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My Favorite Scene: H50 Pilot (I love it when a plan comes together)

CUE UP YOUR BLACK KEYS! ALBUM: BROTHERS! TRACK 10: SINISTER KID! PRESS PLAY! (or alternatively, your H50 Pilot ep download/dvd to about the 14:39 mark). Let’s go!

This is my favorite scene from the H50 Pilot and in my mind it’s got a lot of competition: Anton’s botched rescue, McG & Danny meeting in the garage, the first cargument (“pineapple infested hell-hole” & “who’s Danno?”), “You are the back-up,” the arm-tiwst & punch, the second cargument (“if you get somebody shot you apologize”), eating Kamekona’s shave ice by the car, the guys meeting Kono (“nah man, that was a love tap!”), the beer on the beach, the explanation of “Danno,” the boarding of the Emmett Carl, the first book ’em Danno, “three nights at the Kahala Hotel” & the first Ohana moment…. Lots of competition. But this scene is the winner.

The scene starts with music: a grunt, straight from the gut, like the sound you make after being punched in the stomach.

Next, you see a few things that in retrospect, stand out as fairly unique in the H50 Universe: Rain. Steve as the passenger. In a taxi. Steve with paperwork. Steve huffing out all in one breath, “I swung by your precinct and spoke to your captain he said you requested a wire be put on someone named Fred Doran, tell me about him.”

Steve invites himself in & helps himself to all the sunlight in the room and some personal observations about Danny (not even his first and by far not the last). Danny flips him some sh/t. Steve asks for enlightenment — and Danny gives it. Danny stops playing and just gives the poor guy his information. And when Danny says “the first thing Hesse did when he got on the island, was hook up with Doran and get a gun,” you can see the unspoken apology leeching out of his eyes. Danny really does feel sorry for this guy. Danny’s ability to emotionally turn on a dime, to switch it up from being that sarcastic jerk to remembering that this guy’s dad was just murdered, is an intriguing contrast to what we’ve seen so far from Steve. You get a feeling of how well these two will work together despite their desperately different personalities.

“So,” Steve says, “let’s go talk to him.” He looks so damn tired.

And the lyrics of the song go:
A sinister kid, is a kid who
Runs to meet his maker
A drop dead sprint from the day he’s born
Straight into his makers arms

And that’s me, that’s me
The boy with the broken halo
That’s me, that’s me
The devil won’t let me be

Steve McGarrett is damaged. Even at this early point, this is news to no one (that Danny Williams is deeply damaged, too, is something we have yet to learn). One of the reasons this scene is so fantastic is that a season and a half later it still works. Forty-plus episodes later and this presentation of these characters still rings true. Not many other shows can make that claim.

The next 40 seconds of Danny William’s life must play back in his mind during really bad firefights or crazy car chases or maybe sleepless nights, staring at the ceiling wondering “what have I gotten myself into? When did I lose control of my life?” This moment, Danny, right here. You just got flattened by a steamroller named Steve McGarrett. You just got that figurative gut punch the music told us to look for.

Danny hasn’t felt the punch yet, though. Right now he just looks lost. Looks sad for Steve and sorry for him. This whole situation sucks. There is a reason police officers don’t get to work cases in which they are personally involved. And yet — and yet — somehow Steve is working the case and Danny is sitting at home in the middle of the day.

I don’t suppose I need an excuse to wax poetic about Scott Caan & Alex O’Loughlin’s acting skills but if I did this moment here would give me a damn good one. This moment is the turning point, this one moment of silence between Danny’s explanation of who Doran is and Steve’s leap into action, “let’s go talk to him.” This moment is the hook on which the scene, the episode, the series, the entire Steve/Danny relationship hangs.

And it works. The camera leaps back & forth between their faces kind of frantically at this point (15:44-15:46) like — nobody knows what’s going to happen next! Where are we supposed to be focusing?

And in the shorthand of barely-literate internet-speak: Look At Their FAAAAAAACES. This. Scene. This. Moment. This. Is. Perfection.

