Actress Linda Hunt's portrayal of Office of Special Projects Operations Manager Hetty Lange on "NCIS: Los Angeles" has been ingrained in the minds of many viewers. Alongside actors like Chris O'Donnell, Daniela Ruah, and LL Cool J, Hunt is one of the longest-running cast members of "NCIS: LA" with more than 220 episodes under her belt.
Nevertheless, Hunt has only appeared occasionally in recent seasons of "NCIS: LA," partly due to worries about her health during the COVID-19 outbreak. For instance, once Season 13 debuted, showrunner Scott R. Gemmill disclosed that Hetty wouldn't be seen until Season 14 due to this precise reason. After a few appearances in Season 12 that were recorded remotely to keep the old Hunt as secure as possible during outbreaks of the ongoing pandemic, she was almost completely absent from Season 13 after that. Viewers may be excused for assuming that Hetty on "NCIS: LA" might be replaced by another character despite the fact that she remained a core cast member during these times.
Now that Season 14 has here, concerns over Hunt's future have returned. While Hetty is still a part of "NCIS: LA" for the time being, one specific development in the Season 14 premiere seems to hint that she is in peril.
During her brief appearance on "NCIS: Los Angeles," Season 13, Hetty departs for an operation in Syria, separating her from the show's central Office of Special Projects crew. At one point in the episode, a Naval commander (Jennifer Marshall) informs series lead G. Callen (Chris O'Donnell) that her unit discovered a burnt body in Syria attached to which was the ID of an American named Trudy Chambers. However, her character is still abroad and is therefore not an active presence on the show as of the Season 14 premiere. Callen recognised this as a code name Hetty employs, however later in the episode, forensics reveal that the body belonged to someone else, suggesting Hetty planted evidence on the body to make it appear as though she had actually died.
Callen wishes to go to Syria to help Hetty as a result of this unimportant but unsettling development, but Hollace Kilbride (Gerald McRaney) practically bans him from doing so.
Showrunner Scott R. Gemmill stated that Hetty's rescue is planned for Season 14, subject to appropriate pandemic safety, in an interview with TV Line that was released prior to the season's launch. This plot line appears to be coming to a head given Callen's desire to assist Hetty personally. However, only time will tell whether Hetty will be safe in Syria.