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NCIS: LA - Cac Tu Nhan - Review: "Let's Go Get Hetty"

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We open on a shadowed outline of what looks like an avocado walking into the precinct. Oh, it is an avocado! It’s Eric in an avocado costume having a flashback to a time when he shared a drink with Hetty. She praises his unsung abilities and hands him a book - “The Red Badge of Courage.”

Eric wakes up in bed - it was all a dream. He goes through a billion hardback books next his bed to find the book in question, then heads to the office and calls in Nell to help him throw around ideas about why this book could be important.

Nell remarks that all Hetty every gave her was a survival keychain with a flashlight… And the Wonder Twins are struck with the realization that maybe the flashlight will reveal something in the book. They flip through the pages and see the words “failed,” “action,” and “skin” circled.

They call in the team - still in the middle of the night - to discuss their hypothesis that Hetty left them a message somehow. Callen remarks that it sounds very Hetty-like to create a failsafe message they all have to work together to solve.

Cut to Vietnam, where a tied up and dirty Hetty is sitting at a table across from a guy named Spencer Allan who claims to be from the US State Department. Hetty starts talking gibberish and telling stories like she’s a child.

The moment he leaves the room in frustration, Hetty turns to her captor (whose name is Dang. I’m not just saying “Aw, Dang!” a lot.) and torments him.

Allan comes back in the room and questions Hetty why the authorities have no record of her entering the country, playing a recording he just made of her talking to Dang. He knows she’s faking the mental problems.

“I respect that you would rather die than betray your country,” Allan says, "But I’m paying good money for you, so you will give up your secrets.” He pulls out a needle and vial of truth serum. Here we go!

Back in LA, Kensi and Deeks are searching every single thing in Hetty’s office. They talk about how they miss Granger and don’t want to go through that again. Deeks says he knows that Hetty’s coming back, and Kensi says he can’t know that for sure and he says, “I do. I positively do.”

He may be all talk, but at least he’s cheering Kensi up.

Mosley and Hidoko walk up and ask what the partners are doing, and Kensi explains the whole secret message thing.

“And this takes precedence over all our other cases?” Mosley asks. No, of course not, ya jerk, but Hetty is their friend and mentor. Hidoko proves she’s solidly on team #AntiMosley by ROLLING HER EYES. Good for her.

Deeks, Kensi, and Hidoko go back into the briefing room where Hidoko helps them figure out that Failed Action Skin is a coding system that indicates a specific place in the world. So they look it up and… It’s Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam! They start to comb the social media of the bar located at the exact point indicated by Failed Action Skin.

Sam and Callen decide to - and this is the part I’m not quite sure I understood fully - contact the NCIS office that covers the part of LA with the largest Vietnamese population? Surely that's not right. That seems unbelievably vague.

Hidoko goes to check in with Mosley, who asks if “we have a mutiny on our hands” since everyone is doing their own thing without reporting to her. Hidoko tries to convince her not to look at it like that, but instead to look at it as “teammates looking after one of their own.”

Mosley isn’t convinced they would do the same for her. Gee, I wonder why. She calls Callen and then Sam who decline her call, joking about what jobs they’ll get have to find once they get fired.

In Vietnam, Allan and Dang are just waiting on Hetty, who is intently repeating a poem over and over as a way to avoid succumbing to the truth serum. They get tired of waiting so they bring Keane in and shoot him in the stomach. No!

Sam and Callen go to talk to a man at the docks whom they know is a smuggler. They put a little pressure on him until he agrees to “make a few calls.”

Meanwhile, it’s Kensi’s turn to get yelled at in Mosley’s office for leaving her out of the loop. “It is becoming painfully obvious that Agent Callen resents my presence here… You don’t get to do whatever you want, what you want!” Deeks can here the yelling from across the office, so he calls up Callen to get back to the office to take care of it.

The Wonder Twins are still combing through the bar’s social media feeds when they freak out because they spot some old friends of Hetty’s sitting in a booth. Eric calls up a woman sitting at the bar (creeeeeeepy, Big Brother) and tries to get her to talk to the men in the back, but he bombs. So they call the woman up again and puts Deeks on her phone screen via Facetime. He charms his way into getting the woman to show his face to the men in the booth. As the men run off, he leaves Eric hanging for the woman’s tab.

In Vietnam, Hetty’s been thrown back into her cell next to Keane, who’s bleeding out on the ground. They profusely apologize to one another, but Keane is ultimately fine with it - he’s ready for this nightmare to be over. He’s not doing well, y’all.

Dang comes in with a surprise for Hetty - a tiger!! He unlocks Keane’s cell and lets the very hungry tiger wander around. It looks like a real tiger and not CGI. Cool! (Barrett Foa’s Instagram confirmed for me that it was in fact a real tiger.)

