Five-0 Redux: Too soft an offering

Nov. 6, 2012 | 28 Comments

<em>Kamekona (Taylor Wily), left, pays a visit on Halloween to McGarrett (Alexander O'Loughlin), right. (Courtesy CBS)</em>

Kamekona (Taylor Wily), left, pays a visit on Halloween to McGarrett (Alexander O'Loughlin), right. (Courtesy CBS)

BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Finally, we get the Halloween episode we have been waiting for, albeit a week late. But not to worry, “Hawaii Five-0’ definitely came through with a spooky tale — it’s Halloween, there’s a full moon, we have a missing hottie, we find a dungeon like basement, our killer is the boy next door, who lives with his sweet, but sinister, Grandmother.

Wow. The writers just needed to add satanic symbols and the use of a sacrificial altar to the mix and it could have been the perfect small screen slasher film. Oh, wait. Well, so much for being original.

Sorry folks, I thought last year’s Halloween episode had a better storyline. This one seemed more like an excuse to allow Lee Meriwether (who played the killer’s invalid grandmother) to have a shot at channeling Joan Crawford in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” This type of serial killer/satanic worshiper/Goat Boy kind of story probably could have worked elsewhere, but in Hawaiʻi, it was a bit improbable.

For one thing — most homes don’t have basements or cellars. I know many of you will post here and say you had a basement growing up in Mānoa, or your downstairs sort of is a basement because it was cut into the mountain, or something like that. And yes, I know there could be a few older homes on the island with basements, but for the most part we don’t have them. If you dig down eight feet to build a basement, you’re going to hit lava rock — and in many cases, water.

Not an ideal situation for building a basement, even if you need one in which to hide your sacrificial victims.

And another thing — the luakini heiau on O‘ahu are not found so close to the ocean. They are usually on hills so invading armies could see the sacrificial blood streaming down to the ocean. It was to give them pause before getting off their ships and canoes to enter battle. Pu‘u O Mahuka, a heiau on O‘ahu’s North Shore, and Puowaina, originally located in Punchbowl crater, are two of the more infamous luakini heiau. (Pu‘u O Mahuka, the “Hill of Escape,” is now a state historic site, and Puowaina, the “Hill of Sacrifice,” is now the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.)

So the killer’s lair, and the ending set up for the pagan full moon sacrifice on the beach, was a bit too much for me to swallow. I know this is entertainment, and for the most part, I was entertained, for thankfully there was more to the episode than a crazy Don Ho-loving Satan worshipper killing horny teenagers. And again, the scenes with the main characters and all the humor brought on by our “Five-0″ heroes, those were the parts I liked the most.

<em>Danny (Scott Caan), left, talks to a person of interest (Chris Coy), right, about a ritualistic killing. (Courtesy CBS)</em>

Danny (Scott Caan), left, talks to a person of interest (Chris Coy), right, about a ritualistic killing. (Courtesy CBS)

The scenes with McG and Cath trying to have a simple “Mom’s not home so let’s watch a scary movie, and neck on the couch” date, being interrupted by everything from SEAL Kamekona, Daddy Danno, and Bumble Bee Gracie, was classic. And Max was in great Halloween form in his Keanu Part II costume, dressed as Theodore Logan from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” Party on, Max.

But those moments were just filler to add a Halloween theme into the mix. I would have liked a little more meat to the story. The satanic theme and the whole idea that the killer worshipped a goat god and needed to complete a pagan full moon ritual (I’m not even sure if that was what he was supposed to do, but you get what I mean) was all just too weak for me. With all of the Hawaiian folklore and stories that surround our islands and culture, it seemed like a missed opportunity.

I keep going back to “Ka Iwi Kapu,” last year’s Halloween episode, and how they wrapped the storyline in with our Hawaiian beliefs and local superstitions. That worked. This one just did not come close.

The direction by Larry Teng was great — the action and suspense worked well, and the gore was just enough to gross me out. No complaints there. I was also glad to see Brian Yang gathering evidence, and a couple of local Hawai‘i actors with large scenes: Albert Ueligitone as Officer Hale and Kristen Nemoto as the Wiccan shopkeeper Ilani.

