NCIS: Los Angeles fans were delighted with a JAG reunion of sorts during Sunday night's finale when Catherine Bell returned once again to play Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie to help Callen, Hanna and the rest of the team solve another mystery — this time, that of a possible war crime committed by a Navy SEAL chief. Mac was last seen during the NCIS: LA Season 11 premiere, when she met up with David James Elliott's Harmon "Harm" Rabb Jr. for the first time in 14 years.
Bell marked her return to the character after a 14-year absence during her appearances as Mac in the season 10 finale "False Flag" and the Season 11 premiere "Let Fate Decide." The episodes revealed that Mac and Harm were no longer a couple, as Mac lives in Los Angeles and Harm is the executive officer of an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. Mac's current position is Marine liaison tot he Secretary of State.
At the start of "Code of Conduct," Bell appeared via video conferencing to tell Callen (Chris O'Donnell) and Sam (LL Cool J) about the allegations against a Navy SEAL officer. SEALs Kendricks (Kendall Johnson) and Barr (T.J. Linnard) accused Officer Argento (Juan Riendinger) of murdering an unarmed, injured Taliban member in Afghanistan. Sam, Callen and FBI Special Agent Devin (Caleb Castille) headed off to Afganistan to investigate the case.
Things are different for Bell in this episode, as she is back in uniform as Mac for the first time in 15 years. "Mac is back in uniform, as an NCIS special officer, to take on a very big case that the Navy is very interested in, involving a SEAL who may be having murder charges brought against him," Bell told TVLine before the episode aired. "It's about a 'SEAL gone rogue,' which is not good."
Mac is Back or should I say the Legend is Back! now we need Raab back and a wedding ring! #NCISLA— Chuck (@cjg917) April 27, 2020
The case qualifies as "ripped from the headlines," since it was inspired by the case of Edward R. Gallagher, a Navy SEAL Special Warfare Operator who was charged with war crimes. Although he was acquitted of some charges, he was convicted of bringing disorder or discredit to the armed forces. However, Bell said showrunner E. Scott Gemmill "purposely said we're not unpacking that case, because this is a different situation, but this situation is definitely bad news. So the guys go over [to Afghanistan] to check it out and it gets a little intense for all of us."
NCIS: LA is ending its 11th season with 22 episodes, two shy of the show's usual number. Production was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, and CBS ultimately decided not to resume production. The show has not been officially renewed, although the show's success with the ratings make it seem likely. While the show's season ran a bit short, LL Cool J was still proud of how things turned out.
"It always feels like mission accomplished. We always try to put our best foot forward to bring the stories to life in a way that's going to be exciting for people and interesting for the fans of the show. And it's good, it's a great feeling," LL Cool J told Forbes. "You have another season under the belt, and that's always a good thing and we'll see what happens after that. You never know what's gonna happen [but] it's always great to complete the task."