Back to the story. Danny hasn’t clued into what’s going on yet. Danny still thinks he is a regular police detective. Danny is still trying to solve John McGarrett’s murder by-the-book instead of analyzing the mystery standing right in front of him.

Steve is getting annoyed.

Danny locks eyes with what he will soon come to call Aneurysm Face. “So let’s go,” Steve says, and jerks his head towards the door, like “let’s go, ok, I’ve made my decision, you have your orders, let’s GO RIGHT NOW.”

Danny’s butt is still in the chair.

Steve looks so frustrated by Danny’s stillness. Like Danny doesn’t realize how important this is. If Steve had the words he would be saying “you just don’t get it, do you? I just lost my father and you’re pretty dense.”

The taxi wasn’t waiting out front. This was a one-way trip. Full commitment plus total assumption backed by the confidence that he was making Danny an offer he couldn’t refuse. There really ever was only one way that this was going to end.

The audience is ready to go. We’ve been with Steve this whole time & we’re still with him. Let’s go track down this gun-running SOB! The camera has decided it wants to go, too, so it escorts us outside. We look back in at Steve & Danny. Why aren’t they out the door yet?


Steve makes for the exit under the assumption that Danny will be hot on his heels (because that’s what teammates do right? They follow each other into the breach) and that’s what galvanizes Danny into action – finally – reminding Steve that he just can’t go with him because he is Not On This Team… he was taken off the case… by Steve.

So Steve puts him back on the case.




Are you suffering from dementia?This is no longer my case.

It’s that simple to Steve, so of course Danny has to make it complicated. Danny already knows (thanks to a certain phone call made in John McGarrett’s garage) that Steve will walk all over you if you give him the chance. So even if you eventually go along you have to drag your feet a little if only to remind him that you’re a human person with autonomy and decision making abilities. What Danny doesn’t know is that today is probably not the right day to make this particular point.

So when Danny pushes, Steve the steamroller comes right back, no quarter asked none given. You know how in a couple scenes Steve literally twists Danny’s arm…? Welcome to the metaphorical foreshadowing of that moment.

You transferred in from New Jersey six months ago...

The song continues:
I got a tortured mind
And my blade is sharp
A bad combination
In the dark

If I kill a man
In the first degree
Baby, would you
Would you flee with me?

Notice how even the lyrics of the song are a request for back-up? I really love how this all comes together you guys, it’s perfect.

Steve is exhausted. Apparently nothing is going to come easy for him, including choosing a partner for his shiny new task force. But he did choose one. This guy. Quite possibly the most high-maintenance man Steve has ever met. But SEALs need teams and Steve chose Danny. This is an honor, doesn’t Danny know that? The Governor’s Task Force is a BFD. This is a plum assignment. This is a promotion. Why is this so difficult? Why is everything so difficult lately?

You know, uh, I appreciate it -
but my psych eval's not for six weeks.

Danny is of course less than gracious about accepting his new position. Things have been pretty difficult lately for him too — but we don’t really know that yet. All we know is that for Danny, nothing today has gone according to plan, from Mr. Hoppy, to the confrontation in the garage, to this weird-ass conversation here in his living room where he’s pretty sure he’s not been given the full picture. Why Steve is here? If Steve just wanted a briefing on Doran, he could have just called — right?

It's Your Hour

All you got is your job and you take pride in that.
That's what I'm looking for.

Give Steve credit – he tried to be nice about it, in his own weird way, using compliments that don’t make Danny feel any better to try and convince Danny to work the case with him (“all you’ve got is your job… that’s what I’m looking for”). Danny is feeling the punch now, reeling from it actually – pretty sure this is one of those life moments that leave you disoriented, amazed, maybe even a little short of breath (at the end of the scene, Danny wipes his face & rubs his jaw with his hands – same as you would do if you’d just had a bucket of ice water dumped over your head). He’s got Steve-induced Brain Freeze.

It's guys like you who think they know how to do everything better and that only makes my job harder.