And I did enjoy the fact that McG and Cath seemed to actually be a couple in this episode. It was great that they are starting to incorporate Cath more into the personal aspects of McG’s life, the kissing, McG revealing personal info about his life to her, as well as her chance to play “Aunty” to Gracie — all hallmarks that Michelle Borth is really becoming a part of the team and is not just there to “gather intelligence.” Teilor Grubbs was undeniably darling as the budding teenager Gracie, not quite understanding Daddy Danno’s need for father-daughter time. The scene between Catherine and Gracie was a great moment for both characters. And I can’t say enough about the ending scene with McG and Danno settling in for a special Halloween showing of “The Notebook” with their two favorite girls.

It was too bad that most of what I liked about the episode I had already seen before the episode even aired. Since there was no “Hawaii Five-0” the week before “Mōhai” was supposed to air, all the good stuff was posted by CBS in order to keep fans hyped about the episode. Then with the pre-emption due to Hurricane Sandy coverage, they released yet another sneak peek.

A total of three short clips were posted online, leaving little to our imagination. I know it was a weird week for them with the short notice change in schedule, but the scenes they did share were really the best parts of the episode.

I also think the translation the writers came up with for this episode seemed a little too soft. “Mōhai” means, “sacrifice, offering; to offer a sacrifice.”

I can see where their translation works, with the killer wanting to make an “offering” to his god, and the victims being seen as “offerings,” but really there was more to the theme of “sacrifice” in this one. Gracie understanding that Danno has to sacrifice his time with her so that he can do his job, McG and Cath sacrificing their couple time to help out friends, and the killer’s grandmother sacrificing herself so he could get away, not to mention the use of a sacrificial altar in the ending—all seemed to lend itself to the episode being about “sacrifice” more so than the kinder gentler “offering.”

But all in all, I really want to see the writers sacrifice the procedurals and focus more on the relationships and character development of our team. I know I’ve been saying that since before the start of season three and I wish I didn’t have to repeat this comment. But really, the sacrifice will be a small one for them — and it will be one that will pay off with the viewers in the end.

Redux Side Note:

“Hawaii Five-0” fans got a special treat this week, spending a Monday night with Teilor Grubbs, “Five-0 Undercover” and the “Five-0 Redux” at Big City Diner Pearlridge. Fans got to meet and take pictures with Grubbs, then stayed to watch her in the episode. It was a great night for all the young fans who came to meet Gracie Williams, as well as for all the regulars to watch an episode with one of the stars.

Two great Hawai‘i actors had some nice screen time this week. Albert Ueligitone played Officer Hale, the HPD officer who finds the victim’s rammed car on a full moon Halloween night. Ueligitone is a strong local stage actor who most recently played Oberon in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Mission Houses in August, and the Hawaiian Patriot Robert William Kalanihiapo Wilcox in Kumu Kahua’s “Wilcox’s Shot,” last March.

Kristen Nemoto, who played the intriguing Wiccan Ilani, was wonderfully spooky, covered in tattoos and an all-knowing smirk. Her scene where she helped Chin and Kono decipher the occult clues left by our creepy killer, only added to the idea of the theme of sacrifice. A Waimanalo girl, Kristen is the daughter of Po‘okela Award winning Hawai‘i actor Eric Nemoto, and “Hawaii Five-0” is her first major role on television.

Because CBS pushed “Mōhai” from it’s original Oct. 29 airdate to this week, the original Nov. 5 episode will air Nov. 12. The episode, “I ka wā mamua,” includes a host of special guest stars, including Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Terrence Howard, Tip “T.I.” Harris, and Kendall Jenner.
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Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

  • http://twitter.com/evowoman88 Trina Morgan

    So, it sounds like I really didn’t miss anything since my DVR didn’t record. I’ll watch when it shows up on my Droid TV app.

  • Diane

    Hi Wendie. I did not think this was one that I will want to watch over and over. I like watching H50 no matter what, but I think that they could have explained a little better about why the guy was doing sacrificial killings. I did like the creepy portrayal that the former cat woman, Lee M. played. I know there is only so much time, but they needed to explain more.
    The only thing I disagree with is that they do need to mix the procedural with the character. I love the character and I think that is what gets people invested in the characters and keep coming back. But you need to have a crime story, that’s what it is suppose to be, the action has to be in there, and sometimes the gore. I think they just need to do a little better job with that.
    I think the next couple of weeks we get a lot more character background, Danny’s past and Mary comes back. I love Catherine, and they seem to be heading toward her being the woman in Gracie’s life when she is on the Five-O side of her split parents. I loved the scene where she becomes the friend that listens to Grace and tries to help her see the other side. I also liked that McG and Catherine showed that they are a couple.
    The episode could have been better, but they can’t hit it right all the time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maryann.hooker.7 Mary Ann Hooker

    I agree that this wasn’t as strong of an episode as it could have been. I feel there was more of a back story to the grandmother that wasn’t even scratched…

  • Kay

    Thank you for your interesting review. I haven’t ever commented before, but I always read and enjoy your unique take on the show.

