Tonight at 8/7c, CBS’ NCIS returns to wrap up Season 10 with the first of four final episodes, following Ziva’s heated pursuit of Ilan Bodnar as it feeds into a season-ending arc that promises to leave viewers — and Gibbs — with many questions. As part of TVLine’s in-depth May sweeps/finale preview special, showrunner Gary Glasberg shared a look at what’s ahead for TV’s most watched (and already renewed) drama.
TVLINE | How would you sum up these last four episodes?
They are a lot of fun. After Eli David got killed in January, we sort of stepped away from that for a little while. But last [episode] we discovered that Ziva has been working on her own little investigation behind the scenes, and that arc really kicks off when we send her off with Tony on a clue trail that leads them to Berlin. The episode is a combination of the Bodnar manhunt and then some really nice Tony/Ziva stuff as well. Then there is a whole storyline that goes on back in Washington, which is Gibbs working with Marina Sirtis, who is playing the new director of Mossad (Orli Elbaz). So, everything is coming together. And this arc connects into the story that becomes the season ender.
TVLINE | You mentioned “some nice Tony/Ziva stuff” — but before that, a reader wants to know if Tony will feel hurt that he was left out of the events of the last episode? Is that a thing?
No, I think he recognizes the pressure that Ziva has put herself under in terms of wanting to figure this out and get to the bottom of it. All told, there are moments, all the way through the remainder of these episodes, where emotions are a little frazzled and people are pushing things a little bit. Tony is there for her and he recognizes what she needs and what he can do. It doesn’t get petty, so to speak.
TVLINE | How if at all would you compare “Berlin” to Tony and Ziva’s Season 7 Paris trip?
The Paris episode was a very specific case; this is more related to the bigger picture of what we’re dealing with. There are terrific Tony and Ziva moments, emotional moments, sweet moments, hopefully things that people will really connect with and latch onto.
TVLINE | Turning to all that Gibbs is dealing with back in D.C.: Why does Homeland Security, among other agencies, want NCIS to drop this whole thing, to get off Bodnar’s trail?
That’s a big part of where we end up going as the finale nears. The CIA and a lot of other people have, understandably, been involved with what happened with Bodnar, given the international connections of Israel, how Iran was involved Arash Kazmi’s death [by car bomb in the episode “Shiva”]…. But at the hub of it is the connection of this daughter losing her father and Vance losing his wife. All the dots connect and ultimately lead us to where we end up.
TVLINE | Tell us about Marina Sirtis as the new Mossad boss.
In the real world there has never been a woman at the head of Mossad, so that was something that we wanted to try. Marina showed up and just nailed it. There is a strength and a determination to the way that she plays Orli Elbaz, so I’m thrilled.
TVLINE | Does Orli have any kind of a reputation that precedes her? Or is everybody meeting each other cold?
There is a lot of history between Ziva and Orli, and that will unfold as the episode unfolds. We discover something at the end of [“Berlin”], a nice little twist about the two characters that absolutely will inform us moving forward. There is more to it than meets the eye.
TVLINE | What is going on with Gibbs in these last episodes, that Muse Watson resurfaces in the finale as the late Mike Franks?
As [Tony and Ziva] go off on this manhunt that leads them to Berlin, that gets us to the next episode, which is aptly called “Revenge,” and really gives Ziva fans an opportunity to see a strong, determined, relentless Ziva David that they haven’t seen in a while. People are going to be really blown away by how things unfold in that episode. But that leads us to this scenario where, in the real world there would be an investigation into the Bodnar manhunt, so Colin Hanks (Dexter) comes in as an investigator for the Department of Defense, and the Inspector General’s Office. All of this leads to the end of the season, where we’re presented with a situation where Gibbs has to really question, ‘How far is too far? How far can he push the boundaries? How far can his team push the boundaries? How far can they cross the line?’ In looking at things from a moral stance, in terms of what has happened over the years, things get internalized, and we’re very fortunate to have the conscience that is Mike Franks for Gibbs to interact with.
TVLINE | Going back to Colin Hanks for a second, please tell me there is an on-camera reference to the resemblance between him and Sean Murray’s McGee.
There absolutely is. There is a terrific scene in “Double Blind,” which is the penultimate episode, when McGee and Colin Hanks meet for the first time. And then it comes up again in the finale as well. We’ve gotten a big kick out of it around here. And while the boyish looks and the smile are deceptive and fun, there is a lot of depth to what he’s capable of and who he is.
TVLINE | What all do you have on tap for May 14? Is it the sort of NCIS season finale that leaves someone in professional or mortal peril over the summer?
Yeah, I’m not going to let you down in terms of that, I hope. There are a lot of questions that are left open. We’re absolutely looking at decisions that have to be made and situations that leave us saying, “How is the team going to move forward? How will Gibbs move forward? Will things change within the team?” There is a case that turns out to be very significant and that dovetails to propel us into the season opener for 11. So, hopefully we’ll deliver a finale that leaves people thinking over the summer.