“Hawaii Five-0” seems to save all the cool stuff for their season premieres.
They always like to use big explosives, massive shotguns, death defying stunts, and the fastest car chases at the start of a new season. What better way to wow an audience than by using all the best toys and slickest tricks to get our attention right from the start, right?
This is not unusual for a show that has produced blockbuster-style premiere episodes since their first season. But this year is a little different, with the show moving to a new night and time. “Five-0” has a little more at stake, since it needs to prove it can hold its own on Fridays, as well as show critics that day is no longer where a television series gets sent to die.
For fans of the show, who will follow wherever it’s placed on the broadcast schedule, moving to Fridays seemed like a death knell.
After watching the season four premiere a day early during “Sunset on the Beach” in Waikiki on Thursday, Sept. 26, fans can rest assured the show is more than ready to ride the bull and stay in its saddle. It may be a rough ride, but “Five-0” going to hang on for more than eight seconds.
“Aloha Kekahi i Kekahi” means “To Love One Another” in Hawaiian, but episode co-writers Peter M. Lenkov and Ken Solarz choose to translate it as “We Need Each Other.”
It’s an apt alternative translation for this episode, which really showed how the team had to band together to save one of their own even when it went completely against what they are trained to do. It also seemed to prove what Lenkov shared with me on the red carpet about one of the themes of season four.
“There’s a big theme of trust, and unity this season,” he said. “I think they need each other more than ever, and they have to rely on each other more.”
Which is exactly how the episode unfolded amidst throngs of screaming and dedicated fans. While most were there to see the premiere episode and hoped to get a glimpse of their favorite stars, many were also there to see the Jonas Brothers perform after the sneak preview had finished airing at “Sunset on the Beach.”
I was lucky enough to be on the red carpet again this year and got a chance to talk to Alex O’Loughlin, as well as Daniel Dae Kim, Michelle Borth, newcomer Chi McBride and executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Peter Lenkov. They all provided more insight into the new season and their characters.
While speaking to the actors is always a great treat, seeing the episode this year was even better than the last two “Sunset on the Beach” premieres I attended. The action was much more intense and a bit more realistic than in the past. The episode, as O’Loughlin promised, leaves the Five-0 team right where they left off, with McGarrett seeking answers from a reluctant Wo Fat, who seems to be more afraid of what is laser cutting through his six-inch steel prison door than the angry and determined McG.
Kono and Adam make two short appearances, but they’re still running for their lives and no longer living like a glamorous romantic couple. They seem to be on a cargo ship, but are still very much in love and share a very tender moment when Adam mournfully regrets killing his brother, Michael.
It’s a great scene, and while Lenkov didn’t directly mention it on the red carpet, he did say, “We really wear our hearts on our sleeves.”
While watching this episode, I could not have agreed more. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and while I have said that before, this time it seemed different. The season four premiere had much more heart and seemed to allow the characters to not only execute all of the incredible action, but to really explore some deep feelings and emotions.
For example, McGarrett finally admitted why he will disregard orders and do what is morally right in order to save someone he loves.
“I lost my Dad dealing with people like this, I’m not losing Catherine too,” he said to Danno as they raced to free four terrorists and save a kidnapped Cath. This is, of course, after Five-0 headquarters was invaded by a terrorist group that took civilians hostage and threatened to shoot them unless McG and Danno gave up a suspect they had in custody.
After a very clever standoff by McG, Danno and Chin, they were also taken hostage — only to be released once terrorists kill the suspect McG and Danno thought the group wanted to trade for. Henry Ian Cusick and Martha Higareda were fantastic as cold-blooded terrorists who “came to play” as SWAT Captain Lou Grover (Chi McBride) so eloquently stated in his first scene of the season premiere.
McBride was terrific as the gruff and oddly clever Grover. In one scene, he takes off most of his clothing — including his kevlar vest and protective helmet — in order to gain much needed intel about the terrorists. In his underwear, he knocks on a door wired with explosives and asks if the terrorists are hungry, all while counting hostages and gunmen. I think this was probably the most original scene I’ve watched on “Five-0.”
Grover is a welcome addition to the team, as I think he will introduce some needed tension and conflict. While conflict is not unusual on the show, it will add some humor to the mix. Grover is very good at his job, yet his sarcasm and humor will help win the audience over.
When I asked McBride on the red carpet if his character was a good guy or a bad guy, he said: “I’m one of the good guys, but there are some issues because I don’t always approve of McGarrett’s way of doing things.”
I know the writers have tried this kind of character before, with both Tom Sizemore’s Capt. Fryer and Lauren German’s Lori Weston, but for some reason I think McBride is going to add a much stronger and more interesting dimension to the show.
Folks, I cannot stress to you how important it is to get in front of a television and watch the network broadcast of the season four premiere. The ending alone, with it’s big helicopter stunt and another McG/Wo Fat confrontation, is worth changing your Friday night plans and watching the team ride the bull.
Believe me, they are going to hang on this season. If the premiere episode is a preview of things to come, season four is going to be the best one yet.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.