    This episode was a bit of a disappointment for me – I did enjoy Lee M’s performance very much and the story was definitely creepy enough to warrant a Halloween episode, but something about the details and the locations, etc.. felt so off to me. Your review helped me identify what it was – the story didn’t jive well with the locale, so it felt disingenuous. I know, the whole premise of H50 is ridiculous x2 but I usually most appreciate an attempt to place the story within the local culture. Sometimes they fail, sometimes they hit it out of the park and your reviews often help me determine which it is. Speaking of local, where on earth were Chin and Kono in this episode? I should come clean and confess that they are my favorite characters by far, so if they are missing or marginalized (as they were last night), it feels lacking to me. I want SO much more of those two characters and I fear we won’t get it. There is so much plotline gold there that goes untapped, sadly, plus I adore both actors.

    I am not opposed to the Steve/Cath moments of romance, but, I hope it remains limited and if her character is going to be on as much as I think she will be on, please show, put her back in a Navy uniform and allow her to be a free-standing character not reliant on Steve (or Steve’s partner) for a storyline – give her agency. Personally, I would rather see that screentime go to Kono’s character, but it seems that probably won’t happen.
    Sometimes (during the best episodes) the show remembers that it takes place in a unique location with a unique culture – last night’s episode could have taken place anywhere, so it was a bit of a miss for me. Thanks very much for your great reviews!

    • http://twitter.com/WendieJoy Wendie Joy

      Kay- Thanks for commenting! For a first comment- it was great:) Thanks for adding your thoughts to the mix:) I’m with you- I want to see more of Chin and Kono and I hope they do more with Catherine’s character as well. I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one who thought that this episode could have taken place anywhere- I like when “Hawaii Five-0″ can only take place in Hawai’i”) Mahalo for reading and supporting the Redux! Aloha, Wendie

  • Anonymous

    Not my episode last night :)

    • http://twitter.com/WendieJoy Wendie Joy

      Thanks Larry- it was on the press release and that’s all I have to go on! Mahalo for the update. Aloha, Wendie

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659376696 Val Lai

        The director for the Halloween ep was Jerry Levine and the story teller was Peter Lenkov and David Wolkove.

        • http://twitter.com/WendieJoy Wendie Joy

          Thanks Val- this was what was listed in the
          CBS Press Release-
          “STORY BY: Peter Lenkov and David Wolkove

          WRITTEN BY: David Wolkove
          DIRECTED BY: Larry Teng”

          So I’m glad Larry logged on to let me know it wasn’t his episode and that you logged on to tell me it was

          DIRECTED BY: Jerry Levine

          Thanks all:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Anonymous

    Hi Wendie, Not being a native Hawaiian I wouldn’t know tradition from fiction so I rely on you and your expertise.

    Truthfully after watching Steve and Catherine on the couch, with him caressing her arm and leg, my brain melted and the rest of the episode was just background noise!! All I can say is thank you Jenny Feldman, wherever you may be!! (Blushing…)

    Now I did try and focus and found it to be grisly but nothing that wasn’t ever done (or solved) before. I guess there’s only so many takes on demonic worship and Halloween and mentally unstable men kept under very tight rein by a Baby Janesque grandmother. It was a good epi but not great (but way better than last year due to the absence of a certain character)

    What I found truly lacking was Kono and Chin. Especially Kono – what’s going on with her. It seems she’s in as few episodes as possible, does little and offers less. Even Chin, though he does seem to offer more than Kono. I really hope there isn’t any trouble in paradise with these 2 beloved characters. Steve and Danny are great together but the interaction of the 4 of them makes watching the show worthwhile.

