A teenage girl, maybe 15 or so, buys a .38 handgun from a junkie. Also present at the sale is an old friend of Junior’s, who clearly feels uncomfortable – you’d think, wouldn’t you? – and tells the Five-0, who are immediately on alert for someone to be killed. And, sure enough, the next day one Michael Carrigan is found dead, having been shot with a .38.
As the Five-0 try to find the girl, then the motive, then solve the case, the present-day action is interspersed with flashbacks to other crimes: Steve’s father and Duke being shot in 1983; a holdup in a convenience store in 2010, the day before Danny started with the Five-0; and an incident in 2015 which finally persuaded Tani that she needed to disentangle herself from her criminal associates. The same gun, of course, was involved in all of these incidents – and quite a few others, it’s a “community gun”, a phrase which is new to me – and once the Five-0 finally have their hands on it they can start to solve quite a few cold cases.
It’s a smart, fast-moving episode. It would be easy to think that the Five-0 writers’ room can turn out episodes like this between slices of pizza, but I rather suspect that would understate the craft and industry involved.
The Five-0 is called out to investigate the murder of a window cleaner, found with his harness cut at the foot of a building. His uniform, though, carries the name of a non-existent company, raising the question of whether he’s just pretending to be a window cleaner… which he is. Sometimes you just don’t connect with an hour of TV, even an episode of a show you like, and I’m afraid the tangled tale of the window cleaner/street artist/political activist left me a little cold. I did, though, like Jerry’s crime scene modelling drone, because I’m always here for a drone.
There’s also an undercooked B-plot, in which Lou and Adam pick up the case of a murder victim who was also robbed, post mortem, of his valuable vintage Aloha shirt. (Brought to you by Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts, Honolulu.) And… oh, I don’t know, something about Junior’s dead sister. Not feeling it, I’m afraid. Still – and I’m genuinely pleased about this, even if it might not look that way from this review – the show has been renewed for a tenth season, which is good news.
In the grip of what looks like roid rage, a well-muscled half-naked young man stands in the middle of the road screaming at the passing traffic, until he’s hit and killed by a truck. He is – or was, I suppose – 24-year-old Brad Chen, who was indeed a regular gym-goer, but his autopsy reveals that he had a lethal dose of a particular steroid in his system. Self-administered, or murder? Junior and Tani go undercover at Brad’s gym to investigate, although Junior’s version of “undercover” is less than subtle, as he just asks everyone if they can hook him up with some steroids. It all turns out to be linked to the sale of plasma by a corrupt doctor: the doctor is tracked by the Five-0. but he escapes from Tani by injecting her with something which causes her to have possibly fatal seizures. Fortunately Dr Adam knows his way around a defibrillator and an adrenaline shot.
Meantime Danny’s high-maintenance ex-mother-in-law, romance novelist Amanda Savage, is on Oahu, with Steve looking after her. Yes, that’s Commander Steve McGarrett, head of Five-0, former SEAL, and presumably being paid from the public purse to babysit an author. Joan Collins, playing Amanda, gives the role some old-style star power. It’s no more than a diversion, although in the middle there’s a brief outbreak of good acting, and good writing, when Danny explains just how enervating it is when your wife’s mother makes it clear, repeatedly and persistently, that she doesn’t like you or think you’re good enough for her daughter. It’s a high point in a middling episode.
We start with a bank robbery which is like a cold shower for the brain: guys with guns lift over $2m, then drive off and evade the chasing cops, right up to the point where their armoured van needs to crash through a police car barricade to get away. It could be argued that soundtracking it with Black Sabbath’s incomparable ‘Paranoid’ made it all look unbelievably glamorous and exciting, but I’m not here from the morality police, ma’am; I’m just a viewer.
The Five-0 is called in to investigate, and Junior discovers that one of the perps is Troy, the husband of his ex-girlfriend Layla, who we last saw a season or so ago. For some reason I can’t quite figure out Junior still seems to feel enormously protective of Layla – yeah, he went overseas leaving her on her own, but she found someone else, so not really your problem any more Joons – and he does his best to look into Troy without tipping off Steve and the rest of the Five-0. Tani’s in the loop, though, because the best way of showing interest in someone is to be visibly hung up on your ex. I mean, Tani’s even cancelled her 5pm mermaid class to be part of this case.
And it all ends with a nice bit of symbolism, when Junior gets to shoot Troy; this, incidentally, being the second time in a matter of weeks that someone gets to take down their romantic rival. Junior at least has to try to seem upset, although frankly if he’s not picked up on how pissed Tani looks he’s perhaps not the right guy for her.
It’s a terrific episode. I’ve said this a few times before about H50, but it’s a point worth making again: TV is so good these days that even a pile-‘em-high procedural like this has episodes which are better than pretty much anything you could have seen in the first sixty years or so of the medium’s existence. This episode has several points of view, multiple timelines, an opening sequence of movie quality, a smart plot, and a real emotional punch. Not bad for forty minutes of prime-time drama. Alex O’Loughlin directs with panache.
