I’m gonna break tradition and concentrate on the finale commentary.
CBS, the media, Peter Lenkov and crew did a spectacular job of hyping the Hawaii Five-0 season finale… deaths of main characters, the team breaking up, and a character 180 of our four heroes. I was at a viewing party at Apartm3ent last night (undercover of course) and enjoyed the episode with probably a couple of hundred die hard fans. Everyone gasped at the opening scene with Danny and Rachel, and cringed when Laura’s car exploded. A collective “WHOA!” went up from the crowd when Wo Fat tased McG and put two bullets into the governor. But did the episode live up to the hype? Here’s my take.
Rollercoaster! … of love. And panic. And fear.
This episode seriously tossed your emotions around like bad kim chee in your stomach. I thought it was cute at the beginning with the little flirty play between Laura and Chin Ho, with both McG and the governor telling their cohort to just go after him/her (but hey Chin what happened to Malia?). Just as we took a nice, sweet bite out of that idea and how interesting that might go, we get a swift punch to the gut when Laura’s car goes up in flames.
Of course it gets worse after that, when McG and Danny report to the governor, and McG realizes that she may be hiding something in the antique desk behind her. We see the quiet desperation grow in McG as he finally decides that he’ll have to take matters into his own hands and break into the mansion to find more evidence in the desk. That quiet desperation turns into full panic when HPD issues a warrant for his arrest. The panic turns into anger when he finally confronts the governor and gets some slivers of information, before Wo Fat fixes the problem his way. His defeated look while taking the mugshot captures perfectly the team’s lowest point. Alex was brilliant in his scenes.
Chin is loyal at first. He declines Chief Makaha’s (Kelvin Han Yee) invitation to return to the force with a promotion to lieutenant, but later joins HPD when McG goes on the run. One of his best scenes happens when Sgt Lukela walks past him with the bag of burned money…just as HPD exonerated him for his loyalty to duty for his family and the force, he now finds himself in the same dilemma…how far will he go to cover his teammates over the $10 million? The ultimate irony is that the formerly disgraced HPD officer arrests the newly disgraced Five-0 leader.
Now one of the hottest topics for today that I saw was the development of Danny’s relationship with Rachel. The writing has been on the wall for some time that they would be getting closer and closer… Danny went to Rachel for comfort after his brother Matt escaped in “Loa Aloha”, Danny finally confesses that he’s been seeing her for awhile in “Ua Hiki Mai Kapalena Pau”, and we finally see them in an intimate scene in “Oia’i’o”. The complication to all this is that Rachel’s miserable with Stan, she wants to go back to New Jersey, and on top of that she’s pregnant. Whoa. That’s a lot to drop on a guy. Danny is all for moving to Jersey to be with Rachel and Grace, but with the recent developments of the Five-0 team, Danny is obligated to stay in Hawaii.
Where is this all going?
I mentioned in the blog earlier on that a “fracture and separation” of the team would be too early in the series. I thought that maybe in the third or fourth season the writers could take away everything that the team has gotten comfortable with like their office, their street informant, and ultimately each other. The writers have seen fit to bring woe upon the team at the end of the first season, which is a bold move.
Part of the complication of writing for television is that writers need to keep one eye ahead and one eye behind them. Writers generally have a story arc that they would like to see through during the course of the season. Tying a plot device from the past could be hard with the plot seed planted in the present which has to tie with the rest of the story in the future. Generally, the writers have done an excellent job in keeping the story together, and it will be interesting to find out little tidbits such as: what did John McGarrett know about Pat Jameson? How did Laura Hills get her hands on the evidence? Is Rachel’s baby Stan’s or is it Danny’s?
Speaking of Rachel and Danny, I’ve seen a lot of discussion on the internet as to the merits and pitfalls of Rachel and Danny getting back together. Let me just say one thing: where else was this going to go? Of course they’re getting back together! I think it was great storytelling to see them go from sniping exes to finding the happy place that they were in before they got divorced. Yes, Rachel is married, but so was Sun when she cheated on Jin (Lost), so let’s not put Danny on a pedestal. He’s a human being, not a saint. A lot of people have said if they got back together, Danny would have no reason to stay in Hawaii, which is absolutely true. The writers have gotten past this by giving Danny the monumental task of clearing Steve and Kono’s name. His conflict for season two will be between helping his friends, or being with his family…
Any investigation of Steve into the governor’s murder can’t go too far, since I’m sure HPD crime lab guy Charlie Fong (Brian Yang) will see that Steve doesn’t have gun shot residue on his hand, and also that the burn marks on his neck will corroborate with his story that he was tased unconscious prior to the governor being shot.
What about Kono? She was identified at the scene of the robbery, and HPD will figure out that the burnt money is part of the stash in the evidence locker. Of course the fact that it was stolen to save Chin’s life in addition to the fact that the governor underhandedly replaced the money should clear Kono the same way IA cleared Chin.
And of course we still need to know what the governor was up to with yakuza dealings, and how the rest of the Champ box evidence fits in. Last, what is Wo Fat’s motivation?
I really enjoyed the episode. It was not a funny episode. It was not an episode for bikinis and shirtlessness. This episode was about drama, and I liked it because throughout the whole thing I really could feel the sense of dread rise while things spiraled out of control. The last five minutes were just jaw droppingly incredible. I had totally forgotten to expect Wo Fat, and all of a sudden, there he was. The whole season culminated into this finale, and the writers gave us some answers. While not *everything* was answered, just enough was revealed to keep us fans excited for the second season.
At first I was a little surprised that the previews clearly showed that Laura was going to die, and was even more surprised that it happened in the first five minutes. Many people on the internet speculated that a second character would also die somewhere in the episode, with guesses from Kamekona to Sang Min. I never thought that the governor would be a serious consideration to get knocked off, simply because she’s the governor! I’m sure that was the shock that Peter and the rest of the writers were going for.
Let’s remember folks, this is drama and we’re the passengers along for the ride, and not everyone is going to be happy where the ride takes us. For better or for worse (and for the better I’m sure), I think the sudden shift for the Five-0 team will make the second exciting more than the first.
Kudos to the entire cast and crew of Hawaii Five-0 for an awesome season! Best wishes to Jean Smart and Kelly Hu in their new projects as well! When does Season 2 start…?