Apparently torture, truth serum, and all manner of other evil can’t break Henrietta Lang, but a tiger about to tear apart an old friend will do the trick. She tells Dang she’ll tell him whatever he wants.

On the other side of the world, Mosley is tearing into Sam and Callen for leaving her out of the loop. She needs confirmation, not just a suspicion, that Hetty is in Vietnam and in trouble.

She kicks them out of her office and the team gathers around a board showing Hetty and her three contacts spotted in the bar. So the board displays Hetty, two white guys, and a black guy. Deeks makes the crack that it’s “them from the future,” which is kinda funny. Mosley strolls in and Deeks just openly says they should run and hide, while she stands right there.

Okay, obviously I don’t love the woman, but she definitely has a case to make that they’re all insubordinate.

Mosley literally says she’s “not angry… Just disappointed.” Callen gets worked up when Mosley hands Sam a folder, and he starts doing the whole “you can fire us, suspend us, whatever you have to do,” routine, when Sam interrupts to say that Mosley has supplied them with tickets on the next flight to Vietnam.

Good on you, Mosley. Credit where credit’s due. The director suggests that before they go to Vietnam they figure out why Hetty when there in the first place - starting with figuring out who took the old photo of Hetty and the three guys that they’ve been staring at all day.

As the team packs, sans weapons as they can’t enter Vietnam with their guns, Kensi claims that being the sole girl makes her the voice of reason. The guys don’t like this, but she’s totally right. They reason out everything: Why did Hetty withdraw millions and smuggle her way into the country?

Ransom, Callen deduces. Probably for someone from her unit she’s never mentioned.

Speaking of Hetty, Allan is currently grilling her about her personal history. She won’t budge until he agrees to give Keane medical attention. He says how about he release the tiger on Keane again instead. So Hetty starts talking.

She joined the CIA when she was in college in 1963. They cut to commercial with that black and white photographs thing, but for a second I thought they were about to do a flashback to Hetty in college using the same actress. Linda Hunt is obviously a legendary actress, but I'm sorry, her playing a 19-year old would be an acting challenge the likes of which she's never faced. Fortunately, they cut to commercial.

As they pack, Sam and Callen are interrupted by Hidoko, who announces that they found someone who knew Hetty back when she was in Vietnam, circa that picture. He’s in a retirement home now. When questioned by the agents, the man IDs everyone in the picture (including Hetty, whom he refers to as Margaret.)

He doesn’t know the specifics of her team’s mission - he thinks they were “pulling spooks out of the jungle.” When they asked who took the picture, he said it was “probably the kid.” Some boy from a ranch somewhere in the US who followed Hetty around like a puppy. He was killed in a chopper crash that only the woman survived.

Boom. They’ve found Keane.

They’re also a little heartbroken about the fact that this vet doesn’t have much left to his name, doesn’t have vet benefits, and is dying from exposure to Agent Orange.

One of the things I really love about this show is how they shine a light on veteran's issues that aren’t really discussed much.

Kensi is packing in the weapons locker and staring at all the weapons she can’t bring when Nell interrupts. And casually reveals that she has access to open the weapons lockers, which Kensi apparently doesn’t have access to. Interesting.

They compare Hetty stories - the woman seemed to put extra care into her interactions with Nell and Kensi, knowing the difficulties of being a woman in their field - and Kensi admits she’s reluctant to find their director. Because the longer they don’t find her, the longer they can believe she’s fine. They break the seriousness by suggesting that maybe she’s hanging with Granger, drinking mojitos out of the skulls of their enemies.

The team makes their way back to the office and is finally all packed, ready to head out to Vietnam. Callen goes to see Mosley in her office before flying out. Mosley says he can save his apologies. “I didn’t say I was apologizing,” Callen says. “Oh, well, baby steps,” she responds.

I kind of love their shared hostility.

Time to go! “Let’s go get Hetty,” Kensi declares as the four stroll out, Mosley watching. Yes!! So psyched for next episode!

In Vietnam, Hetty is still filling in her backstory. "Back then, we understood the value of information. The more you knew, the more valuable you were - the higher the security risk. So we took steps to ensure that information never fell into enemy hands,” she explains. “It’s a brave new world… But I’m an old fashioned girl.”

And with that, she tells Allan that old agents would replace a fake tooth with a cyanide capsule inside, in the event that they were captured. He doesn’t believe her Cold War folklore, but Hetty starts chewing and making a face like she’s about to bite down on a capsule.

When Allan comes to stop her, she bites off part of his ear! Her maniacal laughter echoes over the closing credits. Well dang, I didn’t see that coming.

Can’t wait for next week!

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