NCIS: LA Season 3 Is Armed With Big Secrets, a 'Gut-Wrenching' Backstory, and a Fun Switcheroo

In a nutshell, NCIS: Los Angeles executive producer Shane Brennan says that it is time for the CBS procedural to “cut loose” with its third season (premiering this Tuesday at 9/8c). Kicking off the new cycle is the continuation – played out in real time, à la 24 — of the Hetty/Romania/Callen mystery that closed out the sophomore run on an intrigue-filled note. Brennan gave TVLine a look at the big reveals to come out of that cliffhanger, shared Academy Award-slash-Teen Choice winner Linda Hunt’s giddy reaction to it all, and teased a “gut-wrenching” backstory for one of the other team members.

TVLINE | First things first: How much time has lapsed since the events of the season finale?
I think it’s about three minute after we left off, and it’s a real-time episode. The story unfolds over 43 minutes, so it has got a narrative drive that will… well, you really need to go to the bathroom before you watch this show. I mean, it just pumps. We cocked the gun, so to speak.

TVLINE | The finale and all its zigs and zags about Hetty and Callen left us wondering what was real.
That’s the great fun about L.A. Because they’re undercover and they make things up, you get great latitude to play around with some of that stuff.

Fall TV Promos: NCIS: Los Angeles Is Back, With a Bullet!

TVLINE | Someone gets shot in the premiere….
Someone gets shot – [a character played by] one of our regular cast members – and the ramifications from that resonate for four episodes. No one’s going to be disappointed with the opening episode, and no one’s going to be disappointed with what we reveal in the first four.

TVLINE | The question raised abut Callen’s identity – is that something that will be resolved in those four episodes, or are we running a half-season with it?
You are going to go further in first four episodes than you’ve gone in two seasons. There’s going to be some pretty amazing revelations about Callen, but that doesn’t mean the story ends there. It’s a very rich tapestry. He’s turning into this very enigmatic, fascinating character determined to find out who he is, where he came from, what he is… and we learn the answer to one of those questions in the first four episodes.

TVLINE | Is there any one hint from the finale you can confirm right now as being true? Like, is it safe to say Hetty does have ties to Callen’s childhood?
[Long pause] That is definitely true. And I think the other thing I’ll very confidently say is that what Callen remembered on the beach is what happened. When he drops to his knees, he is blown over by what is remembered. And as he tells Sam what he remembered, just when you think, “Wow,” he says, “Annnnd then this!’ There’s a lot more to come.

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TVLINE | One of our readers wanted me to ask: Why did Hetty have to resign? Was it just for show?
What we discover is that Hetty drew a line in the sand, and she decided that she needed to do this. So her actions in resigning and going to Romania were probably the most important decisions she’s ever made. It’s very, very real to her.

TVLINE | Is Vance on board with this? To a degree?
Is anyone ever on board with anything Hetty says? Let’s say that Hetty told him some of the story. But what she does by resigning, and going to Romania, opens the door to reveal as much about her as she does about Callen.

TVLINE | Linda Hunt must be over the moon. You’ve turned her into perhaps the most badass NCIS agent.
She’s one of the most badass people on TV. There’s a scene between her and another actor – I’m not go to say who it is, because it will give too much away – that is positively cinematic, and people who have seen it are just blown away by the power of these two actors together. When we were shooting it, I took a sheet of paper to Linda that said “Confidential: Hetty Lang Backstory.” She read it and she couldn’t stop giggling. She was like, “Oh my god!” I gave her the answers to a lot of questions, and then I said, “Read it and burn it,” it reveals so much. The good thing about that sheet of paper is that by the end of Episode 4, you know a lot of it.

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TVLINE | You told you me wanted to dip into Kensi’s backstory this season. How soon do you get into that?
My expectation is that probably in the second half of the season we’ll explore that. It’s gut-wrenching. It really is quite confronting for the character and for everyone who loves her – the audience and the other characters in the show.

TVLINE | If she confides in Deeks along the way, it could help along that “thing” between them that she talks about.
In Seasons 1 and 2, we’ve been in first gear. In Season 3, we put the foot down and cut loose. It’s going to be a great season.

Matt’s Inside Line: NCIS: LA‘s Daniela Ruah on the Kensi/Deeks ‘Thing’

TVLINE | Is there anything else to tease about the new episodes?
One of the interesting things we do is that in one of the early episodes, all of the partners get switched around — circumstances dictate it — and they’re not happy. I saw last season as the season of partners, where you paired people up; in this episode, they’re like, “Really? I’m with him?” And that will be a lot of fun.

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28 Comments
  1. DL says:

    NCIS: LA is CBS procedural at its best. Fast, fun, full of action and suspense, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s filled with beautiful people. Season 2 was miles ahead of Season 1, and I have no doubt Season 3 will be even better.

  2. Melody says:

    Linda Hunt rocks and Hetty is a totally badass chick. I’m glad we’ll get to explore more of her and Callen’s backstory. I’m very invested in them as friends and co-workers and to see how their past is tied together will be very cool. I’m so excited for this season and these teases just fuel the fire.

  3. Renee says:

    I’m really looking forward to this! NCIS LA’s season finale was one of the few I didn’t find lacking. I’m eager for this season to begin.

  4. lilly says:

    More Kensi/deeks scenes is fine by me :)

  5. Vannesa says:

    Will miss Linda Hunt’s Hattie…but am excited to see Claire Forlani as the new Operations Manager Lauren Hunter. :D

    • Shonailel says:

      I seriously doubt Linda Hunt is going anywhere.

    • Charmaine says:

      I am not looking forward to seeing claire Forlani on the show. She always looks like she is getting ready to cry. I hope that she is not on the show very much. I also heard that the teams will be shuffled around. I can’t imagine Callen with anyone but Sam. Shows always have to mess with what works.

      • Sally says:

        Linda Hunt as Hettie is the best part of this show. I hope you plan to bring her character back onscreen fulltime. If she were to go, I would stop watching the program. As it is I’m annoyed that this season’s premiere shows have only had her onscreen briefly. The actress playing the acting director is no match for Linda Hunt.

    • DEBPRAJ says:

      WOW, I SURE HOPE THIS IS NOT THE END OF HETTIE, I THINK SHE IS A AWESOME ADDITION NCIS AND NOBODY CAN PLAY THAT ROLE LIKE LINDA. SHE ROCKS AND IF SHE LEAVES THEN I’M LEAVING BECAUSE THAT WOMAN THAT IS THERE NOW ALREADY I DON’T LIKE, THERE IS NO CHEMISTRY BETWEEN HER AND THE REST OF THE CAST. SHE STICKS OUT LIKE A SORE THUMB

    • navyboy says:

      Hattie was a key part of the show, I will be glad to see her
      return to the chair. I have watched this since the first episode
      and Claire does ok in the role but a far cry from Linda.

      • docjeff2@yahoo.com says:

        Hetty (Linda Hunt) makes the show more unique than any other show. Without her it becomes another plastic piece of junk!! KEEP LINDA HUNT!!! Get rid of the plastic dolls with more words than they are worth!!

        • BJ says:

          So agree with you. If they don’t get rid of this annoying agent Hunter character and bring back Hetty soon, I’m going to be looking for something else to watch. It is really too bad they had to mess with a formula that had in the past so successfully combined fun and drama.

  6. Peggy says:

    Please don’t get rid of Hattie. Would like to know if the clothes she wears are hers. I doubt if she can buy off the rack. I’m also curious to know if the brooches she wears are hers and, in any case, I would like to get a good view of them at lease once in a show or maybe on the web site?

    • Carol Lawhorne says:

      Hetty is a fantastic character, and we need to have a little blurb each week telling us about her broaches…many of us are very interested in them…and would like to see, and know if they are antique, what do they look like, we see only portions of them…but they represent a very personal part of Hetty….please post some info and picture of them each week….thank you, and KEEP HETTY

  7. CJ says:

    First, it is Hetty, not Hattie. And as far as I know, she isn’t going anywhere.

  8. LN says:

    While watching the Season opener, the question arose as to how Callen could be the child of an OSS officer. The OSS was disbanded at the end of World War II, so if his father was an OSS officer, Callen would have to be in his 60s, which he clearly is not.

    • prish says:

      His grandfather was the OSS officer. His grandfather killed the nasty curusecso who would do anything to keep his family going during the war. His grandfather had a daughter, Callen’s mother, who was killed on the beach.

  9. LS says:

    If you taped the opener, check again– Hettie said the OSS agent was Callen’s GRANDfather. Grandpa & his Roma wife moved to the U.S. & had a daughter, Callen’s mother. As an adult, G’s mother returned to Romania with him & his sister when the kids were little.

  10. Gretchen says:

    Great episode!

    But one complaint–if the episode ends with not knowing if a character is alive or not, don’t show that character in any way in the preview for next week!

    • Vinnie says:

      Dead giveaway as she is featured twice in the NEW opening montage for the season and Agent Hunter is not. Just went back and watched the opening montgage to see if Hetty or Hunter continues in the series.

  11. TJ. Church says:

    I, for one, WAS disappointed in the finale. It started with the shooting, but ended with it too; Nothing on Hetty surviving or not, & it appears next week will show nothing of it.

  12. Sharon says:

    I disagree with the idea of NOT showing Hettie in previews of future episodes ! Hettie is a beloved character and I appreciated the relief of knowing she is still going to be around. On the subject of Hettie, I do love the way Linda Hunt has infused Hettie with such class and feminity along with a supreme sense of confidence and capability. I laughed out loud to see her referred to as a “badass chick !” Perfect description !!

  13. Linda says:

    Does anyone have the quote about leadership that Hetty gives before leaving?

  14. carol says:

    Hettie is one of the best acted characters on TV right now, never eliminate her character. Really enjoying the new season!

  15. Terry says:

    If Hunter is Callen’s sister this will work. Otherwise she does not fit in. I can’t believe Hetty or Vance would allow her in a position of power.

  16. Hi everyone, can someone please tell me when Series 3 is coming to Ireland. The suspense is killing me!!!!. Monica. Ireland

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