Book ‘Em: Missing in inaction
BY BURL BURLINGAME / firstname.lastname@example.org
Is this still on the air? It’s been like a month.
Lonesome night road, car stalled, cute teenager girl needs help, and then the traditional nondescript white van pulls up with the world’s creepiest perv driver. He wants to “help,” and no matter how verily the girl protesteth, he gets out and lurches unsteadily at her. Horror movie stuff. At least he’s not wearing a hoodie. Then another vehicle pulls up and the girl exclaims that it must be the tow company. Spooked, Van Perv hotfoots it outta there, and the hidden driver in the other vehicle pulls the screaming and apparently double-jointed girl rather awkwardly in through the door window. Eeeek! Eeeeek! Shriek! Obligatory pre-credit screaming face!
Credits. It’s H18.104.22.168, called “Ha‘alele,” which is Hawaiian for “I’m Taking a Little Time Off, But Don’t Worry, I’ll Be Back. Maybe With Another Tattoo That Signifies Something I’d Rather Not Talk About, At Least Not Unless Barbara Walters Makes Me Cry, And That’s Not Bloody Likely, Mate.”
Danno wanders into the H50 HQ and finds a note from McG. The official letterhead says FIVE-0 SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS. McG claims to have second thoughts about Old Joe’s explanation about the Shell Burn plot line, and so he’s off stooging around to “find answers.” So why doesn’t he just ask the All-Powerful Magic Table? Oh yeah, then the plot line would evaporate. But if they combined Magic Table with an iPhone Siri, that would be completely awesome, yes? In a proto-SkyNet sort of way.
And then, with a blare of quirky music, Kamekona the Shrimp Guy bursts in, and that’s it for McG. Gone. Forgotten. Pau, dat guy.
His shrimp truck has been stolen.
“One supah, majah crime!” Kamekona whines, and he does a pretty good job of looking PO’d while Danno is reluctant to play along.
Aerial shots of pineapple workers pickin’ pines. What is this, 1965? Awww, the teenage girl is found dead in a pineapple field. If they’d dumped the body in a cane field, it would have taken longer to discover it, but the crane shots wouldn’t have been so artfully composed.
Chin Ho and Danno discuss the Missing McGarrett, and they’re both remarkably blase. All that’s missing is shrugs and whatevahs. The girl’s body gets the leering corpse-camera once-over (as seen on CSI, etc.) to make sure you take note of lividity shift and petechial hemorrhages, because we’re all Monday-morning coroners now.
MdMax is transfixed by the victim, to the point of abandoning all writer-applied quirky behavior. Masi Oka is actually given a chance to act instead of vogueing.
Kono, of course, has found the victim’s car elsewhere. Chin and Danno teleport to the scene and find a carpet knife blade embedded in the vic’s tire. They deduce that the flat tire was “no accident.”
Victim’s weepy mother has amazing eyes. Danno is tongue-tied with empathy. Victim worked for a catamaran company.
The victim’s car has a hidden GPS tracker (how does GPS work underneath a car?) and Magic Table spits out a link, a co-worker at the catamaran rental, a guy with a razor cut ‘do and puka-shell necklace. Maybe this really is 1965.
The guy has an alibi. Then Danno and Chin Ho do a walk ‘n’ talk — I guess Car Talk is reserved for Danno/McG — and Chin Ho gets all glowy about Danno beginning to appreciate the monumental superiority of plate lunches above all other cuisines. Danno points out that garlic shrimp is really shrimp scampi, so it’s Italian, not Hawaiian food. Which makes one wonder — where did the ancient Hawaiians get shrimp? Or garlic? Butter? Non-stick cooking spray?
MdMax’s mad-scientist lab has giant color monitors everywhere, showing every gruesome detail. If he gets cable or sat-TV, the place would make an awesome sports bar after hours. Except for the smell of decomp.
MdMax has determined that the vic was bound up with elaborate knots and then had the wind pressed out of her.
“The Trashman!” mutters Chin Ho.
“Very good, Lt. Kelly,” schoolmarms MdMax.
Danno needs explaining to. Trashman is a local kine serial killer, and Richard Branch, the guy currently in the slam for the crime, might not be the real Trashman, or so MdMax opines.
They argue. The guy in prison was convicted on the basis of motive, opportunity, physical evidence, DNA trace and eyewitness accounts. Not good enough for MdMax, whose voice slides up a bell-curve slope as he gets more agitated. Danno snipes back. Time out, soothes Chin Ho, who keeps his vocal inflections within a sine-wave norm.
Turns out Branch and MdMax are acrostic-puzzle pals, and when Danno blurts “Why am I not surprised?” MdMax vibrates like a tuning fork.
Back to prison. Geez, this show is up in the Halawa Valley lock-up more than it hits the beach. Branch is played by Pruitt Taylor Vince, the pinball-eyed actor who was so good in “Heavy.” He claims he was railroaded by Hawaii police because he’s a middle-aged white guy. Wish I could relate, bro.
