‘NCIS’: Cote de Pablo Reveals One of the Most Challenging Parts of Her Return

Cote de Pablo has officially returned to NCIS for a full episode, and it was one for the books. It’s not giving anything away to say there’s a lot of action with Ziva in the new episode, because we’ve been talking about those photos of her and Gibbs (Mark Harmon) looking bruised and battered for a while now.

The premiere episode wastes little time in showing what’s happened, and it’s also quickly clear this isn’t quite the same Ziva we saw when de Pablo left the show six years ago. 

How is Ziva different now?

Cote de Pablo as Ziva David in the Season 17 premiere of 'NCIS.'
Cote de Pablo as Ziva David in NCIS. | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

Whenever an actor returns to a show after they’ve been gone for a while, they’ll find there have been a lot of changes: New cast members, maybe new producers and other people behind the scenes. However, there may also be some changes in their character, especially if she had been presumed dead. De Pablo gave an interview to the BUILD Series channel on YouTube speaking about how she didn’t quite go home again. 

She said: “At the beginning I said I was a little nervous. But as soon as I read the script, it became evident (Ziva) had gone through some massive changes. She had gone through challenging life situations, and that would inform the character from now on.”

Having to stay undercover to protect your child from danger would try the hardiest soul, and Ziva doesn’t always stay so cool under pressure. 

“This is not the happy-go-lucky I’m having a good day Ziva, or the Ziva who came into the squadron, who was going to have a flirty scene with Tony, which we all miss, and I certainly do. This is a woman who’s gone through some stuff … it’s not a glamorous return,” she said. 

Fight scenes are tougher after a hiatus

Having to convey all that emotional trauma was the easy part. Getting back into the fight scenes was the hard part, especially having not done them in a while. A fight scene that may take two minutes on the show can take up to three hours to shoot with all the camera setups. So when de Pablo had at least one big fight on her first episode back, she swallowed hard. 

“I’m a gym person and I go all the time and you have to stay active as much as you can … you see the script and it all of a sudden you see “fight sequence ” and it’s like. Oh, here we go again,” she said. 

A lot of people on the set were glad to have her back and told her she made it look easy, but de Pablo probably thought that it was the editors who made it look easy. 

What is ahead for Ziva now?

Ziva will be back for the second episode of season 17. Ziva will appear again in two or three more episodes later in the season, so her return and story arch won’t be wrapped up in one go. That said, the jury is still out on whether she will come back again after that, or whether her former onscreen partner, Weatherly, will return as well. 

For now, fans are thrilled just to have her back, and de Pablo is happy to thrill them. She told EW: “The timing was actually great. I was excited about exploring the character of Ziva again. I felt that I owed it to the fans. I felt that there was something still missing from that character that I needed to go back and revisit that home.”