NCIS: How Will Ziva Say Goodbye? And 7 Other Burning Questions for Season 11
Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo | Photo Credits: Sonja Flemming/CBS
A refresher: In the Season 10 finale, Tony (Michael Weatherly), Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and McGee (Sean Murray) all handed in their badges to protect Gibbs (Mark Harmon) in the wake of a Department of Defense investigation into the agency. The episode then jumps ahead four months, when Gibbs is aiming a sniper rifle with FBI Agent Fornell (Joe Spano) in his crosshairs.
Although we doubt it's what was originally intended, Ziva's resignation will likely stick. As fans are well aware by now, De Pablo announced over the summer that she'll be leaving the show. Will the team (and the show) be able to go on without her? Why is Fornell a target? And what additional fallout will result from the investigation into Gibbs? TVGuide.com took these burning questions and more to executive producer Gary Glasberg and Weatherly. Here are the biggest issues the show needs to address early on in Season 11:
1. How will Ziva's story line be wrapped up? As Glasberg has previously said, the two-part Season 11 premiere (beginning Tuesday at 8/7c on CBS) will be dedicated to writing Ziva off of the show. In the season opener, Ziva is "out in the ether" and Tony is tasked with finding her and bringing her back to NCIS. "That's where they're going to spend some quality time together," Glasberg teases — even if Tony is ultimately unsuccessful in getting her to return to the organization. "People are going to get some real insight into psychologically what makes Ziva tick, and it's insight that goes all the way back to her childhood," Glasberg adds. "It's insight in terms of what happened when she joinedNCIS regarding [her brother] Ari ... [and] not only what's caused her to do a lot of the things that she's done leading up to this point, but looking forward and where her head is." But while viewers may get "insight," they might not walk away with a black-and-white biography. "Ziva has always been a mystery, and she remains a mystery," Weatherly says of his on-screen counterpart.
2. Will Ziva and Tony get a happy ending? "The will-they-won't-they is answered," Weatherly promises. "It covered all the bases, for me." Less clear is whether fans will get definitive answers about Tiva's history (like what really happened in that Paris hotel room!)."The second episode is really all about Tony and Ziva, and I hope delivers all the things that the Tiva fans are going to react to and want," Glasberg says. "There's some really lovely moments between Tony and Ziva, and a really passionate, lovely goodbye."
3. How will Tony deal with Ziva's departure? "This is something that's going to really linger with him and resonate for him," Glasberg promises. "There's going to be a certain maturity that's going to come out of this for Tony." It's a change that Weatherly says he's looking forward to portraying. "Tony might begin to step into a new, maybe a more authentic, version of himself, a more connected version of himself, because he's not in a constant holding pattern emotionally," the actor hints. "I think the floodgates open."
4. Who's going to replace Ziva? Technically no one, according to Glasberg. "I have no intention of trying to replace Ziva," he stresses. "I don't think I can replace her. What I can do is try to come up with a new character that's organic to the team, that fills a void, that's something different." Translation: expect a lot of recurring characters and guest stars, at least for the first part of the season — including the recently-announced addition of Sopranos alum Emily Wickersham. "There are going to be tryouts, and that's the fun," says Glasberg, who makes it clear he's not looking to force fans into a rebound relationship after Ziva's departure. "This audience needs some time. Our group needs some time. It's almost like they're mourning the loss of someone. So we're very aware of that as writers, and we don't want to rush into something. We want to give people time to get there, and when the moment's right, then we'll try something."