I know there have been loads of reviews about 'Flesh and Blood' already but a friend asked me what I thought about the episode and I thought I’d share some of what I said.
It’s under the cut because I do ramble on a bit.
On RJW/DiNozzo Sr
I liked RJW’s portrayal of DiNozzo Sr. It was quite sad really to think that maybe along a different path, Tony could end up just like his father in terms of future relationships – short lived. However, I do think Tony's made his own way and he did 'get' the relationship thing with Jeanne. It seemed to make him think and I got the impression he really liked that depth of connection with someone. It made him contemplate what he was doing and why - especially in ‘Grace Period’ when Paula died and he asked Gibbs whether they were really meant to have the duty instead of Paula and her team.
I actually liked DiNozzo Sr as a character, and it could be argued that he thinks he did what he thinks was his best for his son. (That’s not easy to say, never mind type). It seems he was a great con artist (reminds me of ‘Hustle’), with stacks of charm and sophistication, but he didn't have a lot of time to really look after his son (in terms of offering emotional support, care etc). Perhaps because he may have been too preoccupied about where the money was coming from in order to keep up the lifestyle they’d been accustomed to. Maybe he just liked the con too much? Maybe he couldn’t get enough of the girls? It does give a new meaning to the ‘flashback – headmaster wants to see my father’ line. Could have been about paying the school fees and nothing to do with something Tony had done/thought he’d done.
On Gibbs & DiNozzo Sr
The clash was brilliant. I think it showed that DiNozzo Sr had at least a small heart when he said he wanted to keep this civil with Gibbs because Tony thought the world of him. He didn't want to cause problems for Tony.
The 'best young agent' comment. Well, I think there will be sections of the fandom that agree totally with that comment. Some will say why can’t Gibbs tell Tony direct? I thought it would devalue the comment if he said it direct to Tony (especially so soon after Bounce - and given that he doesn't hand out praise that often) and I could see how Gibbs couldn't really say it in front of the rest of the team. However, DiNozzo Sr needed to hear what Gibbs thought of Tony (i.e. that someone else thought of him as ‘the best’ (as opposed to only worthy of ending up in the gutter). Perhaps Senior went on the defensive because he was jealous/guilty/annoyed that he might have missed out on something really special all these years.
On DiNozzo Sr & DiNozzo Jr
My favourite scene of the episode was the hotel bar scene where the two DiNozzos are having drinks - only because it shows just how comfortable Tony is with Gibbs compared to how he is with his own father.
In ‘Cloak’, Tony raises his voice at Gibbs. It's justified and he goes all out. I think he feels comfortable and able to do it perhaps because he's not scared of the repercussions. He knows Gibbs. Knows how far to push him and when. With his father, he raises his voice, leans forward and then you see this hesitation where he's not quite sure he's doing the right thing. You can see him thinking maybe 'Shit. Have I overstepped the mark? I don't really know the man. I'm not quite sure how he's going to react'. Then he sits back, goes on the defensive and is almost apologetic in his tone of voice. I loved how MW played that scene. This was a perfect episode for comparisons between the relationships between Gibbs & DiNozzo Jr and DiNozzo Sr & DiNozzo Jr.
I was annoyed that Tony caved when his Dad asked him about the case. That should not have happened. But I guess it had to in order to progress the story and get DiNozzo Sr to go back to the hotel and send the e-mail so he could be caught and then brought back in for a 'chat' with Gibbs.
Hat slapping scene
I thought this was very funny. I didn't think it was really demeaning to Tony at all and like a couple of others have said, Gibbs has slapped Tony in front of other people before (maybe not multiple times). I’ve also said that I quite liked that Gibbs lost it with Tony. I have mentioned in a comment elsewhere that if you looked at the scene from the point of view of the father/son relationship (or parenting role) then it shows that Gibbs isn't the perfect parent (like DiNozzo Sr wasn't either). Maybe he could have taken Tony to one side, slapped him once - rather than hit out multiple times in anger/frustration. Again – a nice comparison between the two 'fathers'. One thing I can’t stand is perfect!Gibbs or perfect!Tony.
End scene between DiNozzo Sr & DiNozzo Jr
I'm not sure, but I wonder whether DiNozzo Sr knew that Tony was the one that paid the bill. Tony had told him earlier that poking his nose into other people's affairs made him a good investigator. Could DiNozzo Sr have realised that? If he is indeed as good a con artist as we are led to believe he might be, then perhaps he would have realised Tony would check his computer, do some snooping and figure a few things out about him. If he knew what Tony would do, maybe he left some crumbs on purpose? Maybe it was a way for DiNozzo Sr to let Tony know he was broke without actually 'telling' him face to face?
Then in the hotel, DiNozzo Sr was obviously worried about which way things were going to fall when he went to pay the bill. I was a little saddened by the 'I love ya, Anthony' comment, because I wasn't sure whether he meant it or not. Was he just saying 'I love ya' because he might have twigged that Tony had paid the bill for him and bought him an airline ticket? Or was it because he really did love him and wanted to forge a relationship with Tony? Perhaps Gibbs's talk got through to him? I don't know. I just get the impression that Tony wasn't sure what to make of it either and didn't know whether it was the truth or a con.
End scene between Gibbs & DiNozzo Jr
I really liked this, although (to me) the scene felt a little out of place and it jarred slightly - particularly because I can't recall *that* many scenes throughout seven seasons where Gibbs and Tony share each other’s company (with such ease and kindness) in a non-work setting (although they have been doing more of these types of scenes recently e.g. Thanksgiving dinner at Ducky's). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we might get a few more 'Gibbs/DiNozzo, outside work' scenes/moments like these. I thought it was great that it was implied that it happens more than we get to see it happening on screen.
In this instance, I wasn't too bothered about not having a particularly good case to follow. I just loved the character led episode and the look at the web of relationships between Gibbs, DiNozzo Sr and DiNozzo Jr.
Also I loved the bittersweet music underscore for the episode and I’m so pleased that Tony now has his own music for his 'father' scenes (both 'fathers' as well I think) – it’s akin to the music Gibbs has when he's talking about Shannon and Kelly. Very good choice in my opinion.
So there you go. Just my thoughts. Neither right nor wrong.