Can Kensi and Deeks put the mate in teammate? That's the question on NCIS: Los Angeles, where the long-simmering tension between Daniela Ruah's and Eric Christian Olsen's characters threatens to bubble over in the Season 4 finale.
Conventional relation-"shipper" wisdom says that the "Densi" banter will never come any closer to an actual romance than "Tiva" (Tony and Ziva) ever has on the mother ship, NCIS. Yet we can guarantee that some emotionally explicit, heartfelt words will be spoken between the star-crossed agents, which may be the next best thing to an actual non-undercover clinch. We sat down with the costars in Ruah's trailer during filming of the finale — in which Kensi and Deeks are broken up professionally, as are longtime partners Callen (Chris O'Donnell) and Sam (LL Cool J) — and can assure you that the banter doesn't stop when the cameras do.
TV Guide Magazine: We hear there's a third party who forces Kensi and Deeks to acknowledge their feelings for each other. What can you tell us about her?
Ruah: It's a woman named Monica [Jeananne Goossen], who has close ties to someone who might have ties to these stolen nukes that have been an ongoing storyline. Deeks is assigned to get close to her and befriend her. And sometimes when a man and a woman have to get close to each other and befriend each other, it's a little more physical. So obviously that's an interesting thing for Kensi to have to observe. I'm hearing it, because I'm in the car doing surveillance.
Olsen: What's crazy about this season is that there were always discussions about their partnership, which obviously leads to conversations and hints about the relationship. But then these last seven episodes have come to a boiling point.
Ruah: And with the addition of Monica, it drives Kensi crazy. She knows you can't really have anything come of this, because they're partners. And they get closer and closer to talking about what's going on between them, but nothing has actually ever been said. But it's getting to a point of blowing up.
TV Guide Magazine: And this all happens just as Kensi and Deeks split up as partners on the job?
Olsen: We have to switch. So I end up working with Sam.
Ruah: And I end up working with Callen. It's a wonderfully stressful episode. There are tensions between all the partnerships, so it's not just a Kensi/Deeks thing. There's tension between Callen and Sam, Kensi and Deeks, and Sam and his wife, Michelle [Aunjanue Ellis], who's back undercover. There's constant tension between the partnerships.
TV Guide Magazine: On the original NCIS, they've gone eight seasons without ever taking Tony and Ziva over that precipice into a real relationship. Think you'll beat that record?
Ruah: But didn't they have an episode when they both were in the same hotel room in Paris and nobody really knows if anything happened or not?
Olsen: The NCIS: L.A. writers did an amazing job with the exact same thing when we were undercover as a married couple. We had a kiss that blew up on Twitter. But it was undercover, so there was a rationalization for how these things happen. But this episode is gonna be interesting. Statements are made, and how do you [retreat to] common ground after that? Maybe you don't.
Ruah: The writers have done an impeccable job keeping it interesting for us — and, I think, for the audience. We get so much feedback on it. There are people who say, "When are Kensi and Deeks gonna hook up?" Then there are other people who say, "No, no, no. We don't want this to happen; otherwise the interesting thing about it is gone."
TV Guide Magazine: Do you have a preference for how this plays out?
Ruah: I actually don't. I'm going with the flow here. If they were to get together too soon, it probably would become less interesting, and then where do you go from there? I don't think it would fit the team dynamic if they were to have a steady relationship.
Olsen: The most interesting version of any of those relationships — if you look at the history of great TV shows, and even back to literature — is you have two characters who are obviously meant to be together, and you give them the largest obstacles to navigate. That's the most compelling kind of storytelling.
TV Guide Magazine: As the finale ends, Kensi and Deeks have grown emotionally closer but are physically separated. Sounds like a real cliffhanger...
Olsen: Very much so!
Ruah: Absolutely. It's very emotional. It's dangerous. It's definitely cringe-worthy.
NCIS: Los Angeles airs Tuesday at 9/8c on CBS.