We start with the death-throes of a murdered mermaid, bleeding out through her facial orifices, as the water turns red around her. Maybe time to send the kids to bed? Not an actual mermaid, though: an adult woman dressed as one at Oahu’s “premier mermaid experience”. Dear God, this is a thing. And apparently a thing which can set you back up to ten large for a tail. Danny wonders aloud whether that’s money which would-be mermaids should be spending on therapy instead. Tani, on the other hand – well, it’s on her bucket list.
Anyway, the deceased mermaid was Gwendoline Baker, a woman in her thirties who worked for a health and beauty company which goes in for “multi-level marketing”, i.e. pyramid selling. And, as she was nearly at the top of the pyramid, it follows that there are hundreds of people below her, all with thousands of dollars’ worth of unsold crap and a motive. But they’re not the only ones: there’s a husband she was about to divorce, and the CEO of the organisation is pretty sketchy as well.
Meantime, in what starts off as an irrelevant B-plot, Adam has finally made a friend who isn’t in the Yakuza: Hal (Bob Hiffermann) a homeless and deaf man, who became detached from his family when his drinking problem became too much. Adam makes it his business to reconnect Hal with his family; Hal is resistant, but Adam – remembering how much his friends helped him when he hit rock bottom – persists. The message seems to be that families come in all shapes and sizes.
The murder is solved. Hal makes his way home. Adam toasts his friends. And Junior fulfils Tani’s fantasy – or, at any rate, one of them – by signing her up for mermaid camp and buying her a tail. Are we going to see them couple up before the end of the season, I wonder? Hardly a demanding episode, but I liked it a lot.
International criminal/drug cartel head Alejandro Vega, off of the FBI’s Most Wanted List, surrenders to the HPD. He’s so evil he’s known as El Diablo. Jerry fanboys a bit about how he’s done a deal with the Devil, or something. El Diablo, I mean. Not Jerry.
Three days later, there’s a hurricane coming, which the Five-0 deal with in a variety of ways. Junior and Tani, the new guys, get sent out onto the streets to round up anyone ignoring the evacuation orders. Danny plays mummies and daddies with Rachel. And Steve, Grover, Adam, and Jerry are at HQ, where they suddenly have to deal with a Diablo-related request.
You see, the hurricane has halted El D’s transfer to the least pleasant supermax prison on the mainland. HPD’s safe house is in the evacuation zone. And El Diablo has escaped from custody four times before. So where can he be stashed until the storm blows over? Well, in the Five-0’s rendition facility, that’s where. I didn’t even know that they had a rendition facility, but it just turns out to be the place – the Blue Room – where they carry out their interrogations. Steve has a little skin in the game, because one of his friends was, of course, killed by El Diablo. Of course.
But then someone gets behind the security cordon at HQ and kills a couple of redshirts. Understandably the Five-0 think the intruder is coming to break El Diablo out. But hold on, I was thinking – didn’t he just surrender? If you did that just so you could break out, mind you, that would be badass. Not so, though; the stranger wants to kill El D, for reasons which are revealed fairly swiftly. So now Steve needs to protect the world’s most wanted etc. There is a very good fistfight. And meantime Tani has found herself being held hostage by a family which really doesn’t want to evacuate. There is a very good shootout, involving the contents of a fridge. It is, in fact, a good episode, with a nice little premise on which the show largely delivers. (And El Diablo does, at the end, try to escape. Respect.)
Luka, a young musician friend of Flippa, is murdered, and his van stolen in the process. A cursory investigation of Luka’s background reveals that he’d just paid around $5000 to Annie, a 15-year-old girl, one of whose hairs is recovered from his clothing. So we know where we’re going, right? Well, no; Luka was also a family therapist who had been counselling Annie, who is gay and whose idiot parents want to send her to Idaho for “conversion therapy”. So Luka had been arranging for her to go to a sanctuary home in Hawaii, while also giving her money for legal advice.
The idiot parents are called in, confirm that they’d had a PI investigate Luka, and explain that this isn’t about torturing Annie; it’s about her “spiritual welfare”. Steve has the demeanour of a man who’s about to use his fists to effect some “conversion therapy” of his own. But then the stolen van is spotted on CCTV, with recent prisoner Connor Russell at the wheel. There’s no connection between Russell and Annie’s parents, but after a bit of digging it turns out that Russell is a white supremacist, and there’s scientific evidence which suggests he’s been making a fertiliser bomb.
And thus the plot takes another twist, as the Five-0 tries to hunt Russell down before he can detonate his bomb. There are two postscripts: one in which Annie, now emancipated, pays tribute to Luka; and another in which Grover tells Steve about a racist incident he endured in Illinois. I wondered whether Chi McBride might have had some input into the writing here, although I may be wrong (and I don’t want to downplay the role of the actual writers).
Anyway, a particularly interesting episode: H50 is generally very keen on extolling the virtues of America, so it might well have been bracing for some of its audience to be reminded that tolerance and humanity are among those virtues. I suspect, therefore, that there might have been viewers who didn’t like it for that reason. Too bad. I did.