If I learned anything from this week’s “Hawaii Five-0” it is that McGarrett is much cooler than any wanna-be James Bond — rogue or not. While the second episode of the seventh season was a hodge-podge of 007 stereotypes and secret agent motifs, the focus on McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan), along with several cool stunt sequences, and a pretty epic fight scene — made for a fun and entertaining episode.
This week’s episode, “No ke aliʻi wahine a me ka ʻāina,” which roughly means “For Queen and Country” in Hawaiian, brings rogue MI6 agent Harry Langford (guest star Chris Vance) to Hawaiʻi in search of a terrorist planning to cause a Chernobyl-like meltdown to happen across Europe. Written by David Wolkove and Matt Wheeler and directed by Sylvain White, the episode did a better job at continuing last week’s serial murder case than it did with the case of the week — which seemed to have a realistic-ish start and then was allowed to blossom into an over-the-top super secret spy story. Because James Bond often comes to Hawaiʻi to save the world, right?
I guess I like episodes that deal with cases that matter to the characters and the arcs that have been well established within the Five-0 universe. Yes, I know McGarrett and the Five-0 team are supposed to be heroes. But they are also cops, and cops don’t usually save the world week after week. I know we have scary issues plaguing our world today, but whenever Five-0 has to fight international terrorists or spies, or has to save Hawaiʻi from a nuclear bomb, and now — all of Europe from a nuclear apocalypse — well, I have to put my suspension of disbelief goggles on ultra-high.
Still, the action and the interplay between McGarrett and Danno helped to save the episode from being completely unbelievable. And I did enjoy how they turned Hawaiʻi into Prague and London just by using some clever set design, creative shooting, and a bit of CGI magic. I also enjoyed the fact that McG was still working the serial killer case and how they introduced Claire Forlani’s guest character, criminal profiler, Alicia Brown. The case that started Five-0’s seventh season was interesting, and I think the chess piece metaphor is strong enough to keep us guessing for the several episodes they plan to stretch out the case.
Forlani’s character is obviously haunted by something, but I think she is intrigued enough by the case and McGarrett to want to work with him — regardless of her repeated “I’m retired” statements. I’m anxious to see how her character works into the Five-0 fold. And likewise, I’m interested in watching how they unravel the clues and find the killer. Forlani is scheduled to appear in the next two episodes, so we’ll start to see more movement on the Chess-Piece Killer in next week’s episode, “He Moho Hou” (“The New Player”).
Another aspect of this week’s episode I enjoyed was seeing Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) care for his niece Sara, played by Londyn Silzer. Not only is Sara so cute, but she obviously loves her Uncle Chin. Yes, we’ve only seen Chin make Sara some weirdly shaped pancakes and try to braid her hair, but it’s been adorable to watch them together knowing that their days are numbered. Still, when she put her head on Chin’s shoulder and told him she wanted to live with him, I wondered what was going to happen in this sweet story. Is Chin going to get his heartbroken again by another girl named Malia? Whatever the outcome, I’m ready for Chin to fall in love again. He seems to have done it with Abby (Julie Benz), now let’s hope they allow him even more happiness this season.
Another huge part of the episode was the action sequences and car chases that helped to keep the episode moving along at a smart clip. Stunt Coordinator, Jeff Cadiente, definitely outdid himself these last two weeks, as the stunts and action in the season premiere were just as amazing and well executed. The fight scenes were slick and as usual, fun to watch as the hero seemed to have the upper hand.
The first fight was when we met British MI6 agent Harry Langford (Chris Vance) and he takes out the three bodyguards of his target Lucky Morah (Faran Tahir). I always love when the villains all have guns and the hero disarms them and gets away. Perhaps a bit unbelievable, sure, but super fun to watch.
The second fight was between Harry and McG and that one was a little more evenly matched — with Danno having to save the day, but McGarrett getting to have the last word — also known as an elbow in Harry’s face.
Don’t get me wrong, while I felt as if the episode ended in a strange way — the Queen giving two Hawaiʻi cops The George Cross seemed a bit much — I did like the homage to the spy world. When Five-0 brings Harry in to question him about the murder of Casta Mitchell (Michelle Vawer), Jerry (Jorge Garcia) has a chance to look at his spy paraphernalia. Of course, Harry has sunglasses with night vision, a cellular jammer in his watch, and a pen that squirts acid ink. I suppose if you’re going to have a British MI6 agent in your midst, the 007 jokes are not too far off.
I did appreciate the fact that Danno comes right out with a James Bond reference — saying that Harry is more like Daniel Craig’s Bond — and Harry quips back that not everyone can be Sean Connery, (who after playing 007 in seven films seemingly became synonymous with the secret agent character). Still even with all the “on the nose” comments about spies and Bond, James Bond — once the team left the island — the story seemed to head deeper and deeper into the outer limits.
Too bad, as there were some good moments. I know we all liked watching Danno, Chin, and Lou (Chi McBride) don tuxedos, and see Kono (Grace Park) slip into a femme fatale dress and slide out of a Lamborghini — and then dance the tango with the bad guy Lucky. I also think everyone loved seeing McG and Danno dressed in long tail coats, as well as watching them get pinned by Her Majesty the Queen of England — even if it was a bit too farfetched.
I suppose there was enough in the episode to love. I think overall I would have had McGarrett and the team concentrate on finding the Chess-Piece killer, rather than help an international man of mystery save the world. Really — sometimes the team is better off working in their own backyard in order to save even just a small part of paradise.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
There’s a new medical examiner working with Five-0 — Dr. Noelani Cunha has taken over for Max (Masi Oka), who is working with Doctors Without Borders. Cunha is played by Hawaiʻi actress and improvisational performer, Kimee Balmilero. Balmilero is best known for her work on Broadway — she was in the second National touring company of “Miss Saigon” and was part of the Original Broadway Cast of “Mamma Mia!” She also is known for her work on the popular children’s show “Hi-5.” She recently founded the sketch comedy and improv group Improvhi. If you haven’t caught her sweet face and knowledgeable support of the Five-0 team, then pay attention when you see her. We’re not sure how long she’ll be with us, but we love seeing more Hawaiʻi actors join the Five-0 team.