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NCIS Review: Double DiNozzo Duty

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It's not quite art imitating life, but it is awfully coincidental that the investigation into the unexplained drowning of Robert Wagner's late wife, movie star Natalie Wood, was just re-opened after 30 years, with the actor's actions during one infamous, booze-filled night the week of Thanksgiving arousing suspicion.

No one is implying Wagner was responsible for Wood's demise - he wasn't a suspect then and isn't now - but his NCIS character found himself at the center of a similarly mysterious case in "Sins of the Father."

This time, Tony DiNozzo, Sr., was accused of murdering a business colleague, and the seriousness of that offense made for a more subdued encounter than Wagner's previous two free-wheeling appearances.

It was still a strong episode, however, thanks primarily to Michael Weatherly, whose command of the whirlwind of emotions experienced by "Junior" throughout the evening was pitch perfect.

Tony Jr. and Tony Sr. Picture

Weatherly and Wagner pull off the father-son dynamic brilliantly, even if their relationship is anything but conventional. This hour showed each actor at his best, both individually and playing off the other.

In the middle of the DiNozzos was Gibbs, not only the lead investigator but Tony Jr.'s de facto father figure. Gibbs showed again why he's such an effective leader a in a case that was as messy as they get.

He sidelined Tony, but had his back. Chastised him for getting too involved, but understood completely. Didn't give Senior the benefit of the doubt by any means, but showed him mercy for Tony's sake.

Weatherly was terrific as the flustered agent and son longing for answers from his ... regarding this case and so much more. Mark Harmon, as usual, was the steady hand, the man the team looks up to.

There was no B story or side plot tonight. It was all about Tony Sr. from the opening credits to the conclusion, with the whole team immersed in the case of the late Lt. Massey, found dead in Senior's Rolls.

Rented, of course. For a deal that never ended up happening.

At first I was skeptical that the elder DiNozzo would be the focal point of a case, again. Once the details were spelled out, however, it actually seemed like the kind of thing he would be involved in.

While it was near impossible to believe the NCIS writers would make our very special agent's dad a killer, things didn't look good after he admitted being hosed by - and threatening to kill - the deceased.

He had motive, means, opportunity, way too much to drink, no recollection of what happened and a history of various shady (if not illegal) dealings. Not exactly a recipe for clearing one's name in a hurry.

Even Senior knew he was up against it this time. Rather than acting like he was above it all or pulling his usual salesman schtick, he seemed as desperate for answers as his son, who was off the case.

Luckily, Junior is a fine investigator and Dornigan a poor handler (likable fella, at least). Even if it meant going against orders, Tony wasn't about to let the old man go down for a murder he didn't commit.

Gibbs and Tony Sr.

It's hard to tell what bothered Tony more, his father's tribulations or being held back from the case. Clearly both ate away at Junior, who tried anything and everything to be involved, from failed attempts to bribe Abby to full-on wrestling files out of McGee's hands in full view of other colleagues.

Gibbs made the right call in his attempts to distance Tony as best he could, even if that proved futile. Gibbs was also right to ignore Tony's breaches of protocol after the fact (did Vance even have to ask), and earlier, when he bluntly stated that his understudy deserves much better than this clown for a father.

Entertaining as Senior (and Junior's stories about Senior) can be, it's hard not to feel bad for the younger.

Instead of chasing women and money, he could have been with a son who just wanted a dad. Even now their relationship is not exactly emotionally transparent ... though their exchange at the end was a start.

The scenes at Chez Gibbs - so many memorable moments seem to take place there, with a wide range of characters, late at night - were among the episode's finest. Who didn't laugh out loud at him heating up some warm milk for his guest? Or at the sight of Senior in Gibbs' familiar USMC sweatshirt?

Those two form quite the odd couple. Hopefully Fornell doesn't get too jealous.

I had a feeling the old man was creeping at the end, too, when Tony began pouring his heart out to his boss about the deep affection he has for his dad. Apron on, cooking utensils at the ready, he appeared out of nowhere to interrupt a mortified Junior at the most awkward of moments ... classic stuff.

Senior's innocence was eventually established in a bit of a hasty conclusion, thanks to Tony and Abby's sleuthing - he was drugged and framed, apparently - but seeing him vulnerable and not in control for 50-plus minutes added a new dimension to the character and made for a good episode overall.

I just hope they invited the rest of the gang for Thanksgiving at Gibbs'.

What did you think of tonight's NCIS? Comment on it below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (204 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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    41 Comments New Comment Subscribe

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    You're right; the scene just doesn't show any towels nebary for any of them so on that assumption, one way or another, they're all going to see each other in their birthday suits. Doesn't make sense even in an emergency situation. You'd expect some decorum.

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    Honestly, the Mother and I have been watching since the days when NCIS conflicted with my "House" addiction. Pretty much since the Season of the Reyonosa cartel, or the first season they debuted at the absolute top of the ratings - whichever one that was - i felt like it was " NCIS for people who had never seen NCIS." The last few months haven't been so bad, but Tonyverse hasn't had the same spark in awhile - and not for a lack of awesome on MW's part. I just feel like the writers are phoning it in.

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    I thought this was a little bit different from past NCIS Thanksgiving stories-for once, we didn't see the whole group gathering together at the end of the show, as in previous years. And maybe Tony pouring his heart out at the end, not knowing his father was eavesdropping, was what he really needed to do to get his father to open up...I wish him luck-it never worked with my dad!

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    I do like that Gibbs is the teams de facto "dad". They trust him with everything. He's the one they go to with problems. An amazing thing when you consider how little Gibbs actually says. :)

    The scene at the end with Tony and Gibbs was touching. I did not expect DiNozzo senior to be there. So that was a nice surprise.

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    Getting back to the program and leaving the bickering behind. I liked this episode, but I'm rarely disappointed in most of the episodes. I think that the two actors playing father and son were excellent. They work well together, and are realistic as father and son. I love Ziva just as she is, and all the other characters in this show. With all your complaints it still remains the highest rated drama on TV. Your still watching other wise you would not be commenting, so you must like it also.

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    Man it's spooky with the Robert Wagner thing! And the reason people don't like michael isn't because he doesn't like ziva, it's because he says so every single time, and not even just on the ncis page. That being said, I didn't actually see anything about ziva on this page. I want McGee and abbey! They had a couple of really cute moments at the end of last year- bring it back!

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    i'm sorry i just can't ignore Michael. he's the reason for my existence. he's the sole reason why i get up and go online so i could read his awesome comments. yes, Michael. what have you done to me? you have turned me into a monster! you're a girl, right? coz and i'm a guy and...well...that would be awkward. you're a guy?!?! ohmigoshhhh!

    seriously dude, what kind of guy would hate on a girl like that? and she's a tv character for pete's sake! get yourself checked for our sake and yours especially. go out and get laid. get that anger out of your system. that's bad, man. really bad. :)

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    meh, the episode sucked. i sat through it the whole time thinking hey i'm going to give this a chance. it'll get better. come one. and the credits rolled and i'm like, that's it? that's all you've got? come on ncis you're waaayyy better than that! the acting was great, sure. but they use the same plot whenever Sr. visits. its getting boring and predictable. at least the episodes showing eli had different stories and showed different sides of him. gibb's dad too had better stories to tell. i guess i've had enough of daddy issues for this season. bring out the moms/sisters/aunts/cousins/the rest of the women characters in their lives!

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    I'm about to get really tired of the fact that every post has turned into a conversation about who we hate! I was annoyed at Michael at first, but why can't we just ignore him? Everyone has a right to say how they feel, but I thought we were supposed to discuss the episode? And not trash talk each other or the characters on every freaking post. I'm getting extremly tired of this, we all love NCIS right?

    Tiva

    now for me I don't care if someone doesn't like a character EJ or Ziva they have a right to there opinion. what I don't like is when somebody says something thats not true and they make up stuff that didn't happen or start trouble. but anyways I liked having diffrent opinions and talking about it and read ppl diffrent take on the show, but Like I said I just don't like when some fans make things up. Happy Thanksgiving to you too Janet and Happy thanksgiving to everyone eles too.




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