Episode Title: "Ke Kinohi"
Writer: Nicole Ranadive
Director: Brad Turner
McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) awakens in the middle of the night to find a team of ninjas attempting to steal his father’s Champ toolbox, containing key evidence regarding his mother’s murder. He puts up a good fight but proves no match for a stun gun. Later that day, the 5-0 team cases the house for clues but McGarrett is certain the only other person who has knowledge of the toolbox is his baby sister Mary Ann. Thus the team hightails it over to her rented home to find the place a wreck and Mary Ann nowhere to be found. A pool of blood and a tooth found on the floor leave McGarrett convinced she was kidnapped.
Mary Ann’s cellphone log leads McGarrett and Danno (Scott Caan) to Mamo’s surf stand, where the old family friend (Alvin Harrington) informs McGarrett of his sister’s investigation into their mother’s death. Meanwhile, Mary Ann (Taryn Manning) manages to place a call to McGarrett while locked in the trunk of her kidnappers’ car. After kicking out the taillight, she gives McGarrett an idea of where the car is headed and he hightails it over to a heliport and grabs a chopper. Moments later, he lands the chopper in front of the car, shoots down the two kidnappers and frees Mary Ann from the trunk.
Back at the shop, Mary Ann tells her big brother about her investigation into their mother’s death. Having used her phone to photograph all the evidence that was inside the Champ box, she shows the team a postcard from Japan with a message written in a cryptic stick figure code. She equates the cipher to something out of a Sherlock Holmes novel, which her father used to read to her. Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) tells the team that the two kidnappers were low-level Yakuza or "Bosozoku." (random bit of trivia for ya: "bosozoku" is sometimes translated as "speed tribe." You can read more about them and other Japanese subcultures in Karl Taro Greenfield’s excellent book "Speed Tribes").
Upon arriving at the local "bosozoku" hangout, McGarrett makes a grand entrance through the front door on a gang member’s bike. He and McGarrett soon identify the thug whose tooth Mary Ann knocked out but he won’t talk. However, Kono (Grace Park) uncovers a call on one of the thug’s phones to a high profile Japanese businessman and Hawaiian benefactor, Hiro Noshimuri (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), the same name McGarrett’s deciphers from the postcard.
After paying Noshimuri a visit at a restaurant, Governor Jameson (Jean Smart), whom he was lunching with, arrives at 5-0 HQ to reprimand McGarrett. But when the Navy SEAL explains Noshimuri’s connection to the Yakuza and McGarrett’s family, she offers her support.
Chin Ho informs McGarrett about Noshimuri’s brother, Koji (William Maeda), a former HPD officer who worked with McGarrett’s father. Danno and McGarrett return to Mamo’s stand with a picture of Koji. McGarrett soon recognizes one of the thugs who broke into his house and a shootout ensues. Meanwhile, Kono finds the Champ box in the dumpster of the "bosozoku" hangout.
McGarrett tracks down Hiro and Koji playing golf and promises to take them down when he has the means. He also encounters the elusive Wo Fat, who also had dealings in the past with Victor Hesse.
McGarrett ships Mary Ann off to Los Angeles where she’ll be out of harm’s way. Later back at HQ, McGarrett looks over the evidence his sister gathered from the toolbox when Danno arrives to tell him that Koji was killed in a car accident.
"Ke Kinohi," which means "the beginning," was as absurd as it was awesome. "Hawaii Five-0’s" tentpole episodes often feel more like a big screen action flick than a small screen procedural and this hour was the perfect example.
The overarching mystery surrounding the death of McGarrett’s parents may not be the stuff of Robert Ludlum but it provides enough intrigue to carry the ongoing storyline throughout the series. And throwback baddies like Wo Fat are a nice homage to the original series.
Kidnapping McGarrett’s kid sister to shutdown the investigation into his mother’s death is a believable premise. But the execution was where things took a turn for the unbelievable. After all, what kidnapper forgets to check their victim for a cellphone?
And McGarrett’s commandeering a helicopter at a moment’s notice and driving a gangster’s bike through a clubhouse door were both ridiculous action sequences, but nonetheless awesome. The writers cram a ton of action and sharp plot turns into an hour, often at the expense of credibility. But "Hawaii Five-0" isn’t supposed to be "Cops." It works because McGarrett can land a helicopter in the middle of a mountainside highway and ride a motorcycle through a Yakuza den’s frontdoor, not because any of that is actually plausible.
One hang-up I do have with this episode and a few others in "5-0’s" freshman run is the number of public shootouts these guys get into. The Governor might be pissed that McGarrett soured the state’s relationship with business bigwig Hiro Noshimuri but I imagine she’d be more concerned about the effect of 5-0’s beach gunfights on tourism.
As for McGarrett’s little sis, Mary Ann, Taryn Manning added a little spunk to what might otherwise be a throwaway role. Let’s hope McGarrett’s quest to put away the men behind his parents’ deaths brings her back to the island sooner than later.
Another score for "Ke Kinohi?" McGarrett stepping into the spotlight which is usually stolen by his partner, Danno. I’m not sure if I’ll ever tire of Danno’s straight outta’ Jersey wisecracks but I certainly don’t mind spending an hour watching McGarrett in Navy SEAL ninja mode.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.