NCIS: Los Angeles recap: Season 13 premiere features Joelle, Hetty, and Zasha

Hetty NCIS LA 13 Premiere
Hetty Lange was featured on the NCIS: LA Season 13 premiere. Pic credit: CBS

The new season of NCIS: Los Angeles began as someone was seen breaking into the archives at headquarters.

The camera for that area went out, and suddenly NCIS: LA viewers were in the living room of Hetty Lange as her phone got an alert about the break-in.

After the opening credits had rolled, we learned that it was Callen looking through the files, but this was something that NCIS: Los Angeles already revealed during the Season 12 finale. Now, it was time to start finding out what Callen had discovered.

Callen’s discoveries led to a late-night meeting with Sam at the boat shed, where he told Sam that the files were about foster kids that had been put through a program and one (subject 17) shared his birthdate. Callen wanted to look more into it, but Sam talked him into taking a breath first.

NCIS Los Angeles Season 13, Episode 1 recap

Hetty was in the offices putting together a briefcase of guns when Kensi walked in with a question. She and Deeks wanted to know if Hetty would be a reference for them as they tried to adopt a child. She declined, obviously holding back something while saying she wasn’t the right person for that. She did, however, say that she could get NCIS Director Vance or the Secretary of the Navy to do it.

Back at the boat shed, Agent Rountree came in and said there was a case. He turned on all the electronics that Callen had shut off for his chat with Sam, and Fatima was on the other end. She had video footage of two women fighting in a parking lot.

It turned out that the women were CIA Agent Joelle Taylor (played by Elizabeth Bogush) and Zasha Gargarin (played by Olesya Rulin). Zasha had been Callen’s informant, and Joelle has become a thorn in the side of this NCIS team. The video showed Joelle assault Zasha and then kidnap her.

Callen gets tunnel vision

Callen remembered a repressed memory about being put through tests when he was younger when he was told he had dyslexia and wanted to ask Hetty about it. He tried to find her but first came across Retired Navy Admiral Hollace Kilbride (played by Gerald McRaney).

When Kilbride wasn’t forthcoming with information about Hetty or Callen’s past, Callen began yelling at him and demanding answers. That did not sit well with Kilbride, who asked Callen if he had lost his mind while he put his employee in his place. Eventually, they got back to talking about Joelle kidnapping Zasha and how they would deal with the situation. The stakes had been raised since Zasha was serving as an informant for Callen.

Callen did catch up with Hetty, who he also yelled at for answers, and she eventually admitted that he was indeed subject 17. He wanted more answers but had to go deal with the Joelle situation again.

Joelle’s end game turned out to be using Zasha to get to Russian spy Katya (Eve Harlow), who had been the reason that Joelle lost her leg and her family in earlier episodes.

Russian agents went after Joelle when they found out about Zasha getting kidnapped, leading to a firefight between the NCIS team and the Russians. Under Kilbride’s orders, non-lethal measures were taken, so nobody was killed in the fight. Joelle, who was taken hostage during the rescue, was saved, along with Zasha.

At the end of the episode, Callen returned to talk more with Hetty, but Kilbride told him that she had returned to Syria to take down “the white whale” that she had been chasing. Kilbride didn’t have a lot of faith that Hetty would make it back this time.

Since Zasha had been burned by her own country as well as the U.S., Callen put her to work. He sent her to Syria to watch after Hetty and find out what was going on. In exchange, he was going to get Zasha papers and a new name so she could disappear.

We will likely learn more about this situation at a later date, as Zasha is going off the radar, and, unfortunately, Hetty might be doing the same.

NCIS: Los Angeles airs Sundays at 9/8c on CBS.

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