Is NCIS' Ziva Gone For Good After Season 17 Winter Premiere?

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

Spoilers ahead for the Season 17 winter premiere of NCIS on CBS, called "In The Wind."

NCIS returned for the second half of Season 17 with an episode that put Gibbs and Co. on a mission to recover Phineas after the fall finale cliffhanger, including the reveal about Zahar/Sarah. Ziva got the go-ahead from Gibbs to go to Paris to reunite with Tony and Tali, but she decided to stay behind to help Gibbs, and every moment she put herself in danger was another moment that could have resulted in her death and prevented her from ever seeing them again. Fans did already know Cote de Pablo would be leaving, after all! Is she gone for good?

Well, the positive news is that the good guys rescued Phineas without Ziva tragically dying, for real this time. The negative news is that Ziva's storyline seems pretty definitively done, and the reunion with Tony and Tali didn't happen on screen. Here's how it all went down.

Even though Ziva spent years fighting to be free to return to her family, she willingly stayed in DC rather than run off to Paris for the long-awaited meeting. When Gibbs called her on it, she confessed that she was afraid to try and go back to her old life, because she was a different person and years had passed.

Considering how young Tali had been when Ziva "died" and Tali went to live with Tony, she was afraid that Tali wouldn't even remember her. Despite assurances that surely Tony wouldn't have let Tali forget her mom, Ziva was worried by Tony's radio silence after she texted him. Were Tiva fans going to be disappointed after everything?

Not so much! Tony finally answered by first sending a photo of Tali, and then a video of Tali telling Ziva she loved her and missed her. Laughing and crying, Ziva concluded that Tony must not have felt safe sending the footage until that point. Gibbs saw her reaction and told her that she was ready to go back to them.

When the case was closed, it was clear that Ziva agreed, and she began doing the rounds to say her goodbyes to the NCIS team. I'll confess that I was waiting until the very last moment for a surprise reveal that Michael Weatherly had filmed a secret cameo for NCIS to give Tony/Ziva fans the on-screen reunion they'd waited so many years for. If the NCIS team could pull it off with Cote de Pablo in Season 16, the same could've happened with Michael Weatherly in Season 17, right?

Not so much. Whether NCIS didn't want the scene, Michael Weatherly couldn't get away from Bull, or some other reason, Tony didn't turn up. Still, it was a happy ending for Ziva.

With this ending, Ziva wrapped up her arc and Cote de Pablo completed her four-episode commitment to NCIS Season 17. Her goodbyes to the team did open up some storylines, but they aren't storylines that require her in the mix. She told Bishop that the job opportunity with Odette was still a possibility, encouraged Torres to confess his feelings to Bishop, and even commented on the close relationship between Jack and Gibbs to Jack. Then she left, content, with closure, and with the prospect of visits from her friends.

Frankly, should NCIS and Ziva fans want Ziva to return after this? Nothing good could bring her back, and should we want to ruin her happy ending, no matter how great it might be to see her again? Even if we never see Ziva and Tony together again, does that have to be a bad thing?

Only time will tell. New episodes of NCIS air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Tony's dad will be coming back in a 'very unusual' way, so that's one blast from the past we can absolutely count on!

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. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. 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).