Monday, 11 July 2011

Hawaii Five-0 1.24 ‘Oia’i’o’

“…Why are you dressed like a Ninja…?” - Danny

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Hawaii Five-0’s debut season finale as watching it so much longer after it aired in the States I was armed with more knowledge than I should have been for a season finale.

Two of CBS’s new shows this year, Five-0 and Blue Bloods, have become quite popular here at TV or not TV and a few weeks back during the great summer culling of a number of under-performing shows it was touch and go whether either would be back for a while.

Now going off Blue Bloods’ finale one can suggest that they were very much thinking that they may not be back, choosing to end the finale on a note that could very nicely have wrapped up the series as well as the season.

So going in to ‘Oia’i’o’ I wasn’t sure whether we would get a potential series-ending finale or the standard season-ending cliff-hanger. The Five-0 crew must’ve had a lot more confidence in their ability to get a second season than the Blue Bloods crew did though because what we got was not only a mouth-watering cliff-hanger but a finale that threatened to possibly be a game-changer for the show.

Thus the potential non-renewal of Hawaii Five-0 was either a lot less likely than certain outlets were making out a few weeks back or the Five-0 show runners have bigger balls than Steve McGarrett.

The finale’s title ‘Oia’i’o’ translates as ‘truth’ but although we finally got some answers and some resolution to a number of the season’s long-running arcs there was little comfort in the revelations for the Five-0 team, and it was master-criminal Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) that had the last laugh as the ‘to be continued…’ caption hit the screen at episode’s end.

This was, by all accounts, quite a dark finale for the Five-0 team. The show has had quite a few dark arcs at its core, but for the most part Hawaii Five-0 has, like its setting, been a bright, vibrant and light show.

Although the murder of McGarrett’s parents has been the driving force behind the long-running narratives, it’s often been easy to get lost in all the wise-cracking, beautiful people and the plethora of well-known guest stars.

This finale took the show back to a darker place though and as is often commonplace with procedural shows such as this, ditched the usual ‘case of the week’ format in favour of an episode devoted entirely to the serialised elements of the show.

More and more shows that I would call ‘procedurals’ are starting to introduce serialised elements in to their narratives; perhaps influenced by the success of shows such as Lost, 24 and Heroes that were prime time, commercial hits but ditched the self-contained nature that a lot of successful shows from the mid-nineties had as their hallmark.

Whatever the reason, although the ‘case of the week’ format remains at large for the most part, every now and again an episode of these shows will focus either entirely on the long-running arcs or at least end an episode with a further development in the serialised aspects of the show.

For a large part of the season Hawaii Five-0 has been dumb fun and whilst that largely means it has conformed to TV clichés, stereotypes and signposted twists it has featured enough unpredictability to keep viewers on their toes at least a little.

Whilst the finale was a strong entry in the season, and series, so far and did well at keeping you hooked and unsure of the ending right until the final frame it was still littered with those same predictabilities that shows of this nature often find themselves struggling to shake off.

Case in point: the prison transfer. Has a prison transfer ever gone well in the history of cinema or television!? A prison transfer is a bad guy’s favourite opportunity to strike – when will they learn!?

As soon as I heard the word prison transfer after hearing about how important the witness they’d just procured was I said “they’re going to get hit” and within two minutes McGarrett’s phone rang with news that the transfer had been hit.

Yet he seemed surprised!

Has he never watched television before!? Actually the answer to that is probably no, he would have been too busy in his room learning how to escape from a pair of handcuffs using only his nasal hair.

But as I said above, Hawaii Five-0 still has enough moments that catch you off-guard to keep it from straying too far in to total predictability.

Even though I should’ve seen it coming, the pregnancy reveal with Danny’s ex did catch me by surprise, I’d been convinced it was going to be bad news for Danno and that Rachel was going to announce she was staying with Stan.

That good news for Danny didn’t get too long to keep him smiling because he was soon unwittingly letting both Rachel and Grace down as they waited for him at the airport by picking bro-mance over romance.

Although it seems as though Rachel should probably have realised that it would take pretty exceptional circumstances for Danny to let the two of them down after the man moved to Hawaii for them, she and Grace boarded the flight back to The Garden State without him as he desperately tried to prevent McGarrett from doing something stupid.

Unfortunately for everyone though Danny was unable to do that as McGarrett managed to get himself well and truly framed for Governor Jean Smart’s assassination.

No matter how many times people, mainly Danny, try to talk sense in to McGarrett, he never listens and always does the thing he’s advised against doing, and usually going it alone.

Most of the time it works out for him and he’s the heroic alpha male with Danny as his nagging sidekick, but this time his impulsive ways backfired spectacularly. For a battle-hardened, intelligent man of the world, McGarrett often makes some appalling decisions and as much as I would like to see Scott Caan get to cut loose as a bit more as Danny (a la his Entourage character) he’s a necessary balancing act for McGarrett’s bull-headed nature.

Will the events of the finale have a transforming effect on McGarrett? Well that remains to be seen, but the look on his face as he saw Kono also being arrested in those final moments seemed to resonate harder with him than his own plight. Maybe the cost to others of his dogged and obsessive pursuit of his family’s killers has finally sunk in with the Five-0 leader.

Everything will no doubt be reset by the end of the season two premiere but as the finale ended Five-0’s world as they knew it was in tatters. I like the potential the finale has given us for season two with Danny as the only remaining member of Five-0 seemingly willing to try and salvage the remnants of the team.

So often relegated to the angel on McGarrett’s shoulder opposed to the war-paint donning devil that convinces McGarrett to do half the crazy stunts he gets himself in to on the other shoulder, this could be not only Danny’s chance to be a hero but to also show that he is just as badass as his partner.

A Hail of Bullets:

- The pre-credits car bombing was again pretty predictable, especially when we followed Kelly Hu’s Laura Hills to her car and her explosive end didn’t really strike the sort of emotional blow it was supposed to with me either. It had been so long since Kelly Hu had been on the show I struggled at first to even remember who she was.

A lame, last minute attempt to introduce some sort of connection between her and Chin wasn’t enough to make her murder feel like any more of a big deal. If they’d really wanted to raise the stakes for the finale, killing off Larisa Oleynik’s character, so integral to the show in recent weeks, would have been a bolder and far more noteworthy way to go.

- Just on Hu’s Laura Hills, her piecemeal helping of McGarrett with the envelopes was so stupid. – surely the Governor would have noticed once just a few items were gone, and wasn’t she leaving herself more open to getting caught doing one thing at a time rather than one big drop and then being done with it?

This development kind of felt like the writers had no idea who was eventually going to be revealed as the mystery envelope sender and saw this as a way of tying up that strand up with a convoluted explanation.

- I do like how Kamekona has become more than just the comic relief of being a fat guy, i.e. helping the Five-0 team in times of need. Seeing his stash of artillery hidden away in what looked like an old ice cream truck was also very satisfying.

- As surprising as Jean Smart’s assassination was it was also rather frustrating, in the sense that I’ve always had my suspicions that the Governor was shady and having finally had it confirmed we didn’t really see her get any comeuppance. Sure she’s dead, which is obviously the ultimate form of karma, but seeing McGarrett get his closure by getting the truth and then taking her down would have been the optimum way for the evil Governor to go out I’d have said.

I’m sure we’ll get an explanation as to her involvement with Hawaii’s worst next season, even in her absence on screen, but the cynic in me can’t help feeling that her death was more born out of the fact that the show-runners thought that they might not have access to Jean Smart next year rather than a long term storyline idea.

- Before I finally took the plunge and invested, I wasn’t convinced about the supposed superiority of HD but if any show can convince you of HD’s unparalleled viewing quality it’s Hawaii Five-0.

The show acts as the greatest travel advertisement for Hawaii that you could ever imagine… apart from all the murders and crime of course.

Regardless, HD is definitely the only way to watch Hawaii Five-0.

- One final thought: why do they always run!? Has anyone ever got away from a lead character in a procedural by running? When will they ever learn…!?

Hawaii Five-0 Season 2 will premiere on CBS on Monday 19th September in the US.

Hopefully it will return to Sky1 in the UK not long after…


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