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So what’s going on with NCIS’s Ziva?

ziva-davidAh, Ziva David, what is going on in that crazy little head of yours? We’re trying to figure out if you are an Agent, or if you are an Officer. Frankly, I’m trying to figure out what the difference is. I guess the root question, really is where her loyalties lie. And when I say loyalties, I’m not just referring to NCIS or the Mossad, but to the men that make up those organizations, including Gibbs, her father, and, most importantly in my eyes, one Anthony D. DiNozzo.

I’ll be honest. It took me a long time to come around to the Ziva bandwagon. The death of Caitlin Todd was very sudden (for those not spoiled). I’ve been a fan of Sasha Alexander for a while, and I was not looking forward to her replacement, especially when they turned out to be such different personalities. Eventually, though, I warmed to her, mostly due to the interesting relationships she developed.

Ziva and Gibbs. I would love to say that they got off to an interesting start, but I truthfully still haven’t wrapped my head around their relationship. Ziva killed her brother Ari to save Gibbs. We the audience knew that Ari was a pretty bad guy, definitely a few crayons short of a full box kind of thing, but what does it take for a sister, half or otherwise, to make that leap of faith so quickly? Ignoring family is a big thing, especially when that family includes a father/boss who happens to be the Director of the Mossad. We’ve recently learned that he controls every detail of what his Officers do, so what exactly does that infer about Ari’s missions?

tony-and-zivaFather figures, real and adopted, have a great deal of influence, but I think its much more interesting to look at her relationship with Tony. He’s such a fun kind of guy, how could you not like him? It became increasingly apparent over the course of the fourth season how Ziva’s feelings for Tony have deepened. I think its obvious how much they cared for each other (even during the whole Tony/Jeanne thing). Since then, though, they have seen some bumps in the road, most notably (and recently), Tony killing Ziva’s boyfriend. Where will these two end up?

It was Ziva’s distrust of Tony that got her left in Israel. And thus, it also had a lot to do with the getting sent to Africa thing, and probably the torture stuff as well. She is in a tough spot now, but I’m sure someone will come to the rescue soon enough. Who will that person(s?) be? NCIS or Mossad? Daddy or Tony? Should the rescuers deserve the loyalty, or should it be Gibbs and Tony regardless?

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20 Responses to “So what’s going on with NCIS’s Ziva?”

May 26, 2009 at 10:13 AM

We’ve already been through my feelings about the Todd to David UPGRADE, so I won’t even bother with that.

I think we, and the show, fail to grasp that Ziva’s loyalties are actually to her country. It was preposterous for the writers to ever make us believe that she was ensconced in a comfortable role in the US without constantly doing something for Israel, whether or not she was in any official capacity with NCIS, or the Mossad. And I readily admit that I was lulled into believing that, but it’s just impossible.

After serving her mandatory tour in the army, Ziva would have graduated into a black ops unit, where she’d have spent 3-7 years. Then, to the Mossad, on missions and undercover for X amount of years, before her father landed her a sweet liaison position with NCIS. But never would it have been a job and not an assignment, and she should have been regularly flying back and forth, conferring with other agencies, traveling on Mossad business, etc.

I believe that the show will agree with you, Ivey, and make it a heart wrenching decision for her to break from her father, and as a result the Mossad, and come down on the side of Tony and Gibbs. But is that theoretically possible in real life? Nope.

May 26, 2009 at 7:27 PM

It couldn’t happen in real life? There are women across the planet with Daddy Issues. Hell, Lost wouldn’t know how to do back stories if it wasn’t for the trope, and its a trope that is deeply rooted in reality.

In Ziva’s case, yes, I most certainly think it could happen.

A) She has already chosen Gibbs, having only known him for days, over her brother… By KILLING him.

B) She has found out how complicit her father was at manipulating her with the use of Micheal. We also saw Eli say that nothing happens without his control, so again I ask (And, legitimately ask, because I’m not sure) could Ari have been another operation of Eli’s?

May 26, 2009 at 7:31 PM

“She has already chosen Gibbs, having only known him for days, over her brother… By KILLING him.”

Maybe I’m remembering wrong, but didn’t Vance say something to the effect of Ziva really killing her brother on orders from her father, not out of concern for Gibbs.

May 26, 2009 at 7:40 PM

I actually don’t remember, and am a bit confused by all that transpired in that regard (Why I am hoping someone will set me straight).

But, even still… If my father ordered me to kill my brother to get in good with some rivals, I think I might take issue.

May 26, 2009 at 8:12 PM

Vance suggested that she didn’t do anything other than what her father wanted her to do. Basically, implying that she killed Ari on her father’s orders.

But, just because Vance said it doesn’t make it so. Though that theory is out there.

May 26, 2009 at 8:48 PM

Ivey – I don’t disagree, but you’re also thinking about your brother who you know and were raised with; how much more was Ari to Ziva than a fellow Mossad officer?

May 26, 2009 at 8:51 PM

Ayreh: I could be remembering this wrong (admittedly about all of these details), but wasn’t it Ari in the picture that both Ziva and Eli had that was constantly shown in the finale? I thought they had grown up together?

May 26, 2009 at 9:09 PM

I assumed it was Michael and Ziva, but even if it was Ari, I’m not really sure that makes a definitive statement about his and Ziva’s childhood. I read somewhere that Ari and Ziva were close; she was his control officer with the Mossad. So, because he reported back to her, they were tight siblings?

I think it speaks once again to her sense of duty to Israel, whatever her relationship was with Ari (and I still maintain that they didn’t have a familial one) . If someone’s a threat to the security of your country, you take them out. If she didn’t have the ability to do it for country, she would have died a long time ago.

May 26, 2009 at 8:56 PM

Again, your first point goes to siblings as we know them, not same father … and no other connection.

Yes, I imagine that Ari was 100% ordered killed by Eli, and he gave the order to Ziva with 50 steps thought out ahead of time. I don’t think the writers thought that out in advance, but its very believable a concoction at this point.

However, I still argue that you’re unduly generalizing women as women; saying that women across the planet have daddy issues (the brazen way in which you say that implies that there’s no wife reading over your shoulder ;)) ignores the fact that I built a case for why Ziva would be different, and therefore not subject to the traditional way in which you’re evaluating her. If her “daddy issues” were a compelling part of her decision making process, she would have been murdered long ago on some undercover mission in some Arab country. I’m taking her back-story and applying it to who she would be today; arguing the opposite, while possibly true on the show, only goes to prove my original point that NCIS “fail(s) to grasp that Ziva’s loyalties are actually to her country.” The original mistake is the show’s.

May 26, 2009 at 9:06 PM

I certainly didn’t mean the ‘Daddy Issues’ comment in that way. What I meant to say that it is enough of a trope, both in fiction and in reality, that it makes for reasonable plot arc. In my defense, I would also state that drama has gotten the better of men than women in their relationships with their parents (Oedipus anyone?).

I just don’t agree about where Ziva’s loyalty lies. I need to go back through the points that you’ve made… When you say that NCIS should realize that Ziva’s loyalty is to her country, are you talking about the organization (i.e. Vance, Gibbs) or the show and the writers?

May 26, 2009 at 9:10 PM

The show; sorry … italics would go a long way in conveying intent!

May 26, 2009 at 1:25 PM

Tony a nice guy? He should have been reported for sexual harrassement years ago, Gibbs protection or not he’s competely unprofessional and crosses the boundries of acceptable behavior for any woman with a sense of self worth. The description of grown up frat boy may have been cute the first or second season but the writers have time and time again refused or failed to have this character grow up.

He so clearly wants to be the man Gibbs is and they’ve done nothing to show us he is capable of doing so – the closest they came to humanizing him from frat boy was the Jeanne story line. Do I expect diNozzo to suddenly show up and marry/settle down? Of course not, but I expect him to mature into a lead agent that isn’t still doing the gay probie abuse and the leering wet t-shirt on the mobile phone.

Gibbs saw enough of diNozzo’s skills to leave him in charge when he “retired.” Let’s see more of that next season when he’s faced with the consquences of what he did to Ziva – the one woman who is man enough not to take his crap.

This show has always functioned well in the grey area – let’s keep it non-sexual abusive, verbal abuse, frat boy grey.

May 26, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Problem is that the show is not allowed to change their characters or have any kind of development. This is not the kind of show that requires this. It’s a show for old people just like J.A.G. was. Or for people working with the armed services. It’s supposed to deliver light entertainment each week and it does so perfectly. diNozzo has to be this way as he portrays that aspect of the armed services. The other characters take over the other aspects. Ziva is loyal, Gibbs is the leader, Probie is the underdog, Paulie Perrette is the geek, McCullum is the Old guy. You know…. I mean honestly Grace, where did you ever find political correctness on this show? Women are not equal on this show, if you look at it directly, both the former director as well as Ziva are the most manly women you find on TV. Cold, calculating… I mean Ziva isn’t even really pining over diNozzo. She has a light crush, that’s all. On the other hand she’s not doing even doing a “G.I. Jane” on the show at all. And on top of that nobody really has sex on this show, they don’t have real relationships, nothing really happens. There simply IS no development, no growth, and I really think that this is how it’s supposed to be.

May 26, 2009 at 7:36 PM

Hey, I’m not old, nor am I retired military, and I like this show (And, for the record, JAG), nor am I the only one that doesn’t fit that demographic. NCIS has experienced excellent ratings, IIRC, BUILDING over the seasons. Pretty impressive feat.

People that know me know that to me, know that I at all times think, “Its the Characters, Stupid,” when it comes to good drama, be it literature, film, or television. And that a good character isn’t defined by personality, but growth. Growth doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that their personalities completely change. Pop in a DVD of Season One, and you tell me that these characters haven’t changed over time.

Furthermore, I’d include Caitlin Todd and Abbey in your characterization of women on the show. Throwing their personalities into the mix, I think it would be hard to say that all women on the show are ‘manly men.’ Not created equal? The smartest person on the show is Abbey.

