As usual, I’m going to say I thought this episode was awesome. No huge surprise there. There was a ton to love but the first thing I really liked was that it wasn’t a split episode. It was one story…. one case. One case the entire team worked on together. I could simply kiss writers Liz Alper and Ally Seibert for giving us one great, coherent story instead of an episode where our team is split up on entirely different stories. These types of episodes are always my favorite. I hope Liz an Ally write many more H50 episodes for us to enjoy because this one was aces!
Another thing I really liked was that this episode reminded me of the 3rd episode of Season 2, “Kame’e”. In that episode, a Navy SEAL turned up dead, and when it’s ruled a suicide, Joe White doesn’t believe it and asks Steve to take a second look at his death. In this episode, Steve’s old Navy buddy, Ronnie Turner, asks Steve to look into the death of pilot Jason Sachs, also known as “The Shadow Baron” who died when his plane crashed during his practice run for Hammerade Air Race. The NTSB is about to rule the accident as “pilot error” but Ronnie doesn’t believe that is true.
It’s funny, this episode also reminded me of another from Season 2. Episode 6 “Ka Hakaka Maika’I”. In that episode, when a MMA fighter is sidelined with an injury (ironically caused by Steve), Steve takes his place in the ring to benefit the charity sponsoring the event. Here, Steve steps in to fly a “Shadow Baron” plane after the death of Jason Sachs.
After over 7 years of stories, we’re bound to repeat a theme here and there. What impresses me is how our writers are always able to make the stories so fresh and, always, so much fun. Here we once again have an old friend of Steve’s asking him to look into a suspicious death of another friend and we once again have Steve stepping into the injured/dead man’s shoes to finish the fight… the race he couldn’t.
COTW: You just know that once his old friend asks Steve for help, there isn’t any way he’s not going to look into the death of Jason Sacks. Add the fact that there is not only a grieving widow but a young boy who just lost his father, and there is no way in hell Steve isn’t going to take this case, whether he has jurisdiction or not.
Not to mention when you factor into the mix the loathsome NTSB agent investigating the crash. Steve wasn’t the only one who wanted to lay out and punch that arrogant jerk.
A common staple of Five-0 story telling is the convoluted story to navigate through before we get to the real answer. This week we have Jason Sachs, aka Luke Nixon, Norman Andrews, NTSB Agent Callahan and Hammerade Inspector Isaiah Phillips to wade through.
Let me see if I have this right. Luke Nixon, a drug runner caught by the DEA becomes a confidential informant spying on the cartel to avoid prison. He meets and falls in love with Elena, the daughter of the cartel leader. When the DEA turns down Luke’s request to leave Mexico he decides to rabbit and he takes Elena with him. The drug lord, obviously doesn’t take too kindly to this and spends the next several years trying to track them down. Luke, steals the identity of Jason Sachs, joining the Hammerade team and fashioning himself the mysterious persona of The Shadow Baron, a pilot who doesn’t speak much, avoids personal contacts and is never seen without his helmet to cover his face.
Meanwhile, the real Jason Sacks, a man who swindled Norman Andrews out of his life savings, had actually died in a car crash several years ago. Norman recognized faux- Jason on the rare occasion he was seen on video without his helmet and thinking he was the Jason he’d been searching for, confronted him.
But when he did, he realized that even though this man had the same name and looked exactly like the man he was searching for, he was not, in fact, the same Jason Sacks. As we find out later, he was, in fact, Luke Nixon. I can totally understand Luke stealing Jason’s identity after Jason died. Identity theft is, unfortunately, a very real thing. But here’s something I don’t get.
Luke always kept his face covered, presumably so no one from the cartel would recognize him. That makes sense. But are we supposed to believe that Luke looked exactly like Jason, a man who happened to conveniently die, just when Luke needed a new identity? I’m sure I’m just missing something. Please enlighten me in the comments because I hate when I miss things! 😊
So, suspect Norman wasn’t. Move on to NTSB Agent Callahan and Hammerade Inspector Isaiah Phillips.
Both hauled into rendition and neither our murder suspect either. Turns out Phillips would probably be too incompetent to pull off a murder, having missed several problems on previous planes. But, he did manage to fish the missing trim tab from the plane out of the water and tell Steve and Tani he was sure someone had tampered with it. So, he did manage to be useful.
As for Agent Callahan. What a total jerk. Taking kickback money from Hammerade to always make sure any incidents are attributed to pilot error instead of any fault of the company is not only illegal but about as amoral as you can get. By always finding the pilots at fault, grieving families are denied any insurance payments from the death of their loved ones, leaving them with nothing. What a scum bag. And he dared to actually threaten Steve and Five-0 because they had the trim tab in their possession. I loved how, even though they couldn’t charge him with anything regarding the murder, Steve was going to make sure Callahan’s superiors knew exactly what he had been up to. No one threatens Five-0 in front of Steve McGarrett!
