It was also a shock for Diona Reasonover, who plays forensic scientist Kasie Hines. Speaking to Digital Spy, Reasonover shared that it was wonderful having de Pablo back on set.
"She's great, she's really cool," Reasonover said, recalling the first table read and seeing de Pablo and Mark Harmon (Gibbs) reading lines.
"That first episode, they're having this crossfire exchange – 'Wouldn't you have more time with your daughter', 'Yes, I love my daughter', 'I wasn't talking about Kelly, I was talking about me!' – and I'm like, 'Whoa!'
"It was very cool to watch two talented actors just really going for it in this scene. And I think that's when it really hit me. I was like, 'Wow, I'm part of something which is so much bigger than I could have ever imagined I would be a part of.'"
Reasonover added that Ziva's initial return at the end of the last season was kept secret from her, saying that she only found out when she watched the episode on the night of broadcast.
"I feel like everybody secretly knew but me!" she laughed. "Not only did I find out after probably all the cast and crew, but I found out after the East Coast too, because I had been watching on West Coast time.
"Everybody knew about this except for me! I was the last one to know."
De Pablo will be returning for two more episodes later in season 17, and while Reasonover is delighted by this, she admitted that she doesn't know anything about what will happen or whether or not it could lead to a more permanent return for Ziva.
"They don't tell me nothing!" she said. "This is one of those where I don't know when the character's coming back or what the storyline will be.
"Would I love to hang out with Cote more because she's very cool? Yes, I would love that. Do I know if it's going to happen? I have no clue."
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Elsewhere, the actress teased that viewers can expect to see a big episode for Kasie before the end of this year.
"We're going to have a chance to learn about the people that are important to Kasie, and they're going to meet an old friend of hers that really tells you a lot about the way she interacts with people outside of work," she said.
"You'll get to see her work life and personal life sort of collide in that episode. It was a really tough episode to film emotionally, because it is so different from what we've seen of Kasie."
NCIS airs on CBS in the US, and on FOX UK in the UK.
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