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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 (205 Votes)

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

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annie921 its not the first time he has written a comment in another name and yes i am 100% sure its michael and by the way annie i hate no one.

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janet, how can you know if someone is michael and writing under another name or not? Just sayin'. As for Tom's comment. Think about it - it's true. It seems just fine for some (not all do this) Ziva fans to call EJ a skanky whore, write things like they hope that the only way she comes back is on Ducky's autopsy table, or to tweet nasty things to SJM. How is this behavior any better than what you accuse Michael of? The message seems to be it's fine to be a "hater" as long as you hate who I hate. Double standard much?

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michael wish you would stop writing comments in another name i know your writing anywhere you are not tom put your real name.did anyone else notice we are seeing less of jimmy palmer this season hope he doesnt get written out all together,also did anyone notice mgee seems to have put on a bit of weight he looked good

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I love how its ok for Janet and other to bad month Kate and EJ or anyone who not Ziva on the show on everything NCIS but someone speak their mind on Ziva and they get their english attack talk about double standards. You all who attack Michael are nothing but bullys its your way or the highway

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edward moss i agree with what you said its alright when someone doesnt like a team member but its another thing when he keeps on and on about ziva everyone knows he doesnt like her so what he's one in 500.now i want to wish everybody happy thanksgiving yes even you michael. even though we are not all from theUSA we can all give thanks for things in ourlives.

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Michael - do you just come in here to cause trouble? You make no sense. I don't even know WHY you watch this show...you hate Ziva..you think Abby is not needed...buddy, if they only had Tony and Gibbs as you seem to want (and by the way what is up with that?) there would not be a show. Be reasonable will ya.
So, I say to you - someone needs to do something with Michael - I am really wondering if we ever need to hear from him again.

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annie921 I love your comment your right his mother dided at 8 and SR wasn't there as much when he was a kid. and he also left him at the hotel when he was a child.

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I enjoyed this episode. I thought it was understated and enjoyed Tony's dilemma and the way he dealt with it. I also liked the way Gibbs and McGee supported Tony. While having father issues has become somewhat cliche on this show, I rather like the not overly dramatic way in which Tony's relationship is evolving. Some of the comments here, appear to be of the "he needs to get over it" variety, but Tony lost his mother at 8, and his father was largely absent both physically and emotionally. This kind of lonely existence leaves a scar on people and Tony has never really had much opportunity to confront Senior, since he was eventually supposedly shipped to boarding school and cut off from his father at a young age. Although not full of explosive action - I thought the episode was nice.

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I thought it was a great episode. The interactions between Gibbs and Dinozzo Sr. were my favorite. Tony never did want money, just a father's love. Also McGee telling Tony that they were "down one very special agent" was very sweet.

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This episode was the lowest rated show in a very long time. Maybe the producers will realize that as we tired of Eli we also tire of 3 shows in a row with the same plot line. Tony at 43 is depressed over his father leaving him in a hotel when he was 13 after the poor man's wife died. Instead of Gibbs empathizing with Tony he needs to tell him to grow up and take care of his father he is 80 now. Jeez. NCIS move on with this storyline, it really is making me think less of DiNozzo. They have changed Tony into a whimpering 40 year old that can't keep a women and is traumatized by being alone for one night at 13. Bring the team back, end Tony's weird back story and let's get back to the good stories and acting. Also get rid of Robert Wagner.

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