Once again, McGarrett clashes strongly with the local Intelligence officer, Kavanaugh, who in turn doesn't offer 5-0 an inch of interagency cooperation. (Guess things haven’t changed much since then!) Kavanaugh is a different Intelligence boss than we met in Season 1, but he in turn reports to the unseen Jonathan Kaye in Washington who himself appears later in the season, establishing some sort of recurring spook hierarchy. The episode demonstrates well how the show succeeds at combining spy plots with proto-CSI police procedural. McGarrett uses good old fashioned (and sound) police work to solve the attempted murder of the agent, thus exposing the mole in Kavanaugh’s organization, something Kavanaugh himself didn’t seem to even believe in. Khigh Dhiegh once again imbues Wo Fat with a humanity rarely seen in TV villains of the time, as well as an absolute certainty that what he is doing is right.
The espion-age episodes of Hawaii Five-O tend to play a bit McGarrett-centric at the expense of the sup-porting cast, perhaps because Jack Lord is so obviously cut from the classic spy hero mold. "The Second Shot" is no exception, though it is once more a masterful blend of the police and spy genres, hitting all the marks one expects from either one. It’s a plot that one might just as easily find in a more traditional spy show like Danger Man or The Saint (and indeed very similar to one used decades later in the fourth season of MI-5), but it works just as well in this context. An assassin arrives from Europe posing as a journalist and hoping to interview (read: eliminate) an exiled Greek opposition leader. The audience is privy to his plan from the very beginning, and always remains a step ahead of McGarrett, who seems a bit slow in catching on this time. The assassin hires another assassin to shoot him just above the heart, creating a near-mortal wound convincing enough to earn the unwavering trust of the Greek exile. The procedural elements (which seem to me a bit more realistic than other cop shows of the era, but admittedly I’m not that familiar with the genre) once more lead McGarrett to the truth, but is he too late? In a cool beat more spy than cop, Lord gets to arm himself with a cool-looking sniper pistol (complete with scope) at the end.
Rather than presenting a Big Deal Threat like assassination, "The Guarnerius Caper" demonstrates how an exceedingly run-of-the-mill crime that normally wouldn’t even warrant the attention of the state police could lead to an international incident in the days of the Cold War. The crime is ordinary car theft, yet when McGarrett takes the call and sidekick Danno asks him where they’re going, he intones, "To prevent WWIII."
It’s slightly hampered, unfortunately, by the car thieves: two of the most annoying TV hippies from a whole era of annoying TV hippies! Products of their time (or CBS’ version of it, any-way), these guys go around spouting a constant stream of phrases like "Groovy!" and "Outta sight!" while robbing old ladies of their purses, riding piggy-back and generally causing trouble. Making matters worse, one of them looks like the skeezy, unwashed American version of Jason King, only with no style and a really bad hangover. It’s characters like this that made reruns of Hawaii Five-O seem so dated (moreso than other shows of its era) and unappealing when I was growing up. Happily, there aren’t quite as many of them throughout the series as I thought there were (and it is unfair to judge a show by its era), and they’re really not so irritating as to be a deterrent, but they are a presence, especially in this episode.
"F.O.B. Honolulu" is probably the best of all the espionage-themed episodes in Season 3, and it’s a two-parter. While it seems a bit padded at times (lots of planes landing, and longer briefings than usual or than necessary), it’s got enough action and intrigue to qualify for film release overseas! I don’t know if this practice was still going on with American shows by 1970, but "F.O.B. Honolulu" has all the ingredients of one of the more serious-minded Eurospy capers. We get chases, shootouts, double-crosses, a sexy bikini-clad femme fatale and even an exciting helicopter assault on a mountaintop base, with McGarett and Dano each leaning from choppers armed with machine guns! Plus, we get villainous mastermind Wo Fat once more, again played by Kigh Dheigh with as much rare humanity and compassion as diabolical sadism. (Admittedly an odd dichotomy, but he makes it work well.) We also get to meet the spy boss we’ve heard so much about in previous episodes, Jonathan Kaye from Washington, and a square-jawed hero cut directly from the Euro-spy mold in Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett.
The plot concerns agents from China, Russia and the US, as well as various independent operators, all after a classical Macguffin (capable of destabilizing the world’s economy) that was smuggled into Honolulu. It’s basically The Maltese Falcon at its heart (a trio of shady characters double- and triple-crossing each other over the great whatzit). In contrast to "The Guarnerius Caper" (but very much in keeping with Seventies Bond movies), McGarrett actually teams up with the Soviet agent, who has an equal interest in the value of currency. They share a hearty, understanding laugh together, of the sort that Harry Palmer shares with Colonel Stok in Billion Dollar Brain, or Bond with Golgol in For Your Eyes Only. (It seems to have been a common means of communication for Cold War spies on opposing sides.)