Hawaii Five-0 started its third season with a splash – a number of them, actually.

In one of last season’s cliffhangers, crooked ex-cop Frank Delano (William Baldwin) gave Five-0′s Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) a Sophie’s choice: rescue either his wife, Malia (Reiko Aylesworth), or his cousin and partner Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park). The other would die. Delano told Chin Ho he could find Kono on a boat 2 miles offshore, while Malia was at home waiting for him. Chin Ho jumped behind the wheel and raced home, where he found Malia sprawled on the floor, bleeding but alive. The last we saw of Kono, she was being dumped into the ocean. (Splash No. 1) She was alive, but bound and gagged.

The writers start Season 3 with the ol’ switcheroo.

In my recap of the Season 2 finale last May, I blogged: “It’s hard to see how [Kono] escapes this one, since Chin Ho has made his Sophie’s choice to rescue Malia. She’s still with her yakuza boyfriend, Adam, but it’s hard figure how even the island’s de facto top gangster could mobilize forces to rescue her in time.”

Well, gol-lee. Seems they didn’t show us Chin Ho phoning Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale) on his way to Malia’s side. And Adam somehow gets to sea in a rubber raft in time to dive into the water (Splash No. 2) and rescue Kono.

Meanwhile, Chin Ho finds his wife alive, but fading rapidly. Paramedics arrive but can’t prevent her from flat-lining. So Kono is alive, Malia is dead and Chin Ho once again is angry and distraught. Will this guy ever find happiness?

And all this before the boffo theme song!

The Season 3 premiere was jam-packed with action and exposition, resolving cliffhangers and foreshadowing what’s to come in future episodes. You can tell the writers had months off to work on it, because the dialog is particularly snappy.

The Season 2 finale ended with a shocking revelation: the identity of the mysterious Shelbourne. Joe White leads Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loguhlin) to the stoop of a house in Japan.

“You want answers? They’re all in there,” Joe says, then he departs.

McGarrett knocks on the door and looks back over his shoulder to see that Joe is gone. The door opens. McGarrett looks in, freezes for a moment, then utters one word: “Mom?”

This season picks up just moments later, with Steve confronting his mother, Doris (Christine Lahti). This emotionally charged conversation serves two purposes:

  1. It fills in the backstory about how she survived a car bombing two decades earlier, became the mysterious Shelbourne and, at some point, killed the father of Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos).
  2. It displays the profoundly conflicting emotions McGarrett feels toward a woman who left her two children to grow up as virtual orphans.

She begins to explain to a skeptical Steve why she faked her own death two decades earlier.

Doris: “Before I met your father, I worked for an intelligence program that reported directly to the Pentagon.”
Steve: “You were a spy.”
Doris: “Yes.”
Steve: “So all those years that I thought you were a schoolteacher, that was just …”
Doris: “It was a cover.”
Steve: “And, uh, were me and Mary just a cover too?”
Doris: “Shelbourne was way before you and Mary.”

She says that after marrying, she quit the intelligence service because she wanted to be a mother.

Doris: “Unfortunately, I could change my name but not my past.”
Steve: “That’s why you pretended to be dead.”
Doris: “When I made that choice, I knew my life would never be the same. I knew that I would have to give up the only thing that meant anything to me – my family.”
Steve: “So why’d you do it, Doris – if that’s even your real name.”
[She instinctively counterattacks.]
Doris: “Since when does a son call his mother by her first name?”
Steve: “Since she failed to be one 20 years ago.”

Then, disappointingly, she comes back with the same old excuse Jack McGarrett always gave for sending his children away to the mainland.

“I didn’t see any other option, Steve. … I did what I had to do to protect my family.”

But Steve isn’t having it.

Steve: “You know, Dad sent us away thinking he had to protect us. And he spent the next 20 years looking for your killer. All that was for nothing.”
Doris: “If I had told him the truth, Wo Fat would have executed him.”
Steve: “Wo Fat executed him anyway!”

Where’s Wo Fat?

Switch to a scene of Wo Fat being transported from prison, on his way to a high-security mainland facility. The viewer knows they’d show this for only one reason: He will escape – probably in a ridiculous manner.

The transport vehicle, which looks kind of like a Brinks truck, is escorted by a bevy of Honolulu police cars. A helicopter flies overhead and extends a giant claw, like in the arcade game. It positions the claw atop the truck carrying Wo Fat, clamps down, plucks it out of the convoy, drags it offshore and drops it into the ocean (Splash No. 3). As it settles on the bottom, divers appear to extract the gangster, give him oxygen and deliver him to a waiting ship.

Once Wo Fat is dry and back in an impeccably tailored suit, Delano appears, introduces himself and proposes a deal: If Wo Fat’s organization will help him distribute a shipment of narcotics, Delano will tell the gangster where to find the person who killed his father. (It took McGarrett two seasons to uncover the story of Shelbourne, but Delano claims to have pieced it together from prison gossip and basic research.) Wo Fat remains cool but quickly agrees.

Thinking Wo Fat is in custody, McGarrett brings his mother back to Oahu, where they are met at the airfield by Danno (Scott Caan) and what looks like a SWAT team.

Steve: “This is Shelbourne.”
Doris: “You can call me ‘mom.’ Someone should.”
Danno: “Mom? Whose mom?”
Steve: “That would be mine.”
Doris: “Doris McGarrett.” [Shakes hands with Danno.]
Danno: “Danny Williams. You know, for a woman who died in a car bomb 20 years ago, you are remarkably well put together.”
Doris: “Thank you. I’ll take that as a compliment.”

At this point, Danno brings them up to speed on Wo Fat’s escape and Malia’s death.

Meanwhile, at the Morgue

Kono arrives at the morgue to find an agitated Dr. Max Bergman (Masi Oka) pacing in his office and Chin Ho standing by the table where Malia’s body has been laid out. Max tells Kono that Chin Ho has been standing vigil since she was brought in. Unless I missed something, that is Oka’s sole participation in the episode.

Kono approaches her cousin, Chin Ho, and tries without much success to comfort him. He turns and apologizes for not being there to rescue her personally.

Kono: “You have nothing to be sorry about. … Chin, you tried to save us both.”
Chin Ho: “Well, it wasn’t enough.”
Kono: “It was everything you could do.”

McGarrett, Danno and Doris arrive moments later to hear Chin Ho declare: “I want Delano!” He’s determined to focus on the manhunt to avoid confronting his grief.

Back in the team’s silver Chevy Camaro – Chevrolet is back as “the official ride” of Hawaii Five-0 –  Steve is driving and arguing with the governor on his mobile phone. Doris turns to Danno, who is in the backseat, and tells him she remembers Chin Ho as a kid, and that him losing his wife like that makes her think about what her husband must have gone through.

“The thing for Chin,” Danno responds, “is that he doesn’t have any kids who are going to be asking, ‘Why isn’t mommy coming home.’”

OUCH! Unexpected smack down. Let the “cargument” begin!

Doris doesn’t back down, honing in on Danno’s marital history and dating situation and how it might affect his daughter. Then she calls him “Danno,” shifting the cargument to the nickname that he hates. Further escalation is avoided when Steve gets off the phone and interrupts. It’s time to track down Delano and Wo Fat. His mother expects to take part, but he refuses.

Steve: “Doris, you’re on ice ’til this blows over.”
Doris: “I survived two assassination attempts by the PLO, Steve, I think I can handle myself.”
Steve: “I understand that, but I’m not going to risk losing you again. You’re going someplace safe, and I’ve got just the person to make sure you stay put.”

Gee, who could he have in mind? The new series regular, Michelle Borth, who plays his girlfriend, Navy Lt. Catherine Rollins? That wouldn’t be awkward at all.

The scene shifts to an instantly available safe house. When Steve greets Catherine on the front porch, she delivers possibly the best line of the episode.

Catherine: “So, uh, your mom faked her own death and she’s Shelbourne. Well, if you didn’t have mommy issues before this …”
Steve: “Cute.”
Catherine: “I try.”

CBS

McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) introduces his girlfriend, Catherine (Michelle Borth, left) to his mother (Christine Lahti) in the Season 3 premiere of “Hawaii Five-0.”

They step inside, where Steve introduces Catherine as a Naval Intelligence officer on leave, which establishes her credibility to babysit a key asset but sidesteps her more significant role. This time, Mom isn’t having it.

Catherine: “Please, call me Catherine.”
Doris: “What does my son call you?”
Steve to Catherine: “Former intelligence, needs to know everything.”
Doris: “Unless it’s apparent. (A pun! Apparent/a parent, get it?) Catherine, would you like some tea.”

Doris turns and heads into the kitchen.

Catherine: “She’s something.”
Steve: “Yeah.”
Catherine: “So have you told your sister yet?”
Steve: “No, uh, I don’t really feel like I could tell Mary this one over the phone.”

So, I expect we’ll see Mary Ann McGarrett in an upcoming episode.

“Don’t worry,” Catherine says. “I’m going to look after her like she’s my own mother. … That came out wrong.” Steve gets a smug look on his face, totally inappropriate to the situation. “I didn’t think so,” he coos.

After Steve departs, Doris asks Catherine to sit down and chat for a moment.

Doris: “So …”
Catherine: “So …”
Doris: “Do you love my son?”
Catherine: “Wow!”

Catherine is saved by a commotion outside, where guards are tussling with … Kamekona (Taylor Wily). The big man knows McGarrett’s mother is there and has dropped by to deliver some shrimp and snoop. That says a lot about the level of security provided by Five-0 and the Honolulu Police. I love the Big K, but he’s the biggest snitch on the island.

Delano’s Plan

After several twists and turns, we find out about more than a thousand pounds of seized meth in the basement of Honolulu Police headquarters, which the late assassin Hillary Chaver blew up while fleeing the murder of Capt. Vince Fryer in last season’s finale. Delano and four of his goons, posing as clean-up workers, recover the meth and are fleeing in a truck when Five-0 catches up to them in a traffic tie-up.

A four-on-five firefight ensues as trapped motorists flee in terror. Eventually, the three generic goons go down, leaving Delano and the guy who tossed Kono off the boat. The latter pulls a woman out of her car and hops into the driver’s seat, but Kono vaults herself onto the hood and shoots him through the windshield.

Chin pursues Delano into a parking garage, where they exchange gunfire and Delano is hit. He tries to carjack a minivan, but takes another bullet. As Chin stands over him with his rifle at the ready, Delano strains to raise his pistol and pull the trigger, only to find that he’s out of bullets.

“You’re not going to kill me,” he has the chutzpah to say to Chin Ho. “You said it yourself: You’re not a dirty cop, Chin. Only a dirty cop would shoot at an unarmed man.”

Chin pauses for a moment, then shoots. Guess Delano forgot to factor in that he’d just had Chin Ho’s wife killed.

Severely wounded, the guy Kono shot tells McGarrett that Wo Fat is after Shelbourne. Big surprise there; McGarrett should’ve realized that when he saw that Wo Fat wasn’t part of the drug snatch, which would be a perfect diversion to occupy Five-0.

Warned by a call from McGarrett, Catherine draws her gun, moves Doris to an upstairs bedroom and orders her to stay put. Doris demands a gun in return, which Catherine produces from a hidden leg holster. Just what a former intelligence agent/possible mother-in-law would expect.

Catherine heads downstairs to check the perimeter security. As she steps out the front door, we see that Wo Fat already is in the house and heading up the stairs. Catherine finds several security men down and almost immediately is attacked by another one.

Wo Fat enters the bedroom, pistol drawn, to find himself staring down the tiny barrel of the handgun Catherine gave to Doris. Mexican standoff.

It takes Catherine a moment to dispatch her attacker; as she heads back upstairs, she hears three shots. She bursts into the bedroom to find an open window and Doris standing there with her gun. Doris indicates that Wo Fat fled out the window.

Moments later, McGarrett arrives. He races up the stairs: “Mom? Mom! [Finds her alive.] Mom.”

Epilogues

In front of the house where Adam and Kono rendezvous, the two are sitting on the stoop.

Kono: “You saved my life.”
Adam: “That almost makes us even. You saved my life twice.”
Kono: “I remember the night McGarrett brought Wo Fat in. What was the second one?”
Adam: “The night we met.”

Awwww. Guess it’s “game over” for Kono’s earlier flirtation, lab technician Charlie Fong. Sorry Charlie.

Next we see Chin Ho duck under crime-scene tape to enter his home. He picks up an overturned chair, then stops and looks at photo of Malia. He spots the bloodstain on the kitchen carpet, then turns to the oven and finds the previous night’s dinner waiting. He starts crying and sinks to his knees.

Cut to the airport, where Steve tells Doris that she must take off because Wo Fat is still on the loose. He advises her to pick her destination once she’s on the plane.

Steve: “Just don’t tell me or anybody but your handlers. There’s no way to guarantee your safety. I promise: As soon as this is over, I’ll come and find you.”
Doris: “How?”
Steve: “The same way I did the first time.”
[They hug.] Doris: “I’m so, so sorry. Just because I wasn’t around doesn’t mean I wasn’t your mother. I never stopped loving you.”

She boards the private jet accompanied by U.S. marshals and it taxies toward the runway.

Danno arrives and informs Steve that ballistics found evidence of only Doris’ gun being fired, despite her having said she exchanged shots with Wo Fat. And all three of her shots missed wildly.

Danno: “So either your mother is a terrible shot, or she deliberately tried not to shoot Wo Fat.”
Steve: “You’re saying you think she let him get away?”
Danno: “No, I’m asking: ‘Why didn’t she kill him when she had the chance?’”

As they ponder that, we see a shot of the plane lifting off for parts unknown. So the Shelbourne backstory will continue for Season 3.

Notes

  • Normally, referring to a “jam-packed” episode is a compliment. In this case, however, it was too much. It probably would have benefitted from being a two-parter – the first focusing mainly on Delano and the second on the Wo Fat-Shelbourne encounter, which got short shrift in the crammed season premiere.
  • Little time was spent resolving Danno’s cliffhanger, probably because it was so lame. As I wrote in my recap of the Season 2 finale: “This is just dumb. Suddenly, the ex, Rachel, is back to being an uncaring shrew at the other end of a phone call. … This after the writers spent a year and a half humanizing Rachel and reheating her relationship with Danno. …  So now we’re supposed to believe Rachel is so insensitive that she’s going to rip Grace away from Danno a second time?”
  • In his cargument with Mama McGarrett, Danno mentions that he’s seeing someone but taking it slowly. That bodes well for a future appearance by the lovely Autumn Reeser, who plays his most recent love interest, museum curator Gabrielle Asano.

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Stuart J. Robinson, a college friend of the TV Tyrant, is a writer, editor, media-relations practitioner and social-media guy based in Phoenix.