NCIS 12×17 ‘The Artful Dodger’: The artworld gets DiNozzo’d

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While we have been in ‘filler episode’ territory for the past few weeks,  it’s hard to argue that the writers of NCIS don’t have some clue as to what they are doing. They clearly are aware of what the viewers like, and what NCIS fan doesn’t like a good Papa DiNozzo episode?

This week’s episode starts (as it is known to) with the discovery of a dead body found in the office of the head of the DLA (Defense Logistics Agency). The dead body belongs to Lt Dominic Pine who appeared to be the target of some attack, but initial evidence doesn’t point to that conclusion directly.

While the investigation starts up, Tony gets a surprise visit from his father (who I shall call Papa DiNozzo throughout this review), who has just been dumped by his fiance, Linda. Despite his sulky nature for most of the episode, Robert Wagner (who is always a welcomed addition to the show) still manages to put on the charm that is a signature characteristic of the DiNozzo clan. It’s hard not to enjoy the dynamic between Tony and his dad, which is a main reason why I like these episodes so much. Plus Papa DiNozzo episodes always remind me of how eerily Robert Wagner and Michael Weatherly look like they could in fact be father and son.

CBS

CBS

Back to the case at hand, the team discover that the Lieutenant wasn’t actually specifically targeted, but was only killed because he was in the office at the wrong place and wrong time (or so they think). The killer was in fact a burglar and was there to steal a valuable painting called ‘The Chesapeake’ that was on display in the head of the DLA’s office (and puts a fake there in its place). The Lieutenant’s girlfriend is brought into NCIS and confirms that he didn’t have any enemies and officially quells their suspicions that he was targeted (hmmm…interesting).

Taking into account Papa DiNozzo’s sadness, the team uses his knowledge of the underground art world and have him get back in the game as an art dealer looking to sell ‘The Chesapeake,’ mainly as a way to get him involved and to take his mind off of his break-up with Linda. This is where the episode has a bit of fun and has McGee pretend to be Papa DiNozzo’s son (so, Tony essentially), which is pretty enjoyable to watch.

Things get complicated in the main plot of the episode when it’s discovered that someone else was previously killed in front of the painting while it was in the main office of the American embassy in Islamabad. The real reason for it being stolen is because a bug was planted on the painting by a CIA informant who was undercover in a terrorist group (I really hope I’m right about that). The bug contained highly delicate information (to be honest…I don’t exactly remember what that information is, but the CIA gets involved so of course its important). The fact that I’m a bit unclear about those details shows that this information wasn’t conveyed clearly enough.

CBS

CBS

In the end, it’s revealed that Lt Pine’s girlfriend is in fact the forger of the fake painting and is the killer (called it). She stole the painting for a leader of a terrorist group, the one who planted the bug on the painting (or who had the informant plant it, I don’t know anymore). The girlfriend simply used Lt Pine as a mark and had him request the painting for his boss’ office. While it is an interesting conclusion, the girlfriend being in on it was a bit too predictable, especially to those who are loyal watchers of the show. The terrorist group was an intriguing touch, but it didn’t entirely make up for the initial predictability.

While the main plot of the episode has its flaws, the Papa DiNozzo subplot is at least enjoyable (it’s hard not to enjoy Robert Wagner). As I’ve mentioned before, the NCIS writers are good at certain things, and writing and expanding on familial relationships (especially father and son relationships) is something that they excel at. It may not exactly be something that we haven’t seen before, but it’s still endearing nonetheless and slightly makes up for convoluted main plots.

We’re getting into the last leg of the season, and as I’ve said at the end of recent reviews, I still have no idea of any direction the ending of the season is going to take. It’s hard to look forward to it because it’s difficult to imagine what the writers have cooked up, which better be something amazing to make up for their mishandling of the Sergei Mishnev storyline. Either way, NCIS can only keep up with these frivolous (albeit mildly entertaining) episodes for so long before fans become sick of them and want to see some actual excitement happen.

Sarah Lord

is a college student in New York City. Her extreme knowledge of British comedians and TV shows almost surpasses her general love for film. When she’s not sitting in her apartment/nerd cave reviewing movies and TV shows, she sometimes makes time for long walks in the moonlight. Check her out on YouTube, Twitter and Tumblr as TheSplord.

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