  • http://twitter.com/hedwig2212 Dina

    Always enjoy your reviews- and all the Hawaiian “info” on houses- didn’t know!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659376696 Val Lai

    Hi Wendie:

    Thanks for your review. Horror movies is never my sit down entertainment to watch tv but given it was spook night Halloween on H50 I fully expected to see the kind of terror one might find on a Halloween episode, the spookier, the better and this one truly was scary but maybe they did go a little over the top on the scariness but I thought the director and the writers really wanted to give us something different this time than the year before. However you did raise a really good point in the cultural aspect that was missing from the show, after all that’s what makes H50 so unique because its filmed in Hawaii. However, to give credit to the writers and directors, I think that they have not forgotten what makes all of us love the characters on the show. I didn’t for a moment feel that Kono or Chin were left out of the show at all. They were there to help solve a crime which they do every week. I love all four characters but sometimes its good to have a bit of variety of people and since Michelle Borth is now an added regular to the show, it wouldn’t make sense to scale her role back.

    Most of the time we see everyone in a scene together as a group in the end but for this one, the way it ended with just Danno and “Bumble Bee Monkey” with Steve and Catherine watching Notebook comfortably on a couch eating popcorn worked out perfectly in the end, a humorous note after a grueling fright night episode.

  • 808independent

    Your review touches on why I couldn’t get into this show. I can watch fiction or non-fiction, but I have a problem with fiction/non-fiction in the same movie. If they are going to be a fictional cop show, then that’s fine, but when they try to mix fiction into the non-fiction aspects of real places and real people, it loses me. I forgot which episode it was, but there was one where they found some kind of element in a dead person, and they said that element could only be found in the chinatown in Waipahu and off they went to investigate. Of course, Waipahu is a real place (non fiction) but it has no chinatown (fiction), so they story lost me as just absurd. A story can be as fictionalized as possible, but when it is set against a real place, then it needs to stay true to that place or else it just becomes distracting and it is hard to get into the story. That’s just my two cents.

    • http://twitter.com/WendieJoy Wendie Joy

      That is such an astute way of looking at it- I never really thought of it that way. It’s like when I watched the movie “Pearl Harbor” and they changed a lot of the historical truth to make it work for the love story, or at least, for the stars to have a bigger impact in WWII. I don’t think “Hawaii Five-0″ goes as far as to rewrite history, but I see what you mean about if you are in a real place then represent it as its actual reality. But to be fair, television doesn’t always want to take those things into consideration– money and time is usually the reason why. If it’s cheaper and saves time to represent something differently– it will be done. I do think the show tries pretty hard though to do what they can to make Hawai’i look really great:) Thanks for your comment! Appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Aloha, Wendie

  • http://www.facebook.com/FabFourLover Linda Stein

    As always Wendie….. I love your take on each weeks episode. We’re not used to waiting this long for an episode this early in the season…it’s usually the second half of the season where we get these long breaks. Just a couple of things.

    I LOVED Catherine and Grace together. I really liked getting a look at her background and it’s nice that Grace has someone who understand how she feels about her dad being called away so much for work. Commiserating over The Notebook was really cute too! Although I agree with Steve! I hated that movie! LOL

    Also, I can certainly understand why the people of Hawaii get a bit bothered when things are not portrayed as you guys feel they should be. I suppose I would feel the same way if a show was based in Philadelphia and they put the Liberty Bell in Camden!

    But 49 states and the rest of the world have no idea about water tables or lava rock so who really cares if it’s feasible to have a basement in Hawaii? Just like the guy who killed Max’s mom last season….creepy guys (especially in Halloween stories) NEED a creepy basement!

    As far as liking last year’s Halloween story better…again…that’s the point of view from someone IN Hawaii who adores her culture (rightfully so!!!) and liked how it was showcased in last years installment. But, again, the rest of the world, while loving the wonderful education we get about Hawaii and it’s culture week to week doesn’t really NEED to have a Hawaiian lesson every single week. You’re absolutely correct when you say that there is a multitude of Hawaiian myths and legends they could have tapped into for a 2nd Halloween episode but since they DID use Hawaiian mythology last year, they probably wanted something a bit more mainland traditional this time. Perhaps NEXT Halloween they’ll go back to Hawaiian mythology. This story was hardly original…but it sure was gory, creepy fun!

    It’s wonderful that even if the show doesn’t come through as much as it should with the essence of what makes Hawaii…Hawaii… it’s so great to come here the day after so you can bring us up to speed so we know what they, and therefore we, missed. Keep it up babe! Don’t know what we’d do without you to keep us informed.

