The following contains alllll of the spoilers from Sunday night’s NCIS: Los Angeles series finale.
The Office of Special Projects has closed its last case. Well, sort of….
CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles wrapped its 14-season run on Sunday night with a series finale in which the team, yes, thwarted yet another sale of very dangerous weapons. But the real draw was a 1-2-3 punch of Kensi learning she is pregnant… Callen and Anna fast-tracking their wedding with a city hall ceremony… and a letter from Hetty that led Callen and Sam to Morocco, where they ran into a few familiar faces.
“Dear Agent Callen, congratulations on your wedding,” read Hetty’s letter, delivered to newlywed Callen by a surreptitious messenger. “I am so very happy for you and for Anna. I only wish I could have been there to celebrate such a glorious occasion with all of you.
“Most people think I never had a family of my own, but I beg to differ,” Hetty continued. “I have been blessed with the greatest family one could ever have wished for. And so have you.”
Hetty’s missive went on to offer her place in Mykonos for Callen and Anna’s honeymoon, plus two plane tickets to Morocco in case Callen and Sam have time for “a small side project.” Anna gave her new husband the OK to fly off to Morocco, saying that she’ll be waiting for him in Greece. Sam, in turn, she tasked with keeping Callen alive, “at least until the honeymoon.” “I always do,” Sam nodded.
Speaking with TVLine one final time about NCIS: Angeles, showrunner R. Scott Gemmil acknowledged, “It’s a tall order to try and wrap things up after 14 seasons where hopefully the fans feel somewhat satisfied, but we certainly tried our best.”
Here now our full, beat-by-beat Q&A about the series finale:
When you received the official “final season” news, was there anything you had to adjust, any planned storylines you decided to contract or just scrap?
R. SCOTT GEMMILL | No, because we really didn’t know how we were going to end the season. And so a lot of it, like Kensi getting pregnant, that was something we probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. And we probably wouldn’t have had Callen getting married this season, we would have probably prolonged that.
Oh, I assumed the wedding was always your season finale.
I think we sort of thought about it, but we hadn’t committed to anything.
The only thing we didn’t really get to was, we’d started a storyline with Kilbride and his son and I’m sorry we didn’t really get to see that realized. But there was only so much we could jam in towards the end.
Why would you have held back on the Kensi pregnancy?
Probably because I would have had to deal with it next season in terms of what that means — if they have a baby, what’s the reality of having two people in a dangerous job where you could lose both parents in any single episode? So I would have held that off. That was probably going to be something we did whenever the show ended.
Daniela Ruah told me she just loved the fact that Kensi ended up pregnant. How did she react when you first told her the game plan?
She was all for it. And you know, [couples getting pregnant after they cease trying] is a common thing that happens. I hope we hit it pretty well, where they moved on and adopted and suddenly you’re faced with this reality of, “Oh my gosh, our family just doubled.” (Read our post mortem with Ruah.)
Well, watching last week’s episode, I wondered if you maybe did a 180 on the Pembrook storyline, because previous appearances had set him up to be this scary boogeyman from Callen’s past — and he ended up being this warm, fuzzy deliverer of closure.
Yeah, that’s mostly because of us being cancelled and trying to go out on a real positive note as opposed to any sort of negativity. We really didn’t want to have a high body count. We wanted to end in a peaceful, really hopeful sort of way, so that the fans leave feeling good about everything.
Regarding the wedding, here’s one of my few nits to pick with the finale: I pictured Anna Kolchek as being more of a princess-looking bride. I know a lot of thought goes into wardrobe for wedding episodes, so what was behind the decision to put her in almost a skirt suit?
Instead of going in the traditional way, we thought she might be a little more stylish and a little more chic, so we gave our wardrobe department that direction and they came up with something that we thought was unique and still suited Anna without being over the top. Now, if Arkady had picked it, it would have been something else entirely!
Speaking of…. So, Mama Deeks and Arkady.
[Chuckles] That was something that we’d always thought about. Unfortunately, we ran out of real estate in terms of episodes, but I think that’s something we definitely would have done just to torture Deeks.
The way that Eric Christian Olsen and Natalia del Riego played that, Deeks and Rosa’s reactions were hysterical.
