Five-0 Redux: Seeking reality

Apr. 30, 2013 | 14 Comments

BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Let’s pretend we live in an alternate universe, where Hawaiʻi’s governor gives free reign to a high profile daytime television talk show host and allows them to follow around his elite crime fighting task force.

Five-0 allows a talk show host and her crew to follow them for the day, but the investigation turns dangerous when they have a run in with Wo Fat.  Pictured at right is guest star Aisha Tyler. (Courtesy CBS)

Five-0 allows a talk show host and her crew to follow them for the day, but the investigation turns dangerous when they have a run in with Wo Fat. Pictured at right is guest star Aisha Tyler. (Courtesy CBS)

The host — just for fun, think Oprah meets Kelly Ripa — not only has full access, but also is allowed to ride along with the team and film their every move while they investigate a horrific murder. When it becomes obvious an international terrorist, as well as the U.S. Secret Service and the Russian mob, seem to be involved in the team’s case, she and her crew are allowed to continue filming and are often caught in the line of fire.

And all of this is done without the guidance of a public relations or media aide from the Governor’s office or HPD.

That’s really the part where I wasn’t buying it. No PR rep? No way. Would never happen.

This is the set up for this week’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0,” entitled “ʻImi Loko Ka ʻUhane” (“Seek Within One’s Soul”). The Five-0 task force has to endure the intrusive and unnecessary cameras of “The Savannah Walker Show” and guest star Aisha Tyler, who plays Savannah. While she may be great on her real life daytime show, “The Talk,” her portrayal of a supposed “investigative reporter” was not on the same level of the aforementioned Oprah or Kelly Ripa. It was more like watching Tyra Banks after a really strong round of Botox.

I know there will be many out there who will have a lot to say about “Hawaii Five-0” and their fictional foray into reality television, but I will try and salvage the hour of my life I will never get back and focus on all that was good about this week’s episode.

Bromance and Backstory

TV Guide just awarded “Hawaii Five-0” its 2013 Fan Favorite Award for Best Bromance, so I suppose I was not surprised by the funny cargument Steve and Danny have with Savannah in their backseat. I know she didn’t really need to point out how McG drives Danno’s car and that they really do love each other, but it was a cool reminder we fans who voted in the TV Guide poll were on the money.

I also loved the little video packages “The Savannah Walker Show” prepped for McGarrett and Kono, and the interviews she conducted with Chin and Catherine. Danno was portrayed the most realistically — shunning the cameras, all while saying “please.” In McGarrett’s package, we saw a few pictures of McG as a baby, a young boy, a high school football star, and then as a Navy commander.

Chin’s confession that he would be a jazz trumpeter was even more telling of his story. We all know he comes from a long line of cops and that it was natural that he would become one, but did we know that he loved jazz?

Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) and Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) in action during this week's episode. (Courtesy CBS)

Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) and Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) in action during this week’s episode. (Courtesy CBS)

At first I thought he was being sarcastic, but it was a good piece of Chin’s backstory, and one that perhaps would never have come up in a different episode. His one-on-one with Savannah was strange, as I couldn’t see Chin being that “raw” on camera. But I think Kono’s explanation of how she uses technology to help solve cases, and her knowledge of how it all works, made up for Chin’s awkward moment. (Thank you, X-Box for giving Kono her tech savvy skills.)

I found it a bit awkward that Max was willing to reveal the entire case to Savannah, but he was very cute playing the fan boy. I’m pretty sure he would have been removed from the case or reprimanded in some way for not following McG’s orders, however. But if nothing else, the backstory presented was accurate and along the lines of what we know and love about our team.

Action and Attitude

Action is never a problem in “Hawaii Five-0.” A car chase, a bloody crime scene, a gunfight with Wo Fat, McG breaking down doors, and jumping out of a window into a pool to catch a bad guy—was pretty much a typical day with the Five-0 team. We also got to see them all on ATVs and shoot down a helicopter, and watched Chin get shot right in his bulletproof vest.

