NCIS is going all in with Cote de Pablo's exciting return.
In an official extended trailer released Thursday for the upcoming 17th season, de Pablo's Ziva David returns from the dead in the anticipated Sept. 24 premiere. De Pablo, who originally left NCIS in 2013, will be returning for four episodes in the new season.
Titled "Out of the Darkness," Ziva surprises Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) in the season opener with a cryptic warning, prompting him to question why she remained underground for years while being presumed dead by family and friends, and what led to her return.
"Where have you been?" Gibbs asks Ziva as the two reunite in the intense new trailer.
Whatever awaits the former colleagues isn't good, as the duo is seen running away from explosions and surprise attacks, likely instigated by someone who is far more dangerous than they can even fathom.
"Hold up! I just want to know who we're running from," a bloodied Gibbs pleads with Ziva.
"There's a woman, Zahar, she wants me dead. And now she's after you," Ziva calmly replies, revealing to her former boss that she doesn't know who this mystery woman is. "I've never seen her."
Of course, it's only a matter of time before the rest of the NCIS team finds out about Ziva's resurrection -- and as one can imagine, the shock waves are felt throughout the members. "Ziva David is freakin' alive?!" Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) exclaims, completely stunned by the revelation.
But not everyone is happy by the way Ziva's re-emergence comes out, most notably McGee (Sean Murray).
"Gibbs, we're not who we once were," Ziva tells him, prompting him to respond, "It doesn't matter who we are. I'm not leaving." Watch the new 80-second trailer above.
In the season 16 finale, Ziva, who was once thought dead from a mortar attack, returned to issue a warning to Gibbs in the season's closing seconds.
"Hello, Gibbs," Ziva said, as she bounds down the stairs in Gibbs' basement. "No time for pleasantries. You're in danger."
Gibbs' shocked expression said it all, as words escaped him. "Well, aren't you going to say something?" Ziva asked, with Gibbs only able to muster a surprised "Ziva?"
How did producers pull off the stunning season-ending shocker? Only a handful of people knew about the de Pablo surprise, including Harmon, de Pablo, and showrunners Frank Cardea and Steven D. Binder. The scene was never actually included in the final script or call sheet, which lays out the day's scenes for production, with only Cardea and Binder holding physical copies of the script pages.
Secrecy was so high that when de Pablo arrived on set to film her special cameo, she entered through a back gate in order to arrive at the NCIS stages. And the scene, which was filmed well after midnight, was completed in front of a skeleton crew after the full crew wrapped for the evening.
“This surprise moment is just the beginning,” Cardea and Binder said following the May finale. “We are thrilled to share that Cote de Pablo will guest star in the NCIS season 17 premiere this fall as Ziva’s warning to Gibbs unfolds.”
De Pablo played Ziva for nearly nine seasons. Though the season 13 finale revealed that Ziva had died following an explosion in Israel, a body was never found, thus leaving the door open that the beloved character was still living and breathing. That would prove to be true in the 16th season, when field agent Eleanor Bishop (Emily Wickersham) discovered evidence that Ziva was still alive and in hiding.
NCIS returns Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
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