'Hawaii Five-0': Back story + big bad = big step forward

hawaii-5-0-hanaa-320.jpgNow we're talking.

When Zap2it put together its midseason report card on the new shows a couple weeks ago, I wrote this about "Hawaii Five-0": "It's in danger of becoming the show we watch while we're doing other things around the house."

After Monday's (Dec. 13) episode, the show has my full attention again. (Spoilers ahoy for those who haven't watched yet.)

The last episode of 2010 brought back the season's original bad guy, introduced an even badder guy in Wo Fat and -- most important -- started to mine some of the back story for both McGarrett and Chin Ho. "Five-0" isn't suddenly going to turn into "Lost," but after 10 post-pilot episodes of crime-investigation-local color-banter-case closed, some hint of an ongoing story line is very much welcome.

The episode, "Hana 'a'a Makehewa," re-introduced Victor Hesse ( James Marsters), who somehow survived being shot by McGarrett and falling into the water at the end of the pilot. He manages to cold-cock Chin Ho and place an explosive collar around his neck, demanding $10 million and safe passage off the island from McGarrett or else boom.

Except he doesn't really care about the money, tossing the cash McGarrett hands him on a fire before trying to take both him and Chin Ho down. The good guy wins, of course (we all know that's not going to change), and Hesse ends up in jail.

It's there that we get our first glimpse of Wo Fat ("Iron Chef America" chairman/"Dancing With the Stars" contestant Mark Dacascos), who's apparently been keeping tabs on the McGarrett family for a while. He's concerned that Steve may be getting a little too close to figuring out the clues in his dad's toolbox.

Wo Fat was McGarrett's arch-nemesis in the original "Five-0," so it was pretty much a given that the new show would find a way to bring the character into the picture. It feels like there's a lot of potential in having him be involved with Steve's dad's investigation -- yet it's also something that doesn't have to take over the story every week. CBS doesn't really want the show to get heavily serialized, but the best procedurals of late have been ones where there's more than just the case of the week to engage viewers.

That the show also found a way to involve Chin Ho's past in the McGarrett story is all the better. He was drummed out of the Honolulu PD for allegedly being dirty, so there's no way that $10 million going missing from a secret evidence locker won't come back to bite Five-0 in the butt somewhere down the road. The show has also made a few nods to Chin Ho's connection to McGarrett's dad in the past, so having their ongoing stories dovetail seems like the right play.

"Five-0" returns Jan. 3, and based on CBS' description of the episode, McGarrett's past will still be in the foreground. We'll be watching.

What did you think of Monday's episode?
Photo/Video credit: CBS