Seeing a very badly burned and bloodied Wo Fat was pretty shocking, and I can only begin to wonder how he is going to get out from McG’s thumb this time. I’m sure there will be more to come in the next three episodes.

The best parts of the episode were when the team dished out attitude. Danno’s “Welcome to my world,” after McG jumped into the pool after a perp, was priceless. And the team trying to convince Savannah and her cameraman to get “full coverage” from their insurance company, was actually good advice, ironic or not.

Kamekona’s product placement moment with his cousin Flippa was Kamekona at his opportunistic best. Even Catherine’s “It’s none of America’s business” about her relationship with McG was a cool retort that worked.

Of course, they would all act this way reality show cameras in their faces. Danno kicking them out, not moving so they can see over his shoulder, and McG demanding “My crime scene, my rules” discipline was not just because he’s a control freak, but because that is McGarrett.

Aisha Tyler, third from left, poses for a photo with the CBS cast during a break in filming at Kualoa Ranch. (Star-Advertiser File)

Aisha Tyler, third from left, poses for a photo with the CBS cast during a break in filming at Kualoa Ranch. (Star-Advertiser File)

The Reality Show Set-up

While I wasn’t a fan of the overall storyline involving Savannah Walker, I suppose if “Hawaii Five-0” were really trying to poke fun at themselves on an ironic level, they succeeded.

I know the writers and producers understand they are making a television show, not curing cancer or ending world hunger, so the tongue-in-cheek attitude used in the episode — real or imagined — worked in order to perhaps catch viewers up. Savannah explaining how the team works gave the show an opportunity to review some backstory newer viewers may not know, or to explain in a compact way how the team got to this point in season three.

Yet the episode title means “to seek within one’s soul,” and while I think they did reveal things about the team that perhaps some are not aware of, I hardly think it was anything like seeking into anyone’s soul.

Maybe at the end when we saw McGarrett standing at Wo Fat’s bed — perhaps that was a bit of soul searching on why he didn’t kill Wo Fat when he had a chance. His second chance. Or was it his third? I’ve lost count.

No matter, I know the chance will come again, and even though McG’s life would probably be easier with a Dead Fat, we know that if he seeks within his soul he wouldn’t kill anyone in cold blood. I am hoping if anything good can come from this episode, it is that soon McGarrett can stop seeking the reality of Wo Fat and finally know the truth.

Redux Side Note:

While we didn’t get a chance to see much of Dennis Chun and Shawn Mokuahi Garnett in this week’s episode, fans did get a chance to meet them both, as well as Vince Shin, who was in “ʻŌlelo Paʻa,” at last week’s “H50 Fan Wrap Party.” Fans from Germany, Australia, and the mainland joined us for food, fun and to watch the repeat of “Mōhai.”
———
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/FabFourLover Linda Stein

    I have to agree Wendie! I liked the episode…well…I always do, don’t I? But it won’t go down as one of my favorites. I just couldn’t figure out what it was that was bothering me about it until this morning. Our friend Bert hit it right on the head for me. It made me feel like an outsider looking in. As if I was a part of Savannah’s audience sticking my nose in where it didn’t belong instead of feeling like I was part of the team, like I usually do each week.

    I’m also a bit confused as to how this will play out in the future. I mean, I guess Five-0 can NEVER go undercover for anything ever again since they have been plastered all over the TV in a reality show. Even Catherine’s been compromised now if they need her to go undercover. That’s the part that didn’t work for me the most. I can’t see, in reality, a governor taking that weapon out of an elite task forces hands. But, then..when has Five-0 ever been real?? LOL

  • http://twitter.com/hedwig2212 Dina

    Wendie this was true and raw!! love it!!! I enjoyed the show because I also viewed it as the “prep” episode of the drama that will unfold over the last episodes upcoming. A last “laugh” or lighter moments. I found it interesting that the title had to do with soul searching. While I do agree that Steve was the one that is searching his soul over Wofat I feel the soul searching had nothing to do with the team.. IMHO the soul searching had more to do with H50 poking fun at itself and the whole “virtual reality” is more to do with the FANDOM searching its soul. How do we look at ourselves? – and how the fandom are viewed from the producers- executives? Maybe the whole piece had a dual reality for those of the fandom that view H50 more are reality than as entertainment…???

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bert-Hayling/792032993 Bert Hayling

    While I’ll always make a point of watching H50, be it a new episode or a repeat, last night’s episode… eh; this one, I wasn’t feelin’ it, as the expression goes.

    My biggest issue with the ep was that we, the viewers, were sort of cast
    out of our position of invisible team member, privy to everything, and
    given only the outsider looking in perspective.

    It was pretty effective from that sense — giving that third party
    outsider view of H50 in action — but for *us* — the audience — it was
    a banishment of sorts. For one episode, we lost the… intimacy we’ve
    been part of for three seasons, and that, to me at least, was
    distancing.

    Instead of the easy and comfortable camaraderie we’re used to being privy to, we got the stiff, uneasy, self-conscious defensive wall arrayed against us; again, while it effectively presented what Savannah’s outsider view would be, we’re not used to being outsiders.

  • KAD1228

    I wasn’t a fan of last night’s episode. I hung on hoping it would get better. I’m debating on a rewatch to see if it did have any redeemable moments or will I just loose another precious hour of my life?

    To start, I’m not a fan of Aisha Tyler (or her talk show) but it’s H50 so I took one for the Gipper. It was very different and even though there were a few cool moments, the show was very stilted, uncomfortably so. It was painful to watch the (lack of) interaction between all of them. Nothing had a realistic feel to it – more like a poorly written, scripted and badly acted movie.

    The end scene was, for me, probably the best. Steve looking at Wo Fat and maybe thinking and regretting why he didn’t kill him while he had the opportunity. It was the only scene that had any feeling or meaning to it. Very disappointing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robin.j.bridges Robin Jane Bridges

    Well Chin did say one that the bads guys know who the good guys are because it is a small Island. I liked it!!! I laughed and hide my eyes when Wo Fat was bleeding. But I took for what it was, something calm before the storm of the finale.

  • TerriF

    Hi Wendie-thanks as always for a great article that covers all the angles of the show. I enjoyed the arty thing they were trying to get and being as successful as the show has become, they can take a few chances and try different things-maybe one a year :)
    The back-story and pics were interesting but I do like the normal flow we are used to seeing. Wo Fat being hurt so bad was shocking-not that he wouldn’t be in that type of crash, but it is Wo Fat!

    I’ll rewatch it again tomorrow night and will pick up a few things I probably missed and will see if I liked it better. Love the show though and would never miss it! Thanks again.

  • jlopie1

    Hey, Wendie! Thanks for another great review – gives me pause to think! Okay – having now thought about it, I’m going to go against the grain and say I actually liked this episode, and FOR many of the reasons given here as to why people didn’t like it!

    I like change. I change my hair color, my wardrobe and my house decorations as often as I can afford. I watch very different types
    of television shows all the time. So, when H50 decides to change the format of an episode, I’m always on board for the ride.

    The mockumentary style of this episode was jarring enough to kick me out of my comfortable space (in which I think I know everything there is to know about this show, the characters, the writers, etc.) and made me look at the process with new eyes. Yes, we lost the normal intimacy with the team that we are used to, but we did get to see them through the eyes of the journalist and her cameras. Savannah was showing us (HER viewers, in this ep) what she experienced with her 24 hour ride about. We got to see our team portray themselves to outsiders in the same way we see them – although we usually get to experience it more intimately! We see Steve being very formal, polite, but “my way or the highway.” Danny was Danny! “No, no, no, no! Get that camera out of my face – I said please!” Chin was his usual Zen-like self, but freely offered that he would have enjoyed being a jazz trumpet player. Kono has now explained how she got so good with the tech stuff (there’s hope for my X-Box addict son, after all!) All the main characters got to show their personalities and some of their story in this episode – even Max, Catherine, Kamekona and Fong (“what’s a Fong?”) It was rather painful to be on the outside,
    looking in, but all the elements of the characters were in place – we were just seeing them from a different perspective.

