Each week I try to come up with a great opening paragraph to set up my newest review. This week, I’m not even going to try because this episode was so incredibly good, no set up is required. Of course, I think every H50 episode is good but this one just blew me away.
We’ve never had a mid-season cliffhanger before and, damn, if Writer Matt Wheeler and Director Jennifer Lynch didn’t give us one hell of an episode for our first one. There wasn’t a wasted moment. Wheeler’s story expertly weaved thorough lighthearted, frightening, unexpected, disgustingly humorous (that morgue scene.. oh my God!), heart pounding and so heartbreaking I regretted not having a box of tissues nearby.
There is no way I can ever do justice to this episode, it was perfect from beginning to end. So just bear with me while I simply gush for a while.
As the last episode of the year, it would be customary for it to be a Christmas episode and while we did get to see Flippa in the most ridiculous elf costume ever known to man (Lou: “One word for you: Union”) and a few Christmas decorations and trees here and there, you’d never know it was Christmas time. Instead, we get to attend a really fun party to celebrate Chin’s birthday.
I loved the video tribute, especially the pictures of Daniel Dae Kim (and his son) as Chin growing up. The cameo appearances by Sang Min, Chin’s Uncle Choi and Dog were really funny. It’s always great to see the entire Ohana gathered together for a fun occasion. I especially loved seeing Gracie and Charlie there with Danny to help celebrate Uncle Chin’s birthday too. Unfortunately, this is H50 so, of course, that means someone’s damn phone is going to ring five minutes in and ruin everyone’s good time.
There were many twists, turns and surprises in this episode but the way the team immediately rallied around Chin the moment they found out Sara had been taken was not one of them. No surprise there. If there’s one thing that’s been an unflappable constant from the very first day it’s that these people will do anything for each other and their Ohana. It’s also plainly obvious that in the short time she’s been with Chin, Sara is very much included in the Ohana. There was no way in hell any of them were going to allow Chin to go off half cocked to Mexico. They were going to do this together and you know damn well they were going to do it fully cocked!
From the very first moment we heard of the existence of Jorge and Maria Morales it’s been played that there’s something shady going on with them. So much so that Chin tried his damnedest to find something on them to prevent Sara from going to Mexico at all. Then Sara is taken and everyone immediately thinks it’s because of Jorge’s connection to a known drug dealer, a dealer whose number Jerry had previously found on his phone. Never mind that he’s an attorney and the drug dealer is merely a client, it’s easy to think Jorge is involved in this.
And once again… again…. we have a kidnapping. I had really hoped we’d seen the last of these for a good while but this one had such an unexpected turn it really felt like something new. For a moment, when everyone realized it wasn’t Jorge, all suspicion immediately went to Maria. After all, wasn’t it just last week when it looked like the father but ended up being the mother who was the bad guy? But lo and behold, it turns out they are just as much victims as little Sara. She wasn’t taken because of Jorge or his law firm, she was taken because of Five-0.
I must admit, when the Diego cartel came up as those who took Sara I had to stop and think for a second. Thank goodness for that little flashback of Kono popping out of that duffle bag so I could quickly make the connection. This was inspired, in my opinion. The original appearance of the cartel came in Episode 7.03 (He Moho Hou “New Player”). In that episode, we met Kono’s old surfing competitor Rosie and learned her story. We also met Dr. Madison Grey and moved along in the story of the Chess Piece Killer. The third story in that episode revolved around the cartel.
In my review of that episode, I wrote: “Of the three stories in this episode this was the least interesting. That’s not saying it wasn’t a good story or that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did but I was more wrapped up in Kono and Rosie and in our ongoing serial killer arc.”
It’s why I think the return of the cartel in this episode was so inspired. I had filed away the cartel storyline as a not truly memorable portion of a very enjoyable episode, something done and gone. To have Carlos Diego kidnap Sara as revenge for Five-0 killing his brother… yes, inspired and something I never saw coming. It was a fantastic twist and it gave the title of 7.03 a whole new meaning. It wasn’t just Dr. Gray who was the “new player” in that episode, it was (at the time, unknown) Carlos Diego as well.
It also perfectly fits into what Peter Lenkov called a season revolving around “legacy” and how our team was going to be reflecting on how what they do affects their lives away from work. To have it revealed that the actual threat to Sara was not her aunt and uncle but Five-0 was simply heartbreaking for Chin.
“It was because of our dealings with Diego that Sara was taken.” “The biggest threat to Sara wasn’t the Morales’s… it was me.” “Why is it that we’re always putting the ones we love most in harm’s way?”
It also makes me wonder how, or even if, Chin really will ever get Sara back. I mean, Jorge and Maria didn’t do anything wrong, they were as much victims as Sara was. How will Chin get Sara back if, as it seems, Jorge and Maria really are good people. It’s obvious they really love Sara too. Maria was more than distraught. How will Chin ever be able to convince a judge that Sara would be better off with him when it was because of Five-0 that she was taken in the first place? For the first time, I’m really beginning to think that Chin may never get Sara back full time. That’s the most heartbreaking part of this entire situation. I have never wanted to be wrong more.
There wasn’t anything in this episode I didn’t love. McGarrett was perfection from beginning to end. I adored his scenes with the drug lord Ramirez. I loved how, against all good advice, Steve just strolled into the Ramirez compound to get the answers he needed. Of course, Steve’s confidence really doesn’t need much of a boost, but it does help when you have Kono and her trusty sniper rifle on your side!
