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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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Michael, I don't think Robert Wagner Jr is the most hated man alive - not sure where you get your facts, but a lot of others come to mind first - I was around when the incident happened and no one thought he had anything to do with her death - regardless, I will always love this show - it could be the worst episode or the best - it is something I don't miss - I love the cast and think each of them work well off the other - every single combination works! As "they" say - it if ain't broke, don't fix it!

Ben

Worst episode of the year. They really need to move DiNozzo senior over to the same room they locked Eli David in. They need to show Tony growing as a person and not resenting his father for something that happened 40 years ago. I think it's time to put Robert Wagner in the back burner. Let's move on to some back story of Abby and McGee or start something new for Ziva like they did last year with Tony exploring his police past. I have to say next year if Robert Wagner is on I will definitly skip.

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I love how it was Abby saving Senior just before he was taken by the FBI. Good for her. Just ... can the poor girl get a make-over please?

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This episode was fabulous! I think Robert Wagner and Michael Weatherly work fantastically off one another. People who say it was predictable.....when are they not. Marine dies; investigation; team working together; crime solved! If you don't like that.....then don't watch. IF this was your least favorite episode, it is time for you to move on! I like the fact that it is the whole team working together and interacting. That is what we all fell in love with.....it should stay that way! Good episode.

Anne-gaskill-forrester

Always love it when Robert Wagner is on NCIS. He does such a superb job. Last night was no exception. He is a great recurring addition to the show. Hope they do not kill him off the way they did Muse Watson!

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They also need to do something with abby she has not change since season 3 and I am really wondering if they even need her

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One of my least favorites of the season. I felt like I had seen this before. Predictable, no character depth (get over it Tony your an adult now) and bad acting. Seemed like the actors were just going through the motions except Mark Harmon - he's superb always. I think it's time for Wagner to go back to his infomercials. Last 2 weeks have been awesome and then this filler ep. I do think it's time to put the daddy episodes to rest for awhile. Cameos are fine but an entire show is rough.

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this was a yery good show . r. w. is a perfect actor for the part of tony's dad. ncis and it's staff have been doing an excellent job this season, but the one thing that puzzle me . there seems to be alot more to senior de noole then we are being told . he walks a interesting life many contacts throught the world. i wonder is he an undercover agent of some kind he seems to get away with things very easily for me. 5/5 for me and thanks giving should be at ducky's as in the past.

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It was a good episode but I wish to see more Ziva, Tim and Abby in episodes. I think they need to stop focusing on Gibbs as a father figure for some time and focus on the team's interactions which have been lacking this season. And finally please give me some tiva love - not just Senior urging Tony to sweep her off her feet!

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I think you need to add me to the disappointed for this episode. I think the Junior-Senior relationship has reached it's limit now. I too would vote for a one year vacation from Robert Wagner. I was wondering also why nobody checked the bar and interviewed people to see who drugged Senior. That made no sense to me. I love the freshness of having someone like Lily Tomlin on and I'm sure they can do so much with her. Robert Wagner has never been a great actor and I'm not sure how much longer they are going to go the same route with the storyline. Keep Lily and get rid of Wagner. His storyline has been exhausted.

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