Welcome to 2018 and the start of the second half of Season 8 of Hawaii Five-0. And, damn, what a way to start off the new year. I’m honestly sitting here, typing this, and trying to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to say about this episode. And the one word that keeps playing over in my head is, “intense”. Every blessed minute of this episode was intense. Intense action. Intense sadness. Intense grief. Intense loyalty. Pretty much intense everything.
Let’s start off with one of the most horrible crimes we’ve had in a while. The murder of FBI Agent Douglas Fischer, his wife and their beautiful six-year-old daughter. You knew it was going to happen. The moment you saw that box sitting on the front steps, the moment you saw the “delivery man” coldly look over his shoulder, you just knew that box was going to explode and explode big. But, the entire family? No, that I did not expect.
In one of the most heartbreaking scenes we’ve had on this show in a long time, Steve stands over the bodies of the Fischer family in the morgue. But it’s the tiny, draped body of the little girl, her stuffed rabbit in tatters by her side, that makes this scene so wrenching. We’ve seen kids hurt, taken, orphaned. We’ve “known” that children have died. But to actually see her on that table was horrendously powerful.
Children have always touched a deep cord in Steve’s heart and this? This absolutely brings out the fury in him. Looking at that small body, an innocent child who will never grow up, who will never hold her beloved “Albert” again. A fury to find who the hell did this and bring them down…. now. He is so absorbed in the moment, he doesn’t even hear a major portion of Noelani’s report. I loved how her words were muffled so we had a hard time hearing her as well. It brought us right into exactly what Steve was feeling in that moment.
Of course, all those feelings, all those thoughts, Steve doesn’t say any of it. There is not a single word of dialog for Steve in the entire morgue scene. He doesn’t need to say anything. Once again, as has happened more times than I can count, Alex’s acting was superb. He didn’t need to say a thing.
His body language, the tightly folded arms, as if he’s struggling to contain his anger, his lock-jawed facial expression and the sadness combined with fire in his eyes, once again, delivered pages of dialog without him having to utter a single word. That look in his eyes set the tone for the entire episode flawlessly. As always, Alex was remarkable!
COTW: There seems to be a new crime boss in town and even after everything that happened in this episode we, and Five-0 still have no idea who it is? But, whoever it is, is positively diabolical. They have orchestrated a series of events within the organized crime element on the island in an elaborate attempt to cease control. They have some how pitted all the major gangs against each other in order to “thin the herd” and have murdered the FBI agent (and his innocent family) brought in to try to crush the gang violence on the island.
But this plan was in effect long before the FBI became involved. They also executed the murder of Michelle Shioma in prison and made it look like Brandon Kenzo, the acting Yakuza boss, was making a play to take over. But he’d backed off, hiding somewhere safe while the ongoing turf war between the gangs raged on. That only served to make him look guiltier.
In an attempt to find out who killed Fischer and his family, Five-0, with the help of HPD and the National Guard round up pretty much every gang member on the island and herd them all into a makeshift holding facility.
Whoever this new player is, there’s no way he could have known Five-0 would do this, but he still had the ability to pull together a small group of foreign mercenaries out of Toyko to attack the facility. Killing several cops, removing all the bosses of all the major gangs from the cells, lining them all up and executing them.
This new player; he’s played everyone perfectly. The gangs, the Yakuza, HPD, the FBI and Five-0. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out. We haven’t had a legitimate Big Bad since Gabriel (and some would say, we haven’t had one since WoFat). This, obviously, is going to be our big story for the rest of the season. I can’t wait to see how this one plays out. It looks to be a really great story for everyone.
Adam: Finally, we have found something for Adam besides being the guy “always in the wrong place at the wrong time”. He played a major part in this episode and will be playing an even bigger part in episodes to come.
As I said above, whoever this new player is, he’s set up the chess pieces perfectly, including the fact that he didn’t start any of his coordinated efforts until six weeks ago. Coincidentally, the exact same time Adam returned to the island. Naturally, with Adam’s background, the FBI zeroed in on that coincidence and hauled Adam in for questioning.
