NCIS kicked off its Season 17 premiere this week, and it featured a tense reunion between Ziva and Gibbs that Cote de Pablo and the series showrunners have now addressed. Tuesday night's season debut saw Ziva and Gibbs reunited, and also immediately on the run for their lives. It's revealed that a woman named Sahar is after them, and she seems hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to destroy them both. Eventually they do get the best of Sahar, but it drives a wedge between them.
While speaking to USA Today about the where Ziva is a person right now de Pablo said "she's a great agent," but "not operating at peak capacity," which made the actress interested in coming back. "I didn't want to play the hero version of this. I wanted people to see that these five years have not been easy," she said. "She's making split(-second) decisions to take advantage of a situation that is right there in front of her. In this particular moment, that may be the best way to convince somebody that she will do whatever she needs to get her daughter."
"Would you want to get between a baby bear and Mama Grizzly?" executive producer Steven Binder added. "Right there, Ziva is Mama Grizzly and Gibbs makes the mistake of stepping between her and her cub."
He also offered some insight into the direction of the story, stating that Sahar "represents something that hearkens back to the initial appearances of Ziva on the show, the full mythology of Ziva and her relationship with Gibbs, what crucible it was formed in. We wanted the story line to be something that was mythical and tied into the lore of the show."
Additionally, during a recent conversation with ET, Binder was asked if he and the other prodcuers are "looking at Ziva's journey this season as a full-circle moment," to which he replied, "Yes, as a matter of fact. There will be a very large full circle when all is said and done. It will be emotionally obvious. It will be for a lot of characters, not just Ziva. There's a big bookend here. When you see the B-side, you will know instantly what the A-side was."
NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.