‘H50′ Uses Beauty for Good, Evil

Before I get started on this week’s Hawaii Five-0 Guest-a-palooza, I want focus on last week’s episode. Of the two wildly different hours, Episode 8 had greater implications for the series’ future than Episode 9, which was a self-contained dose of cotton candy.

Episode 8: Steve and Doris Both Lose It

Gilda Radner as Emily Litella.

After watching this episode, I felt little like Emily Litella. She was a Saturday Night Live character in the 1970s played by the late Gilda Radner. She would appear on the show’s “Weekend Update” segment to offer an editorial rebuttal based upon her misunderstanding a topic – for instance, deaf penalty instead of death penalty. After a lengthy rant, the anchor would interrupt and inform her of her error, whereupon she would turn to the camera, smile sweetly and say, “Never mind.”

Where am I going with this? My last H50 blog post questioned whether the show had lost its way, citing stalled story arcs, lack of character development and weekly crimes that seemed almost phoned-in.

Then I saw Episode 8, and all I could think was, “Whoa!”

I didn’t see that coming is one thing. An out-of-control Mama McGarrett torturing a dude with jumper cables is a whole other level. And I just complained in my last blog post about the lack of progress in the Doris storyline.

The episode begins on Maui with a teenage couple joyriding along the perimeter of a burning sugarcane field. All of the sudden, burning man stumbles out of the field and into their path. The vehicle plows into him, and he’s bounced up on the windshield, shattering the glass. [Cue the boffo H50 theme song.]

When the music stops, we see Catherine pull into her driveway in a vintage Chevy Corvette with a surfboard on the roof.

Another of the criticisms I made in my last post was that the show’s writers had Catherine doing pretty much the same thing she was doing in Season 1 – using her status in Naval Intelligence to magically obtain information that Five-0 can’t plausibly get on its own – despite the fact that actress Michelle Borth was made a full cast member this season.

Well, that also changed in Episode 8.

Secret Agent Cat

Catherine enters her house and is greeted by a gun in the hands of the federal witness-protection agent she hustled in Episode 2 while trying to locate Steve’s mom, Doris (Christine Lahti). Agent Chris Channing (Carlos Bernard), suspended after that run-in, demands to know who was employing Catherine. He also demands to know about “Mangosta” (Spanish for mongoose), which leaves Catherine at a loss. But she has the wherewithal to get the drop on Channing and grab his gun – enabling herself to take over the questioning. Mangosta, it turns out, was a Colombian killer whom Doris supposedly assassinated in a bombing 37 years earlier.

Aha! So Wo Fat isn’t the only person from Doris’ past who might have a vendetta against her. And if Doris could fake her own death in a bombing, who’s to say Mangosta didn’t as well?

“All those years in Japan, she was off the radar,” Channing tells Catherine. “Going into WitSec actually heightened her profile.”

Now, Channing says, a man has surfaced who some think might be Mangosta, and he may be on Oahu. Catherine shouldn’t tell Steve, he says, because Steve is so predictable and “Mangosta would smell a full-blown op coming a mile away. The only way to catch him is by surprise.” He somehow convinces Catherine, whom he’d had a gunpoint 10 minutes earlier, to help him investigate the alleged Mangosta threat.

Doris is grumpy. She’s sure her bomb killed Mangosta. But, obviously, she hadn’t stuck around for the explosion. She’s extra grumpy at being told to sit tight while others determine if there is a threat.

But she’s in better hands than she realizes. It seems that Catherine, in addition to being an intelligence analyst, is also a trained field operative. When she and Channing trace their suspect to a hotel, she uses some neat spy gadgets to bypass the lock on his room and crack the safe, in which she finds surveillance pictures of Doris. When the suspect returns, Catherine escapes with a somersault from the balcony to the one below.

When Mangosta subsequently eludes their surveillance, they call Doris to warn her and say they’re on the way. Arriving at the McGarrett residence, they find a broken lamp and drops of blood on the floor. Catherine phones Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) and persuades him to track Mangosta’s rental car, which he somehow didn’t have the sense to replace. That leads them to a warehouse, where they are shocked [pun intended] to find Doris with the aforementioned jumper cables attached to a car battery at one end and Mangosta’s nipples at the other.

“Gimme a name,” Doris screams after unclamping the cables for a moment. “Who else knows I’m alive, eh?”

Getting no response, she shocks him again. Catherine yells for her to stop.

“Get out of here,” screams Doris, seemingly possessed. “GET OUT OF HERE!”

“Doris, stop it,” Catherine responds. “You’ll kill him.”

