Cote de Pablo said that the next premiere is "a heavy DiNozzo episode," which makes sense considering the end of NCIS season 8. This isn't the first time he was handed an assignment from a higher-up that he can't tell anyone about, but as was seen with Jeanne Benoit, there doesn't seem to be a history of that ending up going well for him. Will the same thing happen this time? De Pablo also said "he goes through the mill" and talks about "watching him get in touch with his emotions." It has been teased that whoever was in that photo is someone that viewers will recognize, meaning that will obviously affect Tony even more. Who could be the one that Tony has to take down however possible? What will the aftermath of this assignment mean for Tony and the rest of the team?
There will be a woman there from the past to help him, but it's not one many might think it could be. It's not Ziva, and it's not EJ either. The woman returning has quite the connection to the team, and she showed up last season to get some closure of her own. Dr. Rachel Cranston, who showed up to do psychological evaluations on the team in season 8's "A Man Walks Into a Bar..." is returning for NCIS season 9. She had some very interesting insights into each team member, but those weren't what made the episode (or her character) so special. It was the final scenes of that NCIS dvd season 8 episode which revealed that Rachel wanted to meet those closest to her sister Kate to find closure. That episode was very well done and even featured a scene between Tony and Kate not previously shown, and hopefully Rachel's return will be just as good. She seems like a good choice to help Tony with what the classified assignment does to him and it will be interesting to see what she has to say this time, especially since she's not just a therapist (remember, Tony did realize whom she reminded him of in their final scene together in "A Man Walks Into a Bar..."). That connection to his past may be just what he needs after whatever happens with this mole.