Unlike many other returning series this fall, CBS' Hawaii Five-0 chooses to pick up exactly where its last season left off, rather than jump a bit in the future and have the audience play catch up. Fans will be slammed back into the heart of the action, and the line of fire, when the fourth season premiere "Aloha ke kahi I ke kahi (We Need Each Other)" begins with McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) still staring down Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), who is the target of a lot of predatory gunfire. While many fans might want McGarrett to step out of the way, he still wants answers, and that drive motivates every decision he makes in this season premiere.
McGarrett and Wo Fat in maximum security is really just the tip of the iceberg for "Aloha ke kahi I ke kahi (We Need Each Other)", though. This fourth season really kicks off with one of the most interesting hostage situations we've seen in awhile. Gunmen storm Five-0 headquarters not only looking for their brother in arms who is being interrogated but also for some information on the team's super computer. SWAT, including new leader (Chi McBride) gather outside and assess the situation. But then things take a turn for the so quick-moving and convoluted you don't even have time to try to keep up but rather just have to sit back and get dragged along. This fourth season premiere packs so much story into such a short amount of time, it's slightly implausible that all of the events actually could occur, especially back-to-back. McGarrett must be running on pure adrenaline to even make the moves he does, and even he seems to be flying by the seat of his pants at times. O'Loughlin taps into a slightly more vulnerable side of McGarrett simply because there is such an unknown factor involved. He knows he has to bring down the bad guys at all costs, as usual, but he doesn't really know the full extent of who they are, what they want, or of what they're capable. And for a brief moment that even seems to scare him. But it's admirable that a series this deep in hasn't gotten lazy and picked only one of these elements for the episode. Instead, Hawaii Five-0 is firing on all cylinders, and even when it seems like the story is spinning out of control (much like the helicopter McGarrett is forced to crash land in this episode), it proves, again just like McGarrett himself, it has had a plan all along. Nothing is lost in this insane shuffle, and even the most seemingly "out there" moments of the episode connect by the end.
What's fascinating about "Aloha ke kahi I ke kahi (We Need Each Other)" is that for much of the episode the 5-0 team is severely separated, at any given moment a different one of them is in some kind of danger with the others not always even fully aware of the situation. They are pulled apart literally and physically-- especially with Kono (Grace Park) en route to a secret location to begin a new life with Adam (Ian Anthony Dale). This should allow the audience to see each individual team member shine, to remind everyone of what they're bringing to this team that's so valuable. But with such wildcard bad guys of the week (including special guest star Henry Ian Cusick), the moves they make when they don't have immediate back-up at hand may surprise, and in some cases, actually disappoint you. But it all serves to make you appreciate the group that much more during the rare moment they are all together after McGarrett has saved the day once again. Their jocular nature and easy demeanor proves that no matter what they're facing down, they feel safest and most comfortable when surrounded by each other. Let's hope future episodes of the season let them work together as usual because that is when they are at their best.
This fourth season premiere stays true to the format of Hawaii Five-0 in that the hostage takers are "bad guys of the week" who get wrapped up by episode's end. But that is not to say that their actions don't have ramifications to come in future episodes, let alone a season-long arc. Wo Fat was just one piece of their puzzle, but they have ties to others we have seen Five-0 fight before and will see attempt to take down, once and for all, again. Most interestingly, though, McGarrett finally makes a move on getting real answers about Wo Fat-- deeper ones than just why his mother went to visit him. He is finally ready and willing to ask the overarching question of how they're connected at all, which should then explain all of her behavior toward him. Whether McGarrett is really ready for that answer may be another story, but it's nice to see the show finally go there since a good chunk of its audience has already made certain assumptions. It's always more fun for an audience to play catch-up to what the characters know, learning through the story, rather than sitting around waiting for the story and the characters to deliver on something that is easily deduced but not yet official canon.
Hawaii Five-0 returns to CBS on September 27 2013 at 9 p.m.
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