The obvious reason that McGee (Sean Murray) and Ziva (Cote de Pablo) would never hook up on NCIS is that Ziva’s return might not last very long. Much as fans might want it, we have no guarantee at all that de Pablo will become a series regular again.
But there’s another reason why the two characters will likely never ever hook up. And it’s the same explanation that answers why they didn’t ever get romantically tangled in the past.
Where Ziva stands right now
Almost immediately after Ziva returned to give Gibbs (Mark Harmon) her warning, gunmen opened fire, superficially wounding Gibbs. He and Ziva go on the run together.
After much persistent questioning, Gibbs learns that Ziva went into hiding because a woman named Sahar wanted her dead. Ziva aims to find Sahar and kill her, despite Gibbs’ cautions. For Ziva, this is the only way she can get back to her old flame and former co-agent Tony (Michael Weatherly) and their daughter Tali. It is plainly obvious that Ziva’s trials have burdened her with PTSD, which could put Ziva’s judgment in question.
Ziva and the NCIS team capture Sahar, but that doesn’t end their problems because Sahar’s cohorts are staging attacks against Congressmen. NCIS and other law enforcement foil the attacks, but the chain of events casts suspicion on Ziva, whom the team learns may have been forced to work with Sahar. Ziva helps NCIS defeat Sahar, she makes nice with Gibbs and goes off presumably to reconnect with Tony.
Though, de Pablo is returning for two more episodes so fans know that her story arch is far from complete.
Where does McGee figure in all this?
You’ll notice we didn’t mention McGee in the recap. That’s because he didn’t really figure heavily in the plots of either episode.
In the first episode, the only moment he and Ziva shared had no dialogue at all, but it was still a powerful moment when McGee spotted Ziva and Ziva stared him down to ward him off from tailing her.
Ziva and McGee finally did get together in episode 2 when the two met in a diner. Their encounter started bracingly when Ziva almost decked him when he approached her, but that de-escalated quickly when the two sat down. McGee showed Ziva pictures of his kids and also asked what was going on with Tony. She cryptically said: “We must all make sacrifices for our children.”
Ultimately, Ziva and McGee were never going to be a big deal anyway, because as the Wikipedia page on McGee notes, their relationship is more like one of siblings than anything else. McGee himself said as much in the premiere that Ziva is like a sister.
Will fans see Tony and Tali return?
Ziva briefly saw Tali from afar in episode 2, and the episode ended with Gibbs holding up his old-school cell phone to Ziva with DiNozzo’s name on it. He tells her: “He should hear [the truth] from you.” Ziva responds: “And he will.”
To some fans, that’s undoubtedly a sign Weatherly will be back. But just as there’s no guarantee Ziva will be back permanently, there is also no assurance that Weatherly can come back.
Writer and showrunner Steven D. Binder deftly wrote it open-ended so that their reunion could happen onscreen or off. Weatherly has said he would like to be back on NCIS, but de Pablo herself said that Weatherly was “shooting a procedural.”
CinemaBlend interpreted that to mean we probably wouldn’t see Tony again, but it’s hard to say for sure either way. Weatherly’s schedule on Bull may make it impossible for him to return, but then again, NCIS brought Ziva back from the “dead” with a top-secret shoot, so we rule out nothing.