Hawaii Five-O Episode 1.21 Review

I’ve brought up before how I worried that Hawaii Five-O might be treading into stunt casting waters, as it brought in musicians like Joanna Levesque, Nick Lachey, and Vanessa Minnillo. This week, though, I have no such concerns; I saw Sean Combs give a surprisingly good performance in the film Made several years ago. He’s equally good in the role of an undercover cop whose wife is killed, in an episode that is likewise worth the time.

I’m not really in love with the writing in this episode. For the majority of the hour, it seems like it’s not going to be a “whodunit,” but rather a character-driven piece about stopping a revenge-driven cop. The players and motivations are all fairly obvious (including a guest appearance from Pitch Black‘s Keith David). In the final fifteen minutes, though, it decides to start off with last-minute revelations and become a mystery. Nothing is wrong with either approach except for that they’re vastly different. As a result, the last act feels somewhat disjointed from the first three. I think that the episode would have been much stronger if it had picked one of the two and stayed with it; either or could’ve worked. It suffers when it tries to shift gears and do so very late into the game.

The characters, though, make up for the average writing. Combs was a real surprise when I saw him act before, and he’s pretty good here as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing him back again. The partnership between Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin can compensate for a lot. (In particular, I am in love with Steve’s “I answer to God and to the Governor, neither of whom are gonna help you right now” line.) Most importantly, I appreciate how the show drew on Danny’s similar personal background to help with the case, which is a smart move; your characters (and for that matter, your actors) have experience and skills that can and should be used. That’s what separates one show and one set of characters from another.

On to the small details: I am liking the fact that Steve is still recuperating from that broken arm. Too many shows would have him somehow be perfectly fine by now. Also, this is something I’ve always noticed but which is more apparent to me this week: the show doesn’t rely too heavily on technology. Watching enough procedurals heavy on technology (the CSI series, I’m looking at you), I sometimes felt like the point got lost in all the technical jargon and shiny graphics. When there’s a scene like the one between Steve and Kono at headquarters in this episode, I can follow what they’re talking about.

I’d call this an average episode in a season of above-average; it’s not bad, but it’s not as great as some of the others. If anything, watching this show immediately following my new favorite The Chicago Code has given me a deeper appreciation for the role of the police procedural on TV. Hawaii Five-O is nowhere near as ambitious or complicated as that series, but that doesn’t dampen my enjoyment of the show. It’s an entertaining show with well-written characters, and it doesn’t matter that it’s not always novel. As long as a show is good, it will always be worth watching, and Hawaii Five-O has almost always been good. There will always be a spot for it on my calendar.


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