    I did like the jaw dropping addition of Wo Fat into the middle of this little drama! For those of you who thought it was too important a story line to be used with this sort of flippant mockumentary style – think for a minute who made it possible for the team to catch Wo Fat! If Savannah, with her thirst for information about the murder victim, hadn’t physically stopped the police officer (Wo Fat has always been the master of blending into the background) at the scene to ask her questions, would anyone have even realized Wo Fat was there, and thus involved? So, this journalistic style was actually USED to advance Wo Fat and Steve’s story line!

    Also, her presence at Wo Fat’s capture ensured that Steve wouldn’t just kill Wo Fat – you just can’t do that sort of thing in front of rolling cameras, but also allowed Steve to make it perfectly clear that he really didn’t care if Wo Fat lived or died!

    It probably wasn’t my favorite episode ever, but I know it wasn’t the worst! Change is good. Change can be fun! I commend CBS for giving the producers a long length of rope to experiment with
    this season. But now, for the run to the finale, I have a feeling the show will go back to it’s roots with lots of action and intensity!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sylvie.turgeon.37 Sylvie Turgeon

    I did not like this episode at all. It was like a show in the show. The only moments that I liked was when Steve jumped in the pool, and when he kicked the door with a back kick instead of a pushed kick ( just to change). I almost cried seeing Wo Fat hurt that bad. For the rest, an episode to forget.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kari.oloughlin Kari Oloughlin

    thank you Wendie :)
    well, i can’t hate this episode, i actually loved it & loved the change, it was interesting to get a fall view of how these men & women on the force risk their lives to protect the nation, well H50 did a great job & so did Savanna, i like when the camera man lost his cam in exchanging gun fire with Wu Fat & just didnt give up & got his fone to keep filming, that was really a good move, even Savanna was surprised :)
    & McGARRETT, oh baby, he was serious in this one & really gave us the real solid version of THE BIG KAHUNA; he was in control, he giuded the team & the show’s members, he was organized, well he was McGARRETT /d i totally loved that :D
    i know some must say this isnt a real thing & could never happen in reality, but its a TV show, thats what we like about TV shows, you get to see what you can’t see in normal life, right?
    I WILL PROBABLY WATCH WATCH WATCH & RE-WATCH THIS ONE OVER & OVER like i did with 3.20 ;)
    mahalo Wendie, loved your review as always XOX

  • http://twitter.com/H50BAMF ESS

    I really wanted to like this episode and I do like parts of it. I’m ok with it not being “reality”, it’s not what I expect from H50 and part of what sets it apart. I thought it was a pretty cool premise…for some reason I just didn’t like the way it came off. I think Bert hit the nail on the head with this, “Instead of the easy and comfortable camaraderie we’re used to being privy to, we got the stiff, uneasy, self-conscious defensive wall arrayed against us; again, while it effectively presented what Savannah’s outsider view would be, we’re not used to being outsiders.”

    Thank you Bert for putting into words what I’ve been trying to in my head, much less on paper. ;)

    That said what I did love was the cargument, it was funny and non-angry which has been my problem with some of the carguments as of late. I loved the teamwork, I loved Cath’s responses during the interview, I loved the ending with everyone holding their breath (you know they were) waiting to see if McG would fulfill WF’s request to be finished off, Danny’s joke “I was just going to say that” when Chin said the name of the Hawaiian goddess, and most of all Steve’s face when he walked into the hospital room and saw WF lying there, bandaged and helpless. Oh the thoughts that must be racing through his mind. Put a kink in his morphine drip, there Steve…I’ll turn the other direction ;) You owe him a few licks.

