9 ‘NCIS: LA’ Season 11 Qs Answered — Plus, Catherine Bell’s Return as Mac! (PHOTOS)

NCIS LA Season 11 Burning Questions
Aaron Epstein/CBS

The smart, brave and blessedly quirky NCIS: Los Angeles team want every case to end with the threat neutralized and a round of drinks at the Squid & Dagger. They’ve had a little more trouble with other goals.

“Everyone’s been grappling with where they are in life, the decisions they’ve made, and where they’re headed. There are a lot of unknowns,” says Chris O’Donnell, whose agent G. Callen has always been the outfit’s steadfast core, along with his partner, former Navy SEAL Sam Hanna (LL Cool J).

Let’s turn unknowns into knowns: Here are the season’s biggest questions, answered.

Is Hetty leaving?

The seeds have been sown throughout Season 11: Formidable head honcho Hetty Lange (Linda Hunt) “knows she can’t do the job forever,” says exec producer R. Scott Gemmill. “She’s been trying to groom someone to replace her [but is] at a loss and trying to find a solution. She loves her team.” For real: Hetty officiated the wedding of Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah) and Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) last March! But this decision can’t be rushed, so she will return in Season 12.

(Monty Brinton/CBS)

Who can take her place?

Hetty’s No. 1 choice, intelligence analyst Nell Jones (Renée Felice Smith), is out, at least for now (read on). Callen has already told her he doesn’t want the gig. “He’s not cut out to be at a desk,” O’Donnell says. And Sam wants to train the next generation of agents. There may be surprises all around when Lange does tap a successor.

“Hetty is a wild card,” LL Cool J says. “Sam and Callen have to analyze everything she says and does from 360 degrees or even 720. She’s crafty.”

Is Nell gone for good?

On the March 29 hour, doubts about her career led to an extended vacation, but Nell will be back. (Smith is taking a hiatus to tackle other projects.) Until then, her work hubby, tech operator Eric Beale (Barrett Foa), and newbie Fatima Namazi (Medalion Rahimi) are handling Ops.

Is a happy ending in store for Callen and Anna?

On April 19, as the team looks for a missing NCIS agent connected to an arms smuggler, Callen starts to put down roots with his girlfriend, Moscow-born security specialist and NCIS pinch hitter Anna Kolcheck (Bar Paly).

“They’re attracted to each other, and they get a kick out of each other. There’s shared history,” O’Donnell says. “For Callen, [a serious relationship is] unusual. It gives him stability and gets him to contemplate establishing a normal life, which has not ever been who he is.” Gemmill adds a note of caution: “His path doesn’t go quite as swimmingly as he had hoped.”

Chris O'Donnell Bar Paly NCIS Los Angeles Season 11

(Monty Brinton/CBS)

Can Sam trust Katherine?

The attraction between the widower and Katherine Casillas (Moon Bloodgood), insurance broker to the rich, famous and well-connected, hit a bump in February: Sam suspected unpatriotic intentions in her dealings with a Chinese buyer. (He was wrong.) With that behind them, the couple generated some heat in the April 12 episode.

Still, “Sam sleeps with one eye open because of the nature of his life and job,” LL Cool J says. “He trusts her to a certain extent, but these guys have trusted people and ended up in a world of hurt.” Later, sophisticated Katherine “opens up his world and takes him to places he wouldn’t normally go,” Gemmill says.

Will Kensi and Deeks get the baby they so badly want?

The still-newlyweds have been hoping to get pregnant, with no success. (Realizing it might take years to conceive has already brought Kensi to tears.) They start to examine why it hasn’t happened. “Is it the stress of the job? Something else? Is it just not meant to be?” Gemmill says. “It will have repercussions in terms of how they operate as a team and within the team.”

Will Roundtree stick around?

Driven young FBI agent Devin Rountree (Caleb Castille) joins Sam and Callen on a trip to Afghanistan in the action-packed April 26 episode, which reveals a lot about whether he’s got the goods to join NCIS. “There’s no guarantee,” LL Cool J says. “It’s not just about being able to shoot straight or be brave. It’s about making decisions under pressure — your emotional and spiritual endurance in the heat of battle.”


Mac is back. Is that another step toward a JAG reboot?

Lt. Col. Sarah “Mac” Mackenzie (Catherine Bell) returns in that April 26 episode — the season’s last new one — seeking help on a case. This is Bell’s second stint reprising her role from JAG (1995–2005), which spun off the NCIS franchise and on which Gemmill was a writer. Last season her on-air reunion with costar David James Elliott ignited a fan frenzy — could JAG get another chance? “Never say never,” Gemmill comments.

Will the Russians continue to be a threat?

We know Russian spy Kate Miller/Katya (Eve Harlow) — Anna’s onetime cellmate — is still searching for her. The story advances at the start of Season 12. According to Gemmill: “Something from Anna’s past comes back and threatens the team. It will put loved ones in jeopardy and put Callen on a new path that strains his relationship with Sam and the team. It’s powerful.” We’ll need a shot of vodka for this.

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