That appears to penetrate Doris’ rage, and she backs off. Later, as Catherine drops her off at Casa de McGarrett, Doris has come down from her adrenaline high.

“Steve can’t know about this,” she tells Catherine. “He thought he lost me once. I don’t want him thinking it could happen again. Promise me.” Catherine pauses for a few moments, then agrees. So now she’s keeping two important secrets from Steve – that others besides Wo Fat may be after Doris, and that Doris is batshit crazy.

Viewers never find out what happens to the bloodied and tortured Mangosta. They couldn’t have simply let him go, but they couldn’t have arrested him either. Both would expose Doris.

Steve’s Issues

Back on Maui, Max (Masi Oka), Steve (Alex O’Loughlin) and Kono (Grace Park) arrive to investigate the death of the burning man.

They discover that he was shot, burned and hit by the car, the latter being the ultimate cause of death. The hypothesis is that somebody tried to commit the perfect murder by shooting the victim in the field and dousing him in accelerant so that the fire would consume the body.

Sgt. Duke Lukela (Dennis Chun) examines a restraining order Olivia Victor (Vanessa Marcil) had taken out against Five-0 leader Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin).

Steve quickly zeroes in on the victim’s shrink, the sultry Olivia Victor, played by Vanessa Marcil (General Hospital, Beverly Hills 90210), who was a regular on the NBC dramedy Las Vegas (2003-07) with James Caan, Scott Caan’s father and a guest on H50 last season. The ensuing game of cat and mouse between Olivia and Steve reveals as much about Steve obsessiveness as it does about his instincts.

I would attempt to summarize the interaction, but writer Hilary Rothing already has done a better job than I could at CraveOnline:

“She immediately gets under McG’s skin as she successfully profiles him while destroying evidence. McGarrett is quickly convinced she’s the killer. Of course, savvy viewers were on to the good doctor as soon as we laid eyes on her. When was the last time you saw a shrink hosing down her car in cutoffs and cowboy boots?

“What was fun about this scene and subsequent interactions between McG and Olivia was just how easily and calmly she was able to call him out on his ‘Mommy/Daddy issues.’ Danny … had the right of it – no one stands up to Commander McGarrett without getting cold cocked, cuffed or both. As Olivia burrowed deeper and deeper into Steve’s head, he became increasingly obsessed with proving her guilt. We know McG’s a pretty smart guy, which is why it was obvious he was acting on emotion when he decided to meet with Olivia after she slapped him with a restraining order.”

When a private detective who’d been paid by the victim is shot dead as well, his laptop reveals surveillance photos of a number of men, all in front of the building containing Olivia’s office. Seems the private eye figured out that Olivia’s psychology practice was a front for a prostitution ring, photographed the patients/clients showing up for their “sessions” and blackmailed them.

Olivia flees to the airport, though it’s unclear why. How could she have known at that point that Five-0 had figured her out? After Olivia tries several misdirections, including one in which she kills a flight attendant to take her uniform, Steve finally outwits her when she tries to escape in a taxi rather than on a plane.

Episode 9: Guest-a-Palooza

The next episode had no Doris, no Catherine and no furthering of the McGarrett storyline. Instead, it was built around a constellation of guest stars that required three distinct story lines, two of them anchored in a single armed robbery gone wrong.

The prologue begins in a bank lobby. Oddball coroner Max has reached the front of the line but keeps letting folks behind him go ahead. Seems he’s waiting for a particular teller to become available, an attractive young woman. Subtle, Max.

When the teller, Sabrina (Rumer Willis, daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis), is ready for Max, it turns out she really is ready for Max. She toys with him flirtatiously, while he stammers and tries to work up the courage to ask her for a date. We find out he’s been coming in every week, just to her window, to deposit his paycheck. Then, surprisingly, she turns the tables and asks him out for sushi.

They start to make plans but are interrupted when two armed gunmen enter the bank and order everyone to lie on the floor. The leader hands Sabrina a bag and tells her to fill it with cash, and she complies. Ready to leave, the leader tries to take a woman from the line as a hostage. At this point, a man from the line (Lochlyn Munro) jumps up and rushes the leader. He knocks the gun away and they trade blows before the leader recovers his gun and shoots the Good Samaritan in the stomach. By this point, the leader’s mask has come off and we see that he’s played by C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders and the original Red Dawn).

After the gunmen rush out, Max jumps to aid the fallen customer. Then he hears Sabrina call to him. He turns and sees that she is bleeding from the abdomen, apparently struck by the bullet after it passed through the man. The show cuts to the theme song, leaving viewers with two questions: what’s behind the robbery and whether Max’s new love interest will survive.

