Those of you who tuned in to the first episode of NCIS’s 17th season know we’ve finally seen the reality behind Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and why she’s been on the run for the last six years. As exciting as it was to see her again, and teaming up with Gibbs (Mark Harmon), it’s certainly under depressing circumstances: We found out she’s running from a female terrorist and worried about the fate of her daughter, Tali, and Tony (Michael Weatherly).
On top of it, we saw Ziva isn’t the same person she was back when we last saw her. For realism, this was inevitable after being under constant duress. Her interactions with Gibbs were good to see, yet they didn’t exactly see eye to eye when escaping peril.
What this means is worth exploring a little more since it could affect whether they maintain a friendly stance if she returns to her old job. Perhaps this means an exit for Gibbs. But for the immediate future, it could mean Ziva and Gibbs no longer see eye to eye.
The testy exchanges between Ziva and Gibbs were painful to see
Initially, the banter between Ziva and Gibbs was as it once was as they ran from an unseen terrorist group headed by someone named Sahar. Things turned testy, though, once Gibbs mentioned he’d give anything to be with his daughter again. Ziva didn’t find that very empathetic to her own situation in wanting to be with Tali.
This wasn’t all on what they clashed over. Later, Gibbs kills a man who steals an encrypted SD card Ziva found containing important intel about the whereabouts of Sahar. Gibbs had no choice but to kill the guy because he was about to kill Ziva when the latter tracked down the culprit. Ziva lashed out at Gibbs for killing the suspect because he could have been an informant.
By episode’s end, it seemed like Gibbs and Ziva were becoming new adversaries after arguing over whether Ziva should kill Sahar. When they tracked the latter down, Sahar says that if Ziva kills her, a U.S. senator would die. Gibbs tries to persuade Ziva to not do the kill, leading to a dramatic showdown of taking her gun away.
As we all saw, the first episode ended with Ziva about ready to pull the trigger from another gun she had available. What happens next goes beyond the time of this writing, yet we already see major tension potentially upending the friendship Gibbs and Ziva nurtured for years.
Ziva admits she felt abandoned by Gibbs
At one point, we see Gibbs comparing Ziva to his own daughter, leading Ziva to lash out at Gibbs for essentially abandoning her. He knew she was alive, yet didn’t do anything to help protect her.
Having this haunting realization hit us means the relationship between Ziva and Gibbs may never be the same again. What this means for any potential future episodes with Ziva is up in the air. Maybe they’ll repair their relationship after Ziva inevitably meets back up with her daughter (and presumably Tony).
Or, it might be a deliberate set up to allow Gibbs to exit and allow Ziva to take his leadership role at the NCIS. Should this happen, it could also be a potential setup for a spinoff where Ziva heads the organization, followed by having Tony back in her life. Much of this might sound like wishful thinking.
Even so, it’s hard to imagine Ziva ever returning as a full-time cast member again without some drastic changes.
Ziva can’t die, but the possibility is always there
There is a possibility Ziva really will die at the end of this new arc as a sacrifice to save Gibbs. If NCIS goes there, you can almost count on a fan revolt because they won’t stand for Ziva dying.
Then again, what if it happened after an emotional reunion with Tony and their daughter? From a writing perspective, that really would be a dramatic way for Ziva to exit. On a pop culture level, it would be a major tragedy. Unless it’s the other way around and Gibbs dies, leaving it open for Ziva to head the bureau, wrapping the show completely around her while re-finding a sense of normalcy.
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