It was another case with more questions than answers.
The team finally came together and chased down Anna and her captors on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 12 Episode 14.
For the first time in a long while, they acted as a unit with everyone showing up to rescue Anna.
It was a fun change of pace, with lots of action and very little OSP angst.
But first, let’s address the elephant in the room: It appears Hetty is done.
The way the team performed in her absence required Admiral Kilbride to head to his least-favorite city rather than go on vacation.
He made clear that part of that was the squad’s hubbub had caused through its interactions with other alphabet law-enforcement agencies.
Much of that was on Hetty, who had her fingers in everybody’s pies. She knew people everywhere and didn’t hesitate to use her contacts to accomplish her goals, whatever those might be.
Whoever put Hetty in her position of power had to realize spook’s gotta spook.
But then Linda Hunt rightfully chose to cut back on her appearances. But the consensus was that was a temporary thing, which unfortunately has been going on for several seasons now.
In other words, there was no need for any transition. This has resulted in a rudderless feel to the series, with team members largely proceeding how they want, prompting visits from outraged temporary bosses along the way.
At least Hetty drafted Nell this season, so there’s loosely been a chain of command.
It wasn’t that Nell has been doing a good job in Hetty’s stead. She has felt that she was keeping Hetty’s seat warm until she returned from her vague mission.
Everyone has been stressed to the max after first Joelle, then Anna was abducted, and Nell couldn’t pull a rabbit out of a hat as Hetty could. So her recent crisis of confidence was understandable.
Fortunately, she got over that when she absolutely had to.
Part of the credit for that happening had to go to Kilbride.
In his own brusque way, he essentially told Nell that Hetty likely wasn’t returning to bail out her and the team and that she had better grab the reins.
And she did. She took charge, even dressing down Sam. She showed off the analytical mind for which Hetty put her as her substitute and successfully engineered Anna’s rescue.
Part of the problem was that Callen had his own side investigation going to which no one else was privy.
Who knows how long he had Sasha as his own personal asset? She certainly came in handy in solving this abduction.
But it was a mistake not reading anyone else in, not even Sam. That’s not how you create team unity.
Sure, Sam was distracted by Kam’s journey of self-discovery. But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t have been there for Callen if G had asked.
Instead of using the resources he had, Callen was recklessly trying to do everything himself.
It was heartening to see that Joelle appeared to be working past her loss and was ready to go after Katya as long as she left the hospital. So maybe she won’t have to be written out after all.
Her recollections about the container put the squad on the right path to ultimately finding Anna.
Katya wasn’t a red herring and did end up being the driving force behind Anna’s abduction. But she wasn’t the onhand presence that everyone was expecting. Instead, she sent a couple of accomplices who were as crazy as her.
The squad was able to fill in many of the blanks among Kirkin, Arkady, and Sasha’s Russian trio, as everyone learned about the spy training ground, the Institute of Noble Maidens.
How they had never heard of it is certainly a valid question that requires further follow-up, as does why has Anna never mentioned that part of her background. Since the methods used reflected what Hetty did with Callen and other orphans, surely she had some role.
This episode also reflected a step back in time, with Fatima and Roundtree little used and the two other teams of field agents out front, and Nell and Eric working Meerkat magic in Ops.
If Nell does take over for real, that may be the last time those two work together, especially with Eric’s reduced role.
RIP, Kirkin. Of course, he stepped in to take the lead for his beloved Marty. When he appeared for the showdown, you just knew things weren’t going to end well for him. Still, it’s a shame to see one of the series’ most endearing characters meet his end.
So how will Deeks end up honoring him at the bar?
There’s a couple of storylines that need to be flushed out. One would be what will be Anna’s role the rest of the season. Will Arkady stash her somewhere, and we won’t see her again? Or will she explain herself, at least to Callen?
How long before the team learns of Hetty’s potential departure/retirement, and what will its effect be?
To revisit Kirkin’s appearances, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
Does Anna have some ‘splaining to do?
Will Nell take over the reins?
What other changes are coming?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.