HAWAII FIVE-O 1.3: Malama Ka Aina

So I’m starting to think that HAWAII FIVE-O is attracting the viewers with the picturesque setting and pretty cast, but getting them to stay with their philosophical discourses. (It’s true. Read on…)

The plot was something about a gang war between the Triads and Samoans escalating because a New Jersey mob wanted to expand its illegal gambling operation West. Way West. Like, middle of the Pacific West. But what I found more interesting was learning more about Chin Ho’s (Daniel Dae Kim) back-story and his relationship with his cousin Kono (Grace Park). We also got to meet another cousin from their clan, Sid (Sidney S. Liufau).

The story started out at a football game, where we learned that Kono loves the sport and is knowledgeable about it. Can she get any more perfect? Danno (Scott Caan) brought his daughter Grace (Teilor Grubbs) to the game, and there was a cute bit where he covered her ears while he…spoke ill of someone, but she could still hear him. You can tell the producers want the audience to like Danno the most, because he gets the adorable daughter, the cool swagger and all the best lines. At one point, Danno tried to diagnose Steve’s dysfunction: “You weren’t held as a baby, were you?” he asked. Why isn’t Danno the leader of the team instead of loose-cannon Steve (Alex O’Loughlin)?

Anyway, a shoot-out broke out at the game when some gang-bangers invaded the stadium, shooting at players on the field. As the 5-O team went into action, athletic Chin took off chasing a…let’s call him a large man. He caught up to the suspect, but when the perp turned around, Chin recognized him as “Sid,” and let him escape. Later, it came out that Sid was not only Chin and Kono’s cousin, but a cop. An undercover cop working gangs.

However, Sid was not interested in cooperation because he regarded Chin as a dirty cop; he believed that his cousin stole money from drug raids. Kono pointed out that Chin let Sid escape at the time because he’s blood, but the entire rest of their clan refused to give Chin the benefit of the doubt. Sid groused that Chin’s reputation hurt him, because other cops in his shop suspected Sid was dirty too, so Sid had to keep volunteering for the crap jobs to “prove” he’s not dirty. Strangely, Chin was getting no slack from Steve, his own commander. Steve called law-enforcement Chin’s family business, so when he lost his badge he lost his family. “It’s called tough love,” Steve shrugged, adding that if Chin wants to wear the badge, he has to deal with being shunned. Wow, comforting to know your C.O. doesn’t have your back, isn’t it, Danno and Kono? Goes against what he promised Kono last week, at her improvised make-up graduation ceremony.

Steve and Danno also got into over what had happened at the game after the shoot-out. Steve let the quarterback, a suspected gang member, walk because he didn’t shoot anybody (in fact, he got shot), and was basically a good kid. Danno was livid at the idea of letting a kid who possessed an unlicensed, illegal handgun walk away. Danno pointed out that illegal handguns have a habit of killing cops and innocent bystanders. But Steve drew the line, reasoning, “He’s just a kid.” While that kind of impulsive decision is certainly in line with Steve’s demonstrated impulse-control problem, it seemed out of character to let a law-breaker walk, no matter how old he was. I guess I can chalk it up the writers working out storytelling kinks. Steve’s short temper was in full effect when he pulled that material witness Joey (Max Casella) over the counter, then dragged him onto a boat, then piloted it out to open water and tossed Joey into a shark cage! Sure, he threw Joey into the cage, where he was protected from the sharks, but the way the informant reacted, you’d think he was in open water. This smacks of the same thinking that produced last week’s back-and-forth on the value of information gleaned from torture. Once again, Steve was relying on information gleaned under threat of death. (Of course the info checked out, because this is a fictional story that the writers control, and the-powers-that-be only have 44 minutes available for the episode!) Danno tried to diagnose Steve’s dysfunction. “You weren’t held as a baby, were you?” Danno asked. Steve insisted he was, but we have our doubts…

Oh, speaking of wrapping the episode, how ironic was it that Chin saved Sid from being shot? I mean, what are the chances? You can’t make this stuff up. Well, you can – and TPTB did. As if there was anyone in the audience couldn’t anticipate what was going to happen the moment that Sid warned Kono that rank-and-file cops might not be there to back her up one day. But Chin was there for Sid, because blood is thicker than… well, B.S.

One final nice touch was the origin of the term “5-O” for the team. In high school, Steve wore No. 50, because his dad, recognizing that the family was not native-born islanders, referred to them as 5-O, for citizens of the 50th state. So Steve wore 50 (even though he was a quarterback). Kono liked the sound of “5-O,” and so the group assented to the name.

Add a catchy theme song, and the rest is TV history…

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Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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