It’s coming down to the final four episodes of the season (although IMDb claims that there’s a random 28th episode and that’s very strange). While it’s a little bittersweet, it’s hard not to anticipate how the season is going to end. It’s also evident that the writers are running out of ideas because this week’s episode is yet another Papa DiNozzo one. Seems a bit too soon, especially since the same themes usually pop up in these episodes and the last Papa DiNozzo episode was three episodes ago. But hey, let’s just talk it out and see what’s what.
This week’s episode starts off with a dead marine (as per usual). This marine, David Austin, is found next to a scooter on the side of the road. Although it looks like an accident, he was intentionally killed with a bullet to the chest. With some investigating, the team discovers that the gun that killed him belongs to ATF (bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). A failed operation in Mexico made it possible for 2,000 guns to be lost from the agency. So thankfully the marine wasn’t killed by an ATF agent. But it still makes it hard to narrow down just who killed this marine.
The team further finds out that the marine stopped at a gas station to fill up his scooter and saw a young woman in a car at the gas pump next to him saying “help me.” The marine tried to do just that and well, we know the result. The team finds out who the girl is and they eventually find her dead. Fortunately they are able to find out who killed her through DNA found on her body. Pretty bleak stuff, but it’s obviously an attempt by the writers to go a bit darker with their story lines. It’s an okay attempt, but it’s a bit clouded by the whole Papa DiNozzo subplot.
Speaking of said subplot, Papa DiNozzo comes to Washington to meet Tony’s girlfriend Zoe. Things go wrong when he tries to cook them dinner and sets off the fire alarm in Tony’s apartment leading to an awkward encounter with Zoe. The main reason for Papa DiNozzo’s visit is that he wants to live near Tony, which Tony isn’t super thrilled about at first. Of course with some convincing from Gibbs and some one on one honest talk with his dad, Tony comes around to the idea by the end of the episode. The father/son stuff is usually pretty sweet, but with having such a recent Papa DiNozzo episode it just feels repetitive. The show is losing its freshness sadly, and it’s evident in this choice of subplot.
Another somewhat important aspect of this episode is Zoe herself and how she reacts to the whole Papa DiNozzo situation. Weirdly enough she doesn’t really seem to be enthusiastic about meeting Tony’s dad. Sure, their first encounter is just after he almost burned down Tony’s apartment, but she just seems to be put off by him. It’s certainly an interesting contrast from how most people (like Bishop and Ziva) are automatically charmed by him. There was just nothing there in their encounter, and you’d think there should be, especially since Zoe is Tony’s first serious relationship in a good long while.
Papa DiNozzo’s presence also brings out the first real conflict in Zoe and Tony’s relationship, which is only interesting for so long. This subplot is just not the best pairing with the main plot. It’s understandable to want some alleviation from a heavy story line, but we’re so used to episodes with Tony’s dad that it’s just hard for us to really want to pay attention. There is such a concept as too much of a good thing, and this applies to Papa DiNozzo.
Though each episode feels like it’s getting thinner and thinner, it’s apparent that the writers seem to really be trying to come up with interesting story lines to keep viewers engaged. While the main story line of this episode is a compelling and heavy one, the appearance of Tony’s dad takes away from that. The latest Papa DiNozzo episode worked because he became involved in the case which was fun to watch. That should have been the last DiNozzo Senior episode of the season, but alas, we have this one to gripe about (well I do, at least). There are only so many episodes left. There’s hope that the main story lines of the episodes will be good, but the choice of subplots will be crucial, because that decision can really make or break an episode.