S2E11: Like a lot of shows, Hawaii Five-0 was on a post-Thanksgiving break last week, but it returned tonight -- in a big way.
The episode kicks off with a school bus full of children and a few adult chaperones, which is ominous since we know they're gonna be involved in this episode's crime, but it's also always safe to assume that a network TV show isn't going to let any children characters die! (At least not violently.)
But I digress ...
Five-0, fresh off a pat-on-the-back press conference with the governor after they intercepted and seized $80 million in cocaine that was being smuggled into Honolulu, is immediately called to save the schoolchildren who, by the way, have been kidnapped by a pair of gun-wielding maniacs who just so happen to be requesting the swift return of said seized cocaine in two hours' time, or the kids get it.
At first, it seems that there are no leads. The man they have in custody from the coke deal, who goes by the last name Vargas, claims to know nothing other than the name of the drug cartel's head honcho: Hugo Castillo.
Meanwhile, as the clock ticks (very slowly, quite conveniently), McGarrett know that the kidnappers, having demanded the return of the cocaine, are not in it for a hefty ransom or anything of the sort. It leaves the governor no other choice than to essentially meet their demands and drop off the coke in exchange for the kids, but it backfires, quite literally: Upon dropping off the drugs, McGarrett barely escapes an explosion in the van in which they are left. It's a setup!
Back to Square One. Only, not really ...
When word gets out that one of the kids on the bus, Jason Schaffer, recognized one of the hijackers as an acquaintance of his father's, they at least know who to seek out. Turns out, the elder Schaffer was essentially this Hugo Castillo guy's "landlord" and days earlier ratted out the smuggling attempt, sabotaging the whole operation and leading Castillo to seek revenge -- AND the drugs. Greedy!
Unfortunately, Schaffer has decided to try and take matters into his own hands and end the kidnapping without police assistance, per the kidnappers' orders, which is why Five-0 can't seem to find him when they need to most. It leads to the typical shootout climax and, naturally, the just-in-the-nick-of-time rescue of the children (they were about to be buried alive!).
It doesn't quite end there, though: After everyone is safe and sound, the elder Schaffer is escorted by Five-0 back to headquarters, where he spots a recently exonerated Hugo Castillo, who Steve and Danny previously knew as Vargas.
But wait, there's more: Joe White, who was discharged by the Navy following his dangerous actions in Korea in the previous episode, embarks on a vigilante manhunt of his own for whatever "Shelburne" is and discovers that it "is not a thing or a place; it's a person" -- more specifically, the only person Wo Fat fears.
TOP FIVE MOMENTS FROM TONIGHT'S EPISODE
1. Opening sequence: When the driver of a school bus full of kids gets out to investigate what seems to be a bad car accident, one of those involved pulls a gun out, shoots him and heads toward the waiting, screaming bus. And cut to the opening credits!
2. When asked for proof by McGarrett that the kids are OK, the kidnapper orders one of the adult chaperones off the bus and promptly shoots him in the thigh – with Five-0 watching as well as the kids on the bus, who immediately start shrieking in unison. It’s a rather chilling, real-looking scene for a show that’s usually more cinematic.
3. It becomes all too clear to the viewer long before it actually happens, but the setup and execution for the scene in which Steve drops off the drugs and narrowly escapes the resulting explosion is pretty exciting.
4. This quote from an incredulous Danny to the seemingly unimportant Vargas (aka Castillo, as we soon learn) after the drug-explosion setup: “Listen to me, nobody blows $80 million worth of cocaine to save the schmuck that sits in the back of the van.”
5. The climactic “rescue” scene, featuring the usual shootout and chases, but this time Lori finds herself in grave danger – that is, before McGarrett and his gun come to her aid at the last second.