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For TV audiences, it sometimes doesn't get better than a show's former stars returning to reprise their fan-favorite roles. Such was the case for NCIS viewers in Season 17, with Cote de Pablo making a surprising comeback as Ziva David for a handful of episodes. Many viewers are likely wondering if and when we might get to see de Pablo's Ziva finding her way back to Gibbs, McGee and the rest, and one of the show's producers is keeping hope alive that it'll happen one day, though no one should expect it to become a regular occurrence.
Executive producer Steve Binder addressed the Ziva question with TVLine, explaining what that thought process has to be in order to consider welcoming Cote de Pablo back in future episodes:
It’s always going to be, ‘Let’s not grab Cote and stick her in.’ It’s, ‘Let’s come up with a story first, and see if it’s something worthy of bringing that character back.'
So while many fans would be perfectly content if NCIS' writers approached storylines from the opposite direction, with Cote de Pablo's inclusion already assumed, the truth of the matter is that any applicable storylines will need far more organic connections to Ziva David in order to convince the creative team to bring the character back into the fold. Granted, the writers know the character well enough that they could easily construct a narrative that would be tailor-made for more Ziva, but they only want to make that happen if the situation feels more authentic.
Those hoping that Steve Binder secretly has a Cote de Pablo-sized ace up his sleeve for Season 18 should probably curb such expectations until the rumor mill starts rolling. Here's what the EP said when asked if there are any story plans currently being talked out:
We’ve really played, for now, all of the cards there are to play [with Ziva], so we have no plans at the moment, but we’re certainly always open to it.
As disappointing as that may be, there's comfort to be found in Steve Binder asserting that NCIS' producers are always open to consider ideas for how Ziva David could pop back into the story. Plus, it's awesome that Cote de Pablo enjoyed returning so much that she didn't put an instant moratorium on making future returns. Ziva and Tony's reunion could finally happen one day, people!
Though Cote de Pablo wasn't around, NCIS did dip back into the past for its Season 18 premiere, giving audiences a fun trip back in time for Mark Harmon's Leroy Gibbs. So there are definitely story avenues where the writers can find ways to reinsert former characters into the fun, even if someone else might end up playing Ziva in her younger years.