Of course, the fact they had a picture of Adam visiting Michelle Shioma in prison on the day she was murdered didn’t look very good for Adam. My first thought when I saw that picture was “Oh Adam…what were you thinking?!?!?” I can see why the FBI would think what they did. It turns out that Michelle’s intentions were basically good, if she can ever be considered even remotely good. She just wanted to know where her children were. As a mother, I can understand just wanting to know they are alright.
Of course, Adam shouldn’t have gone to see her. Shouldn’t have let his curiosity get the best of him. It is to his credit that he didn’t do as Michelle asked. He wouldn’t put those children at risk by bringing their mother back into their lives. Not even for her promise to give him his money back nor learning some supposed secret that “could change his life.”
But, he seriously should have, at the very least, informed Steve about it right way. That way Steve wouldn’t have been blindsided when he was handed that file with the picture inside.
But Adam was invaluable in tracking down and bringing in Kenzo at great personal risk, I might add. It’s very lucky that Adam was able to talk his way into and then out of there and bring Kenzo out safely. I didn’t like watching Adam sitting there surrounded by Yakuza with their guns in his face.
By the end of the episode, it’s more than obvious to Steve that whoever this new player is, he’s a major threat and Five-0 is going to need all the help it can get in their quest to find him and take him down. It has Steve reaching out to the one person he knows and trusts with an intimate knowledge of that world. Adam.
I loved how Adam didn’t hesitate for even a second before he said, “I’m in” to Steve’s offer to head up his own task force under the offices of Five-0 to help track down this new threat. Let’s face it. Adam’s been adrift ever since he got out of prison. First it was bouncing from job to job trying to get past his record. Then it was following Kono all across the mainland. We have no idea what he’s been doing with himself since he came back to Oahu besides cleaning out chimneys and Christmas shopping at the mall.
This is just what Adam needs, what he’s been looking for, even if he, himself, doesn’t realize it. A way to prove to everyone, maybe even to himself, that he is a good man. That he can make a difference. That he can do something to help people and be productive. To fight the good fight for a good cause. To have a purpose. He is now part of Five-0. You can’t get much better than that.
Tani: I’m beginning to sound like a bit of a broken record, but I loved Tani in this episode. First off, I loved how she didn’t hesitate for one moment to go to Steve and tell him that the FBI approached her. Of course, I wouldn’t expect her to do anything else. After what happened with Wright and the incident with getting her brother out of a raid, there was no way in hell she’d do anything less than keep Steve 100% in the loop.
I was a little leery when Steve allowed her to go after Damien Bautista alone. I mean, this guy was a high-level target and she went in without any back up at all, not even at a distance. It was obvious by her reaction when she saw his picture on her phone that the two of them had some sort of history.
I assumed it had something to do with Koa. Well, it did, but it turns out they had also been in a relationship. Makes me extremely interested in learning more about her past before she entered the Academy. Damien taunted her over being kicked out of “cop school” with the barb, “I guess you can’t fight your upbringing”. It seems it wasn’t only Koa who ran with a bad crowd.
Anyway, Damien has heard about the sweep of every bad guy on the island and he did call for backup. In a move that was 100% McGarrett, she shoves Damien over the balcony railing into the pool below before following him into the drink to escape his gun toting friends. She is so awesome.
Junior: What a hell of a first day on the job Junior had, no? It’s no surprise what-so-ever that Junior handled himself very well for his first day. I have to admit though, I’m still a bit confused as to why Steve seems to be holding him back. I mean, I understand why he wanted Junior to go to the Academy. To get a feel of whether his skills could translate from soldier to cop. But he’s seen first hand what Junior can do on more than one occasion now.
Also, he had no hesitation to throw Tani into the mix right off the bat. Sure, she’s Academy trained but now, so is Junior. But, Academy or no, Junior is a SEAL. At this point, why does he need to take “baby steps” when Tani never did? It doesn’t make sense at all.
Regardless, Junior once again proved he has what it takes to be Five-0. Sent to pick up a lower-level suspect, as back-up to HPD, Junior saves the life of an officer after the suspect killed his partner. Armed with only his gun against a thug with an automatic weapon spraying fire everywhere, Junior goes full on McGarrett to take the the guy down.
