NCIS: Los Angeles revealed were Eric Beal is while actor Barrett Foa is taking a leave of absence in real life. In the story, the team's trusty technical operator and intelligence analyst will be living in San Francisco while Foa is performing on the stage in St. Louis. This leaves Eric's girlfriend and co-worker Nell (Renee Felice Smith) working with the team by herself.
In the opening of this week's episode, "Decoy," Nell showed up at the office early, and was surprised to see Kensi (Daniela Ruah) there already. Nell said she was there because she could not sleep once again. Both Nell and Kensi were told Eric is working in San Francisco at a security technology company.
However, the two are a little suspicious that something else might be going on. Nell is only getting short, cryptic messages. Both believe Hetty (Linda Hunt) might know more about what's going on. After all, she would not have let Eric go if it was not important.
Kensi asked Nell if she had any idea when Eric was coming back. She said he is supposed to be back next week, but she is not confident that will happen. Kensi reminded Nell that Eric really loves her and she would probably feel the same way she does.
Kensi and Nell are likely right, as showrunner R. Scott Gemmill told TV Line Eric's new work is part of a "much bigger story where the work he was involved in takes a dark turn."
Gemmill also told Parade they wanted to take Foa's leave of absence and use it as a foundation to "build in a great story" for his character.
"We've already set up that he had a job opportunity in San Francisco in the Bay Area for something that he was really excited about, and this will play into that," Gemmill explained. "He will be doing something that he truly, truly loves, but then he, ultimately, has to decide what's important to him. What he's involved in may not be exactly what he thought it was, and, in the end, he's going to need our guys to help him."
The NCIS team confirmed Foa will miss five episodes this season in August. He signed on to star in a production of Angels in America at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis from Sept. 4 to Oct. 6. Foa was cast as Prior Walter, the same role Andrew Garfield played in the recent Broadway revival of the legendary play.
"Missing my NCIS: Los Angeles family so much right now as they dive into what is sure to be an incredible and unforgettable Season 11. Meanwhile, I'll be flexing some different muscles by diving into this complex and beautiful Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Missing you, Renée, Dani, Eric, Chris, Todd, and Linda," Foa wrote on Instagram in August. "Don't worry, I'll be back in Oct!"
NCIS: LA airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.
Photo credit: CBS