Five-0 Redux: Holding all the cards
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
From the start of season three, doubt has slowly crawled into our minds over the future of “Hawaii Five-0.” And the title of this week’s episode, “Kānalua,” which in Hawaiian means, “to doubt,” didn’t really help. Hopefully, there were enough of the “Five-0″ trademarks we have come to love throughout the episode to keep our doubts at bay.
At the start of the episode, with the beautiful scattering of Malia Kelly’s ashes, to the explosive armed robbery, and ultra slick car chase throughout downtown Honolulu, I was on board. The farewell to Malia was heartbreakingly lovely, with the paddle out circle, traditional Hawaiian pū kani blown by Kamekona, and Hawaiian prayers delivered by the same Kahu (played by real life Kahu Kordell Kekoa) who married Chin and Malia.
All of “Five-0″ team —including Catherine (Michelle Borth) and Charlie (Brian Yang), but without Max (Masi Oka) who is still recovering from his gun shot wound from last season’s finale — sat bedecked in lei atop surfboards, holding hands in a show of ‘ohana and support for Chin.
Much of this episode has Chin dealing with Malia’s death, through his desire to continue working with the team, and telling Danno about the first time they met on the beach in Waikiki, yet I was more interested in that storyline, than the procedural that progressed in this episode. I almost wanted an easy, good-guys-catching-the-bad-guys episode just so we could let Chin mourn a little more.
I liked the moments we caught him staring out into the ocean thinking of his love, and McGarrett and Catherine worrying over him, as well as his talk with Kono trying to ease her doubt that he should be back at work. While he said he was thankful for “Five-0″ helping to bring Malia back to him, I wonder if there will be times down the line when he might blame his job for also ending her life. There is a connection, and while I think Chin is too much of a good-guy to bring that up, I wonder if there won’t be time when the demon of Delano will come back to haunt him.
So for me, this one had a lot of good drama, mixed with great action — which “Hawaii Five-0” never seems to have a problem with — yet it seemed to be a mixed bag when it came to the procedural. The August March storyline for me, was completely strange and seemed forced into the script just to get another star into the show. As much as I loved Ed Asner as August March when he appeared last season in “Kālele,” he seemed very strange in this episode. Not his acting or his feigned grandpa act, but the art deal gone wrong to his suicide by speeding bus just seemed so convoluted.
I think if they were going to use Asner in an episode, they should have just concentrated on his story and not mixed it in with a bigger problem, like the passing of Chin’s wife. And then there was a third subplot, with Catherine trying to find out more information about Momma McG. If they had added in another kitchen sink, my head would have exploded. Thankfully, they left the flying helicopter claws on the back burner.
I also thought it was odd that Carlos Bernard, who played Witsec Agent Chris Channing, was only in a five-minute scene with Catherine — all so she could find out his password. I know that it was important so she could find out information about Doris for McG, but really? Bernard, ironically enough, played Tony Almeida in “24,” and was married to Reiko Aylesworth’s character Michelle Dessler on that show. I thought perhaps they could have used him in a much larger capacity. I’m sure all the “24” mega-fans would have tuned in to see him if he played someone a little more substantial than a former Cindy Crawford-loving DeKalb boy turned US Marshal, who spends his lunch breaks pool hustling.
I also hope Michelle Borth isn’t going to spend her time on “Five-0″ running errands for McG and wearing short shorts to garner information. Last week she was in some awesome action scenes and seemed to be doing more than just using her intel contacts to help solve a case. She doesn’t need to be the fifth wheel on the team, but I bet Catherine could have hacked her way into the WitSec computer.
I think it would be a better use of Borth’s talents and time to show her using her brains and her brawn versus her beauty to make connections for the team. Not that Borth isn’t lovely, but let’s give her character a little more credit about how good she is at gathering intel.
Besides all of that, there were many moments in the episode that I did like. I did enjoy the classic “Five-0″ moments like the funny McG-Danno marriage comments, August March and Danno’s carguments, quirky Max playing laser tag with a skull, and Kamekona’s quest to sell his shrimp from a flying chopper. The humor that we love from our team was spot on — and no one can complain about the car chases. The opening chase scene with the getaway car hiding behind a bus was white hot and I love seeing that kind of driving, knowing how completely packed those streets really are.
If nothing else, the episode did deliver on action and humor. I just wanted it to be more consistent.
So while August March held the very last card to free him from ending his life in jail, as well as the card that helped “Five-0″ find the kidnapped girl, the doubters are still holding all the cards about the fate of the show. I am still on board for great guest stars and action, but I’d really like an episode when we let the team solve a case that doesn’t take me on a strange roller coaster ride. I also don’t want those holding the cards to fold.
Right now, we need to wipe away the doubt and use that ace up our sleeve to win our hand.
Redux Side Note:
According to Kahu Kordell Kekoa, who played the Kahu, or Hawaiian priest in the funeral scene, the paddle-out circle to scatter the ashes of a loved one at sea is not traditionally Hawaiian as much as it is a surfer’s farewell. And as most of the team are avid watermen — we’ve seen Chin and Steve diving and Kono is a former professional surfer, and as we learned later in the episode, Malia surfed as well — it only seemed natural to have Malia’s death be celebrated in this unique fashion.
When I asked Kekoa about his experience in both the wedding and now the funeral episode, he said that it was “very emotional” and while it was filled with sadness, he felt very much like he was a part of the “Five-0″ ‘ohana. He told me that before the wedding scene with Chin and Malia, he told Daniel Dae Kim, “before I perform weddings, I usually counsel the couple.” So while they were in hair and make-up, he counseled the groom, before he got married. He said it was a “nice way to get into character for both myself and Daniel.”
Because of this “counseling session” and because he had spent time with both Daniel and Reiko Aylesworth, and in a sense had “married” them, he said it felt right that he would also perform Malia’s funeral. If you thought his blessing might have sounded authentic, it was because it was, as well as something that came from a Kahu’s heart.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.