In this week’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0,” McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and the rest of the crew — along with old friend Joe White (Terry O’Quinn) — were able to avert a global calamity by thwarting a very bad guy set on weaponizing a deadly case of bird flu.
“Lā Pōʻino,” meaning “Doomsday,” was filled with hot action and stellar stunt work, along with a few interesting special effects. Executive producer Peter Lenkov, who created the story, and writer Sarah Byrd, who crafted the teleplay, presented a scary premise while director Maja Vrvilo used tension and excellent pacing to keep everyone on edge.
There are several ways to define the word “doom.” In Hawaiian, “pōʻino” means “misfortune, disaster, calamity, damage, injury, and peril.” In English, doom pretty much covers it all.
If nothing else, the episode couldn’t have employed a more explosive way to kick things off. Hitting a SUV with a huge wrecking ball a couple of times? That’s a pretty awesome way to get the storyline rolling.
The entire opening scene of the C-17 landing at Hickam with its precious cargo of the first American affected with the H5N4 avian flu virus and Joe White watching over him set me up for the ride. When McG met the plane and Joe hopped out with promises of a loco moco and shave ice, it had me suspicious.
I guess that’s what Joe does to me. He makes me wary. I trust him as much as McG does. My actual thought when the wrecking ball tossed McG’s SUV like a Matchbox car was, “What has Joe done NOW?”
I wouldn’t put it past Joe to have set up something like that, just so he wouldn’t have to answer McG’s questions or come clean about all the lies and stories he has told over the years. Of course, it’s all in the name of protecting McG and Mary Ann — or so he says.
Sorry, I don’t mean to sound bitter. I think poor Joe is just the fall guy to my “I’m so tired of the Shelburne/mystery of Doris/Momma McG issues/please wrap this up” headache.
But beyond how I feel about Joe, I did enjoy the episode. It was pretty intense, especially after the last few months of Ebola talk on the news.
After the wreaking ball smash, which was a set up to get the infected patient away from the armored motorcade so bad guys could use his infected blood to create a bioweapon, I loved watching McG in action. I know fans call him the Super SEAL and love when he jumps into action to get the job done, so watching him shoot one of the bad guys and free himself from the car while hanging upside down before jumping on a motorcycle to chase the kidnappers was awesome.
I don’t care if people say it was unrealistic because he had blood all over his head, was injured and he didn’t have a helmet on… yada yada yada. It was completely cool and fun to watch. He’s McGarrett; he can do that kind of stuff and totally get away with it.
How did Homeland Security put it? 1,400 cases reported and 1,315 dead? Yeah, McG can afford to forget to put on a helmet in order to stop that from happening, right?
I’m just glad it’s a TV show, because all that “transmitted through direct human contact” and “the patient is dead within five days” before watching the virus’ projected path from Oʻahu to cover the rest of the world was scary enough.
While the tension remained high, I did enjoy moments of Five-0 levity that helped make the episode less disturbing. I think my favorite moment was when Danno anxiously walked into Tripler Army Medical Center, his facial expression a mix of anger-laced worry.
“Why don’t you get an apartment next door? Because you are here so often,” he remarked.
They sure love each other, don’t they? It’s that kind of moment that helps me get over my Joe White irritation, that’s for sure. McG’s quick quip, “I’m fine thanks for asking,” was a nice topper to the scene.
I also liked Kono and Danno’s scene after they talk to the assistant to Dr. Rennick, Dr. Jill Loi (Elaine Kao). Rennick was also kidnapped and seemed to be the lucky doctor forced to work for the bad guy, Michael Carson (Mikal Vega), an ex-CIA operative and creator of the “all-star team of scum bags” weaponizing the virus. Once Dr. Loi explained how the virus could become a biological nightmare in about 12 hours, viewers needed a softer moment to get through the rest of the episode.
After she freaked me out, I loved how Kono suggested that Danno call Grace.
“To say what? ‘Hey honey, there’s a nut job who wants to decimate the population to make some money,’” he responded.
It was a nice moment; not too weepy or overly sentimental, and it was a little funny, yet still got the message across — they needed to find where the virus was in order to save everyone they love.
While I loved the team moments, there weren’t a lot of them in this episode. The explanation of how to weaponize the virus with details on how to deliver it — and making it a weapon — took a lot of time. Add in scenes with Joe dealing with the patient’s family, the making of the weapon and cultivating of bees (the potential delivery vehicle) kept team moments short and sporadic.
When McG, Chin, Lou and Joe stormed a house, killed the bad guys and freed a the kidnapped doctor’s wife, Lou’s comment about how McG “wasn’t born a crazy son of a b—h — this is the guy who taught you,” as Joe crawled up the side of the house to enter the second floor, was perfect.
It’s true, Joe did teach McG all the tricks. He was McG’s SEAL trainer and family friend. John McGarrett put Steve in Joe’s care after Doris allegedly died. But McGarrett isn’t really crazy, and he seems to know his limitations better than Joe does. There were moments when I thought Joe was trying to relive his old Navy days, especially at the end when he drove a truck full of infected bees into the ocean.
I have to say, I thought they were trying to kill Joe. His statement to McG halfway though the episode — “Don’t worry, I won’t die before I tell you what you want to know.” — had me thinking it foreshadowed Joe’s death. So when he popped up in the water, I was about as relieved as McGarrett was; he really does love Joe, no matter how much he distrusts him.
How does the saying go? Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. And in Joe’s case, I think he’s a bit of both.
So McG, keep an eye on him. You have three weeks to unravel the truth. I just hope it takes you — and the viewers at home — where we want to go.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
There were a few Hawaii actors who had nice parts in this week’s episode, but two stood out for me. Clare Nono played Dr. Nalani Dyer, who started the ball of doom rolling. Nono’s resume includes “MASH,” “L.A. Law,” “Knots Landing,” and “Cagney and Lacey,” just to name a few of the many television shows in which she has appeared. She was also in the films “48 Hours,” “Cujo,” and “Cobra.”
Cole Horibe, who is best known as the second place finisher from the ninth season of “So You Think You Can Dance” (which is rumored to be Alex O’Loughlin’s favorite television show), played the doomed Mr. Kula. Horibe starred in David Henry Hwang’s world premiere of “Kung Fu” in New York City after people realized he really did think he could dance.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.