Hawaii Five-0 season 9 episode 17 — the second of a two-episode block on CBS tonight, was directed by none other than Alex O’Loughlin. He got to showcase one talent behind the scenes, while also showcasing a lot of talent in front of the camera — sure, himself, but also Beulah Kaole front and center for an emotional Junior Reigns story that dove deep into his past.
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Following a happy Junior – Tani moment in the first episode, things took a turn for the worse here as the writers dove into a major blind spot for the character: The feelings that he had for his ex Layla. Even if he didn’t want to be with her again, there was an impossible-to-describe connection there. After it was determined that the father of her son was involved in a bank heist that turned deadly, he found himself in the difficult spot of trying to figure out the proper way to handle this. Could he keep his allegiance to Five-0, while also being there for a woman he once loved?
What was so interesting about this episode was the perspective of it. It’s not often that you see a story told through the perspective of a culprit, but you saw that at times as we understood more of how Layla’s criminal boyfriend ended up being in the showdown at the end of the episode. Tory (Layla’s boyfriend) found himself compromised as a result of the people he was with, and that led to him having to square off with Junior in a park, with a gun at his head. What he didn’t know was that Junior had backup; what Junior probably assumed, meanwhile, was that so did his target.
Junior eventually did choose Five-0 as he struggled with the ethics of this case and what to do; yet, we also do think that he chose Layla. He wanted to keep her safe, and he realized in turn that the only way in order to do that was to try to find a way to bring this guy in. The showdown in the park wasn’t the only showdown that we had, as Tory’s eventual escape led to another confrontation between him and Junior.
Junior didn’t want to shoot him; he just had no choice. He didn’t want to take that part of Layla’s life away and you could see that in the seconds that followed the bullet. What a performance from Kaole here. It’s going to be something that he has to carry with him moving forward. Will his relationship with Layla ever be the same? Will he be able to reconcile the more dangerous nature of his job with the life that he has?
Tonight, we learned how Layla and Junior’s relationship ended, how Layla and Tory eventually connected, and how that story ended. O’Loughlin delivered an incredible character study into a veteran who was trying to still find a way in the world and struggling with the duty that he had as a soldier and the responsibility that he had to the woman he loved.
In the end, Junior’s great regret at the end of the episode was not shooting Troy tonight; it was instead what happened in the many months before. There’s still hope for him in the future to find love (maybe with Tani), but there’s so much regret he may need to swim away from first. That will prove difficult.
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What did you think about Hawaii Five-0 season 9 episode 17 overall? Be sure to sound off now in the comments. (Photo: CBS.)