Skip to main content

How NCIS: Los Angeles' Hetty Will Create Some Trouble For The Team When Season 13 Starts

linda hunt's hetty in ncis: los angeles season 12 finale
(Image credit: cbs press)

For a while there, it seemed like NCIS: Los Angeles might truly need to say goodbye to actress Linda Hunt's beloved character Hetty Lange. The actress took an extended absence a few years ago after suffering injuries in a car accident, and then she also sat out much of the past year's COVID-hindered productions. But after making a triumphant return in the Season 12 finale, Hetty is confirmed to be returning when Season 13 kicks off, and it sounds like it won't be the smoothest situation for all involved.

The biggest professional obstacle for Hetty going forward is Gerald McRaney's retired Admiral Hollis Kilbride, who will definitely also be around for more of Season 13, thanks to McRaney earning himself a promotion to series regular soon after the twelfth season concluded. Showrunner and executive producer R. Scott Gemmill told TV Insider that Kilbride will be bumping heads with Hetty sooner rather than later, as the operations manager attempts to tie up the mission that kept her away from office-bound hijinks last season. In Gemmill's words:

She’ll try to resolve that on her own, but in the end, it will suck in the entire team—much to Kilbride’s [disapproval]. . . . They’re both very smart and very stubborn, so it makes for a fun and volatile dynamic. Kilbride outranks Hetty, but he does respect her, even if he disagrees with her methodology and [sometimes] questions the cost of her successes.

I don't think any NCIS: Los Angeles fans out there would sincerely expect Gerald McRaney's Kilbride to be a legitimate roadblock for Hetty. What she may lack in physical stature, she makes up in mental dominance, with as much bravado as any of the crime drama's other characters. But it's not so often that NCIS: LA presents Hetty's unstoppable force going up against an immovable object. (Or at least someone posing as such.) So it should be quite interesting to see how their relationship, as it were, plays out as the season starts out.

It's true that Hetty will be missing one of her biggest supporters in Agent Nell Jones, as Renée Felice Smith exited NCIS: Los Angeles as Season 12 closed out, along with co-star Eric Beale. Not that Hetty needs any cheerleaders, or sidekicks, or A.I.-enhanced robots to do her bidding. Plus, it doesn't really sound (yet) like Kilbride is going to put Hetty in his administrative crosshairs, although I guess that depends on how much trouble she causes in trying to sweep the aftermath from her past mission under the metaphorical rug.

R. Scott Gemmill also teased that Season 13 will kick off with more than just Hunt and McRaney as familiar faces — obviously also beyond LL Cool J, Chris O'Donnell, Daniela Ruah and others. There will apparently be a pair of "old friends" who return, but they apparently won't be nearly as cordial and sociable as they were in the past. How wild would it be if Nell and Barrett were already returning to NCIS: Los Angeles, only in a more villainous context? That's almost definitely not the case, of course. But maybe?

NCIS: Los Angeles will return to CBS for Season 13 starting on Sunday, October 10, at 9:00 p.m. ET, which is around three weeks after NCIS Season 19 kicks off alongside the new spinoff NCIS: Hawai'i. Check out everything else heading to the small screen soon with our 2021 Fall TV schedule.

Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.