He was so much like Steve in that scene is was really fun to watch. He pulls the injured cop to safety and calls for back up (ok, so maybe the calling for backup part isn’t 100% like Steve 😉). He then rips the mirror off the side of the car to see where their perp was shooting from. Making his way into the house, he’s immediately greeted by a barrage of bullets flying all around him.
Managing to evade being shot, he uses a flash bang grenade he just happened to have with him (sooooo like Steve) to concuss the shooter and, in a brutal brawl, manages to get the guy’s gun away from him and shoots him center mass. Ummmmm, Steve? I really don’t think you need to worry about Junior needing to take “baby steps”.
And, of course, just like Steve, he plays down the fact that he actually didn’t dodge every bullet flying in that house but got winged during the gunfire. He only asks for EMTs to check him out after he’s sure the wounded cop has been taken care of. You can see he’s not thinking about himself or the fact that he’s injured. He’s disappointed because he feels he failed in his mission to bring in the perp alive and more than anything, he’s grieving for the officer he was unable to save.
The scene at the morgue between Tani and Junior was very touching. Tani is there to retrieve Damien’s personal affects as she feels, since she knows her personally, she should be the one to inform Damien’s mother of his death. In the next room is Junior, heartbroken, standing over the body of the fallen officer.
These two have developed a special bond in the few months they’ve known each other. Will it further develop into a relationship, who knows? For now, it is a warm, comforting friendship. In this moment they are both upset over the deaths they each feel responsible for. Tani, for hauling Damien into a situation where he really had no guilt, which lead to him being killed. Junior for not doing more to protect the fallen officer.
Of course, neither are to blame for what happened but they are both feeling distress over what they see as failure in themselves. Although it was Tani who was comforting Junior, telling him it was not his fault, that there wasn’t anything more he could have done, she is saying the exact same thing to herself.
That they could be there for each other in that moment is the essence of what has always made this show so fantastic. Our team, no matter which members are being highlighted at any particular moment, is always there for each other. Period.
Eddie: Last week, in my New Year’s post, I wrote that I really hoped the writers would find a way to write Eddie into more episodes. And not just having him following Steve around Casa McG but into actual cases. I can’t say how thrilled I am to see him used in the case this week.
First off, the scene with Lou and Steve in the Silverado was golden. Eddie’s stink eye at Lou was perfection, as was Eddie’s little “grumpft” and growl at Lou when Steve told him Eddie was miffed because Lou was in his seat. This little bit of levity in the middle such an (there’s that word again) intense episode was a much needed and welcome breather.
But it was watching Eddie do what he was trained to do that was the most fun for me. I loved how he never took his eyes off Steve while getting his “instructions” and following him into the house. I loved Steve’s “Eddie… on me!” Perfect!
While Steve and Lou cleared the rooms on the first floor, Eddie headed upstairs on his own to clear the upper floors. It was Eddie who found the secret crawl space Hector escaped through and it was Eddie who followed him and took him down…. hard!
Seeing Eddie as part of the team, with his own “Five-0” Kevlar and being a major contributor in a raid was fantastic. Like I said in my last blog, Eddie is Military and DEA trained and those skills should be utilized as much as possible. It makes him an extremely important member of the team. I’m happy it looks like we’ll see him as such more often.
Steve: I am absolutely loving the additional development of Steve’s character this season. Of course, we all know Steve pretty damn well but it’s the way the character is being written this season that has me totally intrigued. It’s becoming clear that he is coming to terms with the fact that he really is what Danny has accused him of not being for years. A real human being, one that is not indestructible and not always in control.
Oh, he is still our SuperSEAL. Still leaping into the storm raged sea, still taking risks, still being the steadfast, heroic leader, he’s always been. His loyalty to his friends and his team always at the top of his priority list.
I loved how he went to Fischer’s office when he found out that Fischer had approached Tani to spy on the team to get information on Adam. How he defended Adam’s reputation and calmly, yet without any doubt as to his meaning, told Fischer what would happen if he ever approached a member of his team again.
Then later when he literally stormed into that same office to pull Adam out of there. Oh yes, he is still our Steve through and through.
