Parents and their children formed much of the B-story to this interesting NCIS episode: the mother and her addict daughter; Tony and his intrusive dad; and even Gibbs with his regrets about his own father.
The "trouble in paradise" Tony and Zoe story was probably a little overdue as well, given the untroubled nature of their relationship to date. Though it came at a time when Tony was already stretched thin emotionally from his father's antics.
While the case of the week involved yet another dead Marine suddenly found by inconsequential characters (though I would have enjoyed hearing more about the Congressman who was doing community service), it at least didn't offer the unpardonable sin of being boring.
NCIS Season 12 Episode 20 revolved around the case of Lance Corporal David Austin, who was murdered merely because he chose to intervene and try to help a girl in distress.
The case become more complicated by virtue of the bullet, which came from a gun that was lost during a failed ATF operation.
Enter Zoe Keates, who showed up both in her role as ATF Special Agent and as romantic interest for Tony.
The more I see her, the more I like her. We know she's got a fierce temper, as we saw when she went toe-to-toe against Gibbs on NCIS Season 12 Episode 6.
Yet she managed to rein it in, even after catching Tony in a lie, plus later overhearing him tell Gibbs that the honeymoon was over between them. I fully expected her to go ballistic. Such was her regard for Tony that she chose only to have a talk with him about it all.
Very mature, very grown up and logical. That was so good to see.
Speaking of maturity, the one person who struggled with acting mature was Tony Senior. Again.
First off, there was that creepy greeting he gave Bishop:
Bishop: Hi Mr. DiNozzo!
Tony Senior: Eleanor! If I was thirty years younger and you weren't married...oh my God.
Come on. Really?
No doubt he gets away with this kind of thing because women see him as mostly harmless. Still, the picture he painted with those words were just cringe-worthy.
Then, after Tony warmly welcomed him home, he:
- started a fire in the oven
- complained to Zoe that Tony wasn't grateful to him for making a meal (while blithely shrugging off the disaster he created)
- re-arranged Tony's furniture to his liking; and,
- looked shocked and surprised when Tony said to Zoe thank God he lives in New York.
The man is not stupid. He's just a narcissist. We can believe him when he tells Tony that he's selfish. That word pretty much defines the man.
It's all well and good that he and Tony had it out, and he finally agreed to move somewhere else in the city – and not right above Tony as he had first planned. Yet, can we believe him? Can we believe that he won't find yet another way to get himself into trouble and/or intrude yet again into Tony's life and space?
I don't think so. Even at the end, he told Tony he's interested in moving into a retirement residence where he can meet a rich widow. Always looking for the angle. He'll never change.
To his credit, Robert Wagner plays the character perfectly. That's about the only bright spot I can find when it comes to Tony Senior.
As for Tony Junior, there was one line that he said that I really appreciated:
McGee: You guys tell Gibbs where you're going?
Tony: Well I'm senior agent and you're Mcnot. I can take the initiative.
Right. On. It's the "senior" part of that phrase that's been missing for so much of the season. Nice to see that reminder of his status within the team. I'd like to see more of this – and of McGee respecting it.
Speaking of McGee – did you notice that he had Tony's back in this episode? It happened when Zoe was trying to railroad Tony into cutting Agent Caffey some slack – and McGee told her that he had to agree with Tony about him.
- The discussion between Tony and Zoe isn't over. The guess here is that she's still rattled by Senior's brief discussion about the word "commitment". Honestly, the man needs to keep his mouth shut. The more he opens it, the more he intrudes on his son's life.
- Gibbs regrets not being firmer with his father about moving closer to him before he passed away. That's understandable. Yet it seems unlikely that any more effort on his part would have made any difference. As Gibbs said, his dad was stubborn – just like his son.
- It was hard not to agree with Tony that McGee was a bad casting choice for gun buyer. He just looks too squeaky clean for the role. I'm hard-pressed to find a better candidate however. Abby would have been more believable, but she's not trained for that side of the work. Zoe, perhaps?
- The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation – the recipient for Jennifer Vickers' generosity – is real. I'm glad they wrote that part in.
- Be sure to tune in next week for NCIS Season 12 Episode 21, when a Marine is murdered, and there's a terrorist link involved.
Will Tony and Zoe survive the discussion on "commitment"? Tony Senior will move closer – will his behavior change or is Tony in for more grief? What are your thoughts on the case-of-the-week?
As always, you can catch up or see the episode again when you watch NCIS online.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.