Five-0 Redux: Escaping a death sentence
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
If you were to wake up handcuffed to your bed, unless you are Christian Grey or enjoy police issue jewelry decorating your wrists, it’s probably a sign you’re not going to have a very good day.
In Sunday’s special episode of “Hawaii Five-0” — “ʻŌlelo Hoʻopaʻi Make” — Chin Ho Kelly is the current whipping boy. He must have picked up an unlucky penny or walked under a ladder or made friends with a black cat; whatever the case, Chin has had a streak of bad luck he can’t seem to shake.
But if he thought waking up handcuffed to his bed was bad, being drugged and coming to in prison would probably trump that first wake up call as an official Bad Day. For a cop dressed in prison orange, it’s more than a bad day — it’s a death sentence.
In Hawaiian, “‘ōlelo ho‘opa‘i” means “penalty” and “make” means “death,” and that is definitely what Chin is faced with in Halawa Correctional Facility. Kudos to “Hawaii Five-0” for adding an air of authenticity to the show by shooting in an actual functioning prison. Rest assured, the “inmates” we saw in the episode — albeit scary and real looking — were actually actors and extras hired to play the HCF residents.
According to local actor Troy A. Ignacio, who reprised his role as Joao Caetano from the season two episode “Ka Me‘e,” he said they shot in an empty wing, which was cleared out from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Ignacio talked to a real Halawa Correctional Facility guard, who said, “if we had this many guys in orange, we’d all be dead.” In Halawa, they don’t see a lot of orange jumpsuits, because orange signifies the worst prison offenders.
So Chin is unceremoniously dumped into HCF, dressed in the color of the worst offenders, and surrounded by a sea of orange-you-glad-you-only-have-to-wear-this-in-prison. Oh, and most of those well-dressed men want him dead. That cannot rank up there for his choice of dream getaways.
I found it really believable how the Five-0 team thought he was mourning Malia for a few days and hiding out on the North Shore. I think we’re going to revisit this issue, as McG and Danno now know from his counselor, Dr. Harriet Palmer (Lisa Barnes), that Chin is having a hard time getting past his grief for Malia.
While I’m not a fan of making Chin suffer any more than he has already — and did in this episode — I do appreciate the fact that the writers are not sweeping Malia’s death, and Chin’s grief over her murder, under the carpet. In the same breath, I also wonder if the obviously budding relationship between Chin and damsel in prison distress, Leilani (Lindsay Price), will speed up the sweeping process. I don’t think I will be the first person to throw up a “Too Soon” flag if Chin and Leilani start meeting at the shrimp truck for Kamekona’s new breakfast burritos anytime soon.
The action in this episode was terrific. From the start of the episode with McGarrett and Danno arresting Paul Delano (Daniel Baldwin) — as well getting a few punches in for good measure — and then Chin’s arrival at Halawa and being spotted by a couple of the braddahs (Troy A. Ignacio and Kila Packett) he put behind bars, was only the first of many intense scenes.
Chin then faces his biggest nemesis, the imprisoned ex-cop Kaleo (Jason Scott Lee), and they engage in a classic prison laundry fight. And who would have thought that Chin’s savior would be his cousin’s buddy, Sang Min (Will Yun Lee)? If anyone is still spicy, it’s definitely him. Is he good? Is he bad?
When Sang brings Chin to Kaleo for his “trial” in front of the inmates, I almost thought Chin would say “Et tu, Brute?” to the tricky Sang Min.
BETWEEN ALL the fighting and riot scenes, the entire episode was really brutal for me to watch. I suppose it was appropriate for Kaleo to stab Chin, but it reminded me a little too much of Hesse shanking McG in the season two opener. I know, I know, it’s a prison setting and he’s a cop amongst the damned, but it was pretty raw.
Still, it was really neat to hear Ignacio and Packett both talk about the scene when they held up Daniel Dae Kim in front of Jason Scott Lee, surrounded by 60 or so scary looking extras — they both spoke about how real the scene felt, and Packett spoke about how they all had to really trust each other. Packett said that the episode would be “epic,” and I think he was right.
The secondary story for tonight was between Kono and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) — their love story and Kono’s cop senses taking over. It seems as if Kono doesn’t really trust her man, or does she want to know how she can try to protect him? I
‘m not sure where this story is going, but it seemed a bit star-crossed from the beginning. I only hope that Kono doesn’t get burned again, because I don’t think she has nine lives — or another major babe boyfriend to jump into the ocean to save her.
Besides all the action and tension created by the prison scenes, and the lovers tension created by Kono and Adam, I would be remiss not to mention a few of the more light hearted moments. Kamekona, McGarrett, and Danno and the breakfast burrito taste test, as well as the scenes of McGarrett taking off in Kamekona’s “62 payments left” helicopter.
Duke’s (Dennis Chun) knowing smile as he watched McG and crew fly into the no-fly zone set by the Warden Grier (Hawaii State Senator and former radio personality Brickwood Galuteria), said more than just “I know what they are up to,” it was really a smile of pride and relief that the cavalry was landing.
Chun always speaks about how “Hawaii Five-0” is “a true ‘ohana,” and it was very evident in this episode — because only a strong ‘ohana could pull off a prison break on this scale. With or without an inside Min.
Overall, I thought this was a strong episode, it had all of the elements we like in our “Five-0″ — action, tension, boys fighting, guns, a prison riot, candle-lit bubble baths, and heroes saving the day.
The added touch was the cool guitar riffs of Jimi Hendrix to add a little more badass-ness to the mix. The seven never-before-released recordings gave the episode a hot sound and really worked well with the action of the episode.
Perhaps this episode was called “Death Sentence” but if “Hawaii Five-0” puts out more episodes like this one, there will be more of a long life sentence for our favorite show.
Redux Side Note:
Tonight, Hawaii Five-0” returns to their regular spot with “Hana I Wā ‘Ia.” Richard T. Jones returns as Govenor Denning, Hawai‘i actress Melissa Puana-Martin plays his assistant, and popular Hawaiian music singer and songwriter Kealiʻi Reichel guest stars.
Besides Troy A. Ignacio and Kila Packett, who were both gracious enough to talk to me about their experiences on set, there were several familiar faces in the prison scene crowd. It was great to see fellow “Hawaii Five-0” fans Zoom Bakari and Terry Shearer, as well as my former student Keola Kaluhiokalani, on my television screen. All three gents are not at all used to wearing, or have ever worn, an orange jumpsuit. It’s one of the nice things about watching “Hawaii Five-0,” when you see your friends in scenes.
Be sure to be on the look out for more about Kila Packett in a future “Five-0 Redux.” Packett spoke to me at length about his experience playing “Dave Lockhart” in both “ʻŌlelo Hoʻopaʻi Make” as well as in the season two episode, “Ka Hakakā Maika‘i.” I was lucky enough that his last words to me weren’t, “Lawyer!”
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.