So in my mind this is like, the first “real” ep of Show. If The Pilot was all about introducing the characters, this episode is all about introducing the formula, the format. Maybe it would be better to say this is the first “normal” episode of Show. This episode is a non-event, setting the average baseline, setting expectations for what’s to come. And right out the gate we get an… average episode… chock full of the things I love about Show with a fair helping of… what I don’t.
Starting off Bad: an extended scene showing the victim of the week (VotW) chatting with his son on the phone before he is besieged by villains. This introduces us right away to a couple of Show’s biggest faults (in my book):
1) Pointlessly using children to amp up the drama
2) Extended intro scenes setting up the crime
Taking the first 10 episodes of H50 Season 1 where none of the “Core 4” make an appearance — so excluding the pilot, the football game ep, the ep where Kono’s mentor is shot, etc. the length of each of the intro scenes (before the credits roll) is 127 seconds long, or just over two minutes.
I then did the same for 10 Season 1 NCIS:LA eps (Show’s crossover partner) and the average was 97 seconds, just over a minute & a half. Doesn’t seem like much, but over time, it makes a difference (thirty seconds times 40 episodes is 20 whole minutes of Show!).
NCIS:LA’s opening scenes get shorter as the series progresses. I swear to god one of the Season 3 eps begins with a guy walking down a street, as he passes a convenience store (so lots of glass windows) some gangsters drive by & shoot him (and the glass windows) to pieces, and it takes all of 30 seconds.
However, what we have here is nearly two whole minutes of VotW chatting with his Child before he is kidnapped. Not to beat this dead horse of a point, but two minutes is 4% of a 42 minute show.
So Hooray! that’s over! So we segue into Good: H50’s now iconic “Why I’m a Cop” montage (swimming McG, Danno with Gracie, Chin on his bike & Kono with her brand new uniform) and the beyond words epic malasada breakfast which introduces us to the Great Tie Debate of Season 1. Alex & Scott are brilliant in this scene, and the writing is crisp. Love it. Nothing but love.
However, then the case begins. We spend some pointless time with the Child (kids never know anything!) but then McG & Danny go to the Air Force Base. The case progresses procedural-style pretty much from there…
…until Chin leads McG & Danny to the Hotel With A Roof. They get to The Roof via elevator. Which, again love that scene. Everyone likes hippos! The faces, the writing, the comedic timing. Great stuff.
And then we get to The Roof. So McG hangs a guy off a roof. We’re supposed to be shocked (I think we are, at least, I was) and Danny’s reaction while… loud… makes sense. It’s not technically proper.
But Show makes its first big mistake of the ep: Chin has pulled the baddie’s rap sheet while on The Roof and informed McG & Danny the man was a professional thief; by the time McG & Danny get back to the car, McG somehow knows what the Interpol database didn’t — that the man is in the Serbian Mafia & his tattoo means his gang is the ruthless sort that “kills kids.” How did this not appear on the man’s rap sheet? This is unfortunate writing. Most of Danny’s ranting in the car was unnecessary and it makes him look like a total idiot (although, honestly, Danny, that dude didn’t say a word the entire time you talked to him, you weren’t going to “get into his head,” Serbian Mafia or not).
So Danny looks like an incompetent moron and McG looks like a dangerous know it all. Thanks Show! Great job there. Danny & McG pretty much snip at each other the rest of the episode. The bromance has gotten off to a rocky start. Show has me frowning at it.
However, Show gets big points for Toast. Adam Charles! “Dessert before Dinner,” “I’ll take my time & do it right,” “unicorn style,” and “that’s problematic” are things I say now… all the time. Please, Show! Bring Back Toast!
Kono is now on baby-sitting duty and we spend more pointless time with the Child. Now Kono herself is pretty darn awesome in this episode, big points for Kono. She is great protecting the VotW & Child while they are being held by the baddies; she is resourceful and intense.
My favorite scene of the episode comes as Chin, Danny & McG close in on the location where the Baddies are holding Kono & the victims hostage.
McG shows he can ask for input before moving forward & Danno learns that maybe he & McG don’t operate so differently after all. It’s a short little scene – more like a collection of lines than anything else – but it gets the episode back on track. Everything that happens after this moment is in Team Five-0’s favor. Also, I just really like Danny’s “frightened” and McG’s “thinking” faces.
But the bad guys — do you even remember anything about the bad guys? Either the Serbian boss or… whoever it was that came to buy the skeleton key? They were so forgettable and cliche. The most ridiculous moment to me is when the Boss doesn’t let the Evil Girlfriend shoot Kono outright. They have this lengthy conversation about how she is a good hostage & then later, when Evil Girlfriend does get permission to shoot, she takes her time, smiles evilly, cocks her gun dramatically… it’s so… stale and trite. The bad guys then are all shot and/or exploded and/or “booked,” and the episode ends but not before we get this:
The Final Scene of this episode is just… pure magic. The writing, the tight close-ups of their faces, Oh Their Faces. Which are priceless.
This final scene is so perfect. As the older guys bring Kono into their ranks, we are brought in, too. When McG says “we take care of each other like family,” he is saying that to us, too. If this moment worked for you, you became a fan of H50. If this moment didn’t push your buttons emotionally, you probably didn’t keep watching. Because this is what Show is all about.
This ep gets 5.8 out of 10 from me. Not a great score. Everything that earned points in this episode had to do with the writing of the McG/Danny breakfast scene and some additional banter throughout, Kono being generally awesome, Toast, and the Final Ohana scene. In this ep, Kono is the highlight – far & away – most of which is due to Grace Park’s highly underrated and under-appreciated acting abilities.
Chin, McG & Danny all have their moments, but what worked against this episode is the unfortunate writing around how the case was solved that pitted McG & Danny against each other unnaturally and nonsensically — creating a conflict just to have conflict between the two new partners. Additionally, the completely forgettable, potboiler bad guys & gal who endanger a child for no reason other than to ratchet up the drama. Show! You can do better!
But let’s end on a happy note… it’s party time… and McG & Danno are bringing the lollipops!
So let’s party!
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way… ~Charles Dickens