May 29, 2009 at 4:20 PM

I bought the Season 1 and 2 DVD sets and sold them after I watches Season 4. I found that the show is lacking in what I count as character development. I’d now check if you are right but can’t anymore, I don’t have the episodes here anymore.

For the record – I liked JAG too, I also liked the first three or four years of NCIS but it really got boring. It’s always the same and I really, honestly think that there is no development at all in this show. I mean I don’t think people are developing on L&O:CI either – we find out stuff about their lives, we see them deal with those situations – but they basically stay the same. I mean they don’t change their behavior. Just because I know WHY they act the way they do I don’t think THEY change but rather my knowledge about them. I really don’t think that DiNozzo is growing at all. The actor maybe who turned down the family fortune in importing swiss army knives to become an actor (and joking about it in Season 2) but not the character as such. I mean the guy did not have a serious relationship in five years. I really think this show is like sitcoms without a story arc – or shows without a story arc.

Man I’d really love to live nearby Ivey and simply lend your DVDs to find out. Hrm. This is my perception of the show and it’s annoying me that I can’t find out whether you are right or not…

May 29, 2009 at 9:07 PM

I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I think the S4 arc, his relationship with Jeanne, completely counts as serious relationship. Granted it started off forced, but Tony really felt for her, and the emotional toil he went through still reverberates in his characterization now.

Yes, he’s still “immature” in the sense that he jokes around, but that does not make him an immature person in general.

May 26, 2009 at 4:23 PM

I get the feeling that some of y’all have not been watching this show for very long. NCIS is character-driven, and the characters must grow and change, else the show is stagnant. Some do better (Jethro, Tony) than others (Abby, Caitlin). Even Ducky (the old man?) has begun including psychological analysis in his autopsies. The team has lost members (Caitlin), been deceived (by more than just their suspects), set up, shot at, and split up. I’m not sure how someone could think a show that routinely deals with the pursuit of terrorists is considered “light entertainment.” Hats off to all the writers as well as the actors (Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Cote de Pablo, Sean Murray, David McCallum, Pauley Perrette, Rocky Carroll, Brian Dietzen) for the great job they’ve done.

Now, for Ziva: I have no doubt that her loyalty to her father outstrips everything. She saw a father figure in Gibbs and either couldn’t or wouldn’t handle the conflict when she had to choose between the two. Ziva’s an incredibly layered character; I was rooting for Cote de Pablo after her debut, ’cause it’s gotta be hard coming in after the loss of a major character (Caitlin Todd in season 2). I’m sure she got her share of crap from fans, but she’s really developed the character well. I hope it’s not the last we see of Ziva.

May 26, 2009 at 6:36 PM

I understand and it has been stressed that Tony came from civilian PD rather than from within the Miltary however frat boy tactics would not be condoned by any supervisor that has a firm, strong backbone within, as active, retired or TD Marine/Naval officer. I use Marine/Naval since this is NCIS and that is their base. I have watched this program since series one and haven’t seen much growth in anyone. Ducky getting the psych autopsy degree or certificate seemed more of a plot point for when Gibbs came back and the writers needed a friction between the old friends rather than a growth point for Ducky.

I do agree the women on the show are more manly than the men but still written as second class background – Caitlin came from Secret Service and Ziva from Mossad both service that require women to be a bit more than just window dressing. I never assume political correctness in anything fiction, especially television I just hoped for more since it came from producers who had previously done (JAG) a series where the show was more equal in its portrayal of characters and did allow them growth.

Ziva will be back, she’ll be conflicted, she’ll kick ass and be hostile to all around then we’ll have one Very Special Episode where she figures out Daddy set her up with Ari and Gibbs is a really really great guy and she’ll swear her allegiance to him. Then we’ll have the will he/won’t he/is he of the Director and His Big Secret. Toss in one or two where Gibbs goes all doe eyes over someone with a child and starts a new boat and there goes the new season.

Yup, nothing will change, CBS receives respectable ratings and I fast forward through the Tony sections.

May 28, 2009 at 1:17 AM

i keep reading everyone’s responses to the finale and i think i’m one of the only ones who caught this…didn’t anyone else pick up on the look between ziva and gibbs when he left her in israel? i think ziva has always known that her loyalty lies with gibbs. she can’t stand her father, nor trust him. the only reason she decided to stay behind is because she wants to find out if her father was behind the kill order for michael. it was a silent nod between her and gibbs. gibbs knew why she wanted to stay behind, and that’s why he didn’t argue, gave her a kiss on the cheek and left.
i think her father is the one who is holding her to try to get info on NCIS.
gibbs and tony will come and rescue her, unknowing to vance.

June 4, 2009 at 8:01 PM

Yes!! Thank-you! I’ve been arguing with my son for days about the look Gibbs gave Ziva. He swears I’m reading too much into the story. Gibbs also looked over at her father and back to her. Ziva needed it to look like she got left behind in order for her father to trust her motives for staying there. Apparently she didn’t get much time to hang around and check on her father, she got shipped out immediately and captured. I’m sure there will be some sort of plot line about Ziva having been deceived and used by one or both governments, that will end with Gibbs going to her rescue.