After going on the run for a second time, Ziva returned to the team in the fall finale to take care of one more thing before reuniting with her family. Unsurprisingly, that one thing turned out to be incredibly dangerous and left multiple people dead.
What happened to Ziva on NCIS?
In the first two episodes of Season 17, pieces of the puzzle pertaining to Ziva’s whereabouts over the past six years began to fall into place. The Israeli citizen revealed that she faked her own death in order to protect her loved ones after the targeted explosion at her father’s farmhouse.
Since then, she had been living undercover in the hopes of finding the person who wanted her dead. But the big question on everybody’s mind was: How much does Tony — aka the father of her child and, in our opinion, her soulmate — know?
One of the first co-workers to come out and ask was Ducky, who received a rather cryptic answer from the former Mossad operative. "It's complicated," she said before adding, "The less Tony knows, the better."
Ziva also told the retired chief medical examiner that she’s keeping an eye on her daughter Tali, who’s been living with Tony ever since Ziva's apparent death in Season 13. While showing Ducky a photo of the little girl, the heartbroken mother shared that it was taken from "as close as I dared to get."
Episode 2 of Season 17, titled "Into the Light," teased a possible reunion between Ziva and Tony when Gibbs admitted that he had called and left a message for the former police detective after Ziva disappeared earlier in the episode.
He assured Ziva that he did not expose her secret because Tony should hear it from her. "And he will," the brunette beauty responded before she went on the run again.
The special agent came back in Episode 10 for the sole purpose of checking on her friend Adam, who had helped get Tali to Tony after Ziva went off the grid. But he had been kidnapped by the real Sahar — who was presumed dead — after she found out that he was a mole in her terrorist organization.
Ziva and Gibbs were unable to save Adam's life, but he did tell them that Sahar was still alive and that Ziva knew her. However, it turned out that Adam was talking to Gibbs, not Ziva, in his final moments, and the team soon figured out that Gibbs' neighbor Sarah was the real Sahar all along.
In order to protect Ziva, Gibbs killed Sarah, despite having promised her son Phineas that he would keep her out of harm's way. The fall finale concluded with Ziva apologizing to Gibbs for faking her own death.
Given that Cote is a confirmed guest star on the Jan. 7 episode, we're really hoping for a Michael Weatherly cameo!
Cote de Pablo never expected to return to the role of Ziva.
Back in 2016, the 39-year-old opened up about her somewhat tense exit from the police procedural. "Unfortunately, because of political things and the scripts not being good enough, I chose not to [stay]," she explained at the time.
"I love this character. I worked eight years in crafting this character and loving her, so when I felt or I perceived the character was not being treated with the respect that she deserved, all the money in the world couldn't buy [me]."
In another interview, Cote confessed, "When I walked out, I thought it was over and that was it."
Thankfully, the showrunners had a different idea. Executive producer Frank Cardea revealed that they reached out to Cote while writing the Season 16 finale.
"She decided to come out and actually meet with us," he recalled. "We had a clandestine meeting with [executive producer Steven Binder] and I and [Gibbs actor] Mark Harmon. It was like she had never left."
New episodes of NCIS air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.