The countdown to the NCISseason finale begins now.
Now that Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and Vance (Rocky Carroll) have given Ziva (Cote de Pablo) permission to pursue her rogue investigation of Ilan Bodner, all of her actions — beginning with a Tony (Michael Weatherly) and Ziva trip to Berlin on Tuesday's episode (8/7c, CBS) —will feed into the season's ultimate conclusion.
"From this point on, all of these episodes connect and they all propel us toward the finale," executive producer Gary Glasberg tells TVGuide.com. "'Berlin' functions as both a significant part of the Bodner story and has a tremendous Tony/Ziva personal story line that goes along with it. It's primarily work-related, but there are little moments that give them an opportunity to connect and hopefully satisfy a lot of our Tiva fans."But before Tony and Ziva kick off their European jaunt/manhunt, Ziva will meet new Mossad Director Orli Elbaz (Star Trek: The Next Generationalum Marina Sirtis), the woman replacing Ziva's murdered father. Naturally, their meeting will be fraught with various emotions, but perhaps for reasons other than the obvious. "There's tremendous tension between these two women and there's also a big reveal of what that relationship is about," Glasberg teases. Adds Sirtis: "There's electricity. Ziva's intensity is like a counterfoil to what my character's feeling. She has a history with Ziva, and it's kind of mind-blowing."
But don't expect Elbaz to be a shrinking flower. "She's kickass. She's strong. She's manipulative. She uses every weapon in her female arsenal," Sirtis says. "These parts for middle-aged women in Hollywood do not come along very often. I'm thrilled that the producers of the show were brave enough to cast a woman in this role. They're prepared to take risks. It's a big gamble."Ziva isn't the only NCIS agent Elbaz rubs the wrong way during her visit to Virginia to investigate a Mossad officer's death. "She's supposedly come to the United States to solve a case, but she's not totally upfront about what's going on," Sirtis says. "As you can imagine, [Gibbs] gets very upset that she's keeping things from him. Let's just say they don't start off on the right foot."Fortunately for Sirtis, her relationship with Mark Harmon wasn't so intense behind the camera. "I love him," she says. "He got me breakfast one day. I said, 'You can't get me breakfast — you're No. 1 on the call sheet. He said, 'Oh, don't be ridiculous.' And I actually thought, 'I love Patrick Stewart with all my heart, but if I had waited for him to feed me, I'd have died of starvation.'"
Sirtis says Elbaz and Gibbs won't have necessarily patched things up by the end of the episode, so she expects to be an antagonist when she returns next season. But she thinks the audience will immediately understand her character's motivations. "In one episode, we really get to see how she ticks," Sirtis says. "Not maybe so much what makes her tick, but without even having met her before, she comes into the episode and has a history with the people. It gave me so much to work with. I wasn't acting in a void or a vacuum. I knew why people felt a certain way about her or not, so it was very, very helpful."NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by a joint venture between Lionsgate and CBS.)Watch a clip from the episode below: