Hawaii Five-O at least made me smarter this week; I had no idea there was a paddleboard world championship, but I Googled it, and yes, it exists. If you're Jenn Hassley (Hayley Chase), you can also be kidnapped from it.
Shortly thereafter, Steve is introduced to Homeland Security agent Lori Weston (Lauren German), whom the new Governor assigns to Five-O after not enjoying the events of the season premiere. Everyone's thrown by the development, but they put that aside to work on Jenn's abduction, as professionals would do. (It's a pet peeve of mine when shows have characters discussing their personal issues when there are clearly more pressing ones; 24, I love you but I'm looking at you.)
Jenna quickly finds an online profile that Jenn was hiding from her parents, and thinks she might have been abducted by someone she was conversing with on the Internet. There's a bigger bombshell, though: the Hassleys aren't her real parents, and she had set up a meeting with her birth mother - except for that her birth mom is dead. Uh-oh.
It turns out that the young woman may have a stalker named Matt Porter, at least according to his Hawaii ID. He has quite a few more and he's wanted for questioning in a 2009 kidnapping in Nebraska. Not only that, but he's cozied up to another girl named Julie (Kelly Mumme), who says he rescued her from a cult in California and was supposed to help her disappear. Just as we become uber-suspicious of Matt, though, we find out someone else killed him.
Were Jen's birth parents in a cult and now they want her back? That's the team's new theory. Past one heavy-handed scene where Steve tells Jenna that she seems distracted and asks if she wants to tell him anything, and she gives him a sob story about her late fiancee possibly being alive (while the audience all screams at the screen), we pick up chatter from Rhea Carver (Emily Bergl) that leads Five-O to Jen's possible location - with Rhea's father, cult leader Steven Carver (Bruce Davison, who seems like he's been in everything). It turns out that Jen is Rhea's daughter and Steven's granddaughter.
Meanwhile, Kono finds Internal Affairs lieutenant Vince Fryer (Tom Sizemore, looking a lot better than he did on Celebrity Rehab) in her house. Not something I'd ever want to come home to. IA is close to a ruling on Kono's case, and that makes her nervous. At episode's end, we find that she's been stripped of her badge by Fryer, something which is certainly going to be revisited in the future.
This episode is where the influx of new faces really begins. Lauren German (What We Do Is Secret) is billed in the description as a series regular as Lori Weston (but it's worth noting that she doesn't make the main titles, not unlike Taryn Manning). Her addition smacks of being a do-over at adding a new female regular after the lukewarm reception to the Jenna Kaye character. Jenna is still around this week, though, as is Richard T. Jones, plus we add Tom Sizemore to the mix. H5O announced quite a few guest stars over the hiatus, and I really hope that the show doesn't get muddled with all the additions. It's a series that doesn't need guest stars to bolster it.
Having said that, I've liked German's previous work, and she does have some entertaining banter with Alex O'Loughlin. Although superficial banter doesn't make a lasting character, I'm at least interested enough to see how Lori's character develops. It's also nice to see the likes of Emily Bergl (whom I enjoyed in the miniseries Taken) and Bruce Davison.
As far as the writing goes, I see strengths and weaknesses in this episode. There are scenes that I like, such as when Steve points out to Lori that he's not going to trust someone he just met as much as people who have had his back for awhile now. It's something that makes sense. It's also nice to see a bad guy get a drop on Lori, even if she eventually overpowers him, just to be reminded that characters are people and not perfect. Furthermore I give the episode bonus points for Steve chasing down a plane on horseback - that's not something you'd normally see on a procedural, and I always applaud coloring outside the lines.
It's not flawless, though. That scene between Steve and Jenna is so heavy-handed that it was cringe-worthy, whether it was the painfully on-the-nose dialogue, the awkward delivery of said dialogue, or how the score cue was also blatantly obvious. It was just weak all around, but it was one blemish in an otherwise entertaining episode.
One hopes, too, that Kono's storyline won't be dragged out too long. There aren't any indications as of yet that Grace Park is leaving the series, so I'd presume that Kono has to find a way back onto the police force and to the Five-O team - and I would rather see her back in action sooner rather than later. I've got nothing against the addition of new characters, but I don't want that to come at the expense of screen time for an established regular that I enjoy watching.
Hawaii Five-O seems to be off to a solid start for a second season; there are a few questions I have about where things are headed, but those answers require a little patience on our part. Let's see how things develop, but thus far, the show looks like it will avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved.