By Stu Robinson,
CBS presented its much-hyped “crossover” episodes of Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS: Los Angeles this week.
The biggest accomplishment of the exercise was to paper over the continued absence of Five-0 leader Steve McGarrett while actor Alex O’Loughlin underwent drug treatment. Filling the gap was the marvelous rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J (Ladies Love Cool James) who, as NCIS agent Sam Hanna, brings the special-forces swagger and lets H50 actor Scott Caan get back to being Danno. Hanna gamely needles Danno for being uptight, ridicules his driving and picks the sort of McGarrett/Danno arguments that have become a hallmark of the series. Freed from having to be the alpha male, as in the previous episode, Danno can go back to being Danno – the bitchy, neurotic hypochondriac we know and love.
Crossovers pose a challenge to viewers who are big fans of one show but don’t watch the other. I don’t watch NCIS: Los Angeles – or any of the NCIS series’ for that matter. I don’t even know what NCIS stand for. (This must bother me because I am dangling prepositions.) The crossover began Monday night on Hawaii Five-0 and concluded the next night on NCIS: Los Angeles.
The plot was of the thrill-ride variety; viewers had no chance of solving the mystery themselves. A new suspect surfaces near the end of the H50 episode, and even he isn’t the person behind the conspiracy. He just leads the action back to LA for Tuesday night’s conclusion. The real baddie isn’t introduced until halfway through the NCIS: Los Angeles episode, and appears in only one scene.
Race to Stop Epidemic
At a crime scene full of guys in hazmat suits, Five-0′s Danno, Chino Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) and Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) are confronted with a victim of hemorrhagic smallpox. (Shoutout to the shows makeup team: The pustulated corpse is disturbingly photogenic.) Since the only known samples of smallpox are at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and a single laboratory in Russia, biological terrorism immediately comes to mind. While tracing the victim’s final days, the team turns up links to a pharmaceutical trial. A fingerprint from a related crime scene yields a name on an NCIS watch list and, in the span of a commercial break, agents Hanna and G. Callen (Chris O’Donnell) from NCIS: Los Angeles arrive to join the investigation.
After uncovering a warehouse lab where a strengthened form of the smallpox virus was being tested on other drug-trial participants (three more gloriously pustulated corpses), the focus turns to the doctor who performed those tests. But he slips through an airport dragnet and onto a flight bound for LA.
NCIS: Los Angeles
While Hanna and Callen wing their way back to the mainland with Danno and Chin Ho, their NCIS: Los Angeles colleagues Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) and Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah) try to head off the suspect at the airport. Ruah’s character, you might recall, made a brief appearance on H50 back in November as a lip reader brought in by Joe White (Terry O’Quinn) to study the video retrieved from the late governor’s office. In her one scene, she interprets Papa McGarrett’s words to be: “I want to know about Shelburne.” Just in case you forgot, she shocks Danno and Chin Ho this week by untactfully asking about Shelbourne in front of Deeks. But I digress.
Passengers already have disembarked by the time NCIS gets to the gate, but they lean that a woman traveling with the suspect was found dead in one of the plane’s bathrooms, blood having gushed from her eyes and nose. The body was not covered with pustules like the ones in Hawaii; guess less time had passed since she was exposed to the small pox. The flight attendants look sensibly nervous, and the writers never really explain how the victim could have been the only person on the packed flight to be exposed.
Anyway, the chase resumes and the would-be Dr. Mengele is nabbed at Venice Beach. (Where else!) He, in turn, fingers another doctor – a female epidemiologist – as the so-called mastermind. She believes that population is overwhelming the Earth’s environment and that a smallpox epidemic, like a forest fire, could purify the ecosystem. Her plan: Hand out smallpox-infected T-shirts to teenagers attending an international gathering of high school student leaders. You suspected that from the beginning, right?
- During the H50 episode, Kono receives a phone call that Chin Ho believes is from a new love interest. Yet Charlie Fong (Brian Yang) already had appeared twice in the episode absent any flirting with her. Hmmm …
- During the NCIS: Los Angeles hour, Kensi flirts obviously with Danno. But he has that hot museum curator played by Autumn Reeser back on Oahu, not to mention unresolved feelings for ex-wife Rachel (Claire van der Boom).
- Another episode, an other goofy outfit for coroner Max Bergman (Masi Oka). This time it’s a hazmat suit, which he describes as “itchy.” But at least he wore one; the rest of our heroes mad due with gloves.
- On the product-placement front, Chevy still is hanging around but Hawaiian Airlines has been AWOL for several episodes, some of which involved air travel.
- According to the tease for the next episode, McGarrett will be back along with Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) and lots of big guns. Woohoo!
Stuart J. Robinson, a college friend of the TV Tyrant, is a writer, editor, media-relations practitioner and social-media guy based in Phoenix.