I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about Michael Weatherly’s final episode of NCIS as a series regular. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it. But this is a TV character I have loved and watched over the years and he deserves to be remembered and “Family First” deserves to be analyzed and honored. Here’s what I do know:
I think Weatherly was fantastic in it. Whether people agree with the decision or not, killing off Ziva gave him some really great material to play. That scene in the squad room when he was so angry and so very sad — oh man, that about killed me. It was the episode’s best moment. It’s easy to forget how good Weatherly is at drama because he loves doing the comedy and is so good at that, too. Making Tony a dad gave him even more great material to play. HeÂ also had to make his goodbyes. This is a character I’m seriously attached to so those were mostly heartbreaking.
I get why they tied his exit to Ziva. (Backstory: I’m not what you call the biggest Tony/Ziva fan. I was back in the day around Seasons 3 – 5 but after that, I jumped off the bandwagon. I do love that Weatherly and Cote de Pablo are super close in real life, though. Those photos Michael tweeted last night were epic). When I thought of Tony leaving, it was always aboutÂ him getting promoted to leader of his own team — whether it was for another NCIS squad or another organization entirely.
I think Tony — when this show gave him a chance — made a good, competent leader (even in “Bounce”). I would have loved to see himÂ make a return guest appearance withÂ his new team meeting his old team. But it was clear to me something had to give with our Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo — he’d been Gibbs’ St. Bernard for far too long. He was in a rut. Something had to change for him so as much as I hate to say it, this exit seems organic.
Giving him a little girl is something I never knew I wanted for him. Yes, it was a super soapy storyline. And it cast Ziva in sort of a bad light considering the woman never told Tony Tali existed. But at least she made Tali aware of who her dad was, which is great. Seeing Tony go through the emotions of becoming an instant daddy was pretty wonderful. It was heartbreaking to see him think the little girl didn’t know him from boo. And it was joyous when he realized she knew exactly who he was to her. The “Imah” “Aba” scene is one of my favorite moments of the entire episode.
His wanting to get revenge on Trent Kort makes as much sense as hisÂ need for revenge fading in the light of his new purpose in life. But, in the end, the entire team — old and new — got their chance to take down the bad guy. I’m still trying to wrap my head around Trent Kort being a bigger bad than we ever thought. Not that it wasn’t plausible. He was always a major d-bag, but I don’t know about this level of bad guy. At least it was someone that Gibbs, DiNozzo and company had a history with and it wasn’t some new big bad. I don’t think this show is that successful in introducing new overarching villains.
The Tony/Senior moments were lovely. For once, this wasn’t the sonÂ having to be there for his dad. It was the other way around. And I seriously enjoy the chemistry MW and Robert Wagner share. It’s going to be one of the things I miss most. I’m thinking Senior will be there with Tony and Tali as they start their new life. That’s how I hope that plays out, anyway.
Some things I didn’t like?
-The whole lead up to this final episode. I know Weatherly was off shooting Bull for some of this so he couldn’t have the presence he should have had in these last three episodes. Well, actually, the two before “Family First.” I don’t like the way they explained his absences or the fact he didn’t play that prominently until the season finale. Go watch Shemar Moore’s final three episodes of Criminal Minds. That’s how you celebrate the exit of a character that means so much to a series.
-I feel like the goodbyes were rushed. I loved the Tony/Abby elevator scene and I know Tony and Tim got a scene on a bench earlier in the episode but I still wanted a bigger DiNozzo/McGee moment when it actually came time to say sayonara. The Tony/Bishop moment was pretty acceptable, however.
-The show actually gave us a great Jimmy/Tony at Tony’s apartment scene, so the goodbye during the voiceoverÂ montage was okay. But I feel the fact that Tony only got a handshake with Ducky during that same voiceoverÂ montage was a serious oversight. Ducky’s earlier moment with Gibbs when he told the leader that they needed to remember what Anthony was going through gave me life. The handshake goodbye wasn’t good enough. Even though they didn’t happen often enough, Michael Weatherly and David McCallum always shined in their scenes together. I loved it whenever Ducky and Tony conversed. Ducky could always read Tony in a way no one else could. So I feel cheated that the show didn’t give them a proper goodbye or even a hug. They were two of the show’s four original characters. A hug would have been nice.
-And as much as I have loved the Gibbs/DiNozzo dynamic over the years, their connection seems to have faded the last few seasons. So I think having Tony over to Gibbs’ house was essential. But their goodbye seemed disconnected. It was sad but it wasn’t as heartbreaking as I thought it was going to be. And that made me sad.
-I also didn’t like the fact that the episode didn’t end on Tony entering the elevator or a last Tony/Gibbs head slap or Gibbs walking Tony out. It was all about life going on already. “Grab your gear,” Gibbs said. Moving on. Boo. You know what I would have loved to have seen? If Tony goes into the elevator, it starts to close and then Gibbs yells out, ‘Tony, hold the elevator. I’ll walk you out.’ And then we see Gibbs enter the elevator and the episode ends as the doors close on the two now former coworkers. Phoof.
So I guess you can say I’m somewhat conflicted on Tony DiNozzo’s final episode. Ultimately, it was pretty enjoyable. I do hope Weatherly will be back to guest star at some point. I’d love for the show to check in with Tony so we can see how he’s doing as a dad.
Oh, I almost forgot. It did make sense that he would give up his career for his new (freakin’ adorable) daughter. When he said, “I’ve never been anybody’s everythingÂ before,” I realized that was true. And it broke my heart. I know he’s repaired his relationship with his dad, but it makes me happy that he now gets to enjoy what pure, unconditional love really feels like. He so deserves that.
I’m going to miss Tony DiNozzo and his ability to lighten up any situation, even when his brand of humor was unwelcome. I’m going to miss his character growth over the years — even when it was spotty. I’m going to miss the way he interacts with the team. He shares special relationships with all of them. I’m going to miss Tony in his suits and when he sported a more casual look. I’m going to miss his visits to Gibbs’ basement. I’m going to miss the way he spouts all that exposition but never makes it sound boring. And those movie references, too. I’m going to miss his ability to get in trouble like no other character on that show. I’m going to miss his apartment (but not that tiny twin bed). And possibly, I’m going to miss him wearing his shoulder holster of joy, the most.
NCIS returns this fall on CBS.
Michael Weatherly says goodbye to the fans
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