The NCISLA Mole – what we know, what we think we know and what’s going to happen next.
Hetty: What’s your assessment of the task force?
Kensi: They’re okay.
Hetty: I think the mountain air must have limited your vocabulary.
Kensi: They seem competent but withdrawn. They’re not the friendliest bunch.
Hetty: Anyone in particular stand out to you?
Kensi: How so?
Hetty: An outlier. Someone who doesn’t seem to get along with the others. Um, someone who could, perchance, be a traitor.
Kensi: You think there’s a leak?
Hetty: Well, I think the insurgents are doing an uncanny job of avoiding our best efforts at tracking them.
Kensi: What do you want me to do?
Hetty: Smoke them out.
The first time there were any thoughts of a mole, a leak or a traitor at NCIS was when Kensi was sent to Afghanistan in Season 5. At Christmas (during “Merry Evasion“), Hetty told Kensi the local insurgents seemed to have inside knowledge of NCIS’s investigations. Hetty wanted Kensi to plug that leak. The leak was part of the following episode’s investigation. “Allegiance” featured the murder of a FinCEN agent investigating terrorist funding in Afghanistan. Killed in L.A., working in Afghanistan – with Kensi and Granger providing support to the OSP investigation, the leak/mole/traitor idea was alive and well.
And then it sort of wasn’t. The mole/leak/traitor was never mentioned again. Kensi had some odd interactions with the others in the truck – Granger, Booker and Sabatino – and the number of people working in the truck dropped significantly but there was never another mention Hetty’s orders to Kensi.
As the Afghanistan storyline moved along, it was revealed that Kensi was not over there to find a mole/leak/traitor. She was there to rescue her ex-fiancé who was being targeted by the CIA. Of course, Hetty never told Kensi (or Granger, or the team) and well, that omission became a big problem for everyone. The idea that there was a mole/leak/traitor in Afghanistan seemed to be one of Hetty’s many lies in this “misadventure” abroad.
The next mole/leak/traitor appeared when everyone was back in Los Angeles. NCIS Agent Paul Angelo sold out Callen and Sam during a long undercover operation against drug dealer Tyler Brunson in an episode with multiple hearts and furry woodland creatures. Angelo was sent to the bureaucratic Elba by Hetty, never to be seen again. His name comes up from time to time but Hetty claims to have him under control (CBS has him co-starring in the Criminal Minds spin-off so his plate is full).
There were no moles/leaks/traitors for the rest of Season 5. Season 6, however, kicked into full gear with Hetty’s personal information sold on the dark net. While nothing much came of that other than the death of her personal security chief, the government’s investigation into Hetty’s Afghanistan misadventure was really just a way for Leon Vance to hide her from those meaning her harm. With Mattias Draeger breaching the boat shed and main office, concerns abounded that the Office for Special Projects was breached.
It was. A few weeks later, Granger and his assistant were nearly fatally poisoned, the unseen but beloved Helen Trapper in Personnel was murdered and Eric was taken hostage by the mole/leak/traitor – Randy McRandom. Sorry, Carl Brown. Brown as the end to the storyline never made sense as he was never on screen before that episode. The press release for “Traitor” mentioned Parry Shen’s Ty – a computer tech who appeared in a few episodes. If one of the major players was not the mole/leak/traitor (even accidentally), at least Ty was someone the viewer knew. Instead it was a guy in a cardigan who appeared that day.
The program kept up the idea that Brown did not work alone. When Ambassador Julie Chen visited the office in “In the Line of Duty” in mid-Season 6, Granger was worried about the visit with their mole problem. Hetty saw it as an opportunity to test their security. The ambassador’s visit was problem free.
The mole was not mentioned again until the 150th episode, “Command and Control“. Callen and Sam were once again sold out to a Brunson, this time older brother Chad who lacked his brother’s flashy wardrobe but more than made up for it with his murderous plans. Things ended as badly for Chad as they did for baby brother Tyler. Before his death, however, Chad Brunson told Callen and Sam that “one of your own is gonna burn you down from the inside.” Callen and Sam confronted Hetty. They believed Paul Angelo sold them out again but Hetty mades it clear she had a handle on Paul Angelo.
The mole became an issue – and a big one – once Sam’s personal records were found in a bombed-out military camp in Eritrea. When OSP started reaching out for help from other agencies, they learned they were on their own. The agencies knew about the mole and did not want to have their people compromised. Even Alex Elmslie’s Global Tribunal wouldn’t allow him to help OSP because they know about the mole. The lack of cooperation cames and went – the FBI and ATF worked well with the team in “The Seventh Child” – throughout the second half of Season 7.
The mole was also a part of Granger’s story with his new-found daughter Jennifer Kim. The two made plans to work together as at least friends if not father and daughter. He would help with her legal issues; she would help on the mole hunt. Nothing has come of that yet.
Sam’s leaked family data ended Season 7 as Aiden Hanna’s school is attacked by Tahir Khaled. Without help from outside agencies, the team was able to rescue Aiden and his classmates while taking Khaled into custody. Season 7 ended on an ominous note however, with Hetty and Granger enjoying a 6:30AM scotch as both of their phones ring with calls about the mole.
Season 8 has all been about the mole. Hetty, Undersecretary Duggan, the return of Carl Brown, the CIA – something is up and there are so many possible suspects.
Going back to where this all started, Kensi’s time to Afghanistan, there have been a couple of familiar faces and the introduction of a number of recurring characters over this timespan. Assuming none of the characters in the opening credits are involved, the familiar, and maybe suspicious, faces include:
Sabatino has been there throughout. The CIA Officer was in Afghanistan where he was as sketchy as all get out. Though, when wasn’t Sabatino, who was introduced as a completely different character, as sketchy as all get out? This is the same guy who left Los Angeles in “Wanted” to run the Sidorov taskforce in D.C. Who was conspicuous by his absence when Isaak and the nukes returned to L.A.? The guy running the taskforce.
