'NCIS: Los Angeles': Did Major Character Die in Latest Episode, 'Red Rover, Red Rover'?

NCIS: Los Angeles returns Sunday with a brand new episode that has many fans on edge. Before a [...]

NCIS: Los Angeles returns Sunday with a brand new episode that has many fans on edge. Before a short break, the promo for tonight's episode, "Red Rover, Red Rover," seemed to indicate that a major character was going to meet their end. NCIS as a franchise has been freely killing off characters this season, while NCIS: New Orleans was given the ax by the network. With season 12 and a season mid-point of sorts, will LA follow suit? SPOILERS AHEAD FOR Season 12, Episode 13 of NCIS: Los Angeles.

"To rescue Joelle from further torture by the Russians, Callen and NCIS must offer up Anna as bait to Katya. Also, Callen finally discovers who accused him of being [a] Russian spy," the description for the episode reads. In the prior episode, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," Callen (Chris O'Donnell) discovered he was being tailed by someone connected to his ex-girlfriend Anna Kolcheck, who was working undercover alongside Russian spy Katya (Eve Harlow.)

Later in the episode, it is revealed that Joelle was being held captive by Katya, now wanted by both sides. She sent a message by mailing a burner phone and one of Joelle's fingers to the NCIS: LA crew. "Now she's losing even more blood," Katya's disguised voice warned on the phone. "Follow the rules or next time I'll send something larger. See you soon."

In the preview for Sunday's episode, an explosion featured in the teaser led many fans to feel that Joelle was a goner, with the episode's photos released this week. Joelle can be seen being held captive while dressed in a bomb vest filled to capacity with C4. It's a tradeoff between Anna and Katya, one life for another, but that doesn't mean the bomb vest is traded too. Sam (LL Cool J) is tasked with defusing the device, which may not go as planned.

(Photo: Screen Grab/CBS)

But the twist here is that Joelle has already appeared in the photos for the next new episode, "The Noble Maidens." So don't expect her end to come in explosive fashion, at least not yet. But it does seem to set up a rescue operation for Anna in the episodes to follow. Without a major loss, that means something major could still come in the close of the season. There is talk of another spin-off taking the place of New Orleans in the lineup, with some fun names being tossed around in fan theories for a show set in Hawaii. Disclaimer: PopCulture.com is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.