Should 'NCIS: LA' Showcase One of Hetty's Successes After Episode 250?
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 11, Episode 10 of NCIS: Los Angeles, "Mother."]
NCIS: Los Angeles takes a look at what Hetty deems one of her failures in the milestone episode, as Ahkos Laos (Carl Beukes), the self-proclaimed "fallen," a young boy she took in and trained and then was used by the military, seeks revenge. "He was just ... looking for the same things all of us look for," she tells her team. "A home, an identity, something to keep the darkness at bay."
And as he shares once he's had her brought to him, he blames her for what happened after he was taken from her, for the lives he took. She tries to apologize, but he doesn't want to hear it. "This life gives us purpose and ideals to live by and in return, that's what we give the world," she offers as an explanation, but he sees that as just one of the "lies you tell to pacify the demons you created."
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Because of what they did, he thinks that they owe humanity "a debt that can only be paid with our blood," but before he can kill the man he sees as his "brother," Callen, Hetty stabs him and holds him as he dies.
After, Hetty laments that she didn't protect Ahkos from herself. "How do you instill morality when you're not even sure if you still have your own? He was right about one thing: I failed him," she tells Callen before admitting that she's worried "this isn't the life for you or maybe any of us." He assures her she didn't fail him or the others, but she's not so sure. "I worry I already have, Mr. Callen, and we're just waiting for the pennies to drop," Hetty says.
The team has called into question Hetty's methods a few times over the years; most recently, Nell (Renée Felice Smith) confronted the operations manager when Eric's (Barrett Foa) clandestine mission went sideways. She even remarks "this is what happens when you try to play God in the lives of those you say you love" in "Mother," suggesting that that conflict with Hetty isn't over.
But if there's one thing that's clear, it's that Hetty cares for those she trains, even if that means doing what's necessary to get the job done — especially in ways that her people may disagree with. And maybe it's time we — and Hetty — see one of her successes in a similar, significant way to which we've met Ahkos. And when better than soon after this heartbreaking encounter?
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It would also be the right time for the rest of the team. Sam (LL Cool J) asked Callen why he does this job, and Callen had trouble answering him. Kensi (Daniela Ruah) and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) are discussing having children, and as their past conversations on the topic have highlighted, they're uncertain if they can do that and continue in their line of work. Nell is angry with Hetty for the way she handled Eric's mission, while Eric is likely going to be affected by what happened to him during it. Why not have them see what life can be like — in a positive way — after?
Sure, you can look at the team as Hetty's successes, but since she feels she's failed them, it might take someone in a similar position to Ahkos — someone whose life she hasn't been part of in recent years — to convince her otherwise.
NCIS: Los Angeles, Sundays, 9/8c, CBS