Well hello again and welcome to Hawaii Five-0’s first episode of 2015. An episode decidedly different than any we’ve seen before on our show. I have to admit I am one of those who Googled “film noir” when I first heard about this episode. I had heard the term before, of course, and was relatively familiar with what it involved but wasn’t 100% sure how it would translate for Five-0. Was it a true and complete interpretation of the genre? Not really, but I think they did a good job at getting pretty damn close.
Growing up, my father was an avid reader and a lover of films. I can’t remember a day when he didn’t have several books in progress simultaneously and he always encouraged me to read anything and everything I could get my hands on. As for films….in the days long before cable, video tape or DVDs, we would curl up in front of the TV watching the UHF channels whenever an old favorite movie of his would come on. His favorites, so inevitably mine as well, were mystery novels and detective films. Philip Marlowe, The Thin Man, Maltese Falcon, etc. So this episode with its old school voiceover from the hardened detective hit close to my heart.
And, as I am sure many fans have already noted, it also reminded me of Alex in Moonlight, the way Mick St. John would do the voice overs of the episodes and of one episode in particular. An escort is killed and Mick’s voiceover painted the sad picture….. “I’d been hearing the same story for decades. Small town beauty leaves home looking for excitement and gets it. Used to be it ended with her dancing in a cage on Sunset or, if she was lucky, living in some apartment paid for by a gentleman three times her age. But lately I’d been hearing something else”.
So, obviously, this crime of the week was not an original idea by a long shot but I loved the way Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt took Peter Lenkov’s story and gave Five-0 a new spin on a story by going back and painting it the old fashioned way.
• I like it that the writers on Five-0 are not afraid to spread their wings and try new things and new approaches to the way they tell a story. As a show enters the later years of its run, especially a crime procedural, it must be very difficult to come up with new and unique ideas for crimes. Like I said….good girl goes to the big city and dies…is not a new idea. I’m glad the writers are using their talents to take a story idea and, instead of having it be a retread, they make it something unique…at least unique for Five-0. Some folks see these different types of episodes as “gimmicks”. I don’t know, maybe to a certain extent, they are. But, to me, they keep things fresh and interesting. Would I want it for every episode? Of course not. But I like that they are willing to think outside the box on occasion.
• I really liked William Forsythe’s detective Harry Brown. I found him very believable as the hard-boiled retired cop turned private detective who comes out of retirement to help an old friend. And, as I mentioned before, I really liked the voice overs used throughout the episode. Two of my favorites:
“Men like us are born to protect and serve. When somebody dies we could have saved, I mean, that doesn’t go away”.
“No matter what they tell you, time doesn’t heal all wounds. When someone you love is ripped from your life, that scar stays with you forever. But the one bright light in all the darkness is knowing that men like Steve McGarrett are out there there making sure the good guys always come out on top”
I LOVE this last line of the episode. The only thing that could have made it better would have been for Harry to say “men like Steve McGarrett and teams like Five-0” since Steve isn’t the only one out there making sure the good guys come out on top. But then, Harry was using himself as the yardstick of comparison so it made sense he’d look at Steve alone at that moment of reflection.
• Mindy Shaw and Danny: In the same way the writers aren’t afraid to tackle stories in different ways, they are also not afraid to highlight characters that are not considered core to the team. Dr. Shaw has been, up to now, a rarely seen character who was pretty much just an extension of Max and the ME’s office. I liked getting to know her a bit more and seeing her human side. I also really liked how Danny went out of his way to try to understand why she was feeling so upset and how he took the time to try to help her come to terms with her feelings. It showed why Danny has always been so good with crime victims, why he’s such a good friend and such a good father. That man is all heart in situations like these and I really enjoyed the interaction between him and Mindy. Will they be a couple someday? Who knows? As of now, I just really enjoyed their scenes together.
• Steve and Ellie: I also really like the friendship that has evolved between these two characters. Like with Mindy and Danny, I have no idea if these two will eventually become a couple but for now, I like the friendship between them. I found it interesting how Ellie was trying to fix Steve up with a friend of hers. To me, it looks like Ellie knows about Catherine. She may not know her name or all the details but I think she knows that Steve is recently unattached and that he’s still really down about it. When Steve said “I really appreciate what you’re trying to do” that looked to me like this was something they may have discussed before, her feeling that he needs to get back in the game, that she feels bad that he’s alone and down and trying to fix him up in the hopes of making her friend happy. It’s a very sweet gesture on her part but I’m glad Steve is taking it slow at the moment. He needs time to come to terms with it all and jumping right back in to any relationship beyond friendship isn’t a great idea right now.
• Another thing I like about Ellie is that we get to actually see what she’s good at. Back in Season 2, we were forever hearing about all the things Lori could do yet we never saw her do anything other than let bad guys get the drop on her and run a quarter of the way up Koko Head before twisting her ankle (so Steve could carry her down). At least with Ellie, if she spars to keep in shape, we see her doing it. If she’s a great fisherman, we see her actually catching a fish.
• I’ve also seen some people complaining that Steve is back to his old habits of “using” the woman in his life for favors. First off, at this point in time, Ellie is not the “woman in his life”. She’s his friend and friends help each other out. Both times Steve has gone to Ellie for help it was within her scope as a Prosecuting Attorney to request warrants. And this time, Ellie’s office was already investigating the Hula company for suspected prostitution. Five-0’s investigation helped her get the evidence she needed to move against them. Seems to me the relationship between them is mutually advantageous.
• I love the fact that Jerry has moved into Chin’s place for the time being. When Jerry asked a few weeks back if anyone was interested in a roommate I knew it would eventually be Chin who took him in since they’ve been friends since high school. I love having Jerry be part of the show but I’m a little confused as to what his overall purpose is at this point. I mean, now that his “dungeon of truth” is gone so are the resources Five-0 could have used on the more far-fetched cases. I hope they come up with something more for him than just comic relief.
So…we’ve begun the second half of the season. A season, in my opinion, that has been an extremely good one. I have really liked most of the stories. I think the crimes of the week have, for the most part, been engaging and thought provoking. The action and stunts have been top notch as always. I am enjoying the Ohana moments we’ve been treated to as well as all the friendships being highlighted, both established and new.
Of course, this is the time of the year, traditionally, when the show really starts to heat up as we work toward the season finale. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next. And I will be here, large pitcher of Kool-Aid at the ready, to continue to ride this wave on the positive side. Aloha and Happy New Year!