But he’s also now in a position that he’s totally unfamiliar with. This season, Steve’s story is an emotional one. He is no longer in complete control of everything. Think about it. Toast’s killer is still out there. Wright slipped through their fingers. He has no idea why Danny was targeted nor why he still may be a target. Now there’s this new organized crime threat to deal with.
Add into that “mentoring” the newbies, the restaurant, his illness and the day to day running of Five-0 beyond these new threats and Steve has a hell of a lot on his plate.
It’s almost as if, entering into his 8th year as team leader, the Steve McGarrett of “Five-0” is becoming an amalgam with the Steve McGarrett of “Five-O”. The McGarrett of the original series was an older, less active leader than our Steve. He didn’t get his hands dirty all that often. Of course, it was a different era of TV so the action was on an entirely different level but that McGarrett was more like a Head Coach, moving his players around to the best advantage.
While still our intrepid SuperSEAL, Steve is also now a man in his forties, more mature, more weathered and more open to delegating to other members of his team, just as the McGarrett of old once did.
Now, don’t get me wrong. He’s nowhere near ready for a desk, not by a very long shot but that doesn’t mean he needs to be the one always front and center, always getting hurt, always being and doing all. In this episode for instance, it was Junior who had the big physical take down and the injury as a result. In the past, Steve wouldn’t have hesitated for a second to head down into that tunnel. Now he has a “better idea” and sends in Eddie instead.
That’s why I see him as, perhaps, evolving into a McGarrett amalgam. More mature, more willing to delegate, more willing to let the younger members of the team do some of the heavy lifting but still our fearless warrior out there in the middle of the fight, with his fists, with his guns, with his courage.
He has re-forged his team, to make them strong in a time when it looked as if it would be diminished. He’s front and center in practically every story. In the space of one week, he saved the lives of this team on the yacht by leaping into the storm churned ocean while deathly ill, and saved Danny’s life with an impromptu emergency surgery. He is as important as he’s ever been. He is the rock in everyone’s life and along with Danny and Lou, is taking on and teaching the new generation. Those who will, eventually, take over their spots in the Five-0 of the future. What better way to ensure the legacy of them all?
This episode was a fantastic way to start the new year and kick off the second half of the season. We have our big story arc moving forward and we now have our entire team in place to take on whatever the bad guys throw at them. This season has been one of the best of the entire run and I see no reason why it shouldn’t continue to thrill and entertain right up to the end. Right up to when we get our official announcement of a 9th season.
Before I posted this I went on Twitter and saw the ratings for this episode. OMG…. They are positively awesome. This is the best we’ve had all season. It seems the strong episodes at the end of 2017 have propelled us into even higher ratings entering 2018. No surprise for us, of course. We already knew our show was fantastic. Each and every week, it seems more and more viewers are seeing what we’ve been seeing for years. H50 is awesome! So happy to see these kinds of numbers to start the new year!
That’s it for this week my friends. I hope you all have a wonderful week. See ya next week!
Aloha. Malama Pono.
All screen caps are mine unless otherwise noted.
NOTE: It is with a heavy heart that I add this to the end of this review. For anyone who hasn’t heard, retired U.S. Army Sgt. Steven Jackel, a double-amputee who survived an IED blast in Afghanistan and who played munitions expert Henry in Episode 8.11 (Christmas Episode) tragically took his own life this past week.
It’s so horrible to think of the demons he may have been battling as we watched him basically play himself in a lighthearted and warm Christmas episode. He took his life only a few weeks after that episode was filmed. My heart just breaks for what he must have been going through and for his family. I’m not even going to try to imagine what they must have gone through for years and what they are going through now.
A GoFundMe account has been set up in an effort to help his family. As I type this, they are very close to their goal. The H50 Ohana, as well as many people who knew Sgt. Jackel, and I’m sure many who did not know him but still wanted to honor his memory and help his family, have been very generous. But, there is no rule that says we can’t push the number above their goal.
Please donate what you can in support of a man who gave absolutely everything he could in the service of his country. If you have already donated, mahalo. If you have not, or are unable to for whatever reason, please spread the word to others. Let’s give back to this family who have given their heart and soul to us. The link to the GoFundMe page is below. Mahalo nui loa
Sgt Stephen Jackel Family Fund: