spend 50 and she’s got you on the hook after 5?”
Deeks: “She threatened me with a letter opener!”
Callen: “I guess some people gotta learn the hard way.”
Deeks: “Why? What are you-?”
Callen: [Loudly to a waitress] “We’ll take 2 more bottles.”

They’ve come a long way, and we have seen glimpses of moments where Callen and Deeks appear to be on the same page at odds with Sam, which highlights their similarities to their lives:
Fallout (5×08):
Sam is talking about his “DIY” efforts, whereas Callen and Deeks agree that they would prefer sipping a mojito while watching the guy they paid to do the work. The scene ends with both of them saying, “That’s what I’m talking about.” And again when they are talking about Christmas cards this season; it’s Deeks and Callen who are on the same page, not Callen and Sam. In Fish out of Water (5×16), we saw them bantering like we normally would see from Callen and Sam.

Harm’s Way:

I believe that Callen and Deeks have much more in common that is visible on first sight. They both had a difficult childhood, at LAPD Deeks was some kind of a loner, too – at least he did not have much friends. And both men are afraid of needles (especially when Hetty is administering them – now who wouldn’t. She scares the hell out of me too). It would be interesting to see the two work together a little more, as we’ve seen very few moments of these two bachelors working side by side. Would you like to see more of Callen and Deeks being partnered up during an operation? Let us know by filling in our poll.

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Thank you to Bee, ChrisDaisy, Keviana and Richtsje for their help in the research for this post.

5 thoughts on “Callen’s Corner: Adjusting to Deeks

  1. Jan

    Nice article.

    I have to admit that I never cared much about Callen at the beginning. The whole backstory thing just didn’t interest me. Plus, in general I prefer more emotive characters, so naturally I gravitated toward Deeks and Sam, who are the more expressive members of their respective partnerships. However, as I see more Callen in action, I have started to really appreciate his dry humor, his strategic thinking and his team leadership. I think Callen really cares about his team members, but is cautious about showing it. Even the “I don’t want you back” line, which I thought at the time could have been better, can be viewed as making sure that Deeks was not only ready to come back, but ready to stand up for himself if necessary. That’s a little bit of a fanwank there, but it works for me.

    It’s interesting to me how many parallels there are between Deeks and Callen due to their respective troubled childhoods. Callen drifted from home to home and was unable to form attachments; Deeks was trapped in a bad situation that he could only escape by shooting his father. In Reznikov, N., when Callen mentions breaking the broom handle over his foster father’s head, I was thinking that Deeks didn’t have that option. If he had done something like that, his father would have beaten the crap out of him (or his mother). So Deeks has been shaped by having to continually suppress his rage (or let it out in the form of twisted humor), while Callen had the ability to escape, but only at the cost of giving up any emotional attachments he had formed (as with the foster mother in that household). I would love to see the parallels and differences between those characters explored more in the coming season(s).

  2. TheKay79

    Yay! Callen and Deeks…two guys with serious baby blues! I’d really love to see them not only work together undercover but also spend some quality time together. Especially their similar background combined with their different personalities make me think, that they could be really good for each other. Deeks could be able to give some lightheartedness to Callen where Callen might give Deeks the feeling of being a part of a family – his family, which is the team. A beer and some good waves might do the trick. And as we speak of working undercover together, please kept there be suits or even tuxedos involved

  3. Tara

    I believe given the way Callen grew up he doesn’t know how to express his emotions towards others. In my opinion, he shows his care for his teammates through his actions. The hug he gave Deeks when Deeks returned to work. The way Callen forged ahead in afghanstain when Kensi went missing. He wasn’t going to stop despite the fact they were running low on supplies. He even said he’d take a bullet for Sam. If those examples don’t show how much he cares than I don’t know what will.

  4. jrwjr

    I also would love to see Deeks and Callen working together undercover this upcoming season. I think they would work really well together as each one is the total opposite of the other. Yet, they are the two best undercover agents on the show. I hope that the writers decide to give these two some significant time together in some future episode(s).

  5. 974lk

    I’m not sure there is really a tension between them!
    I think it’s Callen’s way to express his worries about Deeks. Also he not just says “I don’t want you here”, he says “I don’t want you here until you’re ready to be back.(…)I’m talking about your mindset.(…)I can’t have you coming in here second-guessing yourself, trying to figure out if this job still makes sense for you. That’s not safe for you. It’s not safe for us.”
    Don’t forget that Callen’s job is also to care about and protect his team, even if the potential danger comes from within the crew. The proof is that after Deeks says him he wants to be there and he’s ready to return, Callen relents!
    Actually Deeks isn’t ok I think but he needs to be with his friends and co-workers to find himself,to defeat and overcome this terrible event both in its physical pain than emotionally compared to Kensi and he knows that in his heart-same.
    I think these two guys have a lot in common beyond their differences to express themselves: they experienced during their childhood the abandoment, the loss of lanmarks, they had to rely only on themselves not to sink…Callen’s reserve and Deeks’s exuberance are two defense mechanisms.
    I love these two characters, for me they’re so complicated, there are still so many facets to explore (their past, their family,…)!
    Thanks for this great article, it’s very well documented!

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