CBS gave an early gift to Hawaii Five-O fans: the episode we’ve been waiting for, which features the return of Victor Hesse (James Marsters), better known as the man who murdered McGarrett’s father.
The show opens right in the middle of the action, which is a great idea, except for that the whole “unknown caller” setup doesn’t really work considering that Victor’s return was spoiled some time ago. It’s not the script’s fault, though; rather, it’s a perfect example of how shows can get spoiled by today’s improved flow of information. What is a little jarring is the choice to then go back to well before that moment took place; that’s a really tricky arrangement to pull off, and it’s usually hit and miss (the only recent episode to do this that I actually liked was Human Target‘s “Rewind”). Hawaii Five-O makes it work because what happens before is equally as interesting as what we know is coming, and because we’re back to present time by the episode’s halfway point. The confrontation between Steve and Hesse is worth the wait. Let’s just hope the show doesn’t have him escape and drag on the conflict between him and Steve for too long. At least we get to meet the Iron Chef Chairman – I mean, Wo Fat. It’s time for him to take center stage as the show’s Big Bad, I think, and let the Hesse arc go out with a strong conclusion.
The episode also makes use of Chin’s past at the same time to create a multilayered plot, rather than simply become “the Steve McGarrett revenge hour.” Many shows would’ve just marginalized everyone else and made the episode into a one-man show. Yet look at Daniel Dae Kim, who does some great acting while stuck in one place for the majority of his time on screen. The episode also introduces the question of if anyone will ever notice there’s a whole lot of money that’s now been destroyed. Steve also manages to keep his shirt on this week and the show cuts down on the humor; to me, that’s paying due respect to an important plot and I’m glad for it.
If there’s one thing that nags at me just a little, it’s that the show does an excellent job of pointing out how unlikely it is for Hesse to have survived Steve shooting him twice in the chest at the conclusion of the pilot. It’s as if the episode is encouraging us to doubt that his survival is plausible (and I admit that I do doubt it, but I’m willing to consider it dramatic license). Other than that, it does a good job of keeping its continuity ducks in a row, including a return appearance by Will Yun Lee (Witchblade) as Sang Min. Although, does anyone else wish Governor Jameson (Jean Smart) would be seen rather than just mentioned?
Since this was the last new episode before the Christmas holiday, it’s also great to see a little holiday spirit. Who didn’t smile at that last scene?
It’s not my favorite episode of the season, but this episode definitely lived up to the expectations I’d been building from the pilot. It’s also given us new plot ideas to chew on over the winter hiatus. Hawaii Five-O set up the pins and knocked them down in strong fashion, and with hints of what may be next, I can’t wait to see where it goes.