After watching endless hours of television cop shows, I would imagine a stakeout is not something a law enforcement officer particularly enjoys. It’s part of the job and is sometimes a necessity while investigating a suspect, but the idea of spending hours holed up in a strange place with little to do but complete surveillance and wait out a criminal doesn’t seem like a party anyone would like to attend.
“Kū kaʻawale” (“Stakeout”) gave viewers a glimpse this week into what happens when McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) spend a few days tracking a person of interest — and the results are both funny and heartwarming.
I know, heartwarming is not really the first thing that comes to mind when one imagines a police stakeout. But when the two officers involved are trying to get along in a small space while using a diamond thief as bait in order to catch a cop killer, all that time spent alone and separated from their crew could, of course, reveal more than we expect.
According to Big Island Film Commissioner and Hawaiian language expert T. Ilihia Gionson, “kū means ‘to stand’ and ka’awale means ‘separate.’
“So kū ka‘awale really means ‘to stand separate’ or ‘to stand on your own,’ much as you would in a stakeout,” he said.
In this episode, McGarrett and Danno really do separate from the rest of the Five-0 team and are forced to work on a few glitches in their relationship. While they watch the apartment of diamond thief Emma Mills (Jessica Lowndes) and wait for her double-crossed lover, Jacob Anders (Zoltan Hayth), to come after her in revenge, our beloved bickering duo has ample time to hash out their therapy homework and complete the conflict counseling their therapist has assigned them.
And really, could you think of a better assignment for us to watch? The control freak commander and the overly sensitive detective take over an apartment with a clear view of Mills’ seemingly always open windows. The apartment belongs to a woman named Agnes and her house cat, the “adorable little ninja” Mr. Pickles.
It also seems to have a revolving front door, as nosy (but sweet) neighbor Ruth Tennenbaum (guest star Cloris Leachman) dropped off macadamia nut cookies and asked McGarrett to look into the theft of her favorite fern, while resident drug dealer Ricky Schiff (Charlie Saxton) visited Mr. Pickles in order to pick up his gallon bag of marijuana.
As Danno worked to get McGarrett to open up, the plot thickened as they watched Emma connect with Barry Burns (Jon Lovitz), a slimy jewelry broker set to fence the $3 million in diamonds she stole. Burns revealed Emma’s accomplice Jacob Anders — who Emma tried to kill in order to keep all the profits — was really Radomir Ivanovich, a Serbian criminal who seemed to be able to survive point-blank gunshot wounds and performed major surgery on himself.
Chin (Daniel Dae Kim, who also directed this week’s episode) and Lou (Chi McBride) convinced a reluctant Burns to help them stall Emma so they can catch Ivanovich. Chin has also found out that Mia Price (Arden Cho), who Emma and Ivanovich stole the diamonds from, had been struggling financially for several years had just maxed out her credit to buy the $3 million in diamonds. Mia is revealed to be Emma’s lover, and the team realized the woman set up Ivanovich in order to get the insurance money and the profit from stealing the diamonds.
All this action over the course of a three-day stakeout. Did I really say it was a party no one wanted to attend?
The action really played out toward the end of this week’s episode when Ivanovich went into full revenge mode. He diverted McGarrett and Danno’s attention so he could kill Emma and take back the diamonds, then donned full body armor with automatic weapons to shoot up Mia’s jewelry store. Kono (Grace Park) arrived just in time to save Mia — and then arrest her for conspiring with Emma.
Mia is lucky Kono knows how to handle a well-armed criminal.
I have to say, this was the perfect episode for Daniel Dae Kim to cut his directorial teeth. Writers David Wolkove and Lorenzo Manetti (recurring cast member Larry Manetti’s son) crafted an episode full of action and comedy, yet allowed McGarrett and Danno to share some really great bromantic moments. This episode had to be directed by someone who understands “Hawaii Five-0” and its characters’ nuances and the relationship between McGarrett and Danno, as well as the pace and action that identifies the show.
Kim definitely got it right with the McGarrett and Danno scenes. Besides the comedic banter between the two, when Steve revealed his most vulnerable moment — when he gave up playing the guitar — was sweet and perfectly executed. It was obvious the director understood not only his actors, but their relationship. The scene came off as sincere and realistic.
Obviously, the two talents on screen had a lot to do with keeping the scene real and not allowing it to fall into melodrama, but actors cannot see what they are doing and must rely on a director to guide them. Kim handled his actors with an expert hand, which comes from a director who has done his homework.
This episode had a lot of sweet moments, not only with McGarrett and Danno, but the subplot with Jerry (Jorge Garcia) helping Ruth find her fern were also lovely.
Perhaps the humor helped to offset any potential weepy moments. How could you not laugh at Leachman telling a dirty joke that involved the mention of Parkinson’s Disease?
Yet Kim really held his own in all of the elements of what makes “Hawaii Five-0” a good show: humor, action, as well as the emotional moments that we love.
The stakes were high for Kim this week. He rose to the occasion and used what already exists within the show to make its cast shine.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
Veteran comedian Mel Cabang had a small, but perfectly funny role this week as the landlord of the apartment McGarrett and Danno used for their stakeout. Cabang, who was not credited, has performed alongside Augie Tulba, Andy Bumatai, Frank Delima and Ed Kaahea in recent years as the Nā Aliʻi of Comedy. I loved his perfect rendition of the overprotective landlord as he yelled at McGarrett, “No touch nothing!”
Another guest star fans might recognize from the season three remake of classic “Hawaii Five-O” episode “Hookman” was Max Weinberg, who played Norm the pro-second amendement gun shop owner. Weinberg is the drummer for the E-Street Band and served as the bandleader for late night television host Conan O’Brien.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.