Hetty has been in some serious trouble, especially as of late, in Vietnam, and this episode of NCIS: Los Angeles finally sees the team put the pieces together and all but confirm where she is and why she’s there. But can they find her before it’s too late — for her and Harris Keane?

Thanks to the discovery of a coded message Hetty left behind, the team’s sole focus in “Cac Tu Nhan” is finding Hetty and figuring out what she’s been up to, but not everyone is exactly 100% helpful when it comes to that. Hetty’s old friends flee when greeted by Deeks’ smiling face on a phone, and at one point, Mosley actually wonders if she has a mutiny on her hands.

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A Dream Leads to a Revelation

Following a somewhat disturbing (because of the avocado costume he’s in while watching himself talk to Hetty) dream, Eric remembers a book Hetty gave him after Michelle died: The Red Badge of Courage. Though he hasn’t been able to find anything in it (and since even Hetty couldn’t have traveled through time to when it took place), he’s certain it’s a clue as to her whereabouts.

It is, when he and Nell flip through it using the red flashlight on the survival keychain Hetty gave to Nell. The only problem is they’re left with three circled words — “failed,” “action” and “skin” — and have no idea what it means.

In Vietnam, Hetty is brought into a room where a man introduces himself as Spencer Allen from the US State Department. He says that arrangements have been made to take her to the hospital and asks if there’s anyone he can call for her, but her responses aren’t exactly lucid. That changes, of course — because this is Hetty and, even in the worst situation, she can still assess a situation — once Spencer leaves and it’s only her and Dang in the room. Then she taunts Dang about pulling the trigger on the gun he’s holding.

However, when Spencer returns, he reveals that he was recording her and Dang’s exchange and informs her that while he respects that she’d rather die than betray her country, he’s paying good money for her and will get her to give up her secrets, even if it means using what’s presumably truth serum.

By the time Mosley and Harley arrive at work, the team’s searching Hetty’s desk and the armory for more clues. While Kensi may deny it when Mosley questions her, yes, this does take precedence over all other cases.

It’s Harley who gives them the break they need, realizing the coded message is “what three words,” a geocoding system that maps the world into three meter squares. These specific words refer to a bar in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Go Harley! But that’s only one step.

Meanwhile, Hetty may be resisting her torturers in Vietnam by saying nursery rhymes, but Spencer has enough and shoots Harris Keane in the gut. Hetty’s response? “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” has never sounded so threatening.

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Hetty and Keane Could Use the Nine Lives Cats Have…

Unsurprisingly, Mosley isn’t happy with the team’s actions (or Callen’s attitude, and it doesn’t help that Sam and Callen both ignore her calls), but Harley points out that they’re just looking out for one of their own and she’d want them on her side if she were in trouble. Harley’s definitely become more likable since her introduction.

While scrolling through photos on social media from the bar in Vietnam, Nell spots a couple of familiar faces in the background: Chegwidden and Langston. Deeks charms the girl who took the photo into bringing her phone over so he can wish a happy birthday to an old friend, but as soon as the men see Deeks, they leave. But that’s a sign that they’re looking in the right place.

Hetty and Keane are tossed back into their cells, with Keane being somewhere between “Don’t worry about it” and “Hello, Jesus,” but things are about to get much worse for him. Though Hetty knows that it won’t end well for either of them, even if she cooperates, it can’t end well for Keane if she doesn’t speak up and let the tiger that Dang unleashes eat him. He wins and she concedes, as the tiger lingers at the open door of Keane’s cell.

Sam and Callen try to get information out of a smuggler regarding how Hetty got into Vietnam, but they have nothing when Mosley comes seeking answers from the team. Why did she sneak into the country? Why is she working off the books? They don’t have answers.

As Callen tells Mosley, they’ll use their vacation time or she can suspend or fire them, but they’re going to Vietnam. None of that is necessary; she’s booked them on a flight. She also has a suggestion: figure out why she’s there before they leave or they may never find her, and start with who took the photo of her old unit.

They start with what they know. Hetty cashed out, but why does she need all that money? Ransom, they realize. It’s the same reason she and the others had that gold. Is the ransom for the person who took the photo? Was there another person in the unit? It’s not like Hetty mentioned the others they met last year until they encountered them, so it’s possible.

In Vietnam, Spencer begins his interrogation with something he deems simple: how long she worked for the CIA before joining NCIS. Instead of answering, Hetty tells him that Keane needs medical attention. But Spencer’s not jumping to give him that since the only thing he has to look forward to is feeding him to the tiger.

And he refuses to let Hetty stall long enough for Keane to bleed out, a death less gruesome than being mauled to death. After he calls out to Dang (who sets the tiger loose in the area outside of Keane’s closed — for now? — cell), Hetty tells him she joined the CIA while she was still in college, on December 12, 1963, on a cold, drizzly Thursday.

They Have a Plane to Catch

Nell finds Kensi as she’s finishing packing her bag in the armory — though the team can’t take any weapons with them, so they’ll have to improvise once in Vietnam. Kensi admits that part of her doesn’t want to find Hetty because if they don’t, there’s a good chance she’s still alive out there, somewhere, perhaps sharing a drink (say, mai tais out of the skulls of their enemies) with Granger. But Hetty has more lives than a cat, they’ll find her, Nell assures her.

Sam and Callen meet with the guy who helped support Hetty’s unit back then. Not only does he call Hetty Margaret (her real name or another alias?), but he also tells them about the kid who took the photo. He was KIA, and the guy is pretty sure that he couldn’t have survived. (But as we know … well, Keane’s at least still alive, for now.)

Before the team heads to the airport, Callen stops in Mosley’s office to thank her (but not apologize) and tells her they’ll keep her informed of any progress.

The team may be on the way, but can Hetty buy herself enough time to still be alive when they get there? Spencer wants her to focus on current events, but she explains that even without computers and cell phones, they had some wonderful gadgets back then.

They understood the value of information and took steps to ensure that information would never fall into enemy hands. She’s an old-fashioned girl, and the old-fashioned ways back then worked, such as cyanide capsules. When Spencer thinks she has one in her mouth, he goes to stop her and she bites him and laughs.

And with that, we have a To Be Continued…

Are you happy that the focus is now on Hetty and the team’s going after her? Do you think Harris Keane will make it out of this alive? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

NCIS: Los Angeles season 9 airs Sundays at 9/8c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.