It may not be safe to entrust Eric Christian Olsen with spoilers. "I'm off to go get killed," he says, picking himself up from a shaded picnic table and heading back out into a Southern California winter heat wave. In the parched hills above Santa Clarita, sets for an Afghan army base and village have been constructed, making NCIS: Los Angeles suddenly seem like NCIS: Afghanistan. "This," he repeats, "is the scene where Deeks dies."
He's joshing, of course, since the only fatality for Olsen's character this season is more along the lines of "I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight," if you can stand an '80s-music reference. His Deeks and Daniela Ruah's Kensi have long provided the implicit romance that complements the bromance of LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell on the smash series. In November, the two finally hooked up, however briefly, shocking fans who expected an endless variation on the unconsummated flirtation common to coworkers on TV procedurals. But no sooner had the pairing known to shippers as Densi become an actual thing than Kensi was sent to Afghanistan, where, in the upcoming episode I'm observing, her partner and putative beau has come looking for her.
Would it kill Deeks and Kensi to spend a second night together? Well, yeah, actually, it might.
Ruah really does look like death warmed over when I meet with her at this location's makeshift commissary. Her lip is cut, the right side of her face is black-and-blue, and a wound over her left eye has been crudely stitched (all thanks to an expert makeup crew). But she springs to life, as does Olsen, when the subject of romance comes up.
Olsen: That's more honest storytelling, because that's what life is. You don't have 10-year relationships of flirting without taking that to the next level.
TV Guide Magazine: Unless it's on your parent show, NCIS, where Tony and Ziva did pretty much just that.
Ruah: If you compare us to the other show, our characters have similar traits. If you go by the very superficial traits of these characters, you've got the brunette, kick-ass girl who's too tough for her own good, and then you've got the sarcastic funnyman —
Olsen: Charming, attractive —
Ruah: Right. Sure. [Laughs] And I think that since people already compare us by those traits, if you didn't differentiate where the relationship goes, it would just be a repetition of what's been done before. So the fact that we've shown something more than just the banter and flirtation between these two characters was actually quite crucial to our show. You want to make it your own and pull away from what's been done, especially on a show that has the same name as ours.
TV Guide Magazine: But doesn't the other shoe have to drop? It seems unlikely that the producers would let you guys move in together and have domestic bliss.
Olsen: That's why they kill off Deeks.
Ruah: No, no. I'll tell you what's gonna happen. Prepare for Eric to roll his eyes. Think Friends: Ross and Rachel, on and off for 10 years, have a baby together, the show ends, and they are in bliss — but it's at the end of the show. I'm just sayin'.
Olsen: I don't even know how to do an eye roll.
TV Guide Magazine: Give yourself credit. That was an excellent eye roll you just did, Eric.
Olsen: But seriously, this is where the obstacles are so important. Just because something has happened doesn't mean that two characters can be together, especially when there are consequences for their actions. Especially when they're partners at work and they're putting themselves in danger. Because when you're driven by passion, you're not doing your job right. And that's where the storytelling gets really interesting. The journey after that moment is much more interesting than the journey before that moment.
NCIS: LA airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on CBS and Sundays and Mondays on USA Network.
For more on NCIS: LA, pick up this week's issue of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands Thursday, March 6!