For some reason I knew more about this episode than any other this season and in all honesty I was not looking forward to it for a couple of reasons. The first being it seemed to me it was going to be a fine example of what NCIS has to do: introduce a character who hitherto hasn't appeared and/or been spoken of and then make them appear every season - rather like Mike Franks. Until last season we'd never seen Tony's dad, but now, look he's back again. Now had it been the Christmas episode (assuming the one in December is a Christmas one) I'd have felt differently, but given it's a perfectly normal episode, it looked as if they were going to have to shoe-horn (as they do so often) him into it for no other reason when 'oh, look, we want Tony's dad to appear again, how can we make this happen'? The second reason being I simply could not buy that he'd be allowed to be part of the case; that Gibbs would approve him going undercover so to speak with Ziva.
Don't get me wrong, I actually liked Anthony DiNozzo Snr. I thought his character was extremely well written and balanced from what few things we knew about him - and like Gibbs and his father, it's totally clear from where Tony gets his character; Tony really is his father's son. And I like Robert Wagner. But I just didn't seem the point other than the 'oh, let's have DiNozzo Snr. back because he went down so well last time' for him to be in it. I felt that after six excellent/very good/good episodes that focussed (with the exception of the first one and that was logical given it rounded off an arc) on the case and not the personal that we would have a blah episode whereby the NCIS side of it was secondary.
With this in mind I went into this with zero expectations.
And I was not just pleasantly surprised I was beyond that. It was a superb episode in every way, much better than 'Flesh And Bone'. And it allayed all of my prior concerns to the case. Okay, so DiNozzo Snr.'s reason for being there was still on slightly shaky ground and I never really did get a firm grip on quite why he was there. But that didn't matter, because he is an opportunist and at the end of the day that pretty much covered him being there.
It was another real honest to goodness case - the fact that the opening was clearly naval was a pleasure to see and the link continued throughout the whole episode with the missing bomb and the continued presence of Admiral Chase, so that worked really, really well. It was very believable.
And even DiNozzo Snr.'s involvement with the case worked and was believable. They needed someone to get into a party where they would not, could not, hope to get, but he could get Ziva in, because of who he is and his old friendship with the guy whose house the party was being held in.
It really was a superb episode from beginning to end. I liked how we learnt a few little things as well, such as Anthony DiNozzo Snr. being Anthony D. DiNozzo, so assuming they stuck totally with the same name (which is likely) then Tony's middle name begins with a D and about Abby's father being dead - something I'd never even considered. So it's very, very clear to see why her relationship with Gibbs is so strong and how she completely sees him as her father. Surrogate father and surrogate daughter both to 'replace' the lost ones. Poignant.
The interaction between father and son was superb from beginning to end, we even had a film reference (one I knew, which is saying something) made by DiNozzo Snr. - there really is no doubt that Tony is his father's son and we know fully from where he got his character. It was lovely to see (as with Gibbs and Jackson) how their relationship has grown and how it grew during this episode to return to father and son, something both men want, but didn't really know how to get about obtaining. I loved how he asked what Tony's relationship with Ziva was at the moment and then wanted to step in if the occasion arose - lovely - after Tony said they were just colleagues and had no personal relationship. Anthony DiNozzo Snr. really is an out and out opportunist.
There were very few faults for me in this at all, the lack of Ducky was one of them, but we had such a highly squeeable Gibbs/Ducky scene at the beginning that it pretty much made up for a lack of Ducky. Wow! That's going into my list of favourite scenes. Gibbs straightening Ducky's bowtie for him - that is such a personal thing to do, rather like the hat brim scene in LJD, it's not the kind of thing one man normally does to another, not unless their relationship is very, very, very close and intimate, which whatever connotation you put on the relationship between Gibbs and Ducky - be it lovers or just close friends - we know their relationship is. And not only the whole wonderfulness of Gibbs doing it, but the fact that Ducky was unfazed, unconcerned, totally untroubled by the intimate gesture - I guess it's not the first time Gibbs has had to do that. One does wonder why it got skewed in the first place *g* No Jimmy, maybe Gibbs drove Ducky to the crime scene *g* And if that wasn't enough, Gibbs also pats Ducky on the face - not the first time we've seen him do that. And also later when Ducky wanted to take Gibbs on a date to a do at the Smithsonian with him and Gibbs just ignored him - bad Gibbs *g* I'm sure they'll make up later though. If it hadn't been for the wonderfulness that was Tony and DiNozzo Snr. Gibbs/Ducky would easily be the ship of the week, in fact, I just might have to have two *g*
It was a shame Jimmy wasn't there. I feel somewhat cheated by something Sean Murray said and Mark Harmon in effect agreed with when during the 'Men of NCIS' SM commented that for the viewers the episodes fall into two categories: those with Jimmy and those without and they wouldn't have to do that any more. Now that made me think that Jimmy would be in every episode, sadly that is not the case. Not that, given the lack of Autopsy and Ducky this week, he would have had a role, but even so.
The case was interesting and although it did, in effect, play second fiddle to the ship of the week (Tony and his father) it didn't get totally lost and it never came across as a shoe-horned case. Not to mention the whole concept that a bomb and nuclear stuff could just go missing like that was somewhat scary.
