CBS' Hawaii Five-0 reboot has concluded its first season. While audiences have recently waffled in their devotion to the action-drama from the duo that brought us Fringe, the show still attracts plenty of viewers. After viewing the season finale, "Oia’i’o" the question will be whether it packed enough of a punch to keep people coming back in the fall.
Whether you are old enough to have watched the first incarnation of Hawaii Five-0 starring Jack Lord, or you only began watching the current version because the guy from Ocean's Eleven and Boomer from Battlestar Galactica are part of the cast, you've got to admit hearing the theme song kick-in does tend to get your attention. Those who have remained loyal and watched throughout the season are likely anxious to uncover the mystery surrounding the death of Steve McGarrett's (Alex O'Loughlin) father (William Sadler) and see the long-teased showdown between the Five-0 team and Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos).
Dacascos, taking a break from his position as the venerable chairman of Iron Chef America, performs well as a feared criminal and manages to be an engaging villain for McGarrett's super-cop to go up against. Earlier in the season, James Marsters’ Victor Hesse (Smallville, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) was seen as McGarrett’s central foe (having actually murdered the elder McGarrett) and matched well against the more physical, action-oriented aspects of the McGarrett character. However, after dispatching Hesse, McGarrett was pitted against a far more calculating and patient villain in Wo Fat – a fact that has forced McGarrett to better utilize the specialties of his fellow Five-0 members in order to combat this new foe.
"Oia’io" strictly adheres to the Hawaii Five-0 episode formula, so the only surprises come from the events on screen. We have a crime, an ensuing investigation and a small glimpse into the private life of a member of the Five-0 squad – it’s all pretty simple.
After the murder of the Governor’s aide, Laura Hills (Kelly Hu), in a manner similar to McGarrett’s mother’s murder, the team begins to piece together the connection between Hawaii Governor Pat Jameson (Jean Smart) and the elusive Wo Fat. The ensuing and somewhat clandestine investigation into the Governor leads McGarrett to uncover the truth about his parents’ murders, but his actions play directly into the hands of Wo Fat, and ultimately leaves the Five-0 unit in shambles.
For the most part, "Oia’io" was a pretty slick, well-produced ending to a season that was much the same thing – slick, and well produced. The episode succeeds by creating the illusion that the status quo has somehow been upended and that things will never be the same. Even though we all know better, its fun to be taken in by the simple premise of the cliffhanger – which is really nothing more than an hour-long-segue into season 2.
Honestly, though, beyond that famous theme song – we, the viewers, are ultimately just watching yet another police procedural that (despite a gorgeous locale complete with its own interesting culture) is pretty much just like all the rest.
As with all action-oriented shows like Hawaii Five-0, there is a need to move the plot along quickly, have the big action piece, but still allow for some character development. While Hawaii Five-0 certainly strives to provide all of those in the allotted time, it often does so through the use of clunky dialogue and extremely convenient circumstances. What CBS and the show’s producers are keenly aware of is the fact they have an incredibly fan-friendly cast that works, even when specifics of the show may not.
Knowing that, Hawaii Five-0 seemed intent on fleshing out each character as much as possible – and they succeeded for the most part. With the exception of Grace Park’s Kono Kalakaua, Hawaii Five-0 did an admirable job finding a balance between each character’s individual sub-plots, the specifics of each episode and the overall arc of the season.
Hopefully in season 2, the writers will find more for Park to do other than be used as bait, or to utilize some form of non-existent technology with so much speed and expertise, one wonders why she wouldn't work in a less dangerous position that pays more. Now that Chin Ho Kelly has ostensibly cleared his name, perhaps Park will be given more of the spotlight and a chance to grow when the series returns.
After the first few episodes of Hawaii Five-0, it became clear that the show had very quickly achieved an important balance – and would not sway much in either direction throughout the course of the season. It's one of those rare shows that exists, but doesn't really get in anybody's way. It isn't necessarily great, but it's not bad either – it just is.
Though ratings dipped at certain points during the year, Hawaii Five-0 performed well enough to merit a second season. It's likely that the program will turn out to be a workhorse for CBS – earning solid, but not fantastic ratings, and generally keeping the advertising and product placement dollars coming in. It is doubtful that Hawaii Five-0 will ever be a gargantuan hit like CSI or NCIS, but thanks to the great cast, this rebooted television show will likely have several seasons to at least try.
Did you enjoy the first season?
Look for Hawaii Five-0 to return to CBS this Fall.