Callen’s Corner: Treasure Box


Have you ever wondered why Callen’s most precious items of his past and links to his family, such as the photo of his mother and him with Alina Rostoff are in a tea box on the fireplace mantel? One would think seeing Callen doesn’t have any family in his life nor much of anything of value to him, that the items in Callen’s treasure box would be hidden somewhere safe, such as under a loose floor board. So when intruders enter, they don’t see what’s hidden in there? Such as when the Romani Gypsy Arkady sent to find him and was caught prowling around in G’s house with a flashlight. He went straight to the mantel and opened the box. Messing with G’s treasure box might be what got him beat up, bound, and locked in the trunk of Callen’s car.

Therefore, I decided to do some research into why he has it on display on the mantel. I was intrigued to discover an article of Feng Shui, which states where to place what in a room. On the centre left:

“Family and health. Harness this area for better relationships, since this also extends to coworkers. You can put pictures of your family or souvenirs from family vacations here, or anything special relating to your family.” (Feng Shui)

This is exactly what Callen has done. So have we discovered something new about the enigmatic seasoned Federal Agent? That he has studied the art of Feng Shui? With all that time awake during the night from his insomnia, he needs to keep himself occupied somehow right? Well let’s briefly look at another guideline to this living room in Callen’s house for more evidence.

Lower left: Knowledge. Knowledge is the sector of your room involving wisdom. Naturally, one should place objects pertaining to wisdom; for example, books. (Feng Shui)

And that is precisely where Callen has placed his books and chessboard; in the lower left side of the room.

Now that we’ve covered why Callen has placed his treasure chest on the mantel, let’s take a look at how he came to having this box and what is in it.

It all began back in season 1 when Callen discovered the truth about the girl he saw just before he was shot. She had been his foster sister Alina, who Arkady Kolcheck sent to warn him. She died in trying to seek revenge over his death (as she had seen him shot, not realising that he had actually survived the shooting). Such a sad beginning to the story behind G Callen, but from that, we learnt a little behind the man Arkady, who we have seen appear now and then when Callen needs him. He provided Callen through back channels to Hetty with an envelope and inside was a photo of a much younger G Callen lifting a four year old Alina into the air. Happy times for the man who had little to be joyful over in his life. He had nothing to keep this photo safe in, so he removed the tea bags out of the tea box in front of him and placed the photo inside, claiming it as his treasure box. Was it just a convenience that he chose that tea box? Or did it remind him of the many special moments he’d had with Hetty whom had become the closest that he’d had to a mother?

Once he obtained ownership of the Rostoff home, the first thing Callen did, was place the tea box on the mantel, which is where it has stayed ever since. Since then, we have seen Callen add small items to it over the years. From the small card that he found on his sister’s grave in ‘Callen, G’ (1-24), the toy soldier left on his sister’s grave in ‘Tin Soldiers’ (2-15), photo of his mother Clara Callen, given to him by Hetty in ‘Deadline’ (3-04) and more recently the photos and film strip found in Michael Rhinehart’s closet, in ‘Reznikov N’ (5-04)

They are the only links Callen has to the happiest times of his life: his past and family. It contains his most treasured items that proves that he was loved, and hopefully one day will provide him with his unanswered questions: who is he and whom is his family. Although he has some pieces to the puzzle over his past, he is left with more questions: What does the G stand for? Who and where is his father? Each scene that involves the few items that are contained in the box bring about the most emotional scenes we’ve seen from Callen, who usually has walls built around his heart.

The cave you fear to enter
holds the treasure you seek

[Joseph Campbell]

The box was first used in ‘Pushback’ (1-07) when Callen received a picture from Arkady Kolcheck of Alina ‘my little sister’.


In ‘Deadline’ (3-04) Hetty finally revealed to Callen that she knew his mother. She gave him an envelope containing a few bits and pieces about his past. The episode ends with G sitting cross-legged on the floor of his house. The tea box is beside him. The lid is open and its contents are arranged on the floor next to him. He studies the documents found in the envelope Hetty has given him, comparing information in one of the pages to the small book containing the handwritten list of his foster homes. The last item he discovers is a picture of his beautiful mother.

