In the case of the week, Roland Lowry (Scott Cohen), an NSA expert in cyberterrorism, was kidnapped because he invented a software “skeleton key” that can be used to enter any computer system in the world, even those employing advanced asymmetric encryption. McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and posse track down the cyber bad guys through the liberal application of hard work, sideways thinking, gunplay, explosions, and a (literal) dollop of blood.
I found this episode to be a marked improvement over the pilot, perhaps because the-powers-that-be did not have to stuff it to overflowing with exposition. This episode was lively and exciting, with a script tailored to showcase the series’ strong points: an attractive cast in an attractive settings. But the script also found room for some really effective characterization.
The broad strokes were easy, and came in the pilot: McGarrett knows stuff, but he’s impulsive. I find this interesting because the “Leader” is usually a lot more thoughtful than impulsive. O’Loughlin likes to try to look broody and speak gravely, so far, he has not convinced me that McGarrett has the gravitas to lead the task force. Danno (Scott Caan) likes his one-liners, and is much more thoughtful. He’s also much better with kids, as that awkward elevator scene proved. I can see there will be some head-butting on the topic of ends and means. The governor granted McGarrett “immunity and means” to “get the job done,” and he has taken that authority and run with it. Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) is his running mate in this regard. He and McGarrett wasted no time torturing an injured bad guy (via his bullet wound) in order to extract some vital information. Chin Ho ran off to ID a fingerprint smeared in blood, and then McGarrett dangled the baddie over the edge of the roof. I never saw Jack Lord do that in the old days! To his credit, Danno leaped in to argue against torture, but he did not stop it. And the issue did not drop. Later, in the car, McGarrett and Danno had an actual substantive discussion about torture and the value of info gained through coercion and “fear of death.” McGarrett insisted he wasn’t going to kill his “suspect,” but the victim did not know that. Danno pointed out that a man will say anything to save his own skin, so how can evidence obtained under duress be trusted?
Danno further wondered if everything will become a personal mission for McGarrett: Sure, he lost his father, but that doesn’t mean everything has to become a family-based vendetta. (This week a kid was involved as a material witness, so perhaps this case was special.)
The teleplay further began sketching in the relationship between cousins Chin Ho and Kono (Grace Park). She explained that she idolized him, went to the academy because of him, and therefore insisted that he be at her graduation ceremony. Her devotion to her older cousin is absolute. But Chin Ho knows that the Hawaiian Police Department thinks he’s a disgraced dirty cop, she wanted to shield her from being tarred by association. But she wanted him there, no matter what. (Too bad the case intervened; we only have Chin Ho’s word that he would have showed anyway.)
My favorite action sequence was not one of the shoot-outs, but rather the hand-to-hand fight between Kono and Natalie/Nadia (Ivana Milisevic). Think about it: a catfight with actual hair-pulling! The girls go really rough, and the way the brawl was edited, a lot of it appeared to have been done by Park and Milisevic themselves. Including when the battle moved to the pool! Last week, I wished for Park to have a meatier role; that wish came through this week. Dare I press my luck and wish for more Kono… in a bikini?
The show got a little meta and practically broke the fourth wall by inscribing the show’s legendary catchphrase in the modern canon:
“Book ’em, Danno,” McGarrett declared.
“Really? I mean, is that gonna be your thing now?” Danno responded.
“You don’t like it?”
“I like it,” Danno smiled.
“I think it’s catchy,” McGarrett noted, and all but winked at the camera to assure us that we would be hearing it every week.
The Hawaiian word ‘Ohana means “extended family,” including people you choose to make your family. The closing scene, in which the 5-O team welcomed Kono with its own graduation ceremony, personified that concept.