The interaction between members of the team was good, some excellent banter. Tony was a wee bit unpleasant a couple of times early on (of the I want to slap him kind), but given he was so concerned about his father, it was understandable. We know from the whole Jeanne storyline and the fall-out from that that when Tony is worried or hurting he becomes a wee bit nasty and the fun interchange and banter he normally has vanishes and we see the other Tony. So excellent continuity. Had he not been like that, it wouldn't have been in character, so spot on. And we had nice shippy moments (Gibbs/Ducky, Gibbs & Abby and of course Tony and his father). Vance was in superb form as Director; very well done indeed. That is his role and he did it to perfection this week.
I did fear for a moment that Gibbs was again going to overstep the mark and 'challenge' DiNozzo Snr. and be out-of-line as he was in 'Flesh And Bone', but not at all. In fact his interaction with DiNozzo Snr. was one of the many highlights of the episode. And there was grudging respect on both sides. Both men know how much the other matters to Tony, so that at least is something they have in common. But not all.
What else can I say? I went into it expecting nothing, expecting to be eye-rolling, irked and bored and came out of it quite the opposite. A very, very good episode.
- Tim and Ziva in the squad room over Ziva's passport and Ziva's photo looking so gorgeous.
- Tim and Tony pulling rank on Ziva over the dumpster. I felt for Ziva and did think they were being a wee bit unfair (well more than a wee bit) but it was nice to see them bonding. And let's be honest, it's something Tony and Kate would have done (did do) to Tim, so turn about is fair play.
- Gibbs rearranging Ducky's bowtie at the crime scene whilst Ducky is waffling on about naval academies. Absolutely, for me (and I'm sure most G/D fen) the scene of the episode, maybe even of the season thus far.
- Gibbs, Tim, Tony and Ziva in the squad room when Tim is avoiding telling them that Tony's father was on the plane, so nicely done.
- Tony and his father at the bus station. So much was said without actual words in looks and in the tone of the words that were said.
- Abby and McGee in Abby's lab when Tim is trying to trace what he thinks is a phone number and Abby's doing her 'bit' on the coat and DNA. They just work so very well, so seamlessly together. It's always lovely to see them. And also Abby saying that Tony is being too harsh and that his father's alive and how she wished hers was and she'd forgive him anything. So poignant and yet done in pure Abby way. There was no fuss made about it, it was something to tell the viewers, not Tim (he clearly knew) but it was done with a minimum of fuss.
- Gibbs and DiNozzo Snr. in the hotel room with their conversation about it's time Tony and his father talked. I liked how DiNozzo Snr. said whilst he hadn't always told Tony everything, he'd never lied to him. And he was telling the truth; you could tell that by his tone, by his look and by Gibbs's reaction.
- Tony and his father in the hotel room when DiNozzo Snr. is being fitted for the suit. Lovely how Tony was one second 'you can't do this', then touches the suit and wow, he's totally in love with said suit. Yet another prime reminder from where Tony got his character.
- Ducky's wee appearance in the squad room with Gibbs and Ziva and him inviting Gibbs to go out with him to the Smithsonian. He asked Gibbs to go with him *g* So lovely. Okay, so Gibbs ignored him, but . . .
- Gibbs and Abby outside MTAC. This is the Abby I love hyper but not frenetic and OTT. And in some ways all the more poignant when Gibbs kissed her cheek as we know about her father being dead.
- The whole party/surveillance van/MTAC scene. Very well done indeed and well played out by all parties.
- Ziva and DiNozzo Snr. doing 'battle' with the bad guys.
- The final scene between Tony and his father at the hotel. That really moved me and touched me and had me swallowing hard. Again so much was said and acknowledged and accepted. The really, really touching bit was their best memory of them being a true father and son was a fishing trip just before Tony's mom died. And when DiNozzo Snr. pulled out the photo of them and said he looked at it every day, I really did have tears in my eyes. It was a superb ending to a great episode and showed us that another father and son are going to rebuild their relationship. The love that was portrayed from both men for the other was tangible. This was my second favourite scene of the episode.
There were some nice little throw away touches too:
- Tim mentioning that Tony had been expelled from boarding school - now I'd love to know that story, as would they all.
- DiNozzo Snr. making a film reference.
- Tony, for all his complaining about his father, being upset because his father wouldn't have dinner with him - so Tony.
- Gibbs in effect taking DiNozzo Snr.'s side when Tony was doing his 'we shouldn't be using him'.
- Gibbs being bemused by Tony's reactions to his father.
- Gibbs telling Tim he had faith in him and calling him 'Tim'.
- Gibbs commenting that Ziva is a weapon.
- The look on Tony's face when his father was kissing Ziva goodbye. It was different from when he kissed Abby goodbye. A nice little moment for Tony/Ziva fen, as it was a look of jealousy.
- Vance giving DiNozzo Snr. an NCIS cap.
- Too little Ducky.
- No Jimmy.
Ships of the week:
Gen: Tony and Anthony DiNozzo Snr.
Character of the week:
Anthony DiNozzo Snr.
Actor/Actress of the week: