NCIS fans are finally able to see the return of Ziva David in Season 17's premiere Tuesday night (titled "Out of the Darkness"), when Ziva (Cote de Pablo) surprises Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) with a cryptic warning, prompting him to question why she remained underground for years while being presumed dead by family and friends — and what led to her return.
Presumably after the details are hashed out, the team gets back to business as usual; in a fast-forward sneak peek to next Tuesday's episode, new photos show the NCIS team back at work together in an effort to solve a case after the body of a Marine Lieutenant was found hidden beneath an 18-wheeler truck.
In the photos, Gibbs, Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham), Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) and new character Peter Buck (Cliff Chamberlain) stand together on the scene while puzzling out the details. In another, Torres and Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) walked together on the scene.
Although de Pablo is not shown in the sneak peek photos for Tuesday, Oct. 1's episode, the actress did promise fans answers about where she's been this entire time.
"I think the audience will get some answers as to where she's been," the actress said during an interview with WUSA9 last week.
She's set to appear in four total episodes throughout Season 17, and will hit the ground running by appearing in the first two of the season. She revealed she was motivated to step back into Ziva's shoes following a conversation about Ziva's emotional journey undercover.
"I think what excited me about the potential comeback is the fact that I was working closely with a writer... and she really wanted to get my take on what's been going on with Ziva: 'What do you think these years have been for her? What's it like to be away from her daughter?'" she said. "So, we really kind of went into deeply emotional things that, I think, will inform the character."
De Pablo said there were only three possible ways a comeback for Ziva could make sense.
"Obviously one of the main reasons for this character to come back would be for Gibbs (Mark Harmon), for Tony (Michael Weatherly) or for Tali, her daughter," de Pablo said. "Tony is not there so that was out, and Tali is supposedly with Tony so that was also out... the obvious one was Gibbs.
"They always had a wonderful relationship. So, I thought, that would be a great way to come back," she continued. "If something's going on with Gibbs or he needs to be warned about something, or saved, or potentially taken away from harm. That would be a good enough reason to break any kind of undercover operation."
Harmon and de Pablo previously teased to TVInsider that viewers can expect to see a very different Ziva.
"It's not a given that they're going to be exactly who they were," de Pablo said earlier this month. "We have different ideas pretty much the entire episode. Ziva is used to working by herself, and all of a sudden she's trying to tell Gibbs what to do. They haven't seen each other for a long time and have to find trust again."0comments
Harmon also hinted that the friends will have disagreements during their upcoming mission, adding: "Cote in some ways plays a very different character. Ziva is older, more experienced. She's been on her own for a long time. Gibbs is not accustomed to change, and they already threw a lot of change at him last season."
NCIS premieres Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.