After reopening an old missing persons case, Agents Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham) and Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) discover that late NCIS officer Ziva David kept investigating long after the official probe ended.
Spoiler alert: This post contains details about Tuesday’s episode of “NCIS.” If you haven’t watched yet and wish to remain in the dark, click away now.
When actress Cote de Pablo decided to leave “NCIS” after eight seasons in 2013, her fan-favorite character was written out as having moved home to Israel. But that didn’t stop the writers from using Ziva to drive future episodes and tease viewers by hinting she might return.
Fans hoped to see de Pablo again at the end of Season 14 when Michael Weatherly, who played her fellow agent and love interest, Anthony DiNozzo, left “NCIS.” They didn’t – Ziva was killed offscreen in a terrorist bombing.
“NCIS” got fans’ hopes up again earlier this month when it teased her return in a Super Bowl ad. Once again, Tuesday’s episode gave them fan service in place of Pablo Ziva, while leaving the door open for yet more Ziva story lines.
In the much-anticipated episode, titled “She,” the current team reopens one of Ziva’s old cases after they discover a young girl named Lily at a storage facility. She is believed to be the daughter of Morgan Burke, a Navy recruit who disappeared while pregnant almost a decade earlier. Because Burke had not begun her service when her car went over a cliff, local law enforcement took the case and ruled her death a suicide. You can imagine how control freak Gibbs (Mark Harmon) felt about that.
While examining Burke’s case file in the archives, Agent Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham) discovers that the investigating agent (Ziva) kept secretly pursuing the case, and considered Ben Ramsey, the victim’s boyfriend, her prime suspect.
“For whatever reason, Ziva wanted to keep this thing a secret and I’m gonna honor that,” she tells fellow agent Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), who tells her it’s a bad idea not to tell Gibbs or McGee (Sean Murray) what she learned. He also doesn’t get why she’s protecting someone she never even met.
“People are afraid to talk about her in front of me because they think I’ll never measure up,” Bishop tells him. “That’s not even the part that gets me. The part that gets me is that I feel cheated – like there are things I could’ve learned from her that I couldn’t get from anyone else.”
The two pay a visit to Ramsay, who says Ziva trailed him for months before telling him she no longer believed he was the murderer.
“She promised that she would find the person that did this to the mother of my child,” he tells them, adding that he would bring Burke’s mother to Ziva’s late at night – but not to NCIS.
While Bishop and Torres are off going rogue, Dr. Sloan (Maria Bello) soothes Lily and learns more about the man who held her and her mother hostage in a basement. The girl reveals that her mom gave her a doll and told her to give it to the police if she ever escaped. Hidden inside is a hair sample, which forensic scientist Kasie Hines (Diana Reasonover) determines belongs to Robert Hill. He turns out to have a brother, Bud, who kept an eye on the hostages when Hill was out of the house.
Gibbs and McGee bust down Bud’s door and are soon joined by Torres. Luckily for him, the discovery of Bud’s rotting corpse distracts Gibbs from chewing him out for going rogue. But the discovery that Bud’s house has no basement leaves Gibbs even crankier.
Meanwhile, Bishop has gone to Ziva’s secret safe house, where the landlady lets her inside and discovers a trove of journals..
When Gibbs and McGee join Bishop at Ziva’s safehouse, they determine Ziva’s journals don’t contain classified info.
Bishop and McGee suppose Ziva established the safehouse soon after coming to NCIS and that she wrote the first few diaries in her native Hebrew before switching to English.
“Each one represents a case that Ziva was working on,” they explain. “She wrote about how she was feeling, how the grief of a victim’s family pained her, how killers crept into her dreams. Things she couldn’t put in an official report. It’s like she had to get it out somehow and so she did – on paper, alone in this room.”
Turns out Bishop needn’t have kept Ziva’s mission from Gibbs, who was aware that she investigated and cleared 20 suspects in the Burke case.
After sending the rest of the team away, he tells Bishop, “The next time you withhold relevant information, you are gone.” (She violated Rule 10: “Never get personally involved on a case!”)
At the hospital, Sloan introduces Lily to her father and together, they coax more information out of the child. She tells them her mother used Hill’s germophobia against him, causing him to remove the mattress from the basement with Lily hidden inside.
Torres, Kasie and McGee sort through garbage at the dump, finding the mattress.
Back at the office, Bishop confesses to Gibbs that she took and read Ziva’s journal, thus violating Rule 10 twice in one episode. But she’s not sorry.
She shows him a page from the journal, which contains a letter that Burke’s cancer-stricken mother dictated before she died and that Ziva vowed to show to the man who took her daughter.
And she couldn’t care less about Gibbs’ rules, telling her boss, “I want to fulfill the dying wish of our victim’s mother and you say, ‘Rule 10?’ No, Ziva was personally involved in every case. … And what about you? You were furious when she handed off the case because you take every case personally, too. No Rule 10. It’s B.S.”
Before throwing Ziva’s replacement off the case, he chokes out, “Every time I look at that desk, she’s not there. You ignore Rule 10, you end up dead, just like her.”
Bishop continues to willfully flout Rule 10, sending Gibbs off course with a lead on the basement’s possible location.
Gibbs, McGee and Torres find the basement but not Hill or Burke. However, Bishop does find them at a lakeside cabin thanks to her unsanctioned tip line. Hill holds Burke at gunpoint but she eventually wriggles free and dives off the dock, followed by Bishop, who fishes her out of the water and performs CPR.
Burke is soon reunited with Lily and Ramsey and Bishop visits Gibbs at home. He hands over the journal containing the letter from Burke’s mom and tells her where she can find Hill to fulfill Ziva’s promise.
After she departs, Gibbs pulls out the scrap of paper on which he wrote Rule 10 and tosses it into the fireplace.
When she gets to Hill’s hospital room, she learns someone beat her to the punch.
Bishop makes a beeline for Ziva’s safe house, where she finds a note: “For the sake of my family, please keep my secret.”
So is Ziva still alive after all? Maybe. If so, “NCIS” needs to stop torturing fans and give her to them soon. Otherwise, the writers run the risk of turning into Lucy from “Peanuts,” never letting Charlie Brown’s foot connect with the football.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2019/02/12/ncis-ziva-bishop-prove-gibbs-rules-were-meant-to-be-broken/2850090002/