As usual, “Hawaii Five-0” pulled out all of the stops to make their latest premiere one of the most memorable, and perhaps one of the most thoughtful, of the last seven season starters.
That doesn’t mean that the episode didn’t have all the season premiere markers that help to make the episode such an exciting way to get all us back into the swing of “Five-0.” The seventh season premiere–“Mākaukau ʻoe e Pāʻani,” which translates into the apt question — “Ready to Play?,” written by Peter Lenkov and Eric Guggenheim and directed by Bryan Spicer, was another amazing show stopper — complete with an intriguing case that brings the entire team together; as well as the inclusion of a unique — and always awesome — stunt sequence.
Yet I think the best part of any episode is when they revisit team relationships and issues from the past. As always, Steve (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) are favorites to watch, even when the interplay between the now true blood brothers — since Danno donated part of his liver to Steve — was like watching middle school boys bicker over a shared toy. It’s great to see Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) playing new Uncle to little Sara Malia (Londyn Silzer), even when he has absolutely “no pancake game.” And while Kono (Grace Park), Lou (Chi McBride), and Abby (Julie Benz) played back-up to wheelchair races, investigating the details, and running down the final suspect — there were enough moments between the three of them that helped to add to the overall impact of the season premiere.
The multiple-murder case kept me guessing and that also added to the fun ride. McGarrett and Danno are back to work — perhaps not at full strength, but out of the hospital and ready to tackle a case that is quite literally, left on their doorstep. While searching for a killer of serial killers is not an entirely new concept — I thought the idea that the killer sees himself as someone who is helping the Five-0 task force — makes this a bit more interesting. And the ending suggests that he is not done — it’s a chess game and there are more pieces left to be captured. I suppose a few more eerie “You’re Welcome” signs are in McGarrett’s future.
I think that was one of the reasons why the episode seemed more thoughtful than action packed. Leave it to “Hawaii Five-0” to take the seemingly innocent concept of being “ready to play” and turn it into a gory game of murderous cat and mouse. Still, after almost five months of repeats, “Five-0” returned to the CBS Friday night lineup with more questions than solutions. But I suppose if you want us to keep coming back week after week in search of real answers — this was the way to start off a new season.
While fans on the continent enjoyed watching the premiere episode about five hours before the crowd at the Friday night red carpet “Sunset on the Beach” event, it was pretty obvious the episode would have played a lot better on the big screen on Waikīkī Beach. While I really enjoyed the mystery behind the murders left for Five-0 to find, as well as the always spot-on interplay between our characters, and the long chase scene that started off the episode, it probably would have looked its absolute best on something bigger than a 43-inch flat screen.
And it probably played better for all of those folks who were surrounded by their friends, as well as the “Hawaii Five-0” cast and crew, while they watched the episode on the beach.
Still, there was so much I loved about the episode — the adorable scene with Uncle Chin and Sara; Kono and Lou betting on the McG and Danno wheelchair race; Danno winning the race via cheating or fairplay depending on which camp you root for; and Lou’s perfect reaction to the final fall of the suspect Pierre Shaw, played by professional freerunner and parkour athlete Jesse La Flair. Lou’s right — we definitely didn’t see that one coming.
There was really a lot I didn’t really see coming — like McGarrett struggling with his choice about being a cop, and getting some interesting words of wisdom from a stranger in the hospital chapel — who looked strangely familiar to me. As I listened to him speak, and then saw his face, I thought about growing up watching “Hawaii Five-O” with my Grandfather. It seemed as if Jack Lord had appeared on my screen — giving advice to the modern day equivalent of his on-screen character. Jack Lord speaking to a vulnerable McGarrett was probably the most unique bit of television magic that I have seen in a long time.
And likewise, the action scenes in this premiere made an even bigger jump — as the chase scene between the team and Pierre Shaw was a top notch bit of stunt work and action. While Five-0 always seems to try and up their game action-wise for their season premieres — the climax of the episode really was amazing to watch. I also thought it was a nice touch that McGarrett had to give up the chase halfway though. It was very believable that he was not strong enough to continue leaping from rooftop to rooftop to ledge to street to car hoods . . . because really — who can continue that pace, SEAL or not, after having a major organ transplant?
Thankfully, McG knows the team was there to back him up, and while the perp got away — permanently, it still was a pretty amazing chase. Even if you had ten bucks on the SEAL — you had to give him props for almost getting his man.
Still, I’m curious to see how the questions will be answered. It seems as if not only is the team still searching for their gamemaker, but they are also trying to answer a few personal questions. Is McGarrett still in love with Catherine? Will Chin be at peace with Sara going back to Mexico to live with her mother’s family? Is Abby here to stay, now that she is a more permanent part of Five-0?
I was glad to see that McG sincerely thanked Danno for his gift of life — it does seem as if he is coming to realize that he might not be as invincible as he once thought he was — perhaps this is the season when McGarrett relies even more on his team to help him get through his recovery. And that would not be a bad way for him to play this new game — not at all.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
While “Hawaii Five-0” launched their seventh season Friday night, executive producer Peter Lenkov’s second reboot, “MacGyver” premiered in the 7:00 pm spot directly before “Five-0.” Lenkov is not only an executive producer on the new show, he is also its showrunner, and wrote the pilot episode, “The Rising.”
The opening was a great set up — full of action, good stunts, and just the right amount of intrigue. If you are a fan of “Hawaii Five-0,” then you will recognize Lenkov’s penchant for clever repartee coupled with establishing strong relationships between his main characters. I loved the fun behind the serious nature of their missions — via the tri-framed images of MacGyver, played by a baby-faced, yet still very convincing as the boy genius, Lucas Till, “macgyvering” weapons, breaking into vaults by tricking a biometric handprint lock, and using paper clips and hairpins to open handcuffs.
His partner, Jack Dalton, played by former “CSI” star George Eads, was perfect as the physical yin to the super-smart yang of Mac’s improvisational brain. Sandrine Holt plays their boss, Patricia Thornton, and Tristin Mays is computer hacker, and ex-con, Riley Davis — the newest member of their team.
I think “MacGyver” is going to be an excellent lead in to “Hawaii Five-0.” It will make for an interesting night of television.