This week’s Five-0 didn’t do a lot of things. It didn’t tell us what happened to Gabriel last week. It didn’t give us any more information on what Abby is up to. We don’t know any more about why Coughlin is coming after Five-0. As a matter of fact, the episode did absolutely nothing to advance a single story arc.
And I loved every minute of it.
I always love it when the writers bring back recurring characters we haven’t had the chance to see in a while and Sang Min has always been a particular favorite of mine. From the very start, Will Yun Lee’s portrayal has elevated a character who was intended to be a one shot in the Pilot into one I can’t wait to see again and again. He is always pure entertainment. And that’s just what this episode was from beginning to end.
I really liked the way the writers handled the delicate situation of portraying Sang Min as an “innocent man”. Anyone who has watched this show from the beginning can tell you that the one thing Sang Min is not, it’s an “innocent” man. As Steve said, way back in the Pilot, Sang Min was a man who took kids and “put them on the street to be pumped full of black tar heroin then sold to strangers like animals”. He was, when we met him, quite frankly, the scum of the earth.
Yet, over the years, we’ve seen Sang Min evolve. We have seen his humanity. When Danny took him to see his wife and son at Ala Moana Beach Park after he fingered Kaleo as the mole when Meka was murdered. When he went to his wife’s house and saw her and their son moving on with their lives without him. How he helped Chin when he was dumped into Halawa. And he’s helped Five-0 with cases several times over the years, many times, at direct personal risk.
But even with all of that, we cannot forget the man, the criminal, Sang Min, not was, but still is! I am thrilled the writers did not shirk away from that fact. In fact, it was so easy for the real killer, Graham Clark, to use Sang Min’s past to his advantage and frame him for murder. Set up a meet, kill your victim, James Lam, and high tail it out of there before Sang Min shows up, drop a dime to the cops so they show up just as Sang Min is standing over the body with the gun in his hand. Perfect! With Sang Min’s track record and the fact that he and Lam had history, who wouldn’t believe things weren’t exactly as they seemed?
Well, Five-0 didn’t believe it. They know Sang Min better than anyone and they know, bad guy that he is, he has also stuck his neck out for them and if he says he didn’t kill Lam, for better or worse, they believe him. Sang Min is a lot of things but he’s not a killer.
And therein lies our story and the appearance of yet another recurring character we’ve come to love, Odell Martin. Someone else who was supposed to be a one shot deal and yet, in the exceptional hands of Michael Imperioli, was so engaging, clicked so well, he had to be brought back. I liked how the writers had Odell reference the second time we saw him, when Steve asked him for a favor and he spent the rest of that day dodging bullets that destroyed his shop.
This time, Steve is asking a much bigger favor and one that hits Odell to the core of his very being. The barber with a law degree and major daddy issues. Is it any wonder why he and Steve bond so well? Odell, of course, has no intention of taking the case of the career criminal accused of murder that every other lawyer in town won’t touch.
The first meeting between Odell and Sang Min will go down as one of the funniest scenes in the history of this show. Starting off with Sang Min’s total disbelief that Odell is even a lawyer (“What did you do, go all out for casual Friday?”) to Odell’s, understandable first instinct, to want to cut “whatever that thing is growing out of his head”, this scene had me laughing my ass off. It was a foregone conclusion that the first thing Odell would want to do is attack that mullet!
Of course, Odell finally agrees to take the case and he brings on board a friend of his, Bones, played by the one and only Ziggy Marley. We’ve been entertained by Ziggy on this show in the past by way of his wonderful music which has been used numerous times on the soundtrack but this is the first time we’ve seen him as an actor. I’m sure it helped that the writers gave him a part which played right into his natural personality but even so, you’d never have realized this was his first time in front of the camera. He was completely comfortable and relaxed and totally believable. He’s a natural.
It also gave us the opportunity to hear Chi McBride do his dead on “root to the fruit” Jamaican accent. Oh my God… I really hope we get to see those outtakes on this season’s DVD. I want to see Ziggy’s face the first time he heard Chi whip out that accent. It was perfect. I hope, like Sang Min and Odell before him, we get to see Bones and Ziggy again. After all, once Five-0 comes through with that Green Card there won’t be any reason for him to stay under the radar any longer.
The scene of the mock trial was another favorite. With Max as the judge, Kamekona and Flippa as jurors, Kono as the star witness and Jerry as the prosecuting attorney this scene started off hysterically. In an episode with some really great dialog, this scene had some of the best lines. I loved Sang Min’s objection that Kame and Flippa were not suitable jurors because they are not “his peers” and his scolding them to “show some respect” and listen to his “lawyer/barber” was hysterical. Bones the bailiff’s swearing in of Kono was absolutely adorable. I just could not stop laughing at Odell’s frustration with the whole lot of them.
But Jerry, as usual, took this mock assignment as prosecutor very seriously. I think Jerry may have missed his calling because he had Sang Min dead to rights and the look on Odell’s face the entire time Jerry was questioning Sang Min showed the horror of fully realizing just how difficult it was going to be to defend Sang Min, especially when he has no choice but to put him on the stand for real.
There were several flashbacks back to the Pilot when we first met Sang Min, which I really enjoyed, and ultimately, it was the story of the first encounter between him and Five-0 which give Odell the ammunition he needed to prove in court that Sang Min did not kill Lam.
In scenes straight out of “My Cousin Vinny”, Odell asks Sang Min to identify Graham Clark in a picture as the man he fought with the night of the murder. As Sang Min strains to see the photo, Odell realizes he’s having difficulty focusing on the face. He asks him if he wears glasses, then asks him to read the Seal of Hawaii which is hanging on the wall in the back of the courtroom. When it’s obvious Sang Man can’t see it, Odell quickly asks the sheriff… oops sorry… Steve to check Sang Min’s last prison physical and check for an eye exam.
I’m not sure what I enjoyed more about these scenes. All the “Vinny” references or the fact that it was Kono’s testimony, as the team’s resident sharp shooter, that ultimately cleared Sang Min. It was, after all, Sang Min’s misogynistic 😉 treatment of Kono in the Pilot which caused Chin to smash him in the head with an ashtray, causing him, all these years later, to be nearsighted. There is no way he could have ever made such a precise shot from a substantial distance to kill Lam.
I also really enjoyed watching Odell come into his own in the courtroom. He started off doubting his ability to defend his client and he was a bit bumbling and uncertain in how to conduct himself in the court room. And Sang Min wasn’t helping much by being his usual crass, cocky, egotistical self. But, just like Vinny, as time went on Odell became more confident and sure of what he was seeing and doing. It was great to see him develop right before our eyes.
But I think the moment I enjoyed the most was hearing Steve say that after the eye exam showed how drastically Sang Min’s eyesight had changed, he “was offered spectacles” which he declined. The last time I heard anyone use the word spectacles on screen, I think I was watching a movie about Benjamin Franklin! LOL
I really enjoyed the writing in this episode. A story by Peter Lenkov, in the hands of Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt, is always sure to be a winner because no one knows these characters like they do. The flashbacks and references to past events was great in maintaining continuity throughout the episode.
And speaking of continuity, I was sad to once again see Danny missing from an episode but this time, rather than have him just not be there, the explanation made perfect sense. After the events of last week’s episode, it is totally understandable that Danny would be back in Jersey with Clara. I also love the idea of them going to the bank, withdrawing all the money Matty deposited there (and I’m willing to bet including the $700 Clara withdrew for her plane ticket) and taking it to the FBI.
Other things I really liked:
I loved the talk between Steve and Odell with regard to their fathers before the trial began. Odell proved to everyone, but mostly to himself, that his legal skills are not something he should be pretending don’t exist and that deliberately not following in his father’s footsteps might be a bit counterproductive. It’s not uncommon for fathers and sons to see things differently and it’s so easy to let those differences drive a wedge between them. Steve regrets all the time he wasted by not reaching out to John before he died. It was nice to see Odell, after the case had been won, reaching out to his dad. We all know how much Steve wishes he had done the same thing.
I really liked how this week we didn’t have two separate story lines. This week’s crime of the week was 100% connected with Sang Min, the murder he’s accused of and the human trafficking case which caused Five-0 to get Sang Min out of jail in the first place. It was nice to have everyone working on the same case instead of being apart doing other things.
As much fun as the majority of this episode was, the big action scene of the night didn’t disappoint either. A shootout which resulted in the bad guys releasing a shipping container full of people into the water was awesome but not as awesome as watching Steve and Chin “get wet”, jumping in to save those people in the shipping container. A really fantastic scene.
I loved Sang Min making a deal with Odell that if they won the case, he’d let Odell cut his hair. The only thing I didn’t like? We didn’t actually get to see Odell take those scissors all the way through all of Sang Min’s hair. I would have loved to have seen the finished product! Oh and I loved those glasses. They are fantastic in their ugliness! ROFL
It was also pretty cool to see Eric Nemoto reprise his role as Prosecuting Attorney James Chen. For those who don’t remember, we first saw Chen way back in Season 1, in Episode 1.18 (Loa Aloha) as the father of one of the kids murdered by a man who held their parents responsible for his own son’s death in prison. Interestingly enough, considering last week’s episode, Loa Aloha was also the episode where we first met Matt Williams and learned about his embezzlement, his dealings with the cartel and watched as Danny brokenheartedly let him escape. The events of that fantastic episode set the groundwork for multiple episodes and for an arc we’re about to see play out the rest of this season.
There were things in this episode which I didn’t really like. I cringed openly each time Odell reminded the jury that the cause of Sang Min’s poor eyesight was the fact that Chin had smashed him in the head six years ago. Considering he wanted the jury to take the reputation of the Five-0 Task Force into consideration in their deliberations I didn’t think it was such a great idea to remind them, repeatedly, that it was that same task force which cause the physical damage to Sang Min in the first place.
There is also that mention of Danny and Clara going to the bank to take the money Matt stole to the FBI. The FBI have been keeping an eye on that money ever since Matt opened the account. Now that Clara has accessed the account there is no reason for the FBI to pretend they don’t know about it. So, I highly doubt Danny and Clara need to “take the money back to the FBI”. I think, now that the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, the FBI would have just seized it on their own.
Lastly, I loved the entire story of Odell finally embracing and using his law degree. He passed the bar in Hawaii ten years ago so he can practice law there. Now, I don’t know anything about law but I do work for a doctor and he must, in order to keep his license, continue his medical education each year. There is a certain number of CME (continuing medical education) credits he must earn in order to maintain his license. I’m assuming it’s the same with a law license. It seems highly unlikely that Odell, a man who turned his back on his degree ten years ago, spent those ten years keeping up with this continuing education. So, technically, he wouldn’t be allowed to walk into that courtroom and defend anyone.
But, of course, no episode is perfect and, for me, it’s easy to suspend belief on the things that wouldn’t fly in the real world. Because this isn’t the real world. It is make believe and as it was when we were children, we use make believe to get away from the real world and have fun. And that’s what Five-0 was in this episode and what it has been for me from the very beginning. A hell of a lot of fun!
There’s no new episode for us until 6.17 on March 11th. I guess it’s the start of the College basketball season or something. I really don’t know but I think I’ll fill the time by re-watching the episodes of this great season again. Always a great way to bide the time when there is a long wait to a new episode!
I hope you all have a wonderful week my friends. Aloha. Malama Pono.
All screen captures are mine!