Hawaii Five-0 s8 ep 6

Two out-of-towners in a hire car are stopped for no reason by a police officer, who then shoots them both dead. As the victims weren’t African American, though, it’s immediately clear that the incident needs further investigation. In fact – spoiler alert, although it isn’t much of a mystery – the shooter isn’t a real cop, but someone with that multiple personality thing. I suppose that TV’s handling of this has become a little better over the years, but not much; and it still feels to me to be much more common in procedurals than in real life, to the point where I felt that I’d really seen it all before. Dr Alicia, still on H50’s bench, is brought on and provides an assist.

Meantime, Steve’s friends stage an intervention to try and reduce his stress levels. This, explains Danny, is because Steve’s radiation poisoning renders him more likely to get cancer, so he needs to make some changes to mitigate the risk. Those offering guidance include Jerry and Kamekona – am I being ungenerous in saying that these burly gentlemen are likely to have little useful to say about how to lead a healthy lifestyle? (Also there is Trump-supporting idiot Dog the Bounty Hunter, who can still go and eff himself.) Anyway, as part of the intervention Steve is obliged to have a stress evaluator to follow him around for a day. Turns out Steve’s job is stressful. Unfortunately, apart from one top-tier cargument (“Twice a week, and three at the most, and that’s if it’s someone’s birthday or something”) this storyline is too slight to justify the considerable amount of screen time devoted to it.

Directed, incidentally, by Tony Almeida.

Hooyah Watch: Hooyah!

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Hawaii Five-0 s8 ep 5

The Halloween episode, and there’s a lot going on. Fortunately, apart from the occasional costume (I can only echo Tani’s “What the hell…?” on seeing Jerry, dressed like an idiot) it’s action all the way. Steve is escorting our old friend Dr Alicia Brown (Claire Forlani) to court, where she’s standing trial for the murder of Madison Gray. She’s pleading self-defence… except, as she confesses to Steve, it was essentially an extra-judicial execution. Steve is perturbed by her apparent feelings of guilt: in what parallel world can’t he and his friends just run around shooting people who deserve it? And she has a daughter at home. What if you’re imprisoned, Dr Alicia? “Then”, she tells Steve, “I need to ask you to take care of her”. Huh? With Junior and that dog already under Steve’s wing, things are going to get pretty crowded chez Le Kahuna Grand.

Meantime, in the sort of utterly ridiculous Case of the Week which keeps me coming back to this show, there’s a killer on Oahu who seems to be re-enacting old Hawaiian folk tales. First to go is a pig importer whose death, as Tani informs an increasingly incredulous Danny, is an homage to a legend in which a fire goddess enters into a romantic relationship with, then splits from, a half-man half-pig demi-god. Danny can see why that might have happened: “He’s tracking hoof-mud all through the kitchen and the living room like an animal…” he sniffs. But when the killer follows up with a second death – this time the folk tale is something about trolls, I was about as interested as Danny – and then the kidnapping of a young girl, again apparently based on folklore, it’s clear that he grudgingly needs to take Tani more seriously.

But with no leads, what’s the Five-0 to do? Well, Steve has a word with the judge at Alicia’s trial, and no more than a few seconds later proceedings are halted in order that she can help find the killer. In the middle of her trial for murder. Alicia, at least, has the good grace to look baffled by this turn of events; but there’s no time for her to wonder about the state of the justice system in Hawaii, because she’s needed in the field.

And while all that’s going on, Grover has been summoned to Death Row in Florida State Prison, because Sebastian Wake, a multiple killer-for-hire who’s being executed in a matter of hours, wants to talk to him about something. Specifically, he wants to talk – in that even, ironic tone of voice which film and TV serial killers are obliged to possess – about Clay Maxwell. He, of course, is Grover’s former partner and bestie, who Grover firmly believes killed his wife, got away with it, then sent people after Grover to kill him as well. Well, now Grover’s listening. So, Wake says, if you can just get me a stay of execution I can tell you all about it…? Grover tries, but unsurprisingly the authorities aren’t having it, and Wake goes to his (unnecessarily gruesome, I’d say) death in the electric chair. But there’s a little post-death surprise for Grover anyway.

Back on Oahu, the abducted girl is found alive, but her kidnapper – who has a tragic backstory of her own – escapes, presumably to reappear later in the season. And Alicia gets offered a soft plea deal: probation with a condition she helps the Five-0. Which, together with the deal Adam Noshimuri got, suggests that Hawaii might be the best place in the whole USA to commit murder and get away with it. The final scene – suggesting that poor old Alicia and her daughter are about to be targeted yet again by yet another psycho-on-the-loose – was perhaps a bit much. Otherwise, though, this was excellent entertainment.

Hawaii Five-0 s8 ep 4

The Five-0’s old confidential informant/hacker friend Toast is found dead, in circumstances which suggest that his killers knew him to be a CI. Jerry works out that their system was hacked, but the person they would normally have turned to for help in those circumstances was Toast himself. So who can assist? Well, no-one in the entire official state-funded American crime-fighting apparatus, it seems, because Steve and Grover head over to Halawa Correctional Facility, where the recently-imprisoned Aaron Wright is waiting for them with a big smile. Yeah, sure he’ll help, if he can do it from a nice hotel room.

Not for the first time, you have to think that the one thing the characters on TV police procedurals don’t do is, uh, watch TV police procedurals, because as soon as Wright is moved from a prison to a hotel suite, with full internet access, and only the H50 rookie Tani watching him, we know what’s coming. Before then, though, Wright is able to confirm that someone – wonder who? – has hacked into the whole of the CI database. This means that all of H50’s grasses, snitches, rats, stool pigeons, and copper’s narks – Kamekona, Sang Min, Mozzie from White Collar, the lot – have had their security compromised.

Steps are taken to secure them, but not before Kamekona is abducted by a figure from his shady past: one Joey Kang, with whom Kame used to run. (By “run” I of course mean “commit crimes”.) Well, according to Kang $500,000 went missing from their last job, and he’d like it back, please and thank you. One of Kang’s heavies punches Kame on the head every now and again, and as it’s a fairly sizeable head that means a lot of punching. Eventually he concedes that yes, he took the money; but no, he doesn’t have it any more, because he spent it. (We will eventually find out on what, and it’s a nice touch.)

Meantime, back at the hotel, the inevitable happens when a trio of masked gunmen kick down the door to the suite and take Aaron away. Whereupon Steve belatedly comes to the conclusion that Aaron might not have been on the up-and-up, declaring it to be a “long con”. Yeah, no; his plan was simultaneously completely implausible (in the real world) and totally obvious (in H50 world). But the important thing now is to keep Kamekona alive; which they manage, just about, although by the end there are at least two supervillains still in the wind.

It’s a busy week for Steve on both the crimefighting and team management sides of his job. He provides pastoral care to Tani, who is beating herself up about the hotel incident, in order to reassure her. And, presumably, in the hope of avoiding an official complaint about leaving her on her own to guard a dangerous convict. Meantime new boy Junior is shooting the lights out at the Police Academy, but having difficulty in adapting to post-military life, so he’s going to be living at The McGarrett Home For Waifs and Strays. It’s an excellent episode.

Hooyah Watch: Hooyah!

Restaurant Watch: industrial oven

Hawaii Five-0 s8 ep 3

While under FBI surveillance crime family supremo Jimmy Okada is shot dead, together with about a dozen of his henchmen, all by the same absurdly-skilled hitman. And, by coincidence, our old friend, Bond-wannabe Harry Langford (Chris Vance) – Hawaii 5-00 himself – is back on Oahu, popsy on his arm, claiming to have retired from MI6. Presumably, then, he’s come to terms with the death of his wife, unlike dudes in Timeless and Lethal Weapon?

Anyway – gorblimey mate, strike a light, apples and pears – Harry, claiming to be looking for a distraction from his life of gambling, cocktails, and babes, offers to help the Five-0 track down Okada’s killer. (First, they reach out to Kamekona looking for the inside line on the state of play with Hawaii gangs and guns. Wouldn’t they, I wondered, be better going to double killer and “ex-Yakuza” Adam Noshimuri, still presumably trying to pretend he’s clean? But no.) I must admit that I was expecting Harry to be involved in the Okada case in some way, either as perp himself or because MI6 had an interest, but as it turns out he really is just a hobbyist these days. In fact, this episode was a little plot-light all round, just about getting there on Vance’s undeniable presence and charm.

Danny and Steve’s Restaurant Watch: fabrics.

Hawaii Five-0 s8 ep 2

I had mixed feelings going into this episode, described in the following terms by my TiVo: “McGarrett and the team work with an injured police dog that is the only witness to an ambushed drug bust”. Now, on the one hand I hate Brer Dog. But on the other: DUDES. The DOG is a WITNESS. I’m pretty sure that was the plot to the pilot of Hooperman, although it’s over 20 years since I saw it. I liked Hooperman.

Sorry: where was I? Oh yes. We open with Eddie the Dog (which I’m assuming must be a shoutout to Frasier, particularly given that one of the characters in this episode is named Niles) scampering down the sun-dappled corridor in his house to wake up his owner, who then gets dressed… in the uniform of a DEA agent, also strapping Eddie into his, uh, drug dog gear. And off the two of them go to the port, where the DEA has assembled on information that there’s cocaine in one of the containers.

It is, however, an ambush, and the DEA agents start taking fire. It turns out that Eddie is multi-talented, though, barking whenever someone is about to fire on his master. Woof! (“Gunman at four o’clock!”) Woof! (“Tango on your six!”) But not even Eddie can keep the baddies at bay for ever; his master is fatally wounded, and Eddie himself sustains a GSW to the torso.

