'Hawaii Five-O' 1.23 'Ua Hiki Mai Kapalena Pau' Review
This week's Hawaii Five-O is a perfect episode of how my brain gets ahead of my viewing experience. Common sense tells me that despite being exposed to sarin, Danny isn't going anywhere, because Scott Caan is a regular with a contract. This normally would ruin an episode for me, but the H5O team seems to anticipate that criticism and turns in an episode that is much less about putting him in peril and more about the case that leads our heroes to unravel.
We open hot, with Five-O trying to bust Wo Fat at a local house and ending up chasing Sang Min (Will Yun Lee, dressed ridiculously bright this week) instead. It's a pretty great opening sequence, possibly one of the best the show has had so far. There's lots of running and lots of shooting, which is fun to watch (but also makes you wonder who has to deal with all the shell casings and property damage). We see Sang Min try to cut a deal with Steve (by walking into headquarters no less), and get one more clue in the form of a service medal. If there's one thing I don't like about the furthering of our show's mythology this episode, it's that it feels like Jenna is just a little too helpful. She has the intel on Wo Fat that leads to the raid. She knows about sarin. She does her best Dr. Cal Lightman impression. Her having all the answers isn't going to make me accept her; she has to endear herself to me as a character and I'm not sure she does.
The show knows it isn't going to get much real mileage out of Danny's health status, so instead it devotes itself to using that as a jumping-off point rather than milking needless drama. The presence of the sarin leads to a whole separate bio-terrorism investigation involving foreign enemies and corporate intrigue. Check out James Remar (Dexter, The Huntress) in a guest spot. This is not the scariest episode about bio-terrorism I've ever seen (that goes to the entire third season of 24) but there's some good tension. While it might not be the coolest reveal to finger the secretary (Bre Blair, last seen marrying Michael Irby in the series finale of The Unit), it's a fair conclusion given that Hawaii Five-O does not have the time to tell an intricate terrorism story. For forty-five minutes, I'm satisfied.
Although Danny is bedridden, I appreciate how the show doesn't forget about him or the people in his life. Too many shows would just write him off for the episode. Instead, we see Steve looking out for Grace, and Rachel dropping in to see her ex-husband. Small scenes, but nice touches nonetheless. Hooray for remembering continuity details.
Speaking of nice touches, I love how Chin Ho's subplot is playing out. It's believable that smart cops would figure out his attempt to protect his uncle, and it's also nice to see Steve call him out on it as well. That's so much better than Chin Ho being smarter than everyone else just because he's the hero. This show doesn't take the shortcuts that many other series would, and after having been exposed to those oversights and too-neat resolutions time and again, I respect any show that doesn't feed me the same lines.
There are some false notes here. I've given her two episodes, but as I stated above, I still can't warm to Jenna Kaye, who sticks out and not in a good way. Having her help to solve the case doesn't erase that Jenna isn't quite sticking as a character. (Does she know when to shush, for one?) I know that she won't mesh as well as the other characters because she's new, but I think it's something more than that. Actress Larisa Oleynik is awkward as well; for example, there's a cringe-worthy obvious pause in her line delivery before Jenna tells Steve that Danny could die. I just don't think that either the character or the actress are a fit for this show.
I also have to laugh at the scene where Kono and Chin Ho track down the caretaker, who seems surprised to be noticed even though he's sitting in a diner away from everyone else looking shifty. He couldn't be more noticeable if he tried. And I think I may have mentioned it before, but why do this show's interrogation rooms look like they're in a fish tank with that blue-green glow?
For the last episode before the finale, this shot of Hawaii Five-O is a fun ride. It's a great example of how a promo doesn't really give a fair picture of what a show is about. The spots had us all wound up worried over a major character, but in reality, we were dealing with a fairly well-told story of terrorism and sour romance. Sure, the former is sexier, but the latter is much more substantive. And I'll take a show with real substance over one with style any day of the week. That's why I like this show: it's never been flashy. It just does a good job, and that's what sticks at the end of the hour.
For more Hawaii Five-O, head over to DigitalAirwaves.net.
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