Warning: This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for NCIS season 16 finale
Ziva is back in NCIS. Cote de Pablo's fan-favorite agent dropped by to see Gibbs (Mark Harmon) in the last couple of moments before season 16 officially wrapped up, teasing fans that there's more to her return than a simple catching up. The actress was last seen in the procedural in 2013 when she opted to return to her native of Israel rather than return to service after a snafu that involved her boss. While she hadn't been seen in the show since then, she continued to be the center of a couple of the team's cases particularly one from 2016 where she's believed to have died in a mortar attack.
Fans of NCIS knew better than to believe that narrative, however, especially since there's no body found in the attack. Lo and behold, clues that she is alive popped one by one. Ironically, Bishop (Emily Wickersham), who replaced Ziva's spot in the team, was the one who ultimately cracked a case that presented concrete evidence that the former NCIS special agent is operating underground. The mystery surrounding Ziva's survival is finally resolved in the latest episode of the police procedural with Pablo guest starring in the season 16 finale.
In a statement sent to Deadline, NCIS showrunners Frank Cardea and Steven D. Binder said “this surprise moment is just the beginning," which means that Ziva will continue to be a player in the upcoming narrative in the series moving forward. “We are thrilled to share that Cote de Pablo will guest star in the NCIS Season 17 premiere this fall as Ziva’s warning to Gibbs unfolds.” they added. In the show, Gibbs was surprised in his basement when Ziva came in and simply said that his life is in danger.
The surprise appearance from Pablo was tightly kept under wraps and wasn't even in the show's call sheet. Instead, only the showrunners had copies of the complete scene. It was also filmed after the cast and crew wrapped up for the day and with very minimal people on set. Ziva's appearance and the warning she gave Gibbs effectively sets up NCIS' season 17 which was officially greenlighted last month. The police procedural is one of the top performers of the network in terms of ratings, and having just lost The Big Bang Theory, it makes sense that they're keen on continuing doing their longest-running active show.
With Ziva now back, does that mean that Michael Weatherly's Tony DiNozzo is also due for a homecoming? Tony and Ziva were in a romantic relationship before the latter left the organization. And when everyone thought that she died, Tony found out that they have a daughter together, Tali David-DiNozzo. Tony resigned from the team to fully take care of the kid since Ziva was supposedly gone. But with her back, is NCIS setting up a family reunion for the three of them? Probably not since Weatherly is already in Bull (not to mention the controversy surrounding him and the show), but it'll be interesting how the series will handle this situation on top of resolving how exactly Gibbs is in danger.