Why did Ziva David come back from the "dead" in the Season 16 finale? The NCIS Season 17 premiere provided the answer, and it actually makes sense. The long running CBS crime procedural returned Tuesday after a long and arduous summer for fans waiting to see how Ziva's big return would unfold. Luckily, it came with plenty of answers.
Spoilers ahead for NCIS Season 17 Premiere: "Out of the Darkness"
Before going back to Ziva, the show gave a teaser to the wild ride the old friends are going to when Gibbs stole a man's car, while Ziva got in with two severed fingers. The episode then went back to the Gibb's basement eighteen hours before, immediately after the cliffhanger ending, which saw the long-presumed dead Ziva (Cote de Pablo) arriving at Gibbs' (Mark Harmon) basement to warn him of imminent danger. The conversation that happened thereafter provided much context, before an explosion forced the two old friends to go on the run together.
"Come we must get you to a safe house," she says, before Gibbs tells her to explain what she's doing there and what happened to her many years before. She doesn't have time to speak as they are ambushed by enemy gunfire.
Ziva and Gibbs manage to escape from a secrete passageway, which the team finds later after responding to the reports of shots fired. Bishop suspects their boss might not be alone, but she hesitates to suggest Ziva after she promised to keep the secret of her being alive.
In the underground tunnel, Gibbs demands Ziva give him at least an explanation to who they are running from.
"There's a woman. Her name is Zahar. She wants me dead and now she wants you too... she herself is the true threat," Ziva says before saying she doesn't know what the woman looks like or why she's after her.
Gibbs asks what he did to piss the woman off, which Ziva also doesn't know. They agree to get a car to rush to the safe house. Gibbs tells her she needs to slow down but Ziva will not listen.
"I will not be swayed. This is the only path that will lead me back to Tony (Michael Weatherly), back to Tali. I will find Zahar, and I will kill her," she says.
Throughout the episode, the rest of the team found out abut Ziva's return, as Gibbs and the former team member raced to best their enemy. As they ran Ziva slowly opened up about her struggles undercover. Gibbs slowly convinced her to be OK with having help despite the danger.
The episode later reveals Zahar is after Ziva because of her brother Ari, who Ziva had to kill earlier in the series.
Ahead of the premiere episode, NCIS co-showrunner Steven Binder teased the story behind Ziva's big return would come as no surprise to longtime fans of the series.
"One of the things that we wanted to do was not just create something out of whole cloth where you're like 'huh?,'" Binder told Parade in an interview published Tuesday. "So when we came up with this backstory, we laid a little pipe ourselves once we knew we had Cote, but the initial genesis of this story was — and this is a clue — it's something that has been part of the fabric of the show, her character and the introduction of her character from the very beginning.
"So, we're playing with the DNA of Ziva David in terms of this jeopardy. This isn't some newly created arch nemesis conspiracy theory or conspiracy that she's tried to get out from beneath. This will tie into the lore and history of the show."