His “cowboy” swagger was quite impressive, so much so that even Ramirez was impressed. He even offers to give Steve the million dollars they need to ransom Sara just to get him out of the country. Steve is way too intelligent for that, of course, knowing that money would only be an IOU for a future favor Ramirez will want that Steve won’t be able to give. It shows the type of respect Steve demands that Ramirez gives Steve the name of the dirty cop who stole Jorge’s money anyway.
The action in this episode was top notch as well. For a scene that didn’t last very long, the team breaking into the police station, masked to appear as mere robbers, was really cool. I loved how Steve threw the dirty cop into the lockup so his own prisoners could get him to cooperate. That was just awesome.
Of course, Chin ripping off his mask kind of destroyed the allusion that they were robbers but I loved watching him go all Steve and Danny on the guy to get him to give up those tapes of Jorge’s phone calls to his clients. Those tapes were instrumental in finding out that Jorge wasn’t the bad guy in this and that it was Five-0 the kidnappers were truly after.
The second action sequence of this episode was incredible. Lured into a trap, our team is completely surrounded. How the hell they managed to survive that ambush when the vehicles of the cartel were literally driving around them in circles, guns blazing, I have no idea. But our team always seems to triumph under the most harrowing of circumstances, thank God! My heart was pounding the entire time.
Can I just jump in here for a second and say, thank goodness for the wonderful comedic chemistry of Danny and Lou? These two, in the middle of all this turmoil and angst were a refreshing breath of fresh air. From the moment they tried to bribe the guard outside the morgue (Lou: “Turn your nose up at Mr. Franklin and you end up with Mr. Heckler and Mr. Koch. Those German guys can be pretty persuasive”) to every single moment inside the morgue, these two were golden. Add Max into this mix and you have something truly wonderful.
We don’t often get to see Danny and Lou alone together. They are usually always paired with Steve or with Kono but, I have to say, I hope to God we get these two alone together a lot more. They are incredible and added some needed levity into an episode that could have been crushed under the overall heavy nature of the story.
The writing for the morgue scene was pure perfection. I loved them comparing the teeny bit of Spanish they both know. Danny is so proud he knows an entire sentence even if it’s totally a pick up line! And Max’s recitation of all the education Danny would need in order to perform a proper autopsy was hysterical.
It was fun watching Max making a bit fun at them as he walked them through the steps to try to find a tattoo on the badly burned body of one of the kidnappers. Listening to Lou describe the condition of the body as “CBR” and resembling Will’s barbecue technique while also seeing Danny slowly and disgustingly pealing back the perps charred skin, it amazed me that I could be so disgusted and laughing at the same time. Lou’s line about never eating meat again was icing on the very disgusting cake!
I have the feeling that Scott and Chi had a ball filming those scenes. Between the funny dialog and the physical comedy of Danny and Lou trying to protect themselves from the smell while trying not to loose their lunches, I have a feeling there is some great stuff that could end up on the DVD gag (pun intended) reel.
Ultimately though, it all came down to Sara and what Chin was willing to do to save her. The team finds out that Diego is holding Sara at his compound which is guarded by “100 military-grade henchmen”. It’s a suicide mission but, as always, Chin and Sara are Ohana which means the team will do anything. But they never get the chance.
Chin knows what his friends are willing to do for him but he comes to realize he’s not willing to allow them to do it. He loves Steve and Kono like siblings. And, now that he understands what being a father is like, he won’t run the risk of Danny and Lou not making it home to their own children. He surrenders himself to the cartel in the hopes that if they have him, they will not only let Sara go but will also leave the rest of Five-0 alone.
I swear to God, between DDK and little Londyn Silzer I was finding it really hard to keep from bawling like a baby. When Chin called Kono to tell her where he was, where Sara was going to be, I knew I was sunk. When he told her he needed to make it right, that he was proud of her and that he loved them all…oh my God! I was as scared for him as Kono was.
The relief and utter joy Chin displayed when he finally laid eyes on a safe Sara was palpable. It was really difficult watching Chin try so hard to keep a brave face for Sara. My heart simply melted when she told him, “I knew you would come, Uncle Chin, because you promised.” Her sweet question of “Will you be there?” when Chin told her that Uncle Steve and Auntie Kono were going to take her somewhere safe was so incredibly hopeful and sad at the same time. “I will always be there,” he told her, even if, at that moment he knows it’s going to be one promise he won’t be able to keep. Leaving his badge behind shows Chin has accepted he’s not coming back, that he won’t be needing that badge anymore.
But, just as the team wouldn’t let Chin go to Mexico alone, we know they will never give up their fight to get him back in one piece. Just as the title “Snatchback” signifies the teams attempt to snatch Sara back from the grip of kidnappers, the title of 7.12 “The Deal” probably signifies what the team will end up doing to get Chin back. I just wish we didn’t have to wait three weeks to see it even though I know, without a shadow of a doubt, it will be more than worth the wait.
So far, this season has been a wonderful delight. It just gets better and better every week and there is no reason to think the second half of the season won’t be just as fantastic. I can’t wait to see where the writers will take us next.
That’s it for this week my friends and to this year as well. To every one of my readers, to your friends and your families, I send my most heartfelt wishes for you all to have a beautiful and wonderful Holiday season. I hope you all get to spend the holidays doing all the things you love with all the people you love. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!
Aloha. Malama Pono.
All screen caps are mine unless otherwise noted!
Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau’oli Makahiki Hou