‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ Finally Circles Back to Callen-Hetty Storyline

by Suzanne Halliburton

NCIS: Los Angeles fans, remember that whole Subject 17 storyline that kicked off season 13?

Callen (Chris O’Donnell) figured out that Hetty (Linda Hunt) knew him long before he ever realized and tested him for his spy skills when he was in the foster child system. The first NCIS: Los Angeles episode of season 13, which ran way back in September, laid out some of the details.

And finally, the show came back to the storyline Sunday night during an episode called Lost Soldier Down. While the large chunk of the hour was about the apparent suicide of a young sailor, part of it evolved around Callen.

Callen told Sam (LL Cool J) that he’d finally located another person Hetty identified in foster care. This person, Callen said, worked for Homeland Security, then all her details disappeared from the database.

Sam didn’t think digging into Hetty’s past was such a good idea. After all, Hetty is a super spy’s idea of a spy. She knows everyone. So he told Callen: “Are you doing to track down every foster kid Hetty took under her wing? … Promise me you won’t let this consume you.”

So let’s circle back to the NCIS: Los Angeles season 13 premiere to see how much this Hetty project already has consumed Callen. He found some old Hetty files and discovered he’d been on her radar since he was eight. That’s when she put him through a series of aptitude tests. Until this detail was revealed, everyone thought that Hetty met Callen when he was in high school. She found him at juvenile attention. And we now know that Callen’s mother was a CIA operative and Hetty operated as her handler.

In fact, Hetty maintained files on several foster kids. Each file was identified only by number. As the NCIS: Los Angeles season 13 premiere opened, Callen flipped off the security cameras in the archive room and started digging through Hetty’s filing cabinets and boxes. He discovered a Subject 17 file with his exact birthday on it. Yes, he was Hetty’s Subject 17.

Robert Voets/CBS ©2021

Callen believed that Hetty ran a similar program to what the Soviet Union used to identify and train spies when they were very young. Hetty finally confessed, although she initially tried to confuse the issue with a word salad of an answer. “The truth is, the truth is a fickle thing,” Hetty told Callen. “Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies.”

Hetty bolted for Syria and Linda Hunt hasn’t appeared on an NCIS: Los Angeles episode since the season 13 premiere.

However, in last night’s Lost Soldier Down, she received a mention. As the NCIS: Los Angeles episode ended, Callen met a woman at a restaurant. Her name is Leah. He asked her out and introduced himself as Greg. “My friends call me G,” he told her.

NCIS: Los Angeles returns with another new episode set for Jan. 9. But it’s unclear whether the writers will include the Callen/Hetty/Leah storyline. Rather, the episode will be heavy on Daniele Ruah’s Kensi. She’s been kidnapped by a militia group somewhere in Mexico.