Tani and Junior: We didn’t get to see a lot of these two together in this episode but what we did see was really good. Their lunch at Kamekona’s gave us some insight into the relationship that is forming between these two. Junior knows all about Koa. Tani knows about Junior’s parents, even if she doesn’t know all the details. The two of them are hanging out, getting to know each other and have moved to the “hugs to say goodbye” stage. They are adorable friends. Will it go further? Who knows? But for now, I’m enjoying this friendship and really hope we get to see more of it soon.
I also really like that Junior doesn’t seem to be holding it against Tani that she’s on Five-0 without benefit of an Academy diploma while he’s still working on graduating. We never got to see whether Junior confronted Steve with that question, but it seems Junior either didn’t bother to ask Steve or he did ask, and Steve’s answer was satisfactory. Since we already know Junior will be on the team in the very near future, does it really matter?
Steve and Tani: I really enjoyed the teaming of Steve and Tani in this episode. It’s nice to see the veterans mentoring Tani, especially Steve who obviously notices just how much like him she is. I liked how he stood back and let her take a bit of a lead in rendition before he stepped in, especially with Callahan.
It was very touching to see Steve giving Tani comforting advice after the very emotional meeting with Elena Sachs. Tani is visibly affected by the encounter and Steve reassures her that it’s ok to feel the way she does. It’s ok to care. It was a very sweet scene.
I also really got a kick out of the scene with these two and Ronnie, after Ronnie shows them where he’s “detained” Phillips after NTSB took the trim tab he found. I’m not sure what was funnier. Steve’s nonchalant little “hey” wave to Phillips or Tani’s “I can see why you two are friends.”.
And from the first moment Steve walked into his office and saw not only the NTSB labeled trim tab on this desk but Tani, nonchalantly typing away at her desk only a few feet away, he knew she was responsible for it being there. The look on his face was priceless.
The final scene in last weeks episode was Tani calling Steve and asking him to meet her so she could tell him what she had done to get Koa out of trouble. We never saw that meeting, but we really didn’t have to. Like I said, it’s obvious Steve recognizes a lot of himself in Tani. Steve would understand doing whatever you could to protect your family. He also understands doing whatever is necessary to solve a case, especially one that involves a friend.
Whether it’s jokingly calling out Danny with lines like “I’m genuinely surprised McGarrett hasn’t shot you yet” to ribbing Steve about his and Ronnie’s unorthodox “detention” methods or her own unorthodox way of getting things done, Steve’s words to Tani were 100% true. “You’re fitting in just fine around here”.
Tani and Koa: I really liked the last scene between these two. It’s been plainly obvious from the first moment we ever saw Koa in 8.01 that the two of them have some real issues to work out between them. We don’t know what happened to their parents nor do we know why Koa seemed to gravitate to the dark side of the law. But Tani loves Koa and wants what’s best for him even if he drives her crazy. It was nice to see them in a pleasant moment, going off to Rainbow for a late-night snack, a truce for the time being.
I am a bit ambivalent over the impetus of this pleasant moment however. Tani jeopardized her job last week to pull Koa out of an almost bust, to keep him safe and out of the system. But this week, she recruits him to not only steal something, but steal it from under the nose of a federal investigation. I’m assuming that evidence is kept in a federal lock up somewhere. What if he’d been caught? Wouldn’t that have made what she did last week to protect him just a bit moot?
So much fun in this episode:
The air race: It was nicely effective to start off with the air race right off the bat. Fans in the general public, those not like us, who don’t scour the sites for sneak peeks, were probably thrown a bit when they saw that it was Steve in the cockpit of the plane. His flying was really pretty impressive, especially that almost vertical path through the pilons. Of course, once Steve lost control of the plane we just had to go to the wave and make it look like he was going to crash.
We knew, of course that wasn’t going to happen, but it was still a nice little cliff hanger to dangle for the rest of the episode. I liked how they tied in the conversation Noelani had with Lou earlier in the episode with Steve in the cockpit of the plane. Noelani told Lou that it was very dangerous for a pilot flying at G-force speeds. A pilot can lose consciousness at 4Gs. Hold your breath a millisecond and your brain can shut down.
When Steve’s plane was in that dive, you could see he was fighting the G forces and at one point, it looked like he was about to black out. It was a nice toss back to the conversation between Lou and Noelani and it also gave us another great “facial” performance from Alex. You just know I always love those!
