Did NCIS Hint At A Ziva And Tony Reunion In First Season 17 Footage?

ncis season 17 premiere ziva cote de pablo cbs
(Image credit: CBS)

The long-awaited premiere of NCIS Season 17 is almost here to bring Ziva David back in action. The show confirmed her survival back in Season 16, when the woman who was supposed to be long dead walked down into Gibbs' basement with a warning. Fans didn't have much to go on once the shock wore off, and it could even be argued that Gibbs was only hallucinating her! Luckily, Ziva will be back in the flesh, with Cote de Pablo reprising the role, and the trailer hyping her return raises the question: is a Ziva/Tony reunion in the works?

To look to the future, let's take a quick walk back down memory lane. Ziva left NCIS back in Season 11 to return to Israel, and Season 13 revealed that she and Tony had slept together before saying goodbye, and she had conceived a daughter. Tony didn't know that the little girl, Tali, even existed until Ziva was seemingly killed in an explosion in Israel, leaving his newfound daughter without a home. Mourning Ziva and accepting his new and unexpected role as a father, Tony quit NCIS to take care of Tali and try to process what had happened.

Fast-forward to Season 16, and NCIS started dropping hints (primarily to Bishop) that Ziva might not be so dead after all. Ziva apparently kept an office with important documents and cases that were meaningful to her, and she even seemingly left a note for Bishop.

Now, before Cote de Pablo's shocking appearance in the Season 16 finale -- so shocking that even not everybody on NCIS knew about it before the finale aired! -- it was possible that this was all a misdirect and somebody was posing as Ziva, who was really, truly, 100% dead. Instead, Ziva emerged from hiding to tell Gibbs that he was in danger.

Given that Ziva's "death" was several years ago already, there are some massive questions about why she faked her death in the first place, why she continued to fake her death, why she kept her friends in the dark, how she could leave Tali, and what her endgame is. Photos from Season 17 revealed that Gibbs isn't the only NCIS agent that Ziva will be hanging with, and the trailer suggests that she's been flying pretty solo since she faked her death. Take a look at the footage:

Admittedly, a lot of the trailer is basically action sequences and characters reacting to the news that -- to quote Nick Torres -- Ziva David is freakin' alive! Still, the footage does take the time to acknowledge what Ziva had to give up when she faked her death and apparently went on the run: her daughter. While on a bus with Gibbs (which I'm guessing is them on the run after they escaped being shot in Gibbs' basement), Ziva asks whether he wouldn't do anything for the chance at just one more minute with his daughter.

While on the one hand Ziva could be just trying to convince Gibbs to go along with whatever she's asking of him, it seems more likely that she's comparing his desire to see his daughter again with her own. I can't imagine Gibbs wouldn't be touched by such a plea, especially since he never will have the chance to see his daughter alive again. By this point, Tali is also around the same age that Kelly Gibbs was when she died so long ago, give or take a few years.

Then, later in the trailer, a woman is seen telling Ziva that her daughter is waiting "on the other side of this," complete with a flashback shot to the adorable young Tali from her appearance in Season 13. Would the trailer really include this moment along with Ziva's mention of Gibbs' daughter if her role in Season 17 isn't leading up to a reunion between Ziva and Tali? NCIS may not be packed with happily-ever-afters for its characters, but Ziva has earned one!

Now, what does this have to do with Tony, considering he wasn't mentioned in the trailer or even featured in flashback footage despite the fact that he was incredibly important to Ziva as a character and many of Ziva's arcs? If reuniting with Tali is Ziva's endgame, then that has to mean reuniting with Tony. He left NCIS for the express purpose of taking care of their daughter, rising to the occasion even though he hadn't known about Tali until Ziva was already gone. I hardly think he would have given up or abandoned her!

Could NCIS reunite Ziva with her daughter without actually featuring Tony in the flesh? Sure. The most important reunion here undoubtedly is between mother and daughter, so it could just happen without any focus on other people. Alternately, somebody could bring Tali to meet with her mom, or even somebody vaguely Michael Weatherly-shaped could stand out-of-focus in the background to establish that Tony is physically present. Would it be what Tiva fans have been waiting for? Probably not.

So why do I think the NCIS trailer is really hinting a Ziva/Tony reunion? Michael Weatherly seemingly hinted that he could be up for a return for such a reunion, and he actually revealed way back when that the departure of Cote de Pablo as Ziva is part of why he felt it was time for him to leave NCIS as Tony. He and Cote de Pablo have at the very least a solid enough working relationship that they signed on to collaborate on a different project.

Admittedly, Michael Weatherly does have a full time gig of his own as leading man of Bull, which somewhat surprisingly scored a renewal for Season 4 despite allegations against the star. That said, both Bull and NCIS air on CBS, and a reunion between Ziva and Tony wouldn't necessarily require Weatherly to take much time. Cote de Pablo herself has only signed on for four episodes of NCIS Season 17 at this point. I could see Weatherly making at least a cameo for a Ziva/Tony reunion and the completion of their family with Tali. And NCIS stars did stand up for Weatherly after the allegations were made against him.

Even in the best-case scenario, there will likely be some heartbreak, especially if both Tony and Tali have believed Ziva was dead for all these years. In fact, it's possible that Tali won't remember much of her mother, considering how young she was when they were separated. We can only hope that Ziva gets her happy ending. The trailer indicates that she'll have a lot to take care of before a happy ending is even feasible, and while that's not great for her, it's fabulous news for NCIS fans who have been missing her!

NCIS returns with its Ziva-tastic Season 17 premiere on Tuesday, September 24 at 8 p.m. ET in the 2019 fall TV lineup.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).