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

Last night’s NCIS season finale was an explosive end to the season — because there was an actual explosion. And in the end, 18.7 million viewers were left wondering what would come of the team in season 10.

EW hopped on the phone with executive producer Gary Glasberg to chat about the big season ender — including what might come as a result of that big cliffhanger with longtime medical examiner Ducky, who had a heart attack in the final minutes of the episode. Read on for more:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m so glad that we spoke beforehand or else I would have been a wreck last night. Tell me about the decision to leave us off on this note. 

GARY GLASBERG: NCIS has historically, we’ve done these end arcs or established a villain that carries through for a few episodes, and this one is really no different in that respect. The one difference in the approach in this season was we wanted to deliver a true cliffhanger. [It’s] not the kind of thing you can do every year, but in this instance, we thought it was right and appropriate. We’ll pick things up with him at the beginning of season 10 and wrap it up pretty quickly — we’ve done that before as well. It’ll probably get wrapped up in the first episode. And then we’ll get into a series of self-contained story lines after that.

I really liked the team and family feel of this episode, like when the team gave their gifts to Jimmy before taking off to the wedding. Tell me about that.

Having this team work together as a family is really important to us and it’s really important to the fans. And I wanted to make sure that that moment was there — I didn’t want to rob people of the chance to experience some of the wedding, even though we weren’t going to see our people attending it. So the thought was to create that little moment in the squad room where we could see them interact as family members. And I hope it was successful. It was a nice little moment for everybody and the gifts were hopefully indicative of who they are. So I’m glad it came through.

Moving on to Jamie Lee Curtis’ character, Dr. Ryan. I’ve enjoyed her arc, are we in for more?

We started playing around with this mysterious background of her ex-husband, from the get go in season 9. We’ll have to see where it takes us and how it unfolds. The beauty of NCIS is that we can step away from a character for a very long time and revisit it down the road. That was very much a goodbye that happened between Ryan and Gibbs, and we’ll have to see how things unfold when we might be able to see her again. But having her on the show has been just fantastic and she and Mark [Harmon] are good friends. And I think that really came through in their relationship and how they played off each other. I think we were really lucky to have her.

Next: Ducky’s future

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.)

Related:

‘NCIS’ finale tops Tuesday ratings; ‘Got Talent’ slips

‘NCIS’ season finale: Too many lives in the balance!

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