If anyone else started humming ‘Jessie’s Girl’ during the beginning of tonight’s Hawaii Five-O, you’re forgiven. Unfortunately, Rick Springfield isn’t with us long: he’s a sleazy fashion photographer who gets barbecued in his own trailer. Pretty short for a guest appearance that CBS thought highly enough of to promote in their episode listing! (And before episode’s end, my local CBS affiliate would also run a spot for the late local news about his DUI arrest. You can’t make this stuff up.)
As is normal with a premise like this – which I know I’ve seen used for at least one Law & Order episode before – there’s no shortage of suspects, whether it’s Alana, the current squeeze who happens to be pregnant (that’s Breakout Kings star Serinda Swan), the ex Jordan (Angela Lindvall), somebody collecting on his gambling debts, or the dead guy’s illegitimate kid. Make no mistake, this is not the most novel episode of Hawaii Five-O. Which made the appearance of HBO’s new TV spot poking fun at every crime drama cliche even more amusing.
I have to quibble on some of the details as well – like how the bookie’s minions must have been spectacularly stupid not to know that they were being set up, given how awkward it was for Kamekona to call them. He had to read what to say, for crying out loud. Did that not sound suspicious to them? Not to mention the slightly sappy caveat that our victim wasn’t such a bad guy at the end? It all adds up to a less than great plot overall. Hawaii Five-O usually has something about each episode that distinguishes it from other crime shows, but not this time.
There’s one majorly neat touch within that plot, though: the book of the dead photographer’s work has a cover that exactly resembles that of Scott Caan’s own photography book.
As flat as the main plot is, though, the subplot is painfully poignant. With his uncle facing prison time for the theft from the asset forfeiture locker, Chin Ho decides to plead guilty to the crime he’s always been accused of in order to protect his family. Daniel Dae Kim gives a great performance with just a few scenes; how torn Chin Ho is about his decision is all over his face. His decision to get involved with the bookie in order to come up with the money to prove his guilt (how many times do you ever see someone want to prove their own guilt, especially when they’re innocent?) is heartbreaking and unexpected. Grace Park has a less interesting subplot with Kono running into an old friend of hers in the HPD lab, but it’s nice to get some more backstory for her character if nothing else.
This isn’t my favorite episode of Hawaii Five-O, but it isn’t my least favorite, either. (That’d still be the one about the pirates.) I’d call it profoundly average. The letdown comes because for the majority of its season, Hawaii Five-O has been much more than average. We expect a lot more from this show, and this week, it just wasn’t there.