Kamekona is dishing up shrimp plates via a barbeque in a parking lot. MdMax does a deep reveal — he’s allergic to shrimp — and then jumps to Branch’s defense, claiming (A) the Real Trashman took advantage of Branch’s arrest to retire from Trashmanning, and (B) the Real Trashman has poor impulse control, so he continues killing. If MdMax keeps flipflopping like that, someone will describe him as a human Etch-A-Sketch.
MdMax begs — begs! — Chin Ho and Danno to reopen the Trashman case, and they all act like it was a million years ago, when Branch was actually arrested in 2009. Chin Ho says the detectives on the original case have retired. And they’re out there luxuriating on their fat City-employee taxpayer-funded pensions.
Sure enough, a retired detective is on the golf course in white pansy shoes and Isotoners. He confesses that the Branch conviction seemed hinky, as there was an earlier victim who, if tied to the Trashman, would have provided Branch with an alibi, so the prosecutor ignored it.
That earlier victim was found at a church, which has special meaning for MdMax, because he was adopted there, and — and! — one of the Trashman victims was his birth mother.
OK, he should recuse himself for conflict of interest. On the other hand, it’s refreshing to see a character on this show have a real motive.
The aerial shots of Aliiolani Hale look particularly nice tonight.
The H50 squaddies have put on their Concerned and Empathy faces while MdMax fesses that when he found out about his murdered mother, he looked up Branch to chastise him, but quickly became convinced of his innocence. Logical. Tenuous, but logical.
So this is why MdMax gets all thrombo when the Trashman appears.
They try to find a connection between the vics, and MdMax notes that some have “pelvic separation” indicating that they bore children. And he was once a child himself! Even more tenuous …
The connection is that the women all abandoned unwanted babies, including the infant MdMax, at “St. Martin’s,” a grand church played in this episode by St. Andrew’s cathedral. That’s what happens when contraception is made illegal.
Danno and Chin Ho nose around the nave, and bump into a shifty sort played by Max Perlich, and this is exactly the kind of twitchy, sweaty performance that Perlich excels at. So you know he’s likely Mr. Trashman.
But instead he fingers another church worker who leaves clues lying out in plain sight. This is too easy.
They sweat Church Worker in the Green Room. Whoops, seems he has an alibi. He’s played by Bill Ogilvie.
MdMax can’t help himself and visits the Real Trashman in the dark, creepy dungeons of the cathedral, which appear to have actually been filmed in the creepy dungeons of the Advertiser News Building. Real Trashman knocks him out with a well-swung pipe across the face.
Whoops, when MdMax comes to, he’s tied in a chair and sees Max Perlich lying dead. He isn’t the Real Trashman! It’s the church rector, who idly bangs a crowbar against his own head, trying to rattle the demons within.
So why kill Perlich and let MdMax casually quiz the Truly Real Trashman? So we can spend the last few minutes of the show in exposition via chit-chat. MdMax has a different personality every time they cut to his line. It’s like being quizzed by Sybil.
Then MdMax growls, “I’m normal! You’re mentally ill!” which is the funniest line this season, particularly since he does it in a Dirty Harry sneer. Truly Real Trashman goes into hysterics, lurching about the Cathedral catacombs and banging the crowbar against his forehead. This is prime “Criminal Minds” territory.
Truly Real Trashman hears Chin Ho and Kono prowling around upstairs and dashes off. MdMax makes a face like he’s squeezing out a big one and makes his chair fall over into some broken vases, which Truly Real Trashman had thoughtfully shattered a minute before so that the plot could advance. Deus Ex Trashman. MdMax cuts his bonds with broken pottery.
When Truly Real Trashman runs back into the dungeon, because he’s forgotten to T-Ball MdMax’s head with the crowbar, MdMax guts him with a vase shard. Kono and Chin Ho find him all slathered in DNA evidence. They bow their heads and pray.
Back the beach, where Danno and Chin Ho are trying to convince each other that they care where McG has disappeared to. Kono shows up driving the shrimp truck. Turns out that it was impounded by the City for Kamekona’s neglect of vendor fees. He’s just lucky it wasn’t seized by the GSA for one of their boondoggle parties.
MdMax is up in Halawa getting Branch released, like it’s that easy to overturn a jury verdict, particularly when the actual guilty party has been killed and can’t testify. No one plays pathetic schlubs better than Vince.
Danno calls McG, who’s supposedly in Tokyo according to the location titles, and McG ignores the call. Awwww.
The body count this episode is technically three, but there are all sorts of grisly past-crime images as well. McG is missing in action, and no one seems to mind much. The H50 squaddies do pretty well as a team effort, and MdMax sheds the plastered-on quirk coat the writers have slathered over Masi Oka. Altogether, one of the better paced shows of the season. But still, the way H50.2 treats its guest actors is a crime.
Burl Burlingame is a features reporter at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter.