Expectations are a tricky thing. Sometimes, you have very low expectations, and something surprises you by being better than you expected. Other times, your low expectations are justified, and something turns out to be just as awful as you expected it would be. Then there are times, when you go into something with very high expectations, and low and behold, it not only lives up what you were expecting, but goes over and above as well.
Welcome to H50 8.24. I never had any doubt in my mind, whatsoever, that this episode was going to be fantastic. First off, it’s a story idea pitched by Alex O’Loughlin and there is no one who knows this show and Steve McGarrett better than Alex. And, in the more than capable hands of writer Zoe Robyn and director Krishna Rao, Alex’s story was elevated into a wonderful multi-generational story that was filled with memories, intense loyalty, action, angst, whump and a hell of a lot of love. It was incredible.
It’s a fascinating look into how Alex may feel about what makes Steve McGarrett tick. He could have come up with a story about anything in the world, but he chose a SEAL story, a story of comradeship, of loyalty and service. He chose to take a closer look into the relationship between Steve and Joe White, to delve into more details of a past that forged the bond between them and helped shape the men they became. He chose to take a close look at the choices made by both of them at a crucial point in their lives and how those choices, both good and bad, affected their lives.
Yeah, there was some implausibility and it was a two-story episode but it was still an excellent story and it had me on the edge of my seat for the better part of the entire episode, even if it’s the type of two-story episode I don’t care for. The type where the team is in two completely separate stories with absolutely no connection between them. I’ll tell you exactly what this type of episode feels like to me.
This is baseball season, so my husband and I watch our Phillies play basically every day. Except on Friday night, when I commandeer the TV for MacGyver and, especially H50. But, sometimes, the game is really good, and I want to see what’s happening. But I’m not turning off H50 to do it. So, every time there’s a commercial, I’ll flip back to check out the score and watch a couple minutes of the game, before I flip back to H50. That’s what these types of episodes feel like. Like flipping channels between two totally unrelated shows.
The only connection here was one small scene in Lou’s SUV where Tani is worried about Junior and Steve on this mission and Lou trying to reassure her because, it’s not like these two SEALS haven’t done stuff like this before. It was a nice little scene to show that even if the team was split, at least they were thinking and worried about them.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the COTW, because I truly did. I’ve always gotten a kick out of Gerard Hirsch and, you know I adore Kamekona, so this story was fun. I loved the reactions of Lou and Tani to the two of them trying to “advise” them on their murder case and the possibly stolen art. The little “reverse job” scene with Tani and Lou cleaning crime scenes while Kame and Hirsch are taking out baddies in a gunfight as well as the one with Hirsch stuck hiding under the perp’s bed during the “box spring bongo party”, were hysterical.
I also really loved how, once the case was solved and the stolen art recovered, Hirsch was heading to Germany, on his own dime, to return the art to its rightful owners. They could have played it for laughs. Could have had Lou insinuating that Hirsch would just take off with the art, considering his past. I’m glad they didn’t play it that way. Hirsch leaving to do the right thing and Lou’s admission that he was proud of what he was doing, was a very nice touch.
It wasn’t the best COTW, of course. It was just a cute little caper to give Lou and Tani something to do while Steve and Junior (and I guess Danny) were out of town. The story was pretty funny, with Hirsch and Kamekona “putting the pieces together” to help solve the case. The reactions of Tani and especially Lou to them both were priceless throughout. It did also help to balance out the heavy drama of the SEAL story.
But, as much fun as it was, I really didn’t need the SEAL story to be balanced out. I know, there wasn’t enough of this story for an episode of its own, but it could have been a cute second (or God-forbid…third) story in another episode instead of being the subplot of this one. What would have made this excellent episode ever better would have been if there would have been no second story at all and the entire episode devoted to Steve and Junior’s SEAL mission.
Remember when Steve was captured by WoFat in North Korea in Season 2? The COTW ended up being a significant part of the plot to get Steve to accompany Jenna to North Korea. The entire episode was devoted to the story of Steve in the hands of WoFat and the team getting themselves there to rescue him. One episode with one fantastic story. Ohhhhh how I wish we could have even just a few of those in Season 9.
Before we get into the SEALs, let’s take a moment to talk about the living arrangements at Steve’s house. When Junior first came back to Hawaii, Steve invited him to crash at Casa McG until he could get himself back on his feet after leaving the Navy. Now, seven months later, Junior, maybe a bit worried that he’s overstaying his welcome, is looking at apartments.