Model Performance

Following the opening credits, the episode shifts to a bikini photo shoot on the beach. As the camera pans over the models, viewers can hear the lyrics “you know you want it, so come and get it” in the background music. It’s another CBS cross-pollination. Last year had a two-part shared plot with CSI: Los Angeles. This season we have Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo, who was appearing the next evening in the underwear line’s fashion show on CBS.

I’m not going to make fun of Prinsloo. Playing herself, she performed competently in several scenes and delivered a thought-provoking soliloquy contrasting the fantasy and reality of her job.

Danno (Scott Caan) shows pictures of his daughter to Victoria’s Secret models (left to right) Jasmine Tookes, Behati Prinsloo and Jacquelyn Jablonski.

How did the writers work her into H50? Steve and Danno stroll onto the set and the first person to address them is the top model. Sure, that’s plausible. In a tiny, floral bikini, Prinsloo appears younger and less voluptuous than other Victoria’s Secret models, but she exudes a sweet, bubbly personality. She flirts with the guys until security man Arlo (Billy Malone) approaches. He’s called Five-0 about a threatening note found at the shoot: “AFTER TOMORROW YOU WON’T IGNORE ME ANYMORE.”

Just then, Steve’s phone rings with word of the bank robbery. While he fields the call, Danno catches a smile from Prinsloo.

Steve: “All right, we caught a case.”

Danno: “Why don’t I stay here … and you can take care of the other thing. Why are you giving me a look? They called you; they didn’t call me.”

Arlo: “We could really use some help with this problem.”

Danno: “You’re going to get the help. Steve, beat it. I’ve got this.”

Now that we’ve established the division of labor, I’ll try to make the three stories short:

  • The bank robbers didn’t make off with much money and dumped what they got by the roadside, leaving Five-0 questioning their motive. The explanation is crazy, but, as Steve notes, people can do crazy things when forced to confront their mortality.
  • Technology leads to the model stalker as lab tech Charlie Fong (Brian Yang) uses computerized handwriting-analysis to identify the stalker and facial recognition on airport-security video to confirm she’s on the island. Further investigation by Fong places her at The Modern hotel (Product placement!), where the models are staying. Danno races to the rescue, but not in time to prevent the stalker from ambushing Prinsloo in her room when the model returns alone from her shoot. (If the threatening note had Arlo concerned enough to call Five-0, why would be let the star model leave alone?) Danno bursts through the door in the nick of time to shoot the stalker as she menaces Prinsloo with a large knife.
  • Max stays by Sabrina’s hospital bed for most of he episode. When she’s well enough, he wheels her to the cafeteria for a pretend romantic dinner.

The episode concludes with Steve and Danno backstage at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. They’ve brought Danno’s daughter (Teilor Grubbs), who declares it “sooo cool!”

Steve spots Kamekona (Taylor Wily) with his (relatively) mini-me, cousin Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett). When he asks how they got in, the big guy claims he used to date one of the models – even though he’s wearing a credential that says “Steve McGarrett.” Danno is ready to bust his chops, but Steve agrees to let it slide in return for two weeks of free lunches.

They’re interrupted by Prinsloo, wearing her winged costume. Two other Victoria’s Secret models who were part of the earlier beach shoot (Jacquelyn Jablonski and Jasmine Tookes) invite Grace back to the make-up room. “Hey, just make up though, please,” Danno tells them. “No, um, secrets or nothing.” Prinsloo thanks Danno and plants a kiss on his cheek.

Of course, it wouldn’t be H50 with out daddy issues.

“Enjoy this time with your daughter,” Prinsloo tells Danno. “Little girls really need their daddies. They grow up very fast.” And with an “aloha,” she turns and heads to the stage, treating the boys, and viewers, to an extended view of her behind.

Notes

  • When Danno ogles the models at the beach, Steve tells him: “You know, for your sake, I really hope Gabby comes home soon.” It’s the first reference to Danno’s most recent love interest – museum curator Gabrielle Asano (Autumn Reeser) – since the Season 3 premiere.
  • Kono and Fong have a scene together in Episode 9. There are no sparks between them, though he does make her don a modified T-shirt with “Island Hottie” on the front as part of a demonstration.
  • Both episodes included a computer or tablet with the new version of Microsoft Windows on the screen.
  • Both episodes ended with a gender-appropriate version of “Book ‘em, Danno.”
  • Next week’s guest star? Tom Arnold.

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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.

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