NCIS season 18 finally premiered on CBS following a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The early run of the latest installment will focus on a storyline from the past, which means some familiar faces could show up. One of the most anticipated returns is Cote de Pablo's Ziva David.

At the moment, nothing is confirmed that Ziva will make an appearance in NCIS season 18. Initially, it was believed the character was dead after the mortar attack in season 13. She made a surprising appearance in the season 16 finale, then in four more episodes in season 17.

It was revealed that Ziva faked her death to protect Tony Dinozzo (Michael Weatherly) and their daughter Tali. However, she was forced to show up to give Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) a warning. After her appearance in the two previous seasons, she went to Paris and reunited with her family.

Now, fans wonder whether there will be another surprising appearance of Ziva in NCIS season 18. Yet, it looks like there are no current plans to bring the character back - at least, for the time being. Executive producer Steve Binder has something to say about the subject.

Speaking to CarterMatt, Binder made it clear that de Pablo's return in season 17 was a "story-driven appearance." They didn't bring Ziva back to throw the story at her, and her arrival was just part of the much larger plot and to keep the story going.

The executive producer further said that they'd got many "other fish to fry" before going back and thinking about another story. NCIS season 18 needs to address other stories, including the opioid ring plot, as well as Jack Sloane's (Maria Bello) departure.

Meanwhile, executive producer Frank Cardea told the aforementioned website that they'd compressed the latest installment. CBS has cut back the episode orders since the series had a delayed premiere date. There will be fewer episodes this time than they normally have in a "non-COVID year."

The procedural drama was one of the many shows impacted by the current global health crisis. The previous installment was forced to shut down filming, leading to airing an alternative season 17 finale. Now, the current installment will only have 16 episodes -- instead of the usual 24.

In another report, the premiere rating was down to around 33 percent from the start of the previous installment. CarterMatt noted that season 17 premieres with Ziva's long-awaited return, which pulled the ratings up. Despite the decrease, the new season still brought 10 million live viewers.

NCIS season 18 new episodes arrive every Tuesday on CBS.