By Peter Lesser ( | First Posted: Sep 03, 2013 11:25 AM EDT

A massive storm brings the NCIS team aboard the USS Borealis, where everyone becomes a suspect once the crime scene proves that Mother Nature wasn’t the only culprit. Tension builds when McGee discovers that his estranged father, Navy Admiral John McGee, was on board during the incident, on NCIS (Photo : Sonja Flemming/CBS)

A grand welcome home is always cause for celebration. To feel the warmth of someone or something in your arms feeds the soul and warms the heart. It fills a dark void that has remained vacant since the initial departure. There are few things sweeter. There are times, however, when a welcome is shrouded in a looming goodbye. People and things come and go. Permanence is a rarity.

Upon the return of “NCIS” this fall, fans will have the displeasure of saying goodbye to one of the show’s most beloved characters. Cote de Pablo’s Ziva will be leaving the force, masking the glory of the series’ return in a cloud of heartbreak. As fans prepare for the bittersweet return, they continue to dig ravenously for details on her impending departure, and lucky for them, TVLine has provided them with what they so desperately crave. In a recent interview with original cast member Michael Weatherly, the actor talks about filming his final scenes with Pablo and reflects on past seasons.

“I remember being with Cote at the end of Season 5, walking through the Mojave desert and into a diner and seeing Lauren Holly’s wax dummy in a pool of blood,” after Jenny Shepard had been killed by a Russian hitman. “I thought, ‘This is crazy! I didn’t see this coming at all. I mean, she’s the director of NCIS!”

Weatherly went on to talk about other major deaths in the show’s past that have changed its course forever, noting that despite the numerous goodbyes, the show still remains one of the most watched scripted programs on television. “We have great writers and a remarkable core DNA that Bellisario created, and somehow it’s so sturdy that is withstands all of these changes.”

As for the September 24 premiere on CBS, Weatherly says, “I can’t give away all the pinpoints, but I found the first two episodes immensely satisfying.”

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