For Ziva fans, the beginning of the end is tonight when NCIS airs its season 11 premiere. It will be the start of Cote de Pablo's final run of episodes, as she will be departing the series after wrapping up her storyline.
In an interview with TV Guide Magazine, Pablo opened up about her decision to leave the series that she's been a part of since 2005, and even alludes to some behind-the-scenes drama surrounding her exit.
"As far as my decision to leave, that's a personal thing, and I'd rather leave it at that," she tells the mag. "The idea of leaving was not something I toyed around with for a long time. It was an overwhelmingly hard thing—at times terrifying."
She continued: "Did I want to leave under those circumstances? That's another story. But I'm not of the belief that you just take off and leave fans hanging. A lot of people don't get the privilege of going back to a set and being able to say goodbye to people. I left under my terms, and that was wonderful."
Rest assured Ziva devotees, her "terms" meant not having the character get killed off, thus leaving the door open for her to return to NCIS.
"The greatest thing about this last episode is that Ziva doesn't die," she said. "As long as a character doesn't die, the character can always come back. Not that it would actually matter, because we bring back characters from the dead all the time on NCIS!"
As for fans of Ziva's relationship with Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), Pablo promises a satisfying conclusion to their story.
"They'll get a resolution they've awaited for years," she promised. "There is a level of confession. And if it takes a big change like this to stir things up, it's all for the better. I'm a fan of the show! My first scene ever in the bullpen was with Michael, and my goodbye scene was with Michael. I feel like that was a beautiful way of ending—or now, certainly—a beautiful chapter between these two."
Pablo also recognized the overwhelming fan support since announcing her exit, even if most fans didn't understand why she was leaving.
"I was incredibly moved by the blind support people had without ever getting reasons as to why I left," she said. "People trusted that what I was doing was what I needed to do, and that's unconditional love from people who don't even know me. That's been the most beautiful thing out of this process."
NCIS' season premiere, titled "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," airs tonight on CBS. Pablo's last episode will be Tuesday, Oct. 1.