‘NCIS: Los Angeles’: Hetty Is in Hot Water, Callen Rooms With His Dad and More

High-Value Target
Richard Cartwright/CBS
"High-Value Target" -- Coverage of the CBS series NCIS: LOS ANGELES, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Richard Cartwright/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

There are some things you never expect to see, and NCIS: Los Angeles boss Hetty Lange (Linda Hunt) getting reprimanded for screwing up at work is one of them. Scolding people and looking disappointed is her thing!

In the Season 8 premiere, the bosses in Washington had just about had it up to their flag pins with her failure to unmask the traitor in her bureau. And the under secretary of defense (Jackson Hurst) rolled in to town to investigate the L.A. unit—and play a little whack-a-mole himself.

But the team still has a job to do. In the season opener, they hunted a Syrian terrorist in a dangerous op that had serious consequences for the entire squad, particularly couple Kensi (Daniela Ruah) and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen). “This very challenging mission went awry and left Kensi facing a questionable future,” says executive producer R. Scott Gemmill. “It put a lot of strain on Deeks.”

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Ruah was seven months pregnant when shooting for the season began (in real life, the actress is married to Olsen’s older brother, David) and shot all her scenes for Episodes 3 to 10 in a block. “It was the only plan we could think of,” admits Gemmill, “but it worked out well.” And yes, the couple gets engaged this year.

NCIS: Los Angeles

Hetty (Linda Hunt) is in hot water in Season 8 after failing to root out the mole in her organization.

With Kensi out of commission, the rest of the team must step up. Even techies Eric (Barrett Foa) and Nell (Renee Felice Smith) will have to go out in the field, with the latter getting a workout in the season’s third episode. “She really rocks and rolls,” Gemmill says. “I gave Renee the heads-up: ‘You’re going to be chasing a lot of bad guys. Start stretching.” Eric and Nell’s own romance will also progress—albeit untraditionally. “Things develop,” says Gemmill, “but in a way it could only develop between two people as quirky as them.”

As for senior agents Sam (LL Cool J) and Callen (Chris O’Donnell), the former will see his ongoing war with terrorist Tahir Khaled and his followers finally come to a climactic conclusion before the season ends. And Callen will have some very special visitors: “friend” and private security expert Anna Kolcheck (Bar Paly), who temporarily replaces Kensi, and his long-lost Russian dad (played by Hill Street Blues’ Daniel J. Travanti), who moves in with him. “It’s a bit of a challenge for Callen,” Gemmill says, laughing. “He’s never really had a roommate, let alone one that was his father!”

NCIS: Los Angeles, Season Premiere, Sunday, September 25, 8/7c, CBS.