Sketchy Sabatino seemed a little less sketchy when he nearly died on the hill in Afghanistan with Callen, Sam, Granger and their translator trying to rescue Kensi and Jack. He was helpful to both Callen and Granger in “Active Measures” to start Season 7.
Season 8, however, has Sabatino back in full sketchy mode in “Under Siege” but two things jumped out rewatching the episode. First, Sabatino took his mask off almost immediately once he and Sharov broke into the building and looked right at Hetty – making it clear he was there. Hetty addressed him as a traitor, almost selling his role in all of this. While in the cage, Hetty really didn’t pay much mind to Sharov except to get information about Kensi. Carl Brown wasn’t worth a minute of her time. She spent valuable time talking to Sabatino.
When the bomb blew, Sabatino was standing in the same area where Hetty was sitting waiting to draw the traitors out. Since Hetty was in a building wired to blow, if she wasn’t in the cage, she probably knew a place in the building that wouldn’t take the full brunt of the blast. Sabatino and Carl Brown survived because they were where Hetty once sat. Still as sketchy as all get out but could easily be working with Hetty the way Agent Sanchez was in on Sam’s arrest.
Nate showed up at several key moments over the last few years. He was teamed up with Deeks while Kensi was in Afghanistan during the “Tuhon” episode. He was back while Hetty was in danger from the CIA’s pal Mattias. There were mole possibilities during “Head of the Snake” but that case really seemed like Nate was just way in over his head. Just days before everything went south in “Hot Water“, Nate was back to assess Kensi’s fitness to return to the field. Probably not the mole but has been around during key moments.
New folks (people introduced during the Afghanistan storyline and who have returned):
Talia del Campo:
Talia first appeared while Kensi was not taking the shot at Jack in Afghanistan. She was part of a case of the week at the docks. Her return in both halves of “Deep Trouble” at the end of Season 5, start of Season 6 happened as Hetty was going to D.C. She has been a recurring colleague in law enforcement, sometimes playing well with others, sometimes not. Talia was part of two key episodes with mole implications. She worked with the team in “The Long Goodbye” when Jada returned to her brother in the Sudan. That was the start of Tahir’s revenge plot against both Jada and Sam. Talia was also mentioned in “Hot Water” when Sam wanted to talk to an agent he knew at the DEA. “Tali” was not available according to DEA Agent Sanchez and that makes sense – Hetty worked with Sanchez to get the drugs into Sam’s car. Sanchez’s responsibility was to keep Sam in custody. Talia would have worked to free him if she wasn’t in on the case.
Joelle Taylor, teacher at Kamren Hanna’s school, friend of former CIA Operative Michelle Hanna and 21-month or so girlfriend of Callen, first showed up during “War Cries” (the episode following “Allegiance”). After spending months in the dark about Callen’s true identity, she spent a year working through the impact of Callen’s career on their relationship before calling things off. Seemingly a civilian, Jo had up-close and personal access to both the Hannas and to Callen. She would probably know Kensi and Deeks – she saw them at the ice rink – possibly knows Eric and Nell. The way Heather Wilson tried to get to Granger in the start of Season 8 was through a romantic relationship – could Jo have tried the same?
While not a part of the Afghanistan storyline – Anna has a connection to “Hot Water” and a different one to “Under Siege”. In “Hot Water”, Callen was taken in by the agency where Anna is employed. While Sam asked for Talia, Callen never mentioned Anna. Maybe he thought he was protecting her or her career but of all the alphabet agencies out there, Callen wound up with ATF. In “Under Siege”, Anna’s connection was Sharov. Anna said she had plans in Season 7 to break her estranged father out of jail but who was with her father –Sharov. Who looked like he was running the show in “Under Siege” – Sharov. Was Anna’s concern for Arkady really a ruse to get Sharov back in the U.S.? If Jo wasn’t part of a plot to get close to Callen through romance, could it be Anna?
According to “Under Siege”, Kensi and Sullivan/Ferris crossed paths in what sounds like Afghanistan. Kensi spent Christmas that year interviewing locals about the White Ghost – cut scenes that appeared on the DVD. According to Sullivan/Ferris, he lost his leg the next day when he and his CIA buddies were mistaken for Taliban. Kensi shot him. This works with Hetty’s complaints that the local insurgents knew what NCIS was doing in Afghanistan. They weren’t insurgents, they were CIA and they had their man Sabatino inside the truck to feed them updates on NCIS’s operations.
Suddenly, the targets in Season 8 all make sense – they are all connected to Kensi’s time in Afghanistan. End Hetty professionally and likely make a run at her when she was no longer under the protection of NCIS. Pick up Granger in a bar and set him up for a jail visit that ends with a stabbing. Get close to Kensi in rehab. Sullivan appeared at Kensi’s doorstep just as the team was bringing in Natalie Grant. Was she supposed to be kidnapped then when she was no longer with her team? Instead, she’s kidnapped weeks later as the team is in lockdown at ATF, DEA and LAPD. Hetty didn’t see the attacks coming at the non-field agent Granger or the recovering Kensi and now both pay for another miscalculation by Hetty.
So, who is the mole?
That’s what the Comment section is for. We have a few days (cough, cough, more than a few, cough, cough) before “Payback” and while there are casting spoilers and rumors around, make your case. Who do you see as the master of mayhem in all this (not named Hetty)? How do you see the team rallying to find Kensi? Does Kensi play a part in her own rescue (like Sam and Deeks in “Ascension“)? Does Whiting survive? If she does, what does she do with Deeks’s confession? Have at it my friends!
Tess DiCorsi is a wikiDeeks contributor. You can read more by Tess HERE.