  • http://twitter.com/LisaLisa98 LisaLisa98

    I for one LOVED the episode because if was a fun change of pace and had me laughing out loud so many times. Yes, it was very unbelievable to have Savannah and her cameraman following them on a murder case & chasing Wo Fat, but that’s when you just gotta put that aside and remember it’s just a tv show and enjoy the ride. How believable is it that Wo Fat can get past Sgt. Duke Lukela and 5-0 and McG misses shooting him a car’s length away? At any rate, this was definitely more memorable to me than the usual procedural.

    I didn’t have the feeling of being closed off from the team, as others below have said. On the contrary, I felt like the teams reactions were ON POINT and hilarious to boot. McG with the seal stare asking if he was supposed to say something, Chin Ho calling Wo Fat a “SOB,” Kono’s x-box addiction, Max fangirling and getting gussied up for the interview, Catherine dodging the “boyfriend” question, and Kamekona and Flippa marketing their shrimp. And don’t forget my new favorite line, “What’s a Fong?!” Like I tweeted to Peter & writer William Shaynes, I never laughed so much in one episode before. The team’s reactions to Savannah being nosy or perhaps “seeking into their soul” was what I would expect from the characters, and in that aspect, made it seem more real to me. Maybe I related it to how everyone asks us in Hawaii what it’s like, and what we see, and what we know with regards to Hawaii Five-0… and sometimes you just don’t want to shout everything out to the world. Sometimes you just want to say, “Get out of my face” and “That’s none of America’s business.” So in that way, I could relate to the team immensely.

    It seemed like a lot of Hawaii fans liked it, at least on Twitter at 9pm HST. I also love any episode with Wo Fat, and this one was especially hard to watch with him struggling on the ground and bloodied up as the team looks on. But then again, I have a soft spot for Mark Dacascos. ;)

    Anyways, great review! I agreed with a lot of it. But I still enjoyed the episode. Great job by everyone!

  • r1015bill

    I wonder if it would have been better received if the TV host had emulated someone with more gravitas. So rather than an Oprah/Rikki Lake kind of person, they had a Lisa Ling or Ann Curry. And rather than an outdoor light-hearted show it was more of a 20/20 in studio episode with real journalists.. I’m also remembering a M*A*S*H episode that was a report from the front lines that was particularly effective.

    I liked that the team closed ranks against the filming intruders and that there was a lot of humor that we as insiders understood.

    I think the point of the TV show angle was that Steve had a chance to kill Wo Fat… and he didn’t. But was that because other people were watching? Or could he just not bring himself to do it because he isn’t that kind of guy? I think the title was all about that moment – Seek Within One’s Soul. And that last scene in the hospital room? Maybe Steve is still trying to figure it out.

    (I do wish they had set up better camera angles for the jungle scene when they find Wo Fat. You really can’t see Steve’s face that well so the importance is lost.)

    And this is kind of balanced by Chin’s exchange with Savannah about the work being personal. We can see the hell he’s going through before he says “yes”. And we remember that there was no film crew or any other 50 members there when he decided to kill Delano. Would things have been different for him if they were? I wonder if he’s been talking to his shrink about it – besides just Malia’s?

    There were some very deep thoughts in this episode. It’s unfortunate that the clutter got in the way.

    There were some very deep thoughts in this episode. It’s unfortunate that the clutter got in the way for some people.

  • Diane

    Hi Wendie, OK I agree to a point, that it was not the greatest show. However it was a change of pace, and I did not think it was that bad. I like Ayisha, I thought she did a pretty good job. I don’t think I would want to see this type of episode again. But as others had said it did set up the last 3 episodes. Wofat getting hurt in the crash was realistic. At least they did not have him pop right up without a scratch. I thought that should make the reality police happy. I never look at a show for realism, unless I’m watching a documentary. I could care less about realism in my fantasy TV show. The day I watch a show and think its real, is the day I check myself into a psych ward for obeservation. I do see your point that it was farfetched, and they have certainly done a lot better. I hope the ratings don’t continue to slide. That’s my worry at this point. Even though not all the shows are up to par, I still think this is a great show. I’m here for the long haul.
    Thanks for the review Wendy.

  • FIVE0JOE

    wasnt my fav – i mean i like all of them but wasnt my fav