When the Five-0 gets to the scene, Steve is told that two agents were killed and a dog is unaccounted for, and he immediately recognises the importance of finding the missing dog. Eddie, happily, is still alive, but only just. Steve demands paramedics, and Eddie is taken to doggy hospital and intubated, probably given a CBC and chem-7 as well, then goes under the scalpel. Not only is the operation successful, but before being shot he’d managed to bite one of the baddies, whose blood is still in his mouth, and capable of DNA analysis.

Meantime, the Five-0 is trying to work out how the ambush took place at all, and realises it means that someone must have tipped the dealers off that the DEA was going to be there. This leads them through a confidential informant to a dead low-level drug dealer and the restaurant – proprietor Niles – where he washed dishes. Niles owns an industrial complex which is ideal for the manufacture of illegal drugs, so the Five-0 heads over to search it, with Steve observing that, given the size of the complex, they’ll need some help. And there’s a lovely panning shot of the Five-0, plus additional canine member, sitting in the van on the way there. It all works out in the end: even for Eddie, also revealed to have done a stint in Afghanistan. I think an Eddie spin-off would never run out of storylines.

It’s a solid rather than spectacular episode, notable also for our introduction to new cast member Junior Reigns (Beulah Koale), an ex-SEAL who turns up on Steve’s doorstep looking for a job. Rather than shoot him Steve places him under Duke’s wing, and tells him that if he successfully gets through the Police Academy there’ll be a place for him in the Five-0. Which, I suppose, also gives the producers a get-out clause if audiences don’t take to him.

Hawaii Five-0 s8 ep 1

Kono and Chin have been sent upstate to a farm for ex-Five-0, so the show has a chance to refresh itself. The first potential new recruit is Tani Rey (Meaghan Rath), who we first see at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. In a bikini. Business as usual, then.

Tani was, apparently, the best cadet at the police academy, until she was kicked out for bad behaviour. Which doesn’t deter Steve, of course; she’s exactly the sort of rule-breaking bikini-wearer he wants to go undercover on a college campus, trying to track down Mizchief, a hacker who he and Danny suspect of murder. “He spells it with a Z instead of an S”, sniffs Danny. “Like a rapper. Or maybe he’s a moron”. Tani declines their offer, though, preferring to spend time with her Secret Pain and her deadbeat brother.

Perhaps to reassure loyal viewers that things haven’t changed too much, the writers provide a certain amount of fan-service. So when Mizchief hacks into the security system at Halawa Prison, it’s to secure the release of our old psycho-pyro friend Jason Duclair; and when Mizchief is tracked down he’s the brother of Ian Wright, who kidnapped Grover’s daughter a couple of seasons ago. Grover very evidently believes in the concept of collective sibling guilt.

While Duclair is out setting fire to people, places, and things, Tani decides that she wants to help after all, and assists in Duclair’s capture. In the middle of a forest. Gosh. A forest. Let’s hope Duclair doesn’t escape and set fire to… oh darn it. So while Duclair makes a run for it, Danny and Tani are stuck in a wooden lodge, with the flames getting ever closer, and no hope of rescue; until, that is, Steve does something so blissfully demented that I had to sit on my hands to stop myself from punching the air with glee. I’m less bothered about what looks like this season’s running light relief – Danny and Steve opening a restaurant – but that didn’t get in the way of an excellent episode. And Tani looks as if she’s going to be fun.

Public Service Announcement 3 of 2018: Hawaii Five-0; MacGyver; NCIS: LA; Top Of The Pops

Hawaii Five-0 returns tomorrow for a new season. Surprisingly, though, during its off-season this amiable cop romp found itself at the centre of a dispute which quickly became about race and gender: it was announced that Daniel Dae Kim (Chin) and Grace Park (Kono) would not be back for S8, as it had not proved possible to resolve a pay dispute between the two of them and CBS, which makes the show.

The show’s producers, well aware of the fact that when a show set in Hawaii loses its two main non-Caucasian characters the “optics” aren’t great, have responded by promoting Adam Noshimuri, Kamekona, Noelani, and Duke to cast regulars. On top of that, the recruitment gap in the Five-0 itself will be filled by two new characters, played by Meaghan Rath (of Indian descent) and Beulah Koale (of Samoan descent). Ratings have remained solid, suggesting that it’s the format rather than the supporting cast which viewers are turning up for. And I’ll be reviewing weekly as normal (Sunday, Sky 1, 9pm).

In other news, Sky 1 has cornered the American procedural market on Sunday nights: as well as H50, tomorrow sees the return of MacGyver (8pm), and NCIS: LA (10pm), for their second and ninth seasons respectively. Channel 4’s The End Of The F***ing World has made it to Netflix, available now. And BBC Four’s year-by-year rerun of Top Of The Pops has reached 1985 (Fridays, repeats scattered across the schedule).