Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Thursday, July 18, 2024 78° Today's Paper

Five-0 Redux

High stakes

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.


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.

14 responses to “High stakes”

  1. Angela Gerstner says:

    Actually, I could keep this week’s comment very short by just saying this episode was perfect to me from start to finish but you know that I can’t keep my comments short 🙂

    You’re right, Wendie – After five years of being an integral part of this show, Daniel knows and understands the cast and show better than any other director who’s worked for “Hawaii Five-0” and he definitely did an excellent job at his directorial debut. I’m sure everyone on the cast and crew not only considers Daniel “one of their own” but also did their very best to make this a success for him – and for the show, in general. The outcome is a hugely enjoyable fun episode that I will definitely watch very often.

    I loved every single minute of ep. 5.17 – from the surf scenes at the beginning, to the many simply awesome McDanno moments that we were spoiled with, to Jerry’s interaction with the nosey but very likeable Mrs. Tennenbaum (I was actually moved to tears when Jerry watched her living her sad, lonely life) and her being there with the Five-0 ´ohana at the shrimp truck, Duke’s scene with the dope guy, the cool action with the baddie and the fact that Kono (once again) shot the bad guy – all the way to the end with the great song “The boys are back in town”.

    If all stakeouts were like the one in this episode, I would happily volunteer to join the boys of Five-0 (Well, I would, anyway, if they allowed me to).
    And if all cats were as adorable as Mr. Pickles, I would even forget about my cat hair allergy and the fact that I’m actually a huge dog person.

    The only tiny little thing missing in this episode was a scene with Steve actually playing the guitar but I have hope that this fan wish (not just mine, by the way) will soon be fulfilled, too – thanks to Danno’s gift for Steve 😉

  2. Rhonda says:

    Loved this episode! You are right about Daniel-he knew how to get the best out of the actors and it showed! The stakeout scenes were great and I loved it when Danny gave Steve a new guitar so he could rekindle his love for the music! Cloris was a hoot,as she always is and Jerry helping her out was perfect!

  3. Robin Jane Bridges says:

    I loved last night’s episode. I kept laughing and then I cringed at guy pulling the bullet out of himself. That is how you tell the story, COTW mixed in with the personal stuff of the characters.

  4. pauldunn1 says:

    Thanks for the info about DDK being the director of this ep. I enjoyed it for the strong Duke scene and Kono taking care of business. A well done by the entire cast.

  5. Susan M says:

    As always, a great review, Wendie. First, a correction. Larry Manetti was not in the original Hawaii Five-0 — he was in Magnum, P.I. as Rick. That little slip aside, you nailed it with the breakdown of the episode, so I won’t repeat anything myself. The only thing I didn’t like about the scenes in the apartment was “That Darn Cat!” Seeing that white thing hang around McG’s neck and shoulders gave me the creeps! (I’m a dog person like Danno.) Daniel did a fantastic job as his first venture into the world “behind the camera.” I hope he’ll do more.

  6. edmattes763 says:

    DDK said in one of his comments that the cat was the star of the show, and indeed it is hard to get a cat to do what you want. The fact that they’ve made McGarrett a cat person to contrast with Danny’s love of dogs was funny, especially since we know from watching past years DVDs that Alex in reality is a dog lover (although that doesn’t necessarily mean he hates cats).
    Since villains on this show don’t usually get their Miranda rights explained to them, it was sorta funny when Kono was interrupted when she was doing just that.

  7. Mary Tomshack says:

    I absolutely loved this episode. You described it perfectly, Wendy. The overly sensitive Danny and the can’t express his feelings Steve. I loved the way Danny was actually pretty patient and understanding with Steve. And because of that patience and understanding, Steve finally opened up to Danny. What an awesome thing to see in this episode. I don’t think we have ever seen Steve admit to his vulnerabilities. And he did it with his friends help. When you think about it, sometimes you spend more time with your co-workers than your family. There is bound to be some tension. Especially with the high stress kind of job they have. But, I have to admit, I laughed through most of the episode. Cloris Leachman was wonderful. The scenes with her were both hilarious and heartwarming. And Jerry was so wonderful with her. I loved their scenes together. Jerry really grows on me from week to week. This is an awesome cast and it gets better every week. Daniel Dae Kim did a fantastic job directing this episode. The comedy was right on. The drug dealer was hilarious, as were Danny & Steves reaction to him. When Steve said, we’ll be calling you later, you just knew what they were thinking. Great writing, great acting and great directing. An all around great episode. Something light and funny to prepare for the intensity of next weeks episode.

  8. jlopie1 says:

    When asked in an interview in Season 1 what sort of episodes he would like to do in the future, Soctt Caan admitted to being a character-driven actor and as such, would love to do a COTW-free episode and just work on characterization.

    This week’s episode was probably the closest we will get to that realization, and for me, the timing of it as well as the execution, was perfect! After everything these two have been through for four and a half years, culminating in the death of WoFat and Mattie, it was time to acknowledge just how important their brotherhood is to each other. I enjoyed this partner therapy session even more this time around, and the entire stakeout was superb!

    Tons of kudos to DDK for a fantastic first foray into the directorial pool! As you said, Wendie, no one but an actor who has lived and breathed H50 for 5 seasons could get the personalities of Steve and Danny truthful as they were portrayed in this episode.
    This episode had a Little bit of something for everyone who loves this show in it! It was funny, it was poignant, it was the pure H50 we have come to love.

    And it set us up beautifully for next week’s gut wrencher!

    Thanks, Wendie. Once again, you’re blog is at the pinnacle of H50 blogs and reviews!

  9. KAD1228 says:

    Daniel did a fantastic job in his directorial debut! Hopefully we’ll get to see his work again!! It was a very good episode, enjoyable, funny, sweet and touching. The criminal in full Robo-Cop gear was a bit much, but seeing Kono being her bada$$ self was, to quote Kamekono, “a piece of resistance!!” I’m thinking Jerry saw a bit of himself in Ruth which was why he was so sweet with her. He’s found a home and a family with 50! Hey, if I was there Ruth would have had some competition with that silver fox!! The ending was perfect, the team together, Danny’s gift to Steve, Steve letting Danny drive, the closing song, the Boys are Back In Town, simply priceless! The boys ARE back!

  10. TerrysaGirl says:

    “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.” Yes! A great job done by all. I’m a sucker for the humorous episodes and for those where Steve shows his vulnerability (without being physically tortured) and so I really enjoyed this one. Daniel Dae Kim should be proud of his rookie start.

  11. Brenda_stlouismo says:

    What a great episode for DDK to direct. It took someone who knows the show to give us what we need to continue the story of these characters.

    I love the spattering of the humor along with the intensity episodes that keep me tuned in each week. For me, it rounds out the series. Whether Alex is knocking it out of the park with his acting in the dramatic scenes that rip our hearts out or cracks us up with his sweet comedic goofyness, the rollercoaster ride is worth it for me as a fan of the show.

    I am an easy fan who doesn’t take criticism of the show to seriously and am not watching for imperfections. I am looking for a great story each week that makes me feel something. That’s why I come back.

    I love that Hawaii Five-0 continues to bring in top talent for guest stars. We have had so many greats to watch and I think this show stands above and beyond others for bringing them in.

    Love your review as usual Wendie. I really enjoy reading it in between my first and second watch of each episode. I pay more attention to the second viewing LOL. Until next week – Aloha.

  12. Diane says:

    Another great episode. Love how they showed the bickering of these two characters is because they truly care for one another. Steve actually opening up and revealing that he avoids being vulnerable, because of his up bringing. which makes it hard for him to express his feelings, while Danny had a normal up bringing and was allowed to express his feelings. These two characters have become brothers, the nit picking Danny, is the one who knows Steve the best, and still allows him to drive his car, even though he complains about it all the time. The scene where Danny gives Steve the guitar was incredible, and then Steve letting Danny drive his car, but still had to handle the radio…..one baby step at a time. Jerry with Ruth was also very sweet. We needed an episode like this, as next week will be anxious through the whole episode I’m sure.

Leave a Reply