The penultimate episode of the season for "NCIS: Los Angeles" was packed with suspense, thanks to the return of Sam Hanna's wife, Michelle, and two figures from the past. 

Early in the episode titled "Uncaged," Michelle is kidnapped. Three men wearing masks broke into the Hannas' home and grabbed Michelle as Sam watched on his phone. 

NCIS suspects that Sidorov, who had contacted Michelle because of their past ties, is involved in her disappearance. But Hetty finds out that it was someone else who was likely behind the kidnapping: Tahir Khaled, a blast from Sam Hanna's past. 

(Sam went undercover as the love interest for Khaled's sister. He persuaded her to testify against Khaled.) 

At NCIS headquarters, they received a video call from the kidnappers. They demanded Khaled's release. The video link allows the team to communicate directly with Michelle, which is unusual. Michelle is being held in what's believed to be an airtight room. Sam calculates that based on the size of the room, Michelle has about eight hours to live. 

An initial meeting with Sidorov didn't yield any information, but the Sam and Callen get some help from an unlikely source: Sabatino, the CIA agent with a shady history. Sabatino got Sidorov out of prison and is holding him in an abandoned warehouse specifically so that Sam could question him. That encounter got the NCIS team the information they were looking for. Sidorov was paid by an unknown source. He gives NCIS his bank account information so they could determine the source of the funds. 

The money was tracked to Sudan. And that's where the Khaled connection was solidified. 

Sam knows the U.S. doesn't negotiate with terrorists, but he wants Hetty to act. The kidnappers wanted Khaled's release, so they grant it. Khaled is released from prison and runs into a waiting car. NCIS and other law enforcement agencies track the car, which drives inside a parking garage. That's where they lose Khaled. He was in a white car. Five of the same cars drive out of the garage one by one. They can't follow all the cars, so the tail is called off. 

Meanwhile, Michelle is struggling to breathe. She was able to share with the team that she was being held in a cooler or refrigerator. That helped them narrow the options. 

Earlier in the episode, Kensi and Deeks went to a warehouse to gain access to the building's private video cameras to help with the search for Michelle. They returned to the building later when they determined it could've been where Michelle was being held. The guard takes them to what he said was their only cooler. Michelle wasn't inside. 

After Kensi and Deeks leave, they start talking. The guard had a cell phone on his belt and another on the table. It didn't seem right, so they decide to go back in. Once they try to enter, two men with assault weapons start firing at them. Kensi and Deeks shoot the men and Deeks shoots the guard. Deeks sees light coming from under a wooden wall. They break through and there's a large cooler sitting in the middle of an empty room. 

They get to the cooler and Michelle is inside. 

We're shown Sam and Callen driving to the warehouse. They arrive and there's a large presence at the scene. Sam and Callen walk into the room where Michelle was being held. There's a crowd of people who part to allow Sam to get to Michelle. 

There's a sheet over Michelle's body. The team was too late. She was dead. 

Sam cries as he holds Michelle. Callen asks everyone to leave the room so Sam could have a moment with his now-deceased wife. Callen gives a long look in the room, looking like a friend who doesn't know what to do. 

One thing is clear: This episode will set the stage for a fiery season finale next week.