NCIS: Los Angeles Review: Hetty's Orphans

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Hetty sure has a lot of secrets, doesn't she?

It's interesting how time and time again the NCIS: Los Angeles team will take unusual or questionable assignments from Hetty without requiring a complete explanation. They may push her for some information, but when she blocks their attempts, they go ahead and investigate anyway. They view her secrecy more as an annoyance than something to be concerned about and that's troubling.

Callen Questions Hetty

In "Raven & the Swans," Hetty wanted the team to look into the attack of a unidentified woman in a parking garage. On the face, there was no reason to believe the case was related to the military or even national security, but they looked into it regardless.

Callen and Sam's suspicions got the better of them and they found both Hetty and the mystery woman having tea in the boathouse. Oops! Or as Hetty said, "Aww, bugger!" The woman was NCIS Agent Grace Stevens. She had been recruited to NCIS in a similar manner as Callen, Sullivan, Paris, and Hunter by Hetty. Grace was working undercover as the live-in girlfriend of criminal Nolan Vandenburg and he tried to have her killed.

Hetty's secrecy about Grace didn't make much sense. If Hetty was concerned about her recruit, why wouldn't she want the team to help find her, rather than just investigate the men? There wasn't any reason not to trust them with the information and it was inevitable that they would find out. It came across as an unnecessary and poor plot device to create conflict with Callen.

If Hetty told them about Grace, Callen still would have gotten upset with her, since his anger was more jealousy than anything. He thought he was special to Hetty and over the years he has found out that he was just one of a few. And, now one of a lot. Hetty used orphans as her personal recruiting pipeline by replicating the Soviet program of Ravens and Swans. Her confession explains a lot about her recruits.

Now that her recruiting past is out in the open, will more of the former orphans be revealed? Since Hetty used them as a surrogate family, it would be interesting to see if they all ended up single and alone as she is. So far, Hetty's recruits that we have seen all proved to be excellent agents and dedicated to their jobs to the detriment of their personal lives.

In NCIS:LA season 4, Sam's home life has become a focal point with his wife's involvement with Sidorov. And, then with Sam's kids mentioned over the last two episodes with Kensi and Deeks babysitting and then Callen agreeing to dress up for his daughter's birthday party. While he has been able to have a somewhat normal home life, the rest of the team has had trouble in the love and family department.

Initially, I thought the kids were mentioned to foreshadow troubles that they will be facing due to the Sidorov thing, but now I'm wondering it has something to do with the rest of the team craving a personal and family life themselves. Is Callen capable of having a life like Sam's? Or, is he destined to be alone like Hetty? What about Deeks and Kensi? It's definitely not easy in their line of work.

Odds and Ends

  • Callen as Professor Lupin! Why is it we never get to actually see this stuff?
  • "Touching Wood" - no words.
  • Deeks and Kensi going over the threshold was hilarious. Even better ... Deeks throwing Kensi on the bed not once, but twice! And, then her putting him in a headlock with her legs. Kensi rocks! Even though, it was Deeks that was in the band.
  • Eric should never go undercover. He can't fake an expression to save his life or do a hand-off.
  • Nell was awesome as the maid. She covered well, even though she didn't put the briefcase back in the right place. I love seeing her in the field.
  • The fight between Hetty and Callen was intense and a long time coming. It's a shame that he's not as special as he thought he was, especially given his troubled childhood.
  • Only better than their fight was Hetty laying out the truth for Callen. 
  • Callen: You would have made a great mother, Hetty.
    Hetty: I like to think I have. | permalink


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (253 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


"Now that her recruiting past is out in the open, will more of the former orphans be revealed? " Well, NCIS-LA needs some fresh development among the current characters in the show. Bringing equally skilled agents as Callen from Hetty's past is one possible way to spice-up the competition and make the show more interesting.


I loved the tension between Hetty and Callen in the episode with Grace. You never really see them argue with each other, which is what happens in any close relationship and I think it really speaks to just how close they are to each other now.


I loved the densi hotel scene with Hetty jr. (Nell) waljin


Excellent episode - such high quality acting. Easy to see why Linda Hunt received the Oscar for THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY.


Interesting episode. I know Hetty and Callen were good at the end, but I felt it ended with unresolved feelings. Yes, G is a loner and doesn't need anyone, but somehow his persistent questioning of Hetty did come across as either insecurity or jealousy. Interesting... And Hetty's uncharacteristic loss in temper points to something...
Loved all the team interactions and banter. Especially looking forward to the development in Deeks and Kensi's partnership. Really enjoyed Sam's family, the Harry Potter theme and his backstory which was in sharp contrast to loner G, loner Hunter, loner Grace and ultimately loner Hetty. Hetty's advice to Kensi in a previous episode about not ending up like her and yet Grace aspired to be just like Hetty until recently. Callen feels that it's not a bad thing to end up like Hetty...I hope the show explores Hetty's feelings towards Callen and the life choices.


Grace and Callen combine together. Or was only me who noticed this? I prefer her with him than Paris.


I too love this show. I watch NCIS and then wait for this one each week. I like Deeks and Kensi's banter, but don't want them to be a couple. That will spoil things. Not every character (lead) has to be with each other. Please. Leave that alone, but let them continue to have that fun and banter. Enjoyed this episode and was glad that Hetty and Callen didn't remain fighting.


I really enjoy this show, I have watched it from the beginning. The personalities of the characters have become clearer. I enjoy Kensi and Deeks and their banter. I wonder if they will become a couple??? Callen and Sam are so good as partners. All these actors do a great job each week. Hope the show will be on for a while.


Loved this episode. I wonder if we will meet any of the other orphans because Hetty said there were a lot of them. I really wished at the end we would of seen Callen dressed up as the werewolf and Kenzi and Deeks dressed up as whatever they were going to dress up as. Deeks throwing Kenzi on the bed then them fighting and Kenzi getting him in a headlock then Nell walking in was great. All the weapons that were missing that Hetty took was kind of funny and Sam saying no hand grenade was even better. I can't wait till the next episode it look really good.


Despite not caring for the show most of the time, I will watch whenever Hetty is front and center. That is a remarkable character, and she plays it so well. I kind of hope to see Grace again...there are multiple possibilities there.

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