Richard Cartwright/CBS
May 16, 2012 at 10:27 PM EDT

On to the cliffhanger. Next season, are we going to pick up not too far after that?

Yeah, I think so. I’ve been playing with this idea of picking up a few hours after we left off. And then somewhere around the middle of the episode of the season opener [jump ahead] and get us back into real time. This show has always sort of played itself in real time, so we’ll have to figure out a way for us to get us there, and I think I’ve come up with something.

What I enjoyed about that explosion was how it served as a great send-off to Scott Wolf as Jonathan Cole.

Wasn’t he great? I was really pleased with the way that character’s arc progressed, and it was done in a way that only someone like Scott could pull off. He started off as sort of the standard villain and just kind of developed all kinds of complexity as the season went on into this fantastic moment of redemption for himself. And I really think that Scott managed to deliver a terrific performance, and I was just thrilled to have him.

Now, let’s talk about Ducky. You warned me something would happen with him back in March, so I knew something was coming in regard to that character. But tell me what he’s facing next season.

Well, that’ll give you a sense about how long we’ve been talking about this. David [Mccallum] and I have been talking about it for months, and he’s been preparing for it. And he was absolutely 100 percent willing to play along, and we wanted to be very secretive about it and keep it under wraps, and it’s really going to give his character a new perspective on life coming back from what he experienced. I’m not going to play games with people. People know he signed a new contract and he is coming back to see us, so it’ll be more about the way the character evolves and the fact that he’s got Palmer there to help him when he comes back. And as a medical examiner who deals with the dead, and deals with death on a daily basis, to have an experience like that is significant. And we’ll play that throughout the season.

You also told me earlier this episode would see hints of personal progression between Tony and Ziva — that we’d get a sense of what they want from the future. What’s next?

That was fun, I wanted to make sure there was at least one Tony/Ziva moment in the finale and I think that it provided that. The only other thing I’ll say is that it was no accident to put them in the elevator together in the end. So, we’ll have to see where that picks up with them in the season opener.

(Erin Strecker contributed to this report.)

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