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hetty ncis: los angeles

Sure, this past week's NCIS episode suddenly got fans up in arms about the potential exit of David McCallum's Ducky, but I think everyone can agree on the biggest current mystery at the center of the NCIS franchise: where the heck is Hetty Lange? NCIS: Los Angeles star Linda Hunt has been absent from the show for ages now due to a real-world injury, but it now sounds like her return is on the horizon.

NCIS: Los Angeles star Daniela Ruah offered up a brief update about everyone's favorite operations manager, and the actress seemingly confirms we won't have to go with entire tenth season without some Hetty in our lives. According to Ruah:

I do talk to Linda. We all love her so very much. She’s mamma bear to this whole family. Fans should expect to see her sometime this season. She’s okay and looking forward to Hetty’s return when possible.

As weird as it's been for TV audiences to have gone 16 episodes without seeing Linda Hunt's Hetty, it's probably even more strange for all the stars of the show, many of whom have worked with her since the earliest days of NCIS: Los Angeles. However, the stars of the show have other distinct advantages over everyday fans, so we'll reserve the bulk of our Hetty sympathy for viewers.

Back in the summer of 2018, Linda Hunt was involved in a reportedly minor traffic accident that nonetheless let her with some injuries that apparently haven't healed as quickly as anyone would have liked. It was a few months into Season 10 when that reveal was made, and barely any updates have popped up all throughout the midseason.

Here recently, however, #HettyWatch has been close to reaching a fever pitch thanks to the impending NCIS: Los Angeles wedding between Eric Christian Olsen's Deeks and Daniela Ruah's Kensi, The couple's nuptials are being highly promoted, and with good reason, since it looks like it will be a giant, action-packed episode for the CBS drama. Naturally, the $64,000 question – a game show that Hetty probably appeared on for an undercover op – is whether or not the team's big boss will return as a special attendee.

Quite a few fans are speculating that Hetty will indeed be there for Deeks and Kensi's big day, thanks to the trailer for the episode featuring a particular visual clue. See if you can find it in the promo below.

That's right. Whenever the newlywed couple are embracing for their kiss, the camera is just behind a certain someone on the left side of the screen with a specifically shaped head of hair. Gotta be Hetty, right?

Now, I won't stand here and say that there Hetty Lange is the only person in the NCIS: Los Angeles-verse that could possibly have that signature hairdo, but I don't think the similarities there are any mere coincidence. Not when the producers were likely well aware of the fan fervor for Hetty's return whenever the wedding episode was being filmed.

That doesn't mean that Linda Hunt will be seen in the episode, of course, as the producers could have just used out-of-focus stunt doubles to extend the illusion of Hetty being part of the wedding festivities. But then maybe she'll be the person actually officiating the wedding. That's usually how TV shows handle weddings for major characters, anyway.

Thankfully for everyone watching NCIS: Los Angeles, Daniela Ruah told Parade that even though she was initially apprehensive about Kensi and Deeks' wedding, viewers don't need to worry about their storylines becoming stale as a result. In her words:

I did think, 'Well, if they get into a relationship where do you go from there?' Well, it turns out there’s plenty of places to go. I thought, 'Well, when they make us get married, it’ll be l the last episode of the last season ever.' That’s not the case. We’ve been shooting all these episodes post wedding and it’s been great. There’s plenty of places to go. Fortunately, our show is mostly based on the personal lives and on the relationships of these characters and the people outside of this team, but it’s also about the case so there’s just so much to play with.

Here's hoping for happy times for the fictional couple...but only if Hetty comes back for the episode. Is that too strong of an ultimatum?

NCIS: Los Angeles airs on CBS every Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. ET, with the wedding episode airing this weekend, on March 17.

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