Cote de Pablo, NCIS
When NCIS goes for an emotional gut-punch, it always hits hard.
In last week's episode, the veteran CBS drama walloped its audience with not one, but two deaths, as a shooting spree at the home of Director Vance (Rocky Carroll) took the lives of both Ziva's father Eli (Michael Nouri) and Vance's wife Jackie (Paula Newsome).
Winter TV: Get the scoop on your favorite returning shows
"I just couldn't help myself," executive producer Gary Glasberg tells TVGuide.com of the body count. "This is a story line that we've actually been thinking about for a long time — all the way back to last spring. I pulled Rocky Carroll aside and told him I was thinking of this scenario, and we really talked it through. We talked about the doors it would open for his character and things that this character would have to face as a single dad and as a widower. It all seemed exciting. It was new material and a new direction for Vance."
Indeed, Tuesday's episode will introduce guest star Greg Germann as Deputy Director Jerome Craig, who will assist Vance during this difficult time. "[Vance] is clearly going to need some time to be there for his family," says Glasberg, who notes that viewers won't necessarily see less of him. "It's just a matter of balancing work with personal life. You might see a different Director Vance while he's trying to figure out the personal stuff. Gibbs [Mark Harmon] steps up and everyone steps up on the work side."
Meanwhile, Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and the rest of the team will remain focused on figuring out who was behind the shooting. "There's a real sort of clue trail that unfolds specific to Ziva and her world as to who's responsible," Glasberg says. "Ziva certainly has to deal with the loss and the tumultuous familial background that she has."
Hot! Hot! Hot! Check out the sexiest Winter TV eye candy
In true NCIS fashion, however, the shooting may not be completely solved for a while. "We plant some seeds and throw some things out there," Glasberg says. "There will be some answers, but there won't be answers for everything. Some elements will resurface again four or five episodes from now and potentially steer us towards part of what the finale will be. Everything will sort of come together and drive us toward the end of the season."
Given how things were between Ziva and her father before his death, Glasberg says that Ziva will carry a certain amount of guilt, but she won't be overcome by it. "Even with the complexity of what existed between Ziva and Eli, at the end of the day, he was her father and she loved him," he says. "There are good memories that go with the bad. ... It absolutely weighs on her. When anyone loses someone, you think about what they meant to you and what part of them you continue to carry. I think those are questions she will continue to seek and look for answers to as she moves forward."
Glasberg promises that the show won't get bogged down in the heavier emotional issues. "Part of the beauty of NCIS is we can tackle a couple of story lines like this and in the matter of a few episodes, get back to a more traditional storytelling that has the lighter moments," he says. "People can still find humor even though they're going through a difficult time. They can still smile and they can still laugh, and that's what these characters manage to do."
Winter TV: Get the scoop on must-see new shows
But there could be some completely different emotional scenes between a grieving Ziva and Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly). "He's there as a friend and as a coworker, and you'll really see Tony be there for her and support her and emotionally be strong for her," Glasberg says. "It's all the things I hope that people who enjoy the Tony-Ziva relationship will look for. There's some really, really nice scenes between [them]."
As for "the moment" Tony and Ziva fans really want to see? "Not only will you see [Tony's] apartment again, but Ziva David will be in that apartment," Glasberg teases. "There are some very touching, emotional scenes that will happen between them in that apartment."
What did you think of NCIS' double-death twist? What do you hope happens next?