Don't get your hopes up for the return of Ziva David, NCIS fans, but you don't have to rule out a happy ending for her and Tony and their daughter, either.
On NCIS Season 16 Episode 13, Ellie found a photo of the former NCIS dynamo when researching an old case that led her to a pretty surprising discovery.
When a young girl is found living in a storage locker, an all-out search for her mother who is still being held captive somewhere.
During her research into the old files associated with the case, Ellie discovers Ziva had a personal interest in the case and continued to work it long after it was considered closed.
While Ziva was never able to solve the case, she carefully noted everything she found and more importantly everything she felt while working it.
Even though Gibbs Rule #10 is "Never get personally involved in a case," Ziva had been doing it during her entire tenure with NCIS. Ellie realized that it not only helped Ziva to cope with everything she saw but helped her to see the cases more clearly, too.
Ellie learned that Ziva had a little office that nobody knew about, and inside that office, she found dozens of composition books filled with all of Ziva's thoughts.
Ziva never had the luxury of not getting involved personally in a case because she took every case to heart. That's how you get involved.
Ellie showed everything to Gibbs, but he wasn't interested in hearing anything about it and even warned Ellie that if she continued to hold back from him, she'd be gone.
That's not what Ellie wanted, of course. She wanted to learn what she could about the case and about Ziva David.
Ellie admitted she finds it hard to live in the shadow of Ziva.
Ziva is not only remembered fondly by the co-workers who loved her, but she is a legend in the office. Her desk remains empty, and every day Ellie wishes she had the opportunity to meet Ziva and to learn from her.
Ellie was surprised that Palmer was such good friends with Ziva, but he had a lot to share about the case as well as Ziva personally.
Palmer recognized the fire in Ellie's eyes and doled out his advice with his old friend in mind. If Ziva had found a roomful of Ellie's thoughts and believed they could be beneficial, she'd plow into them without a second thought.
Ellie demanded Gibbs listen to her and pay attention to what was in the books Ziva kept so carefully.
She saved the day, of course, and there was a happy ending. It wouldn't have done at all for Ellie to learn so much from Ziva only to have the case fall apart in the end.
What "She" did was allow Ellie to benefit from Ziva's wisdom and to better understand the whirlwind of a woman who came before her. It also gave her the recognition she needed from Gibbs and made him second-guess his thoughts on Rule #10.
Tossing Rule #10 into the fire was a testament to Ellie's determination and Gibb's understanding of his newer recruit. While Ziva can never be replaced, that doesn't mean there isn't someone to replace the massive void in her wake.
Kasie's celebration of Random Day fit well into the overall theme of the hour and how much you gain from listening, feeling, and understanding those around you.
But the biggest revelation of all came when Ellie tried to carry out Ziva's wishes on her behalf.
Ziva included a letter from the earlier victim's mother in her journal, and Ellie decided to honor them both by reading it to the man who was captured as the kidnapper.
But when she got there, he'd already heard it -- from Ziva herself!
At least that's the way it looked as the hour rounded out. Ellie investigated further to find there were two copies of the letter, and in the little office was a coat, scarf, and a note to Ellie.
"Eleanor Bishop, For the safety of my family, Please keep my secret."
It's unsigned but opens up a lot of speculation. What does it mean? Is Ziva back in the United States? Maybe she has already reunited with Tony and they're living happily ever after off screen and out of sight.
It felt like a fitting way to pay tribute to a character the fans love and to follow up on the fact her body was never discovered. It allows for hope as the show continues and lets the legend of Ziva (and Tiva) continue.
It also provided a stamp of approval from Ziva onto Ellie for both viewers and Ellie. She needed to know how she measured up against the former hero, and if the letter is any indication, she's measured up well.
So what did you think, NCIS Fanatics? Do you want more from this story, or are you pleased with what it meant to the show as it is and how it once was?
We can't wait to hear from you.
Don't forget that you can watch NCIS online to relive all of the magic Ziva brought to the show.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.