But you see, Steve has become extremely comfortable with having Junior under his roof. Steaks and beers on the beach, Eddie at their feet has become routine. The look on Steve’s face when Junior showed him possible rental apartments was very telling. Steve is visibly taken back and more than a bit sad that Junior was thinking about leaving. He tried to be subtle, to not make it look like he was trying to discourage him. But not subtle enough that Junior didn’t know exactly what Steve was feeling, of course.
Steve was beside himself when Junior just up and disappeared, calling in Tani (because she and Junior have become very close friends) and Noelani (who had seen him at the house right before he disappeared) to try to figure out what happened.
Of course, being a SEAL himself and knowing a SEAL in the Reserves can be called for an OP without a second of notice, Steve maybe should have been able to deduce what happened, but I suppose, it’s not the first thing that leaps to mind. Junior couldn’t, of course, tell Steve what was happening when he first left because that is simply not the nature of the game. As SEALs they both know that. What happened next was incredibly telling about how Junior has come to feel about Steve. It wasn’t until Junior got to base and found out the full nature of the OP that he made his next decision.
I have to tell you, I was very impressed with the decision Junior ultimately made. After knowing Steve for only seven months, he was willing to break protocol by picking up the phone to inform Steve that 1) he was being deployed, 2) what the OP consisted of and 3) that Joe White might be involved and in deep trouble.
I thought it was wonderful of Junior to put his newly-found friendship and, obviously, very deep respect for Steve above any consideration of possible punishment he could incur by sharing classified information in this way, simply because he knows how much Joe means to Steve and because he looks to Steve as a friend and mentor. Should he have done it? Probably not but, as we see, he didn’t care. Doing what he felt was the right thing to do, doing it for Steve, meant more to him. Makes me sad that others who have known and supposedly loved him for far longer than seven months couldn’t have given him the same trust and consideration.
So now we come to the implausibility part of the episode. We know that in real life, Steve, with his transplanted liver and radiation sickness would probably have been forced into Military Disability Retirement by now and therefore, be considered a civilian. We also know there isn’t any way a civilian, no matter his qualifications or reasons, would be permitted to join in a SEAL deployment.
Ok, so now that that’s out of the way…….. wasn’t it totally awesome to see Steve is full military action again? I loved every minute of this mission. From the moment Steve stood up to the SEAL Commander and got himself onto that team, every moment was fantastic. Did you notice the look on Junior’s face when Steve said to Commander Park, “But know this, I’m gonna be right behind you boys. I’m gonna be on the next plane outta here. I know the region. I’ve run a hundred OPs like yours. Just know, when you’re down range, that shadow right behind you… that’s gonna be me, so tell you’re boys not to shoot me.”? He was like “Hell yeah… that’s a man who knows how to get things done… that’s the man I want to be!!!”
SEAL stands for “Sea, Air and Land” and watching the team emerge from the sea in full tack gear was awe inspiring.
The fact that the two other SEALs on the mission with Steve and Junior are, in actuality, real life, honest to goodness SEALs made everything feel so real.
Tracking through the jungle…. Steve totally deking the bad guys by pretending to surrender so the other SEALs could take them out, and taking a bullet to the vest as a consequence. Finding and rescuing Joe and having to hide in underground tunnels to survive a military air strike on the compound….. damn….
Maybe it wasn’t so bad that we had our cute little COTW interspersed throughout the episode after all. Because, without it, I don’t think I would have remembered to breathe!
Let’s talk about that pretend surrender for a second. When I saw Steve walking toward those gunmen, weapon held over his head, the only thought in my head was the voice of Danny Williams…. “What the hell is the matter with you?!?!?” Seeing that pistol hidden behind the automatic was a bit reassuring, knowing that Steve, of course, had a plan but, jeez… way to put yourself out there Steve.
Alex was incredible in this scene. Well, when is he not?? The facial expressions said it all. His resolve to get the job done, his determination to make the bad guys believe him, his fear that it wouldn’t work, his knowledge that he was more than likely going to get shot, it was all there in his eyes. Of course, the ploy worked, and of course Steve got shot. Thank God it was only in his vest. That could have so easily gone the other way. At least someone was there to tell Steve he’s crazy even if Danny couldn’t be! 😊
Watching the dynamic play out between the three generations was fascinating. As they are making their way through the jungle, Steve remembers back to a time in Afghanistan where Joe, against all odds and at great personal risk, saved Steve’s life. “Leave no man behind” is not just a saying for any of these guys but between Joe and Steve it always meant so much more. Joe watched Steve grow up. He’s Steve’s godfather. He was, as Steve poignantly stated, his father when his own father couldn’t be. He wouldn’t be a SEAL or even alive if it wasn’t for him.
And, Junior makes it clear, by his actions, that he has begun to think of Steve the same way Steve thinks of Joe. How he not only broke protocol to inform Steve of this mission but also how he won’t let Steve head into what looks like a “suicide mission” alone. Steve, of course, tries to protect Junior and tells him “absolutely not” when Junior tries to go with him. Just like Joe would have done in the past with Steve. And just as Steve would have insisted and gone with Joe, no matter what, Junior replies…. …
It’s not only obvious how much Steve has come to mean to Junior but it’s equally obvious how much Steve cares for him. He’s quick to reassure Junior, that, had their situation been reversed, he would have done the same thing and Junior has no reason to apologize for calling him in on the mission. There’s that old saying that everything that goes around eventually comes around. Steve has become for Junior what Joe has always been to him. I absolutely adore how Steve is becoming Junior’s Joe White. And Steve has come to feel for Junior, a big brother type of feeling, the same way Joe has always looked on Steve as a son.
I found the exchange between Joe and Steve in Afghanistan interesting for a couple of reasons. I thought Joe’s requests that Steve repay him by asking Catherine out and going home to visit his dad were sweet. It was nice of them to include a mention of the 2002 version of the Steve and Catherine relationship, something fans of that ship have always wanted to hear. Sadly, it seems Steve was right in his hesitation to attempt to turn a real friendship into a romance and perhaps he shouldn’t have listened to the multiple-divorced Joe simply out of a sense of honor.
I am happy, though, that Steve did listen to Joe and go home to visit his dad. It’s nice to think they were able to reconnect long before we all thought they did and that their relationship didn’t just cease to exist when Steve and Mary were sent away. It’s nice to think that Steve went home and maybe even had that beer on the beach with his dad that he dreamed about in Episode 100. It’s nice to think about.
But I do have a question. Joe told Steve he promised to keep him safe. When he said it, it was easy to assume he’d promised John. But Steve, figured it out. Joe had promised Doris. If that’s the case, that means Joe knew, in 2002 or, more likely before, that Doris was alive and faked her death. We always suspected that Joe knew but this is the first time we’ve gotten concrete proof. That means that Joe not only kept that secret from Steve but from John as well. A secret that, in the end, contributed to John’s death.
It makes me happy that Steve, Junior and the SEALs were able to save Joe, because Joe is, for all his faults, so incredibly important to Steve. But it also dramatically highlights the fact that there is still a lot of things these two need to discuss. There are still secrets Steve has the right to know about. Hopefully this is not the last time we get to see Joe White.
And the multi-generational story comes full circle. Steve, who at the beginning was very reluctant to see Junior move away from Casa McG, becomes more amenable to the idea, so much so that he’s willing to go out with Junior and look at apartments, just as long as they’re pet friendly, so Eddie can still hang out with Junior. As in all father/son…big brother/little brother relationships, there comes a time when you have to let the youngins go out on their own.
I don’t even know where to go with the little cliffhanger they tacked onto the end of the episode. It’s cute that Tani is taking care of Adam and Kono’s plants while they are gone. A nice little bit of “family taking care of family” kind of thing. But, finding that gun and gloves in the kitchen drawer?
Sure, it’s a convenient little “Oh Adam…. what have you done?” moment and having Tani remember Adam telling her that prison was too good for Noriko and she deserved much worse, conveniently incriminating. But seriously? Would Adam be so stupid as to leave a murder weapon and the gloves used in the murder with his DNA all over them openly in a kitchen drawer then give a key to the house to a Five-0 detective and ask her to water the plants???
Last but not least…. My new 3rd favorite (because you know Steve and Danny will always come one-two) character…… Eddie!!!! I want to thank TPTB gods of Five-0 for listening to Alex when he said Steve needed a dog and for choosing Eddie. Week after week I say he is pure perfection and week after week he gets even better.
Begging for steak at the grill….. trying to chomp it down when it’s still too hot…. Being Noelani’s wing man to snag the attention of a hot guy she’s got her eye on (and…damn… nice catch there Noelani… he is hot!)… Eddie was flawless as always. I do wonder what Danny would think if he ever heard that Steve calls Eddie “boo boo” just like him! 😃😃😃 I hope to God Eddie is not only still part of the cast in Season 9 but also gets his own picture in the opening credits. He’s as much a star as the rest!
Well, that’s it for this week friends. Next week….. ohhhhhh to weep….. is the season finale. It looks to be a fantastic one. I’m looking forward to seeing what that Russian submarine off the beach on Waikiki is up to. Then…. four long months of hiatus hell. But, not to dwell on that just yet. This episode was exceptional and I’m sure next week’s finale will be too.
Until then! Have a great week. Aloha. Malama Pono
All screencaps are mine unless otherwise noted.
Oh… by the way…. Hauʻoli lā makuahine!