Cote de Pablo’s decision to not re-up for another season of playing Special Agent Ziva David on the CBS hit “NCIS” caught executive producer/showrunner Gary Glasberg by surprise, he told xfinityTV in an exclusive interview at the CBS party during the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, CA.
He had felt confident that her deal was basically done — especially as CBS CEO Les Moonves explained, that CBS threw a lot of money at her to stay, so when word came down that he would only have her for two episodes to wrap up her storyline after eight seasons, he and his writing team had to scramble creatively to come up with a version of a story that would work.
“We pick up with a two-episode arc that I am hoping is really entertaining for fans in a big way,” Glasberg says, hinting at the long-brewing will-they?-or-won’t-they? tango between Ziva and fellow agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly). “Those will be the two episodes that Cote will be in. Then after the second episode, she will be leaving us. I wasn’t planning on this unfolding the way it did. I think we have come up with something for people that will be emotional and fulfilling. I hope it pays off for the Tiva [Tony + Ziva = Tiva] fans. I hope we deliver.”
The track record for female characters leaving “NCIS” standing up isn’t good. Both Special Agent Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander) and NCIS Director Jenny Shepard (Lauren Holly) died from gunshot wounds. So will Ziva also go out in a coffin?
“I am not going to give you a blatant answer because we want people to watch, but I can promise that people will be satisfied with what they’re left with,” Glasberg says.
That said, we will revisit the “very important” mission that Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) was sent on in May’s season finale, where we left him taking aim at FBI Senior Agent T.C. Fornell (Joe Spano) … or the person he is protecting.
In addition, Colin Hanks will return to his role as Department of Defense Investigator Richard Parsons in the first episode and “does a really interesting turn of direction in terms of his involvement and his relationship with Gibbs,” according to Glasberg.
“NCIS” returns for its 11th season on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8/7c on CBS.