Episode Title: “Kekoa” (“Warrior”)
Writer: Al Septien and Turi Meyer
Director: Larry Teng
Previously on “Hawaii Five-0”
What do an underground fight club, Summer Glau, Ginuwine and Treat Williams have in common? I think you already know and it’s pretty awesome.
There are many reasons why “Hawaii Five-0” is a hit, but the two standouts for me are the terrific action sequences and the show’s resourceful use of random pop culture references. Did we really need to see a male stripper in leather chaps grinding against a frazzled bachelorette to Ginuwine’s “Pony” before the opening credits? Not necessarily, but why the hell not?
The case of the week in “Kekoa” didn’t involve male strippers or ‘90s R&B singers, but rather an underground fight club linked to the death of a Hawaiian-style fighting master. When the man is shot dead in the trunk of his kidnapper’s car, 5-0 investigates.
Meanwhile, McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) reaches out to his old pal, Mick Logan (Treat Williams), a retired Navy intelligence officer turned private investigator. McG hires Mick to surveil his mother, whom he suspects is involved in some sort of “black op.”
Turns out the “black op” is grocery shopping. When Momma McG (Christine Lahti) accuses Mick of following her, he admits he merely wanted her advice on which wine to buy. This leads to Mick asking her out and later, arriving at the McGarrett home to pick up his date. Momma McG chides her son, reminding him that if he wants to know what she’s up to, he only need ask, leaving us to assume she figured out Mick’s real M.O.
While McGarrett may have failed to get any real info on mom, he and the team do succeed in busting up an underground fight club where our murdered Hawaiian fight master was forced to compete, in hopes that he’d be killed so that one of his students could profit from what has always been a sacred and protected martial art.
At first, the team fingers friend of 5-0, Kamekona (Taylor Wily) for the hit as his prints were found on the murder weapon. But as he explains to the team, Kamekona gave the victim, who was also his cousin, the gun so that he could protect himself after his fish market was robbed.
The team then focuses on the victim’s daughter, Maggie (Summer Glau), also a highly trained Hawaiian fighter. At first, she refuses to bring 5-0 to her father’s training compound, out of respect for her father’s wish to keep the art closely guarded, but with Kamekona’s urging, she agrees to bring 5-0 in.
The visit turns up no leads, but after asking around town, Kamekona gets a hit on a surveillance photo leading the team to the ringleader of an underground fight club, Ramsey Pollack (Keith Jardine). Meanwhile, Maggie is kidnapped by her father’s apprentice and brought to Pollack’s event, which takes place in a drained indoor swimming pool inside a mansion. Assorted bruisers and high-society types cheer on as Maggie faces off against Pollack’s top female fighter. Maggie delivers a beating to the woman and is about to take on her father’s student when 5-0 crashes the party.
What “Kekoa” lacked in mystery it made up for in action, not to mention a couple of fun guest stars. No, there weren’t any high-speed chases or big set pieces, but we did see McGarrett hit a perp with a garden gnome named “Chucky.” It was also pretty great when the big bad approaches McG, swinging some sort of knife on a rope and McGarrett just shoots him in the leg. Not every action scene needs to involve a helicopter airlifting an armored van, though it does help.
In the guest star department, we had Treat Williams as McG’s semi-sleazy private investigator buddy and probably the last person he wants dating his mother. Summer Glau broke out of her usual genre roles with this guest spot and MMA fans surely recognized “The Dean of Mean,” Keith Jardine as the underground fight club promoter. My only gripe is that we didn’t see him throw down with McGarrett in the pool. Otherwise, “Kekoa” was another fun, occasionally ridiculous and thoroughly entertaining hour of “5-0.”