‘H50′: Cat Does Bang Up Job in Roller Derby Caper

For the second time in three episodes, CBS’ updated Hawaii Five-0 involves girlfighting. But instead of fights to the death in the confines of an empty swimming pool, Season 3, Episode 18 moves the  combat to the sanctioned arena of roller derby.

This episode begins with a poorly integrated bit of stunt casting as Duane  “Dog” Chapman and his team from A&E reality show Dog the Bounty Hunter case chase down a quarry. It really has nothing to do with H50 except for the fact that they are in Hawaii. But as Dog apprehends the guy and pushes him against the front of a car, a body falls from the sky and lands on the car’s roof.

Cue the legendary Hawaii Five-0 theme song.

Steve and his mother, former spy Doris McGarrett (Christine Lahti), are getting some morning exercise, paddling an outrigger in one of Honolulu’s canals. When Doris last appeared, in Episode 16, Steve hired a detective to tail her. She saw through it almost immediately and stuck it to her son by dating the guy.

As they finish paddling and pack up, Doris mentions that she’s scheduled to have lunch with Steve’s girlfriend, Navy Lt. Catherine Rollins. Steve appears uncomfortable with the prospect of his mother and girlfriend spending quality time together, which leads to the usual bickering.

  • Doris: “What kind of son hires a P.I. to keep tabs on his mother?”
  • Steve: “Okay, let’s be honest. We’re not exactly The Waltons. You’re a former spy who faked her own death 20 years ago. I got issues, Mom. I’ve got trust issues.”
  • Doris: “Okay, get over it.”

Unbeknownst to them, someone is framing a camera shot and snapping photos. But pay no attention to that. It’s time for Steve’s cell phone to ring with news of the week’s crime.

At the scene, Steve and Dog yuk it up about running into each other. Then Dog exits stage right, never to be seen again. The victim, who dropped from a balcony above, is a kindergarten teacher. Her body is bruised, with an injection mark in the back, so the case looks more like a killing than a suicide.

Actresses Michelle Borth (left) and Tiffany Dupont acknowledge fans in roller derby scene.

Actresses Michelle Borth (left) and Tiffany Dupont acknowledge roller derby fans.

Turns out the kindergarten teacher had a secret life in roller derby. [I recommend that you stop and read that sentence back to yourself just to appreciate the ridiculousness.] At least that explains the bruising.

Steve promptly drafts Catherine to go under cover and infiltrate the roller derby team.

  • Catherine: “Steve, if you trying to stop me from having lunch with your mother, there are other ways.”
  • Steve: “Would I do that?”
  • Catherine: “Yes! Yes, you would.” [Danno nods in agreement.]

Steve is so adamant that, when Catherine places second in the team’s replacement tryout, he has the top finisher arrested for unpaid parking tickets.

The roller derby segments are choreographed intricately but fail to break any ground dramatically. The storyline would be unmemorable but for the stunning brunette playing a friend and teammate of the victim. I immediately knew I’d seen and appreciated this actress before, but I was surprised how far back I had to reach to identify her. Her name is wonderfully plush – Tiffany Dupont – and she starred on a provocative college drama titled The Bedford Diaries on The WB in 2006. The series had only eight episodes despite a cast that included: Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Vision Quest), Audra McDonald (Private Practice), Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl), Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes) and Asif Mandvi (The Daily Show).

[If I was more in touch with today’s youth, I might have known she was a regular on the ABC Family series Greek from 2007 through 2011. I also would’ve watched. But I was a real frat guy back in college, so I have little use for Hollywood’s conceptions.]

When we initially see Dupont’s character on H50, she is freezing out Danno for joking about her roller derby (and allegedly real) name, Crimson Bride. The tough girl with a heart of gold is a pretty hackneyed role, but Dupont is a talented actress and does her darnedest to bring some depth to the character. The H50 writers give her a surprising number of opportunities: suspicious murder suspect, wary teammate who learns to trust Catherine, potential second victim and, ultimately, a funeral soliloquy painting the original victim’s dual lives of kindergarten and roller derby as two sides of the same coin.

McGarret Family Subplot

With Catherine off on roller skates, Doris returns home to find a guy in a ski mask removing a safe from her wall. They fight, and though initially she has the advantage, he eventually gains the upper hand, overpowers her and escapes.

When Catherine finds out, she comes clean to Steve about the “Mangosta” affair in Episode 8, which she’d promised Doris she’d keep secret. Steve is so angry that he simply asks her to leave.

Fear not, romantics, the episode ends with them hugging it out by the ocean. But first he must confront Doris. When he can’t get her to identify the burglar, or at least whom she suspects, he demands to know what was in the safe. She tells him it was a microfiche with all the dirty details of her espionage career. It was supposed to be her “insurance policy” – against what, we don’t know.

Later, we see Doris phone somebody and use various authorization codes to request a secure line. A man answers.

  • Male voice: “Doris. Never expected to hear from you again.”
  • Doris: “I hoped you wouldn’t.”
  • Male voice: “Are you safe?”
  • Doris: “Not for long.”

Deputy Catherine

One of the enduring fallacies of the new H50 is how bureaucracy melts away when Five-0 is involved. This goes all the way back to the series’ premiere.

It occurs again when Steve dragoons Catherine into going undercover for Five-0. She may be in Naval intelligence – and Steve plays lip service to having her commanding officer’s okay – but she’s not a cop! She has no civil authority, so her actions easily could subject her to civil, criminal and possible military litigation. The writers compound this in Episode 18 by having her shoot the bad guy. In the real world, that would cause someone a lot of paperwork.

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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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