Sisterhood Blog

Mossad Daughter Keeps Me Glued to 'NCIS'

By Lilit Marcus

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Cote de Pablo plays Ziva David

This week marked the landmark 200th episode of the CBS procedural “NCIS.” The drama is about a team of agents at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. (In one early episode, they’re described as “the Internal Affairs of the Navy.”) Led by Special Agent Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), the team members balance their personal lives with the often-grisly cases they’re working on — with the scales usually tipping in the direction of their careers. “NCIS,” despite being one of the nation’s highest-rated shows, has an older demographic and therefore escaped the pop-cultural obsession that celebrates the likes of “Glee” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

I discovered “NCIS” on a rainy, aimless vacation day, and it has been my secret shame ever since. One of the reasons I’m so attached to the show is Special Agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), a former Mossad agent who joined the team in the third season. Despite being unevenly written, Ziva was always compelling: She was tough, fearless and, often, tender. As the layers began to peel away, we learned more about Ziva’s history: Her father, Eli David (Michael Nouri), was the director of Mossad and often placed his work ahead of his family life, even after Ziva’s sister Tali was killed in a Hamas attack. Ziva eventually gave up on repairing her relationship with her father and chose to begin a new life in America, becoming an American citizen and a full member of the “NCIS” team.

Although the actress who plays Ziva is Chilean, de Pablo clearly did some work on her accent, as she occasionally speaks lines in convincing Hebrew. Ziva’s Judaism is alluded to (she sports a Star of David) but it’s usually irrelevant to the plot. She’s about as Jewish as her coworker and sparring partner Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) is Catholic: culturally and emotionally, but not enough that it would make her miss work. But it’s clear how much Ziva’s background influences her approach to her job: She refuses to take no for an answer, and she is constantly on the lookout for terrorists.

“NCIS” is in its ninth season, and it’s not clear how much longer the show will last. Because of its enduring popularity, it could probably develop into a rotating-cast, “Law & Order” style program in which the format is the main attraction. As much as I like watching Ziva work, I don’t want to see her toil away at “NCIS” forever. Will she ever get promoted? Will she succumb to the more lucrative world of private security? Will she get killed off? Will she finally consummate her flirtation with DiNozzo? Being a central cast member on a popular show usually means that you can’t have too much storyline fluidity or do anything that upsets the chemistry of the series. Do I want Ziva to find a nice Jewish guy? Sure, but not if it means she has to give up her true love: justice.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ziva David, Television, NICS

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.