Who Should Be the Next Hetty on 'NCIS: LA' — Callen or Nell? (POLL)

Meredith Jacobs
Spoiler Alert Sonja Flemming/CBS

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 11, Episode 9 of NCIS: Los Angeles, "Kill Beale Vol. 1."]

Is NCIS: LA already planning to say goodbye to Hetty (Linda Hunt) (again)?

It seems that may be the case, though that time may still be years off. As the team learned what Eric (Barrett Foa) has been up to in his time away in San Francisco, ostensibly consulting for a security tech company, the person everyone expected to become the next Hetty makes it clear she may no longer be interested in the job.

Over the years, everyone has pretty much expected Nell (Renée Felice Smith) to step into Hetty's shoes when the time comes; she's even pretended to be her in the past. But after Hetty does what she always does during cases after Eric is kidnapped — share what she feels the team needs to know, nothing more, as she did when she kept Kensi (Daniela Ruah) and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) in the dark about protecting Jack until they came face-to-face with him in Season 7 — Nell calls her out on it.

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While Hetty feels that Eric can handle whatever happens as a result of the case, Nell isn't so sure and refuses to bury her concerns. She even notes that Hetty continues to call him "Mr. Beale" and reminds him "his name is Eric." "In this job —" Hetty begins, but Nell cuts her off. "I don't care about the job. Analyzing intelligence, manipulating data, that's one thing. But manipulating people as if they're mere assets? No. I will never be good at that," she says. "And I realize this now. Hetty, I can't be you. And honestly, I don't think I want to be."

And with that, Hetty must look elsewhere for someone to take over for her (eventually). Could Callen (Chris O'Donnell) be that person? "It was a tough call," he allows when she asks if she made a mistake with Eric. He's not sure if he would've made the same decision, and she wonders if it should be his call. "I don't want your job," he tells her, and that's something everyone — Callen, Nell, even Hetty — can agree on.

(Bill Inoshita/CBS)

"But somebody's got to do it," Hetty points out, asking him to "think about it" because she won't be there forever.

Over the years, other characters have come in and been in charge of the team, and for the most part, that hasn't worked out, even if everyone warms up to one another in the end. (See: Mosley, Rogers, Lauren Hunter) They can't all be Hettys or Grangers, in one leadership position or another.

But promoting within, having someone in charge who knows how this team operates, knows its inner-workings, does seem to be the best move. The only problem is that it's a job no one wants and a job that usually puts the person at odds with the others. We see that in cases like this one, as the others can worry about Eric's well-being whereas Hetty has to look at the bigger picture.

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Right now, it seems that Hetty, more than ever, is planning for a time when she needs someone to take over for her permanently. Does that necessarily mean that she's going to leave (again)? No. But perhaps recent events have made her take stock of her life and the job and plan accordingly.

Now that it looks like Nell won't be taking over as everyone expected, Callen may be a possibility. Should it be one of them who becomes the new Hetty? Should it be someone else from the team? Or should it be someone new? Vote in the poll below.

NCIS: Los Angeles, Sundays, 9/8c, CBS