When I was a kid, I never liked school buses. This week's Hawaii Five-0 reminds me of that feeling - although thankfully I was never kidnapped by a drug cartel.
Do you recognize the shooter from the opening teaser? You should. That's Aimee Garcia. She's currently also playing Jamie Batista on Dexter. Here she's working for a drug cartel that would like its cocaine back. Her co-conspirator is played by Rick Gomez, who just appeared on Burn Notice as a kidnap victim. They're just two of the many familiar faces that populate this action-packed episode.
Governor Denning utters the "we don't negotiate with terrorists" line that's been popular at least since Harrison Ford uttered it in Air Force One, leaving our heroes to appease parents like Malcolm Schafer (Ingo Rademacher) while trying to save the day. The episode tries to create an "every second counts" feel, and doesn't quite succeed, but there's still a healthy level of suspense to be had. There's not much here you couldn't guess at - parents pleading for the safe return of their kids, bosses refusing to cut any slack, untraceable phone calls, a last-act reveal of the real mastermind - but while it may be familiar, it's a good familiar.
There are also some nice touches: Steve still bearing a facial scar from his ordeal last week, Danny's parental instincts putting him on edge. And when in doubt, blowing something up is always a nice way to lead into a commercial.
Meanwhile, Joe's rescue of Steve last week forces him into early retirement from the Navy, which does not sit well with Steve, although Joe doesn't seem to mind much. He contemplates opening a bar, which sounds like the premise to a spinoff series a la Archie Bunker's Place.
Then he changes his mind and decides to start asking questions of Wo Fat's associates, the Noshimuris. The Noshimuris are played by a pair of actors you also should know: Hiro is Mortal Kombat alum Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, and his son Adam is former Day Break star and recent Burn Notice villain Ian Anthony Dale. Hiro ends up in the trunk of Joe's car, telling him that the mysterious Shelburne is a person that "Wo Fat fears." Uh-oh.
This would be really cool, except that we're treated to Joe making a phone call to a mysterious person, telling them that "Steve's getting too close." Yes, after the whole Jenna Kaye fiasco, now we're dangling the possibility of another betrayal. It wasn't all that great the first time out, and it sounds even more ridiculous the second time - assuming that it plays out how it currently looks, which is not for certain.
Jenna turning sides was somewhat palatable because we didn't really warm up to her as a hero. Yet what do we gain by turning Joe, who's actually a fairly liked character, to the dark side? Can't Steve have somebody outside the group he can trust? No, I don't really care for this at all, and I'll be hoping it's not what it appears to be.
"Pahele" is another solid episode for Hawaii Five-0, at least until that final scene. Last week, I talked about the "bells and whistles" of the show, and how it needed to get back to what made it so good in the first season. This is an example of that idea. There were no huge guest stars to be advertised (although the few familiar faces were fun), and it wasn't a giant production. When it's true to itself, this show can be the best procedural on television.
Yet for every time it appears to be back to form, there's another wrench or stunt thrown into the mix. We'll see where it all goes, but let's hope for more episodes like this...except for that ending.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. Appears at Starpulse with permission. No reproduction permitted.