NCIS Post Mortem: How Two Sudden, 'Organic' Deaths Will Shake Up the Rest of Season 10
CBS’ NCIS blindsided fans with a double-whammy last week, capping an already tense hour with an abrupt machine-gun assault on the Vance home, where Eli and Ziva David were guests for dinner. When the dust settled, two lives were lost – Ziva’s father, and Vance’s wife Jackie. As Gibbs’ team readies to mourn the dead in this Tuesday’s “Shiva” (airing at 8/7c), showrunner Gary Glasberg shared a look at the devastating aftermath for two of NCIS’ finest.
TVLINE | When did you first give Paula Newsome (who plays Jackie) and Michael Nouri (Eli) a heads-up on what you had planned?
You know, this is something that we’ve been talking about for a long time. I started to toy around with this idea back last spring. I pulled Rocky Carroll (Vance) aside and I told him what I was thinking, that strictly from the Vance perspective, I really wanted to do something that would open up his world a bit, because Vance’s family life has been very grounded and very positive.
TVLINE | Yeah, it’s always been a rock for him.
And there’s nothing wrong with that, but this is a huge change for him, to suddenly be a single dad, to be a widower, to carry the responsibility of his family and NCIS on his shoulders. It opened a lot of doors. And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it. The same goes with Cote [de Pablo]. We talked about years of storylines with Eli David and where their relationship is, and how this would in theory change [Ziva]. Both Michael Nouri and Paula were of course upset by the direction that we chose, but they were total pros and they wanted to give it everything they could. I am really pleased with the way it came out.
TVLINE | You said you’ve been thinking about this for a while — but was it only until more recently that both deaths landed in the same episode?
Well, it was sort of the beginning of the season when we started to plot where this would fall. Chris Waild, who wrote the episode, and I talked about what we wanted to do, but part of it, too, is I’ve been intrigued by the idea of civilian loss happening during a professional situation. That’s real to me. We see it the news, and it’s awful how there are tragedies that come up, and in this instance Jackie Vance is very much a victim of something that she had no control over. So, it felt organic and natural to us to do what we did.
TVLINE | At first blush, is losing Jackie going to make Vance harder, or softer? Or wounded?
Absolutely wounded. And in some way, it sort of sticks to the thematic stuff that I was trying to do at the beginning of the season. You know we had this theme of sort of fallen heroes? Pulling the rug out from under Vance puts him in that category.
TVLINE | Our readers had been worried — ever since I reported on the casting of Greg Germann as the NCIS Deputy Director — what it might say about the story ahead for Vance.
In the real world these characters sort of back each other up and work together. I realized in talking to the real director of NCIS that the Deputy Director in the real world plays a big part, and we’ve actually never, in all of our 10 seasons, introduced the Deputy Director. So, I just thought it would be the right time.
TVLINE | And what kind of an arc is Ziva on the cusp of?
Ziva clearly had her differences with her father, but he was still her father, and there’s a part of her that’s wounded and broken, and Tony is there for her. He is there for her as a friend and a co-worker, and he plays a big part in the episode that airs on Tuesday. That will continue all the way through the rest of the season.
TVLINE | Do Michael [Weatherly] and Cote get some meaty scenes on Tuesday?
They do. They have some really meaty scenes on Tuesday, and I will say that we end up back in Tony’s apartment and there is some really lovely, emotional stuff that happens between the two of them there.
TVLINE | Professionally, are there any longer-term ramifications for Ziva? Like, is she going to start reconsidering her choices, or…?
I don’t know about reconsidering choices, but Ziva certainly wants to get to the bottom of what happened here and who is responsible — and I will tell you that not all the answers will be there at the end of [the episode].
TVLINE | In rooting out who’s responsible, is she going to be like a dog with a bone?
Yes. And the one thing that I will say is in the beginning, you can have some very serious episodes like we have here. And then, just as in real life, people still see the lighter sides of things, and people have to laugh. So there will be moments that are lighter, there will be storylines that are lighter, but you continue to carry things with you and think about things. That will be the case here as well.