As a regular viewer of the original Hawaii Five-O, I was among those who dreaded a remake, but the majority of these twenty-four episodes made me eat my words. Unfortunately, the season finale of the new version is an unpleasant surprise: everything that this show has previously proven itself not to be.
The episode starts with two of our heroes getting what they thought they wanted: Danny has gotten cozy with ex-wife Rachel, and Chin Ho gets an offer to return to the Honolulu PD. There’s got to be a catch, right? Well, there’s a big one: the money stolen from the asset forfeiture locker – you know, the cash last seen on fire – has turned up in police custody. Oh, and from the moment we started talking about her personal life, I knew Laura Hills (Kelly Hu) was going to blow up. (Why else would a character we’ve only seen once before suddenly turn up again, with an interest in a lead character, no less?) There was so much hype over the death of a character, and as with many other series past, it turns out to be a minor one.
The still-perky Jenna declares Wo Fat is responsible, because ultimately Wo Fat is behind all things which are major on this show, and because it’s time to have a real confrontation with him. A search of Laura’s place tells Steve that it’s Laura who was sending him those mysterious envelopes. Steve quickly traces things back to, of all people, Governor Jameson, and declares that she must be in Wo Fat’s pocket. Thus begins the list of things in this episode which range from weird to outright ridiculous. In short order, he’s framed for Laura’s murder and being pursued by what seems like far more cops than is necessary. Thankfully for him, mild-mannered Kamekona has an entire armory to equip his rampage.
The idea of Governor Jameson as a villain is just plain ridiculous. It’s as if the writers chose their bad guy simply by looking for the least likely candidate, without thinking that it made no sense. The show had a great actress in Jean Smart and spent most of the season wasting her; instead of fixing that, the writers turn her into a self-righteous antagonist who actually sounds crazy, and then is promptly killed. Oh, Steve being framed for her murder and arrested by Chin Ho is certainly dramatic, but it’s all built on completely ruining a character. It’s honestly one of the worst misuses of a character I’ve seen in a long time.
And Wo Fat? Well, he’s around for all of a few minutes. I understand Steve’s not going to catch the guy – the original Wo Fat was a thorn in Steve’s side for a long time – but after all the cat-and-mouse games through the season, the viewers deserved a little more than what amounts to a cameo.
This is before we get into Danny’s personal life, which the show has in short order turned into a TV show cliche. Last episode he was giving longing looks to his ex-wife, now they’re having an affair and it’s been going on long enough that she’s pregnant with his baby. It sounds like something I’d hear watching Maury. I’m not necessarily against them getting back together, but having everything happen so quickly and off-screen makes it unbelievable. As someone pointed out previously, Danny hasn’t changed from the man he was when Rachel left him (and we haven’t seen her change), so why is she getting back with him now? There could’ve been some great story potential in Danny and Rachel slowly rediscovering their feelings for one another over season two, but it’s all ignored. This is what happens when good ideas go bad.
To quote my roommate, “Did we just jump the shark?” I certainly hope not, but I worry.
For any show, this would be a miserable episode. What makes it particularly atrocious is that Hawaii Five-O has been so good all season long; if not for the existence of The Chicago Code, it would get my vote for best new show of the season. Before this I could count two, maybe three episodes out of the entire season that I didn’t like in some way. So for this show to deliver an episode that’s not just a lesser installment but very obviously contrived is, frankly, shocking. It’s as if they put aside all their hard work to deliver an episode which sounded the most fun. Unfortunately, what’s fun is often not what’s best for a show, and this episode is a prime example of that. Let’s hope that next season, the show rebounds – because it’s so much better than this.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved.