All I can say is, hang onto your seats, friends, the third season premiere of “Hawaii Five-0” is a kick in the teeth.
And just think — no one will have to wait NINE days to see it like most of the “Five-0” fandom did last year. Just a few short hours until we all can watch it in high-definition wonder from the comfort of our couches.
What can I tell you? There will be car-chases, carguments, and shoot-outs, and you will, as Karl Herlinger predicted — not be able to breathe.
In typical “Hawaii Five-0” style, season three started off with a mother of all surprises. And along with non-stop action and more guns than your momma would be comfortable with, it was a premiere to top all others. Hawai‘i fans were privileged to see the popular action show on the big screen at a special “Sunset on the Beach” showing in Waikiki on Sunday after a star-studded red carpet line.
Entertainment was provided by several local entertainers, among them Halau Hula ‘Olana, Honolulu Boys Choir, Kenny Endo Taiko Drums and amazing eleven year-old ukulele sensation, Aiden James.
The red carpet press line this year was thinner than in the past, with a few major stars missing. I got a chance to speak to executive producer Roberto Orci, Masi Oka, Michelle Borth, Daniel Dae Kim, and the man of the evening, Alex O’Loughlin. I was disappointed to miss my (second) chance to speak to Scott Caan, but both he and Grace Park were not in attendance.
No matter, most of us had more time to speak to the others, and I was lucky enough to get in several questions with the stars who did walk the red carpet.
All of the stars were completely gracious with their time and their answers. Some were a little more candid than others, but for the most part they all were wonderful. Last year, Orci said the premiere for season two was “a movie,” so I asked if this season was going to be of the same caliber.
“You bet,” he said, adding the show “spared no expense” to give fans a great season premiere. He promised action and tension, and I believe he and fellow executive producer Peter Lenkov delivered.
Both Oka and Borth charmed the press with their sincerity and obvious love for Hawai’i and their fans. I told Oka that I really enjoyed getting his backstory in season two and asked if he is going to have a love interest this season. He confirmed they are writing one in for Max, but gave no other details. I also asked him what he liked to do in his spare time in his new home, and he talked about hiking and enjoying the beauty of Hawai’i.
I asked Michelle Borth how she was feeling now that the season was in full swing and she is now a series regular.
“Things are fabulous, and such fun,” she said. “We’re in episode seven and the relationship (between Catherine Rollins and McGarrett) is still intact, so fans will love that.”
We talked to her at length at her fan Tweetup in August, and she said she was really enjoying working with the cast and crew and loving all the physical action.
“People are going to be surprised at what a tough girl (Catherine) is,” Borth said.
My chance to speak with Alex O’Loughlin took me a little by surprise — he came down the red carpet earlier than I expected — but I asked him if there was any change to how McGarrett was reacting to everything with more women, like his mother and Catherine, around him.
“Steve’s got some issues with abandonment, like if your mom bails on you for 20 years, that may or may not effect your relationship,” he said. “Steve may be in a little bit of denial about the fact that they are actually in a relationship, but we’ll watch that develop.”
I also asked him since we had seen a lot of action in the last season premiere, like his getting shanked and breaking out of jail, were we going to see the same kind of action in this season three premiere?
His answer was classic “Five-0” humor.
“Basically, you’re going to see me get shanked emotionally,” he said. “We pick up exactly right were we left off.”
And he was absolutely right.
(STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE SPOILERS ABOUT THE SEASON THREE PREMIERE EPISODE. CLICK HERE NOW.)
THE EPISODE did start right where we left off — we see Chin comforting a gravely injured Malia, Toothpick pushing Kono into the ocean, Danno telling Rachel on the phone that he will fight her for custody, and McGarrett opening a door in Japan only to see his long-dead mother standing in front of him. McGarrett walks into a hug, and then we are transported back to see the fate of Chin’s family.
Most of the fandom was completely correct in their ideas about what happens to Chin’s ladies. Kono is saved, Malia doesn’t make it, and Chin spends most of the episode angry at the world. And the world according to Chin is now made up of one man, and he is Frank Delano. Billy Baldwin returns as the slimy bad cop Delano, for a final showdown with the Kelly/Kalakaua family, and he proves to be far dirtier than we all gave him credit for in the past. He has a plan up his sleeve that is more devious than the Jenna Kaye-Wo Fat plan that left us shocked at last year’s premiere.
A lot of the episode was really great — the quiet moments were heart wrenching, and the humor was what we’ve come to love about “Hawaii Five-0.” The cargument between Momma McG and Danno has got to be one of the best we’ve seen in the series. And Michelle Borth played the “girlfriend meets mom for the first time” scene with perfect ease tinged with appropriate awkwardness.
Taylor Wily had a great Kamekona moment, and I can’t wait for you all to hear what he calls Doris McGarrett — Hawaii fans will get a kick out of that scene. Masi Oka returns for a somber scene involving Chin and Kono, and Dennis Chun as Sgt. Duke Lukela gets involved in a great action sequence with the “Five-0” team at the bomb-scarred Honolulu Police Department.
Only one scene made me think a little too much. The effects used in Wo Fat’s escape from jail were really cool, and on the big screen they played really well. But I kept wondering, who has that kind of money — and those kinds of toys — to work out such a high-impact escape like that?
I guess for the drama and action, I suppose I can suspend my disbelief.
And you will have to as well when you watch it tomorrow. I’ll post a more detailed review after I re-watch the premiere. Overall, the real star of “Sunset on the Beach” was the show, and “Lā o nā mākuahine” was a fun way to end the evening.
For all of you, it may mean a few more hours of waiting to start season three — but believe me, I think it will be well worth the wait.
Redux Side Note:
And if you missed Star-Advertiser reporter Mike Gordon’s interview with O’Loughlin, read it here (subscription required). Check out his blog for a preview.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.