That Agent Ziva David has embarked on a dangerous, season-ending mission to avenge her father’s death while portrayer Cote de Pablo is the only cast member not yet set to return to NCIS in the fall is pure coincidence, says showrunner Gary Glasberg.
“I have absolutely no qualms telling you that this storyline” — launched by the double murder of Eli David and NCIS director Leon Vance’s wife Jackie — “is something I was talking about last spring,” Glasberg asserts to TVLine.
“No, that’s not a game that I play,” putting a character in jeopardy when an actor’s status is TBD, he adds. “My job is to creatively keep the show going and do the best job that I can, and let other people work that stuff out. I’m all about the show.”
When last we tuned into TV’s most watched drama, Ziva had covertly set out to find Ilan Bodnar (played by Oded Fehr), the man she holds responsible for the deadly assault on Vance’s home. When the show returns next Tuesday to uncork the final four episodes of Season 10, “We send Ziva off, with Tony, on a clue trail that leads them to Berlin,” Glasberg previews. As things unfold, “This arc connects into the story that becomes the season ender and dovetails into what will propel us into Season 11.”
But will de Pablo be around for the already renewed next cycle? When series lead Mark Harmon inked a new deal for Season 11 back in February, it left the actress as the only series regular in limbo. (The last time de Pablo entered contract talks, in 2011, she didn’t re-sign until late April.)
“I actually have had very little input and interaction with [negotiations],” says Glasberg. “We knew that we had this whole Bodnar arc for the second half of the season, and we’ve all been very focused on that.
“I’m confident that things will work out [with de Pablo],” he continues, “and we’ll present the best finale that we can and go from there.”
And will this season’s finale — titled “Damned If You Do” and airing May 14 — be the sort that leaves Ziva and/or others in some sort of jeopardy? “There are absolutely issues that come up, situations that leave us asking, ‘How is the team going to move forward? How will things change within the team?'” the show boss teases. “I’m not going to let you down in terms of that!”