Ladies and gentlemen, it's "name that guest star" week on Hawaii Five-O. Did you spot all the familiar faces? Unfortunately, they don't make up for the underlying flaws that are appearing to be common to this season.
A faux-Jaws opening leads us to discovering the hand of Blake Spencer, a salvage diver. (If you want to see my reaction to the resulting scene in Max's office, just watch Steve's face.) Into The Blue this is not (except for the mutual presence of Scott Caan).
Steve and Danny are soon learning about a mysterious next gig that may be the reason Blake ended up in pieces. Danny trips over himself while talking to museum expert Gabrielle Asano (Autumn Reeser of Human Target and No Ordinary Family), who talks about Spanish treasure. Oh, dangerous. Especially if Blake ticked off his boss, Jesse Billings (Peter Fonda), who's little more than a con artist.
Lori interviews Blake's mother Sylvia (Patty Duke), who has Alzheimer's and thinks her son is still in the sixth grade. All this teaches us is that Lori, with her complete lack of any visible empathy, should really not be allowed to interview victims' loved ones. And things get further awkward when Danny asks her for advice regarding Gabrielle. Thankfully, that's broken up when the Coast Guard finds Blake's boat.
Meanwhile, Steve asks Commander White (Terry O'Quinn) about his father's meeting with Governor Jameson and Wo Fat. White is less than forthcoming, hinting near the episode's end that Steve might do more harm than good if he keeps pushing. Do you think that'd stop Steve? Of course not!
Oh, and Steve and Cat Rollins (Michelle Borth) are still friendly, though she still knows he's only around because he needs her to do him a favor or two. As much as I like Steve, were I Cat, I would have dumped him by now. Though, their final scene together - with Cat being sent elsewhere - seems to say their romance is over. It's not surprising, since it wouldn't fit with the flirting that's gone on between Steve and Lori.
Chin asks our buddy Charlie (Brian Yang) in the HPD lab to find out who may have used his login, and Ray is easily able to find out that it was Kono. Chin quickly covers for her to Charlie's face, but he calls Kono out on it. They have another argument about her questionable new friends, before she goes to meet Frank (William Baldwin). He's not happy with her either, because he doesn't want Chin getting in their way. At episode's end, Chin tries to give Kono the benefit of the doubt, which is at least something different for him to do.
"Mea Makamae" is crammed full of guest stars; at least they play their parts well and weren't overhyped. Unfortunately, they're just distractions from the same flaws that existed in last week's episode. As others have pointed out, the only one who seems to even acknowledge Kono's continued existence is Chin, who seems to be going through the same material over the last few episodes. It's a waste of not only Grace Park, but also Daniel Dae Kim; like Scott Caan last week, he could have taken this episode off. Terry O'Quinn's had more screen time than he has. In fact, aside from getting a date, Scott Caan could've checked out, too.
Meanwhile, Lori continues to be a cold fish. It's more apparent this week that she's being positioned as Steve's new partner, both professionally and personally. Not only does she spend more time working alongside him than his actual partner, Danny's apparently warmed up to her enough to be asking her for dating advice. While the script can give her all the brownie points in the world (she happens to recognize a Naval officer from a photo in Sylvia's place this week and gets to meet a perp, too), it means nothing if the audience doesn't connect with her. Thus far, I have no investment in her. I look at her character and think that Lori takes up space that rightfully belongs to Scott Caan and Grace Park.
It creates a quandary for Hawaii Five-O. The individual episodes themselves aren't bad; the plots are entertaining enough, and our core four still give their best, at least with what they're given. I can't bring myself to say anything too harsh about the show, when I know what I love about it is still here. Yet four episodes in, it's clear that there are some ongoing issues with season two.
With the scuttling of the main team and the introduction of a shaky new character (note the order that I put that in; I'm not placing all the blame on Lauren German's shoulders), the creative team has lost what made this show a freshman hit. I know it's a common belief in this business that sequels must be bigger and better, but this is an example of why I've never bought into that idea. Instead, I think of another saying: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
In case you missed it, check out my review of the Hawaii Five-O soundtrack, recently released by CBS Music.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproductions permitted.