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September 30, 2014

'Hawaii Five-0' Season 1, Episode 3 Recap

by Ryan McGee, posted Oct 5th 2010 1:37AM
['Hawaii Five-0': 'Malama Ka Aina']

Shows like 'Hawaii Five-0' aren't built around deconstruction. They are built around sturdy, repeatable formulas, almost like dramatic recipes that can be whipped up on a weekly basis. And currently, the show is producing one tasty result. It may not win any culinary awards, but the audience never leaves feeling anything but full and sated. Rather than recap this week's episode in a normal fashion (after all, its gang war plot was fairly pedestrian), let's look at five key ingredients that go into a successful episode such as tonight's installment, 'Malama Ka Aina.'

Ingredient #1: Start with solid McGarrett/Danno banter. Mileage may vary on Alex O'Loughlin's overall skills as an actor, but an episode of 'Hawaii Five-0' could consist of a real-time, 45 minute drive in which McGarrett and Danno crack wise until arriving at the crime scene and that would STILL be a pretty entertaining hour of television. McGarrett tends to fade into Abstract Tough Cop when dealing with other characters at this point, but comes alive when dealing with his partner. One could argue such chemistry couldn't possibly happen this early in the relationship. One could argue that these two could have been written as bristling opposites that only over time come to appreciate one another. But it's hard to argue with the current onscreen results three weeks in. If these two didn't work as partners, the show would fail. Luckily, so far, they shine.

Ingredient #2: Mix in Scott Caan owning all. It's easy to compare this show to USA's 'Burn Notice,' in terms of 'exotic locale' meets 'heavy explosions'. That potentially makes Caan's Danno analogous to Bruce Campbell's Sam, although that comparison sells the former's work a little short. Sure, Caan brings the funny, and he brings the necessary muscle when called upon, but he also brings a heartbreaking level of humanity to Danno's overall palette. A lesser actor would have turned Danno's speech outside his ex-wife's gated home into a Lifetime Movie of the Week; instead, he sold it so effectively that his ex would have rescinded her custody claim even if the state's Governor hadn't blocked construction of her new husband's hotel. Even when individual episodes fall short, it's comforting to know there will be at least a few moments in which Caan's work will raise the overall level of the hour.

Ingredient #3: When in doubt, just add cousins! It's easy enough to joke about the show's tendency to have Chin Ho and Kono overuse the word "cousin" when addressing one another. So imagine the snickering when yet ANOTHER cousin showed up onscreen this week in the (extremely large) form of Sid. No wonder both Chin Ho and Kono are single: by rough count, they are potentially related to 37 percent of the island.

Ingredient #4: Add a dash of police corruption mythology. Sid's role in this week's episode not only allowed the force to take down mob boss Frank Salvo, but also served to reinforce just how bad Chin Ho's reputation is within the Hawaii Police Department. The effects of his unjust expulsion have not only severed his ties with the HPD, but with the majority of his family as well. One got the sense that, when visiting Sid's house early in the episode, he had never laid eyes on his cousin's child before that moment. That, more than Sid's repetitious fits of yelling, truly sold the loss that his frame job truly caused. Daniel Dae Kim has proved that he's got the chops to pull off extreme loss during his run on 'Lost': hopefully the show can exploit that as the investigation into HPD's corruption deepens over the season.

Ingredient #5: Top with an increasing use of Hawaii as a character in and of itself. This need not only apply to wide panoramic shots of palm trees and volcanoes, but an anthropological look at the island that you couldn't get from a simple Google image search. If anything rang slightly false tonight, it was the swift end to the Samoan/Triad gang feud. That's a story line that could have had some merit. We've seen plenty of turf wars in the contiguous states: what would one look like over there? How does this tie into the history of the state? What are the ethnic differences involved? How does one stake turf when there's so little turf to stake? Little things like that go a long way towards selling this show as more than simply a cop show in a sunnier climate.

As long as the show continues to employ these ingredients, while subtly altering the recipe to ensure things don't get too stale, 'Hawaii Five-0' should continue to delight and surprise people who thought it would be another generic cop show on network television. And hey, there's always the chance that underneath the surface lies something gourmet after all.

Are you enjoying the Hawaiian meal so far? Or does it taste to you like Hawaiian pizza does to Danno? Leave your thoughts below!

'Hawaii Five-0' airs Mondays at 10PM ET on CBS.

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m0nkey68

chris mentions the NBC-Tv show Chase up there and its funny I prefer it over Hawaii Five Oh

October 11 2010 at 1:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Radiant

My family and I loved this new episode, so entertaining, exciting, intense and humorous. Hawaii Five-0 is a winner for CBS. Great job, cast, crew and CBS.

October 06 2010 at 9:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chrissthomas

It is just a fun show. They have done a very good job at keeping it fun. I don't take it too seriously and that is why I will come back week after week despite repetitiveness, because it is still fun and entertaining. Good breakdown here. I think that the show Chase over on NBC has a lot of potential too but so far it is missing a grander element that pulls you into the characters and world of the characters, the seething theme beneath. Hawaii Five-0 has the corruption story that will be unraveled but Chase has nothing like this so far. We don't even know the characters well a few episodes in. Wondering if that will change and what Chase could do to give that undergirding story which keeps people coming back.

October 05 2010 at 5:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mei Lan

Loved "Malama Ka Aina", Ep #3! The team's chemistry works because O'Loughlin plays his McGarrett as a benign dictator: he lets Danno whine and complain (Caan in the best Jersey tradition, hands chopping air and all, LOL!) and get the funny one-liners but the audience knows McGarrett will go ahead and do his thing anyway. Critics seems to want O'Loughlin to play McGarrett as Mr. Sensitive but what makes the new McGarrett work is the audience knows that Steve will listen to his team, quietly process the info, and then do his thing anyway! The new Steve is very physical and O'Loughlin is very believable as an aggressive Navy SEAL channeling Dirty Harry. "Tough love," as McGarrett said in Ep 3!

October 05 2010 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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