But apparently being swept off his feet pisses Danny right the hell off. Just look at how indignant he gets. Stick your nose in the air, Danny. Yeah. Look at Steve like he’s an idiot. This is clearly working for you.

And the crazy thing is, for a second, it does work.

Well, for half a second anyway. Steve pauses. He nods, as if to acknowledge that Danny’s accusation that Steve will make his life more difficult is in fact correct. However, the window for operating under the illusion that this partnership was something about which Danny had options is now closed. Now Danny will be informed he has no choice. Danny will be ordered to accept his new job. And even the terms of the relationship have been preordained:

We’re gonna get along great.

So whatever Danny sees in that momentary pause, the acknowledging nod, maybe it piques his curiosity about why Steve wants him to join up so bad, maybe Danny’s feeling a little flattered that he was chosen… so many unanswered questions and potential pitfalls and he still walks out the door with this guy. AMAZING.


We’re gonna get along great.

Damn right you are, Steve.

A sinister kid, is a kid who
Runs to meet his maker
A drop dead sprint from the day he’s born
Straight into his makers arms

And that’s me, that’s me
The boy with the broken halo
That’s me, that’s me
The devil won’t let me be

About SJ2

I am good with: Details, Bad Ideas, Hilarity, Sarcasm and Overthinking! I kid because I care!


23 thoughts on “My Favorite Scene: H50 Pilot (I love it when a plan comes together)

  1. Wow. Epic post. Your attention to this kind of detail is amazing. I mean, really. I wish I could stop long enough to truly appreciate a scene like this as much as you do. Maybe one day. In the meantime, I’ll let you do my thinking for me and just ride your recaps like a night on the FOY. Bless you.

    Posted by spurschick | March 22, 2012, 2:21 pm
  2. I don’t even know where to start with how incredible this is, Steph. I’m trying to write a proper response but all I can think is: … THIS, THIS, I just… and that’s… but when you said… and when… and OMG, this bit…

    I am – literally – speechless with admiration.

    Posted by aliciad71 | March 23, 2012, 4:37 am
    • Thanks Alicia, I appreciate your compliments so much! Sometimes my words get away from me/I bite off more than I can chew. This (thankfully, in a sense) took me WAY TOO LONG to write up/screen cap, so I don’t think I’ll undertake this sort of thing again unless I really really feel compelled to do so. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Plus, like you say, it’s almost too long for anyone to really REPLY to, and one of my favorite things is talking about Show with all of you & when I do all the talking… that’s less fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Posted by stephaniejane2 (The Junk Kicker) | March 23, 2012, 11:24 pm
  3. Wow. Amazing post. I got this email in the am and pretty much all I wanted to do all day was read it. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Whenever I hear this Black Keys song I think of this scene. And lately here, Black Keys tunes have been used on a few things and yet I still think of this scene when I hear Sinister Kid. When I sing to my steering wheel I always though the lyrics to this song were so applicable to the scene. I am glad someone else gets it! Yay us.

    I love this scene too, Steph. For me it was one of the many moments in the pilot when I thought to myself, this show is gonna be epic…I. Am. So. Hooked.

    Posted by Infant_Sardonic | March 23, 2012, 4:42 am
    • SO HOOKED!

      Oh my gosh YAY Us on the lyrics is right. I’m glad someone else besides me thought so too. Sometimes Show does things So Right it’s scary!

      Another thing that occurred to me was that I watched this scene like… a billion times… screen-grabbing & making note of the things Steve & Danny said… and I never got sick of watching it. I could probably recite it if I had to – but I was fascinated & totally into it every time. Which, who knows, maybe I’m just easily pleased, but I’d like to think that it speaks to the quality of the scene as well.

      Posted by stephaniejane2 (The Junk Kicker) | March 23, 2012, 11:30 pm
      • I’ve seen the pilot a few times. Easily the most of any episode. And yet all this talk has made me want to rewatch it even though I checked it out three or so weeks ago.

