‘NCIS’ Season 17: Mark Harmon’s Gibbs Is In Trouble, How Much Does Ziva Know?

Looking ahead to Season 17 of NCIS, we know for sure that Ziva (Cote de Pablo) will be back in action. NCIS gifted fans with a surprise Ziva cameo in the Season 16 finale, though the details surrounding her return remain murky. We do know that Gibbs (Mark Harmon) is facing some kind of threat, but how Ziva ties into that is one of the biggest mysteries heading into the upcoming season.

'NCIS' stars Mark Harmon and Cote de Pablo
Ziva”s (Cote de Pablo) with Gibbs (Mark Harmon) | Photo by Eric McCandless/CBS via Getty Images

Why did Ziva return to ‘NCIS’?

When Ziva appeared in the final scene of Season 16 of NCIS, she warned Gibbs about a serious threat. Ziva did not reveal any details related to the situation, so we do not know if this is a new or old development. The threat will be an interesting lead going into Season 17, and we should learn more about what is happening in the premiere. While the details are slim, there are a few possibilities to consider.

According to Carter Matt, the threat could have something to do with the vigilante justice storyline that was explored in Season 16. It is possible that somebody with ties to the Judge is looking to take Gibbs down. There is also the drug angle to consider.

Perhaps someone related to the drug dealer Gibbs and Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano) took out in the Season 16 finale of NCIS is the threat. This would allow the series to expand on what happened in Season 16 and pick up right where it left off. But in both of these scenarios, it is difficult to see how Ziva fits in.

How much does Ziva know?

If the threat is the Judge or someone connected to the drug operation, how would Ziva know about it? Ziva has been missing in action for several years and would need to have some pretty big connections to know what’s going on with the team, let alone the Judge and whole vigilante system. Which is why the threat could have nothing to do with the drugs or the Judge.

A third possibility is that the threat is more closely related to Ziva. We already know that Ziva has been in hiding for several years, so perhaps whoever is chasing her is now targeting Gibbs. When Bishop (Emily Wickersham) found out that she was still alive, Ziva made it clear that she did not want to be outed because it would be dangerous for her family.

It is possible that Ziva got wind of the threat on Gibbs and felt compelled to warn him about it before it was too late. This would allow Ziva to be heavily involved in the Season 17 premiere if NCIS without having too much explaining to do.

Is Ziva really back on ‘NCIS’?

Another thing to consider is the idea that Ziva is not really back. For much of the Season 16 finale of NCIS, we watched Gibbs talk with his late ex-wife, Diane Sterling. With Gibbs hallucinating, there is a chance that Ziva was merely a figment of his imagination, just like Sterling. The only thing wrong with this theory is that there is a convincing case to be made that Ziva is alive, unless someone is just messing with Bishop.

There is also the argument that Sterling’s appearances seemed very ghost-like throughout the episode. She never opened any doors or made any concrete sounds, and the show made it clear that she was a part of Gibbs’ imagination.

Ziva, on the other hand, is heard opening the front door and making her way down to the basement. Gibbs may have been hallucinating early in the episode, but it looked like Ziva’s appearance was the real deal.

Ziva will return in Season 17 of ‘NCIS’

Following Ziva’s appearance in the Season 16 finale of NCIS, showrunners assured fans that she will play a part in the Season 17 premiere. We have no idea if Ziva will continue to be a part of the story beyond that, but it is great to know that de Pablo will at least be a guest star next season.

Fans reacted positively to her return, so it is likely that producers will bring her back in a larger capacity moving forward.

NCIS will return with new episodes this fall on CBS.