    Before this show and before I began to read your blog, Hawaii was just the farthest state away, a place with palm trees and pretty beaches that I hoped, maybe, I might get to see one day. But now…that’s to this show and people like you and all the other 808 Ohana it’s now a place I long to visit, learn about and honor. Mahalo for that!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659376696 Val Lai

      I second that opinion Linda regarding the cultural aspect of Hawaii. When I first watched the show I knew very little about the people, the cultural customs and traditions and the significance of the island’s history which isn’t written in gold for the people who are not familiar with the way of life in Hawaii except for the people of Hawaii – so since reading Wendie’s blogs, the lure of wanting to learn more about Hawaii, wanting to visit the islands is not just a passing fancy for me either. I love reading Wendie’s blogs for that very reason, not just the enjoyment of the adventure of four fictional heroes who are there to serve and protect the people of Hawaii.

      • http://twitter.com/WendieJoy Wendie Joy

        Thanks Linda and Val- I know for most fans the show worked just fine and it WAS creepy and scary and a perfect Halloween screen flick:) I get that- but for me, this episode could have been done in any state and basically anywhere in the world– but perhaps since it is “Hawaii Five-0″ then maybe they could have used more of Hawai’i in the storyline- that’s all. And I really don’t want folks thinking that we have a lot of satanism around either LOL! But love your points of view and appreciate your comments- they really add to the dialogue about the show. And I’m glad there’s not a Hawaiian lesson every week on the show– because then what the heck would I do??? :D Thanks ladies, appreciate you taking the time to read and comment with aloha and class:) Mahalo nui, Wendie

  • Anonymous

    There is only one 5-O and that was with Lord and MacArthur

    • http://twitter.com/WendieJoy Wendie Joy

      You’re in luck! In Hawai‘i they show the classic “Hawaii Five-O” on channel 11 KWHE. I think every night:) Enjoy! Aloha, Wendie

  • alex fan

    I have to say I personally liked the episode and while I understand that some people are upset by the inaccuracy at times, it brings so much joy to so many people. I just can’t get over the fact that some people still compare this to Hawaii Five-0 with Jack Lord, that was then and yes it was a great show but this is now, why not embrace the show and be thankful for the money it is bringing into the most beautiful state in the U.S. I live in VA and NCIS and Criminal Minds both use our state in their shows and they don’t always get it right but we aren’t as lucky as the people in Hawaii, those shows are filmed in L.A. and we don’t reap the rewards. I respect your culture and your values but I for one just don’t get the knit picking. Thank you Wendie for at least giving us a fantastic Redux and insight into your culture.

    • http://twitter.com/WendieJoy Wendie Joy

      It was a fun episode, and I agree– it’s not a good idea to compare it to the classic “Hawaii Five-O”- it’s a completely different show. I think that this episode could have been anywhere though- and since it is called “Hawaii Five-0″ then it could have used a bit more “Hawaii” in it- that’s all I really meant to say. :) Don’t get me wrong– I DO love that ‘Five-0′ is here in Hawai’i. I think the show is great and I for one am still a fan:) Thanks for reading and commenting! I so appreciate your comments:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Anonymous

    I agree with your assessment on this one, Wendie. Kind of a weak story and nothing like last year’s Halloween episode.

    And too much gore for my taste. Between the previous episode’s beheading and this show’s slashing and stabbing, I have had enough for a while.

    I did like the interaction between characters in this one and I prefer this kind of stand-alone story but I won’t make a point of re-watching it this summer. Hopefully the show will come back strong next week.
    Thanks for another great review, Wendie.

    • Anonymous

      p.s. Michelle Borth is really growing on me…easy on the eyes and very believable in her role.

      • http://twitter.com/WendieJoy Wendie Joy

        Michelle Borth is darling– on the show and in real life– and I really like how she is progressing- especially in the Gracie scenes:) And I’m with you on the gore. Wow. I had to look away a couple times- but I’m a wimp! LOL Thanks for reading and commenting- I appreciate you taking the time! Aloha, Wendie

  • http://twitter.com/3DHawaii 3DHawaii

    I can confirm: Never had a basement, but did have a lower level cut into the side of the mountain.

    Loved Kristen Nemoto’s wiccan! Thanks for the added detail, as always!

    • http://twitter.com/WendieJoy Wendie Joy

      I had a friend who tweeted that he lives in Mānoa and has a basement! LOL I knew that would happen:) Kristen was great, I’m looking forward to talking with her again. Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=675466167 Paris Mario Cordero

    Need more acors from da islands people.STOP BRINGING JUST MAINLAND ONES.Open your eyes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=675466167 Paris Mario Cordero

    We need more actors from da islands.