        As for show, when it gets it right, it SO gets it right. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Posted by Infant_Sardonic | March 24, 2012, 2:20 am
  4. FANTASTIC analysis!! This whole pilot episode is so full of gems with dialogue and acting. This one is definetly setting a tone that, like you say, 2 seasons later still rings true.
    Two reasons why I think that that taxi trip was one way, because Steve already made up his mind about the fact that there was only one outcome for his visit:
    (1)Steve needed someone he could trust and the little bit he heard on his dads tape recorder told him, there was no one he could trust at HPD (apart from Danny that was there for one reason only, his daughter)
    (2)From there first meeting and speaking to Danny’s boss he knew this is the type of guy he wanted on his team (one with pride, that won’t back down easily and actually don’t have a personal life – just like him)

    Another special scene you haven’t mentioned, maybe the first scene of many where these two relax together and where personal info is shared willingly (with their guards down a bit), is the one back at Steve’s house having a beer. I think Steve taking of his shirt for the first time (me not complaining), maybe took away some of the importance of this too. Would like to hear you analysis on it as well.
    To me, like I have said many times before, this Pilot, is one of the best character introductions I’ve seen on TV and you taking it apart and highligthing the little but big on importance things, makes it even more enthralling!! Hope there is more.

    Posted by FOYeur | March 23, 2012, 11:38 pm
    • FOYeurrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!! I am so happy you are here. To encourage & enable my in depth obsession with Show. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Totally agree with your reasoning on the one-way taxi trip. Danny’s apartment in the Pilot just screams “I DON’T ENTERTAIN MUCH.” Poor work-a-holics with no life! And poor Danny, the “haole fresh meat from the mainland” like Chin says, so Steve knows there’s no way he’d be invited to be involved in whatever scummy stuff was going on over at HPD (which was correct)! It all just fell together really subtly & really well. Yay Show! No clarica, thank you!

      I have to agree with you about the beer on the beach scene being so vital to the pilot and establishing the partnership. If in fact Steve removing his shirt is a metaphor for being open/accessible/vulnerable to Danny and the start of their friendship (and not just fan service) it kind of does take it to another level. I mean, as he’s putting the shirt on he admits to Danny that he doesn’t know what’s in the Champ Box – he could have just kept deflecting Danny’s questions like he had in the garage but he says “the truth is, I don’t know.” Which, really, when you think about it – what an amazing statement for a guy to make.

      Plus in the beach scene, we get Danny’s own self-analysis, talking about his thoughts on police-work & how it relates to being a father, instead of Steve just kind of strong-arming Danny with his (correct) assumptions. So they are both taking those steps towards each other in forming the partnership. It’s a great, great scene. Lots going on there and so well written & acted. Plus that beautiful yellow sunlight just drenching the entire screen …. lovely.

      Posted by stephaniejane2 (The Junk Kicker) | March 24, 2012, 11:19 am
      • I don’t think I’ve ever watched any one spesific episode of a TV series as many times as I have watched this Pilot. And each time there is even something more popping up at me. Never really analysed why I like/enjoy it so much? Each scene is just a stepping stone to the next one (perfect editting) – with Moonlight each episode was a stepping stone for me to the next one or more episodes(perfect series)
        I really hope with all your analysis we’ll proof to the sceptics, how well these 4 characters really develope during the series, because I think they do!! And how they rubb off on each other.
        Good and accurate thoughts on the shirtless moment (wonder what will make him drop his pants? – oops some fuel for the slashies)
        Thanks again for sharing your thoughts

        Posted by FOYeur | March 24, 2012, 11:54 am
        • Right. No wasted scenes in The Pilot. Every moment used to its fullest potential & accomplishing something important for establishing the characters & the storytelling. That is excellent writing & production.

          And I’m with you on the character development. First we get to know them, then we get to see them grow & change as we learn about their history and see new things happen to them. This show really does that wonderfully well and we *will* prove it!

          Posted by stephaniejane2 (The Junk Kicker) | March 24, 2012, 12:36 pm
      • Totally OT but in that drawing game some of us are playing. I’m playing with Sheila and for the word champ, she drew the champ box. She is so awesome.

        Back to your post.