Danny: Danny was so much fun in this episode. Even though he spent much of the COTW partnered with Lou, he was with Steve at the beginning when they first met Ronnie and he was with Steve when they went to check out the plane wreckage with NTSB. But it was everything that had to do with the plane race that was golden in the Danny department for me.
Let’s start in Steve’s office. Ronnie informs the guys that even though Five-0 proved the crash was not pilot error, the insurance company probably won’t pay out to Elena because the policy was in Jason’s name, not Luke’s. Also, Hammerade won’t pay her anything because Jason/Luke never flew in the actual race. It’s a shame too. Ronnie has another plane ready to go, just no pilot to fill in for The Shadow Baron.
Before Steve can even take a breath, Danny knows exactly what’s coming. His reaction was positively priceless. I don’t know what was funnier. Danny’s “Can we talk…um…can I talk to you a second??” or the twin evil grins between Steve and Ronnie.
Once again, I was reminded of S2E6 “Ka Hakaka Maika’I”, as Steve began the race. In that episode, Steve had been driven to the mat by a particularly vicious punch. Danny begged him “Stay down… let’s go home… can we go home? Stay down.. it’s charity.. don’t get up”. But, of course, Steve did get up and was much the worse for it too.
Here, once again, Steve lets his competitiveness show. He calls to Danny from the cockpit, asking about his competition time in the race. “Your time’s fine… what does it matter?” “It matters to me”.
And just like back in Season 2, Danny reminds Steve “Yo Steve, the only thing you had to do was put the plane up in the air…. Nothing else!” But, of course, Steve is Steve and giving less than 100% is not an option.
I was really getting a kick out of the reactions from the entire team while Steve was flying. Tani was alternating between practically pulling her hair out to gleeful exuberance. Lou kept hiding behind his hands, he just couldn’t bear to look. Jerry was worried he was going to be sick. It was such fun watching them all fluctuate between excitement to anxiety to fear to utter joy and relief.
I also loved that Steve came in dead last. He got out of that plane looking so pleased with himself for the way he flew and the way he pulled out of the almost crash. He was crushed to hear he came in twelfth…. out of twelve! Dead last! OMG, the look on his face was utter disbelief from the man who is not used to coming in second, let alone last. It was hysterical.
But Danny was so right. “Better dead last than dead period.” He also makes a valid point. Steve may be a hell of a good pilot but he’s not a pilot who flies races for a living. It made sense that he didn’t win. But last?? LOL
All the iconic references:
- Spiderman – I loved Danny’s backward radiation poisoning theory. Normal human being Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider, he becomes a super hero. Steve gets a dose of radiation poisoning and turns into a normal human being. I loved this little exchange simply because, as a little throwaway line, we see that Danny already considers Steve to be a super hero. My heart!
- Speed Racer – Lou called Luke Nixon the “closest thing to a real-life Racer X in the sky”. It brought me back to after school afternoons curled up on the floor watching Speed Racer before doing my homework. Racer X was, of course, the older brother of Speed Racer, who, after a falling out with their father, kept his identity hidden behind a mask whenever they raced.
- Top Gun – I guess it was only natural that an episode centered around racing pilots would have at least one Top Gun reference. But this episode had several. Of course, there was Steve misunderstanding Danny’s “just put the plane on the ground… please.. maniac” as Danny calling him Maverick, “the greatest compliment you’ve ever given me”. Later, Danny does call him Maverick as he offers to take him out for beers.
Steve also makes a second Top Gun reference when he requests “permission to buzz the tower”. In Top Gun, Maverick requests a “fly by” of the tower, which is denied. He responds to the warnings of his co-pilot Goose not to do it by saying “Sorry Goose, but it’s time to buzz the tower.”
Lastly, the most famous quote from Top Gun “I feel the need… the need for speed” gets hysterically bastardized by Jerry. “I feel the need…. the need for Steve!” I agree with Tani. I think it’s cute. “Bossman” is Jerry’s hero. Jerry has extremely good taste.
Ohana gathering at the shrimp truck: Always the best way to end a long day, and a great episode, everyone gathers at Kamekona’s for shrimp and beer. They tease Jerry over his new catchphrase. Steve tells Danny that he never found out who left the trim tab on his desk while simultaneously showing Tani that he positively knows and doesn’t care that it was her. Tani and Junior making plans to get together later for “even more to talk about”.
It’s gatherings like these that have always been a hallmark of this show. When everyone gets together to laugh and celebrate. To commiserate and to support. To be Ohana. It’s what makes this show so great!
Have a wonderful week my friends. See ya next weekend.
Aloha. Malama Pono
All screen caps are mine.