‘NCIS’ 17: What to Expect When Cote de Pablo Returns…Again

Cote de Pablo returned to NCIS as Ziva David in the final moments of season 16; she came rushing down Gibbs’ iconic stairwell to warn him of imminent danger. Awestruck to see the former agent he presumed dead, Gibbs uttered one word, “Ziver,” which Mark Harmon uses sparingly for emotional impact, and the season came to a close. 

Mark Harmon and Cote de Pablo of NCIS
Mark Harmon and Cote de Pablo in ‘NCIS’ as Gibbs and Ziva | Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images

Season seventeen, barely giving Gibbs and Ziva a chance to reunite, placed the two on the run from the get-go. With a threat tracing all the way back to Ari — and tying into Ziva’s origin story — the narrative grew quite tense, quite rapidly. Ziva’s return was an action-packed, high-octane, suspense-infused ride. Ziva’s goals: eliminate the threat, protect her former boss, and reunite with her daughter, Tali. 

Ziva’s first return was filled with action, and the season kickstarted with danger. However, as fans of NCIS know, the show always does two things in equal parts: keep you suspended and pull at your heartstrings. Considering Ziva’s first return was marked by the former, her second return (coming later this season), will likely fall into the heartstrings realm. 

When will Cote de Pablo return to ‘NCIS’ again, and what will happen when she does? 

Cote de Pablo’s next appearance is scheduled for December 17, 2019, which means she will probably appear for a Christmas-themed episode. Will she receive a Christmas miracle in the course of it? 

Considering the major threat has already been taken care of, Ziva should now be able to live a bit more freely, without peering over her shoulder awaiting danger at every turn. Ziva went deep undercover to protect herself and her family; as a result, Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo and her daughter Tali do not know she is alive. The season cannot end without confronting this conundrum. 

NCIS has a few options for Ziva’s return, and all of them will likely leave fans teary-eyed. Option one (and the favorite among the fanbase): fans and Ziva alike receive a Christmas miracle, as the show reunites Ziva, Tony, and Tali. Could you think of a better holiday gift?

Considering the show managed to keep Cote de Pablo’s return a secret, one could assume they could pull off the same with Michael Weatherly. However, if Michael Weatherly is too busy with Bull, how will NCIS address the debacle? We already know that Gibbs was on the phone with Tony in an earlier episode, and Ziva said she will tell him when the time is right.

Could it be that the time is not yet right? If Ziva has unfinished business, she may have to conquer one more problem before reuniting with her family. And, what if this problem prevents her from seeing her family? What if the problem sends her back undercover or results in her untimely death? While these would be the most upsetting events, they are also possible given Ziva’s earlier response to Gibbs. 

Ziva could also simply say “Hello Tony” on the phone in the final moments of the episode, leaving an in-person return for her last episode (which will come later in the season). However, this would fail to impress fans and feel a bit lazy. Considering when Ziva is set to return next, let’s assume the show has got one great gift coming our way!