Titled "Makani 'Olu A Holo Malie," Hawaii Five-0 Season 4 Episode 21 was a tense, heart-wrenching hour.
It started with a routine traffic accident and possible mugging, which turned into an investigation of a stolen transplant organ and an attempted murder.
But then a call from an old friend in Afghanistan took Catherine and Steve rushing across the globe to save a young boy abducted by the Taliban.
Hawaii Five-0 likes to be a show that has a little fun on the side in the midst of some very heavy and tragic cases, but it feels just a bit more true to life when you see two of the Five-0 heroes swept up into fighting Taliban terrorists on their own turf - all the way from the beaches of Hawaii to the deserted rural outback of Afghanistan.
Could those worlds be further apart?
When a friend from Catherine's past called needing her help to rescue his son who had been kidnapped, she did not hesitate; nor did Steve who joined her on this off-the-books rescue mission to save a young boy.
As much as we applaud that noble and fearless gesture, it came with a steep price: Steve was captured and nearly killed. Worse yet, he was forced to return home without Catherine, leaving her alone to complete her mission to find the young boy in extremely hostile territory.
It is always fun watching the Five-0 unit quickly and efficiently solve their own crimes. The stolen transplant organ was quickly recovered and just in time to save the life of a plaintiff's attorney suing a major chemical manufacturer in a class action.
It was a nice win back at home.
But the real story was what was going on with Catherine and Steve and the missing boy. Catherine and Steve should never have gone on their own into Afghanistan, a hostile country where their were vastly outnumbered.
But Catherine and Steve thought they could make a quick, sneak attack and save the boy. It was a strong plan, just lacking in back-up when they were out-manned and out-gunned. Catherine did rescue over a dozen kidnapped children; just not the boy she was searching for -- the son of the man who saved her life two years earlier when she had been shot and separated from her unit.
It was to repay Catherine for an act of kindness she had made years before in preventing his son from running into a minefield after a soccer ball -- a soccer ball which she got a U.S. military tank to retrieve from the minefield.
For that one simple act of kindness was a debt the father repaid by saving her life when she was injured. So when the father called begging for Catherine's help when his son was taken, she did not hesitate and was on the first flight out.
But Afghanistan is not a country for one person or even two people to try to plan a rescue mission on their own. Catherine did save a dozen children, but Steve was caught and nearly executed.
Fortunately, Catherine finally did something really smart. She called Danny, who very quickly got the military involved and an immediate rescue mission was made getting to Steve just in the nick of time was he was about to lose his head (literally) while being videotaped for the whole world to see.
But not before sustaining a vicious beating, which was distinctly unpleasant to watch. Torture scenes are always unpleasant, and seeing it reenacted even on a TV screen just turns one's stomach.
So it was hard to feel like cheering when the military came in and rescued Steve, killing all the terrorists holding him. It was not really a cheering moment. Steve had been brutally and savagely beaten. In fact, he was taken away in a stretcher barely conscious. Seeing his rescue was simply a time to quietly let the air out of our lungs and breathe again.
Even Danny, once he saw how badly Steve was injured and brutalized, looked shaken and yet grateful that they had reached Steve just in time.
That moment was a strong reminder that it takes a team to hunt down criminals, and that that team will care deeply if one of its members is hurt or killed.
Perhaps that bond of friendship and near familial love is taken for granted back at home. But on the battlefield, risking one's life takes on a more immediate meaning. The stakes feel somehow higher.
Which is exactly why Steve was so distraught and terrified to hear that Catherine was still out there on her own. Under military guard, he and Danny were not able to stay behind or even to slip away to search for her.
It was then a great relief when she finally came out of hiding to call Steve and let him know she was okay.
But the pained expression on both Steve and Catherine's faces was a stark reminder that she was still in great jeopardy -- and Steve would have done anything to be with her in that moment so that she was not alone.
Alone behind enemy lines and searching for a stolen boy, who may have been taken over the border into even more hostile territory. So when Steve tells her: "I love you, you know" and she replies: "I love you too," it is a piercing reminder that she is a world away -- a million miles away. He cannot just go rushing to her aid again, as much as he wants to.
Those tears in both their eyes were the tears were felt in our eyes watching them. Their declarations of love were just as much a goodbye as they were going to get. Catherine alone, across the border, attempting to rescue a boy stolen by terrorists.
It's a suicide mission at best -- and they both knew it.
Perhaps fate will deal them a kinder hand and miraculously Catherine will make it back safely. But this is the real world (for them anyway) and the odds are against it. It is a cruel nod to how this episode opened, the entire Five-0 team at the poker tables, throwing their money in the pot with such ease and carefree laughter.
But you cannot gamble in the real world and expect to win. If fate is kind one day, it may not be the next -- and they had already tested fate by rescuing the boys and the miraculous rescue of Steve from the Taliban compound.
It will be a roll of the dice to see if Catherine can rescue Amir's son and get out with her life, and those odds are not good betting odds.
So our hearts were torn at the end of this episode. Children had been saved. Steve had been rescued. A transplant patient received his stolen liver. But Catherine was still far from home and searching for a stolen boy.
This round at the poker tables had been favorable for some, but not all. In this next gaming round, Catherine's hand may not be so favorable and we just hope and pray that she is dealt a winning hand again.
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