HAWAII FIVE-0 3.17 ‘Pa’ani’ (‘The Game’)

Episode Title: "Paiani" ("The Game")

Writers: Kyle Harimoto and David Wolkove

Director: Jeffrey Hunt

Previously on "Hawaii Five-0"

Episode 3.16 "Kekoa" ("Warrior")


Are you ready for some football? I hope so, because this episode of "Hawaii Five-0" was all about pigskin hero worship.

Alright, maybe not the whole episode. In fact, before McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin)and Danno’s (Scott Caan) shrimp truck-side debate over the greatest quarterback of our time, we get a pretty awesome cold open that looked like a scene from "Zero Dark Thirty," as a helicopter descends on a desert compound and delivers a squad of soldiers to engage the enemy in an intense firefight.

Turns out the soldiers are just a bunch of brainy software execs and the desert compound they’re "raiding" is really part of something called "Tactical Ops Fantasy Camp," a place where ordinary civilians get to take their "Call of Duty" skills to the next level. It’s all just fun and fake insurgents until one of the execs gets shot at for real.

While the Silicon Valley crowd is off playing wargames, McGarrett and Danno are bickering about football with Kamekona (Taylor Wily). If you’re not a fan of the sport, it comes as a relief when McG gets "the call" about the exec’s murder, putting an end to the argument.

The team drills a number of suspects, including the software company CEO (Hey, it’s the dude from Train, Pat Monahan), a jealous co-worker, a bouncer at the club the victim was at the night before and a disgraced former special forces member turned professional blackmailer.

With the help of one of McGarrett’s kooky island friends, a Tiki bar singer named Nicky "The Kid" Demarco (Larry Manetti), the team learns that the victim left the bar with a woman who likes to seduce rich tourists and take their money. The woman, they learn, was hired by the ex-special forces guy to procure some data from the victim’s laptop. And who was this data for, you ask?

Well, you see the dude from Train knows his software company is about to go belly up and so did our vic. But like many big time brainiac execs, our victim had an insurance policy taken out on him by his boss. Seeing as his company’s about to go bankrupt anyway, the CEO committed the murder in hopes of cashing in on the insurance policy. As for the data, he hoped to keep that from ever going public by having the ex-soldier steal it for him

It’s not an especially compelling mystery, but this episode was more about random guest stars and highlighting the Pro Bowl than anything else. Houston Texans’ running back, Arian Foster, Larry Manetti, who, in an interesting parallel to "5-0" played "Rick," a nightclub manager with underworld contacts who worked with Navy SEAL turned detective, "Thomas Magnum" on the long-running Hawaii-set ‘80s hit, "Magnum P.I., and yes, the dude from Train as our killer CEO.

Action-wise, the opening sequence was an exciting one and later on we saw McGarrett leap across an escalator and drop kick the dude from Train. He had it coming for writing that song that’s in every Samsung commercial.

I’ve come down on "Hawaii Five-0" for product placement before, but I can appreciate a Hawaii-based show throwing a spotlight on the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, if you’re not a football fan, McGarrett and Danny’s quarterback debate and Catherine’s Cowboys fan posturing falls kind of flat. And you could probably do without the scene at the end where Catherine (Michelle Borth) rubs her run-in with Danny’s hero, Peyton Manning in his face and then gifts him with a signed football (like he's just giving those away).

The football stuff was a bit tedious, but this episode redeemed itself with a cool opening and upping the bar on totally random guest stars. Though I have to take issue with McGarrett labeling Fantasy Football "Dungeons & Dragons for sports geeks." I’d take a dwarf cleric over a quarterback, any day.