‘FBI’ Star Zeeko Zaki Previews ‘Victim’ Episode in Which His Character OA Zidan Is Mugged: ‘It Shifts His Perspective’

“It really just comes down to not wanting to show weakness in a job that requires 100% strength,” says Zaki of his character’s reaction

Zeeko Zaki in the "Victim" episode of "FBI"
Zeeko Zaki in the "Victim" episode of "FBI" (Bennett Raglin/CBS)

In Tuesday night’s “Victim” episode of “FBI” Season 5, Zeeko Zaki’s character, Special Agent Omar Adom “OA” Zidan, is mugged on the street, but refuses to tell his colleagues about the traumatic incident. It gives him greater insight into a victim who was attacked by a serial killer and survived, but it also makes him more volatile when cornering the prime suspect.

CBS hasn’t yet announced which episode will see the return of Missy Peregrym’s character, Special Agent Maggie Ball, who was sidelined by nerve damage after being exposed to sarin gas, but Zeeko Zaki teased that she will “hit the ground running.” And that OA might be a little overprotective as she goes back into the field.

Peregrym has been out on maternity leave since late last season and has already shot two Season 5 episodes. Said Zaki, “It’s just really exciting to see us all on screen together again. There’s just some really, really good stuff that I’m excited for everybody to see, but I can’t give any spoilers.”

Zaki spoke to TheWrap about why OA reacts the way he does and how it will affect his character going forward:

TheWrap: What were you told to expect when you first learned about this episode?

Zaki: The one note they gave me was “embarrassment.” And it was fun to linger on that word for a little bit, realizing what that meant and how we were going to explore this vulnerable side of OA.

Why is it so hard for OA to tell his team about what happened to him?

I think OA spent five years trying to build very, very strong walls in his personal life. In this, and in everything, he puts work first. And when it comes to traumatic events in our personal lives, [and how it] affects the work and our mental health, I think we tried to show that sometimes you can’t compartmentalize these things. I think for him, it really just comes down to not wanting to show weakness in a job that requires 100% strength.

Because of his own assault, being a victim makes him more sympathetic to victims and their families in the case he’s currently working.

Yes, but I think at the end of the day, it makes him more sympathetic to himself. You know, the key for OA is seeing a tangible result from not shutting away things that happen to you. He sees that you can solve a case by allowing yourself to sit with something bad that happened:  It shifts his perspective when it comes to victims. It’s going to be fun to play moving forward and fun to see happen on screen.

After being mugged, Special Agent Omar Adom ‘OA’ Zidan (Zeeko Zaki) is rougher than usual with
a suspect in a different case in the “FBI” Season 5 episode “Victim.” (Bennett Raglin/CBS)

He’s kind of out of control when he confronts a suspect in the serial killer case. If you were, say, OA’s boss in that situation, would you have taken him off the case?

I think that’s the question that OA doesn’t want the answer to: “Will I be taken off the case?” That’s his safe space, the case right now. I think it comes down to this sort of OCD, perfectionism that maybe isn’t a relatable character note in the workplace, but when your work has to do with life and death, we have to create a safe space to acknowledge the personal traumas. They can’t threaten our jobs, they can’t threaten our family relationships. They have to be able to be explored healthily and acknowledged, because evil is part of this world. If we don’t actively try to create a safe place for understanding that evil, then I think it will continue to to catch us off guard.

Do you think ultimately this incident is going to make him a better agent?

I think it has to. I think any connecting with what is considered the other side of the line will help OA, will hopefully, give us more opportunity to show the effects the real world has on the people trying to protect it.

Nina (Shantel VanSanten) is his partner right now and he freezes her out, but would he have told Maggie any sooner about the mugging if she were there?

I think he would have not told Maggie sooner than Nina. Yes, he is more comfortable with Maggie, but would not want to show her as much weakness as he might show someone that isn’t going to be in his life for a while. OA is trying to be Maggie’s protector. Regardless of how well he has done that with her absence. I think the way he hides it from the rest of [his team] is the way he would have hid it from Maggie, especially from the beginning. But I think she might have dug a little deeper, a little quicker, but we’ll see if we get to experience things like that.

When Maggie returns, do she and OA have to feel each other out again in terms of where they are? Because they both been through but a lot in the meantime.

Yeah, I think at the end of the day, you can always rely on our agents to be in top shape. The feeling each other out is definitely part of any reunion. But the way we do that, I think, is going to be exciting to see.

I’m guessing OA will be a little overly protective of her because of what she went through.

I think it’d be safe to assume so.

What was the mood like on set when Missy first came back?

Oh my gosh, it was great. It was great. She came back on our premiere day. It was extremely exciting. The baby’s beautiful and she’s healthy and she looks great.  

“FBI” Season 5 Episode 4 “Victim” airs Tuesday night on CBS.