        I like your theory on why Steve took of his shirt. It always felt random to me so I am glad to have something to work with other than a ploy to get viewers. I do love this exchange between the boys. When show does the writing well, it really goes get it spot on.

        Posted by Infant_Sardonic | March 25, 2012, 12:15 am
  5. Steph J this is brilliant. Their FAAAAAAAAACCEESS!
    Love your screencaps (the one of Danny next to the line about his butt being in the chair actually made my ovaries twitch!)
    The Pilot had so many fantastic scenes but I love this one too. Steve and Danny stripped down (if only).
    Your analysis is wonderful.
    I’d never listened to the lyrics of the song – I don’t know this band.
    And there was me trying to hurry you onto the next episode!

    Posted by Mary Jane | March 24, 2012, 12:19 am
    • Scott Caan’s facial bone structure comes straight from heaven I swear. Holy Moly is he handsome. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And also, his eyes are quite nice. Understatement of the century, right?? Don’t even get me started on his lips. Or ears! Ok I’m stopping now.

      And believe me I *wanted* to hurry on to ep 2! I kept meaning to reply to you & say, my ep2 review is “coming soon”… but this post here kept GROWING and, ugh! it took over two weeks of my life. But I love it still. My plan is to finish up a Burberry McGarrett story I promised Westy this weekend, and do ep 2 right afterwards – so within a week. That’s my goal!

      Posted by stephaniejane2 (The Junk Kicker) | March 24, 2012, 11:26 am
  6. Wow. I’m speechless.
    I want to rewatch this episode more than ever now.

    I’ve always thought that they did such a good job setting up the characters in this pilot, and by they, I mean everyone – the writers, the director, especially the actors, and even the set decorators and wardrobe – Danny’s crappy apartment says so much about him, and his much-talked-about tie lets us know how much of a fish out of water he is in Hawaii.

    I’m a fan of looking (albeit with difficulty due to hotness) beyond the characters and seeing what’s going on in and around them on the rewatch to see what that adds (or detracts) from my opinion of the episode.

    But this. This analysis that you’ve done here. As Spursy said above, it’s EPIC. I love how you’ve broken it down and pointed out the details and made me appreciate this scene all the more. When I rewatch this ep – and since I’m stuck at home with a cold, this will happen today – I’m going to look at it with a much more critical eye (in a good way) thanks to this post.

    You rock!!

    Posted by heymomo | March 24, 2012, 10:47 am
    • Thanks Momo! The Pilot really is something special.

      If it hadn’t been so riveting I doubt I would have returned for more. By riveting I mean “with enough depth, layers, subtlety that a year and a half later I could still write ridiculously long blog posts about it.” I mean, this scene isn’t even “hot cops in paradise” it’s “two frustrated dudes in a dumpy apartment being snippy with each other.” And yet it’s So Much Better than say, “Baywatch,” which really, is what this reboot of H50 could have been, and no one would have been that surprised.

      Thank You Show for Not Being Baywatch! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Posted by stephaniejane2 (The Junk Kicker) | March 24, 2012, 12:19 pm
  7. Steph, a week late but .. but, I don’t even know what to say about this post. Your descriptions of all the nuances in that scene almost make it seem like you actually wrote the scene yourself! I was left with my insides clenched and tears in my eyes.
    Bravo! and thank you.

    Posted by karin@notMcNerd | March 30, 2012, 4:49 pm
  8. Okay, just watched this episode again. Steph, I totally agree with you (again) that so much hinges on this scene. It’s the ‘one’ in the one-two punch that cements their partnership/friendship. The ‘two’ being the drinking beers on the beach at Casa McG. These two scenes really set up what comes after in regards to their relationship.

    And on a superficial note, I noticed that on the beach as Steve is putting his shirt on the ‘one that isn’t the gecko’ tattoo is totally visible!! Bad H&M, bad!
    Or maybe they hadn’t decided yet that McG wouldn’t have that tattoo.

    Think I might watch episode 2 now…

    Posted by heymomo | March 31, 2012, 7:36 pm

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