As the COVID pandemic raged, Hunt only made a handful of appearances last season, including in the finale, which marked series vets Renee Felice Smith and Barrett Foa’s final episode.
Ahead of Season 12, showrunner R. Scott Gemmill had explained to TVLine, “We’re doing everything we can to keep everyone safe, and Linda (now age 77) is a little extra special in terms of how we have to look out for her.”
At the close of Season 12, Gemmill acknowledged, “Linda was away a lot more this season because of COVID and us trying to keep her safe…. And then finally, Linda had both her vaccines, she was feeling great, and she came back [for the finale]. And she was so happy to be back. She had been gone for so long and hadn’t really interacted with anyone, so she was just so thrilled to be back on set.”
This season, though, Hunt appeared only in the premiere, before Hetty informed Kilbride that she needed to return to Syria, where she spent much of Season 12 and apparently left things in a bit of disarray.
Speaking to Parade.com, Gemmill avowed that Hetty’s “story continues,” though it won’t do so on-screen until this fall, at soonest.
“She was in at the beginning of this season and then we had her disappear. The plan is to follow that up next [season] with some reveal,” he said.
NCIS: LA planted many seeds over the past year suggesting that Callen still doesn’t know the sum total of how he was groomed as an orphan to become a spy, and whether he was a special project for Hetty or merely one of many. “We’ve pitted her a little bit against Callen in terms of what he went through as a child, so that’s something we’re very eager to explore and have fun with,” Gemmill told Parade.com. “That’ll be focus for us in Season 14 when we come back.”
NCIS: LA, like mothership NCIS and the new Hawai’i flavor, was renewed for the 2022-23 TV season earlier this month. Episode 300 airs Sunday, May 8.