Yeah, that would have been a fun runner to have. It’s already hard enough for Callen to realize that Arkady is going to be his father-in-law.
Talk about your approach to involving Hetty to the degree that you did in the series finale.
It wouldn’t have been a series finale without some element of Hetty, and we felt like she — being all knowing and all seeing — would have known about the wedding somehow. Somebody must have gotten word to her. Her relationship with Callen has always been somewhat of a mother/son relationship, so it only seemed fitting for her to weigh in and also remind Callen that he has a family just like she did, but it’s the NCIS family and not necessarily his immediate family that he was always looking for.
How far in advance did you know you wouldn’t have Linda Hunt on-camera for Hetty’s final appearance?
It was sort of a touch-and-go situation. Had we had another season, or even this season, I really hoped that if Linda had been available, that’s probably what the finale would have been — our guys going to pull her butt out of the fire. But it just wasn’t in the cards. So, we mixed it up with having them going [to Morocco] thinking they may find Hetty, and instead there’s a surprise with finding Nell in her stead.
Speaking of Nell, it was awfully conspicuous that Eric wasn’t there in Morocco as well. What’s the story behind Barrett Foa’s absence?
That was about availability, and what we could do and what we couldn’t do. If I’d had the time and the money, I would have probably had everybody who had ever been on the show. We had Nate (Peter Tambor) and Sabatino (Erik Palladino) there, so we got a little bit of the past and some of our recurrings. To me, the whole thing was a celebration of 14 years and who’s been on the show and who’s played with us. (Read Barrett Foa’s thoughts on missing the finale.)
I am clearly missing a joke with “the new guy” on Nell’s team. Am I supposed to know who that is?
That is the only child of Chris O’Donnell’s that hadn’t appeared on the show yet. That’s Chris’s oldest son, Chip.
I did think he looked like Callen, and maybe it was someone who once played him in a flashback.
No. He was supposed to play Callen in a flashback and then COVID came along. But all of Chris’ other kids had appeared on the show except Chip, so I said, “OK, I’m running out of time, I’ve got to throw him in the last episode.” It was a nice little homage to Chris. (Read more about the O’Donnell kids’ roles on NCIS: LA through the years.)
You spoke about your Kilbride regret, but you did get at least get to address his son in a couple of episodes. And the finale offered closure for Rountree and his sister. Was there anything with Fatima that you felt was left unaddressed?
We thought about it, but I don’t think there was anything we needed to do. Fatima was probably going to come into her own in Season 15. She didn’t need closure, and with a lot of these others, they’re not necessarily getting “closure” but we’re offering them hope.
Like for Sam’s father, he gets into this drug trial and that offers hope for him, and Rountree’s trial was over and he’s going to settle out of court and hopefully use that money for good. As someone who’s been a fan of shows that end and you’re disappointed, I want to think that our characters’ lives go on, even if I’m not watching, and hopefully in a hopeful, sort of “happily ever after” kind of way. That’s all we really try to do.
I feel like in this last episode and a bit in the one before you gave us some nice Callen and Sam moments. There was the small bombshell that Pembrook dropped, and they had some good heart to hearts, especially in the finale. Was it important to you to bring it back to Callen and Sam?
It was important to us not just for the characters but for Chris [O’Donnell] and Todd [aka LL Cool J]. After 14 years, these are the last times these guys are probably going to work together, and everything on the screen to some degree represents what was going on behind the scenes in terms of 14-year-old friendships that won’t end. They’d seen and worked with each other almost every day that’s not going to happen again, which is very bittersweet, so we try to encapsulate their relationship, especially right before the wedding when Callen is thinking about whether he’s ready, and how much he and Sam care for each other. That’s as much those two talking together in real life as friends, as characters.
What was your thinking behind that little Pembrook flourish, revealing that he had put Sam in Callen’s path?
It was just a way to bring everything together, to find the sort of “full circle” moment. Also, Callen had gone through this whole Drona project, and that was some good that came out of it. We were trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
Do you have a favorite moment from the series finale?
I like the ending, because it was an ending but it also hinted that things are going to keep going. Like, it’s not the end, it’s the beginning of a new version. It’s just a little bit of a reset, that made me happy. I would have liked to have had everyone there, including Linda, but we did the best we could.