In many ways, ‘Kai e’e’is just the type of episode that I want from Hawaii Five-0. I’m almost certain that I have mentioned in previous reviews that, for me, one of the main attractions of this show is in how it can be unique amongst cop shows simply by taking advantage where it is set. Last night’s episode really effectively used its location for a story that (probably) no other show on the air could pull off – as it centered on the threat that comes from a tsunami warning. Whilst there was, of course, no actual tsunami, the ensuing evacuation provided Hawaii Five-0 with a interesting and distinct situation in which to play out one of its most well-balanced episodes yet.
The tsunami-based plotline emerges in the first scene, which sees Danno being taught some surfing basics by Kono (this is a character combination that the series underuses). Fairly suddenly, we’re thrust into a premise that is very particular to Hawaii, and to some extent, the impact of the tsunami is something that we’re left to ponder for most of the episode. (Although, I imagine that most television viewers would’ve fairly quickly guessed that it was a hoax.) The majority of the drama doesn’t come from the question of whether-there-will-be-a-tsunami-or-not though… it comes from the fact that Hawaii’s foremost tsunami expert has gone missing and without him, a team of scientists are totally confused by an overload of data.
You may or may not have noticed, but both the setup and eventual payoff of ‘Kai e’e’are very similar to a story that Hawaii Five-0 did in ‘Hao Kanaka’ (you know, the one where the triathletes used a triathlon as a distraction so that they could steal a lot of diamonds). Really, I’d be genuinely surprised if I were to encounter a viewer who was genuinely surprised by the reveal that the whole tsunami thing turned out to be an extremely elaborate diversion to enable a member of the coast guard to attempt to rob an HPD evidence locker.
There were, as always, elements of the episode that didn’t work as well as I would like. For one, just like the previous installment, the proceedings were all a tiny bit too predictable. When it was revealed that Dr. Russell (Hawaii’s one-and-only tsunami expert) had left behind a message (the number 1015), it was abundantly clear that he was indicating a specific time – 10:15. Furthermore, as I previously stated, Hawaii Five-0 has done this plot before, less than five episodes ago. If that’s not predictable then I don’t know what is! I can’t finish this paragraph without mentioning that it was also a little contrived, as this is an evidence locker that the Five-0 team robbed in broad daylight, without any distractions and under significantly more pressure in ‘Hana ‘a’a Makehewa.’ With a distraction this big, I was kind of hoping for a bigger crime.
Last night’s episode, though, despite its flaws, struck a balance that I’d be happy to see Hawaii Five-0 do more of in the future. There was the right amount of standalone elements mixed in with more serialised ones for this to be something of a crowd-pleaser. I enjoyed how it related itself back to the earlier story and how it puts the team in a place where they’re facing tough decisions and real consequences. (Even with the slight twist at the end, the ramifications of the lengths that they went to in order to secure Chin’s safety will come in to play… potentially with Wo Fat, which should be exciting.) It is important for the show to recognise that the characters occasionally bend the rules too far, and for it to reassure us that these are cops with integrity.
I’d like to see Hawaii Five-0 find this balance more frequently as it definitely benefits from it. Even if the standalone story of the episode was far from perfect, it did do some really special stuff that only a show with this type of setting can, and it was compelling enough to keep me hooked. There was some really decent payoff for the events of the Christmas episode and it all ended with a good mystery twist for us to mull over until the next offering. ‘Kai e’e’is, without doubt, amongst the more successful episodes of Hawaii Five 0‘s first season.