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
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.