“I’ve got a small box of memories,
that I’ll never let go.
It’s all, it’s all just a jigsaw.
Even as I get older, there’s still so much that I don’t know.

Wish there was more than this empty feeling,
that comes at a cost.
Maybe once you loved me.
Now your love is long lost.”

Long Lost – Zac Brennan

Click here to listen to Zac Brennan’s song: Long Lost

It’s interesting to note how three of the things in his box brought some sort of comfort (the photos and the film.) But the other 2 just brought more questions. We know now about the tin solder. But do we know who left the card on the grave? Was it the Michael Rhinehart (5-04 ‘Reznikov, N’) who was watching out for them? If so, why does he say, “My daughter?” Or was it his father? And if so, why hasn’t he made contact with Callen as yet?

I believe Callen keeps all his most treasured possessions in the tea box (besides keeping them together safely protected inside) for easy removal if he needs to run. We know about Callen’s past with the constant moves. He doesn’t settle or feel safe in any one place for long. This is the longest he’s stayed anywhere, thanks to Hetty.

We would love to hear your thoughts on Callen’s treasure box.

Many thanks to ChrisDaisy, Richtsje, Mary and sindee for their input into this post; and to Zac Brennan, for his song, Long Lost.

6 thoughts on “Callen’s Corner: Treasure Box

  1. LasiaMsinred

    Yeah!!! Finally a Box-topic I’m interested in!!!
    Great article.
    Every time I re-watch the episodes which include the box or better say the things that are in it all my questions came up and I’m in full Callen-mode again! :))

  2. Charla

    I agree I box I want to know about. I’m not sure I want to know his first name. I think it makes him more mysterious, which I like.;) This was a great article. And now that I know the episodes I can go back and watch them together.

  3. mckenna

    I thought Rhinehart put the card there, or had someone do it while he sat in the car, but I realize only Callen’s father would write daughter on the card, and if he delivered it himself he would probably know about G if he knows that his daughter is buried under a different name, so Rhinehart must have been delivering it for him, which makes me wonder if Rhinehart knew Nikita was still alive and in some contact, after all, Rhinehart told Callen to tell him the debt is paid, which suggests that he is still alive because why would his dying message be to someone already dead? Unless he only thought Nikita was alive, but I think Rhinehart had more info on where Nikita was that he didn’t tell Arkady that died with him…

    Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself. Anyway, fun article to read on the first box. We want to know what else will go in the box, not what’s already in it! Also, I loved how in the beginning of the last scene of Reznikov, N., the camera pans over the box and you can see everything that’s in it now, it’s fun to see all he has collected over the years in one place.

    P.S. I think the good luck charm Sam gave him should/will go in the box next. Anyone agree?

    1. Richtsje

      @mckenna I really have to rewatch that scene in Reznikov you’re mentioning… You’re so right, this is the one box I love to see opened or being filled with more and more items.
      Callen deserves it, some happiness, some more family items.

  4. Linda

    Yes, this treasure box interests me too. I do think that he keeps the box where he does so that he can see it at all times, and as you have said he can grab it and run if he has to. This is this man’s life after all. Everything he holds dear is in it and I am sure that he wants to add more to it. That in fact is the most interesting thing. What else will he find that can offer him an answer to his past? I hope we find out more soon.

  5. ChrisDaisy

    Callen’s treasure box is such an interesting topic as it is so closely related to the history of our favorite agent and forms such a vital part of his character in the show.

    I would love to see it filled with more items, too. With both – those that answer questions but also those that pose new ones as this adds to the ever-interesting and fascinating mystery of G. Callen.

    Unfortunately there wasn’t much to add to the box this season – I hope this changes in Season 6.

    I liked the part about Feng Shui. It makes sense and I found it very interesting. And the thought that Callen might actually know about the art of Feng Shui is intriguing and adds another layer to the interesting character he is!

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