Five-0 Redux: Secret warriors

Feb. 12, 2013 | 23 Comments

<em>McGarrett hires a private investigator (guest star Treat Williams, right) to follow his mother (guest star Christine Lahti, left). (Courtesy CBS)</em>

McGarrett hires a private investigator (guest star Treat Williams, right) to follow his mother (guest star Christine Lahti, left). (Courtesy CBS)

BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser

A warrior in Hawaiian culture is often seen as a frightening figure, one who has been trained in deadly weapons, and in kapu ku‘i a lua — the ancient Hawaiian martial art more commonly known as lua.

Kapu means forbidden or sacred, so lua is often kept secret to those who are not involved in a pa lua, or school of lua.

This week’s episode, “Ke Koa” (two words, not one), translates as “The Warrior” and was about the death of a lua master, or ‘ōlohe, Thomas Hoapili, and the secret fight club that he was forced to participate in before he was murdered.

I always appreciate “Hawaii Five-0” for taking risks to accurately portray our Hawaiian culture and customs, and it’s always very interesting how the show takes something that is very traditional and sacred to our people, and wraps it around a modern storyline.

According to the Hawaiian Dictionary, lua is “a type of dangerous hand-to-hand fighting in which the fighters broke bones, dislocated bones at the joints, and inflicted severe pain by pressing on nerve centers. Many of the techniques were secret.”

Secret. Much like the “Fight Club” that was portrayed in the episode. Yes, yes, “the first rule of fight club is that we do not talk about fight club.” I get it. Yet Hawai‘i is not known for any secret fight clubs, or empty indoor pools for that matter. There are several lua groups active in Hawai‘i, as well as on the continent, so even if the moves and training may be secretive, the existence of lua is not. The secrecy only seemed to hinder the investigation, becoming a secondary theme in this week’s episode.

<em>Kamekona (Taylor Wily) got quite a bit of screen time in this week's episode as the uncle of the murder victim's daughter. (Courtesy CBS)</em>

Kamekona (Taylor Wily) got quite a bit of screen time in this week's episode as the uncle of the murder victim's daughter. (Courtesy CBS)

While we were introduced to several different types of warriors, it was the secrecy that kept the story moving. Kamekona not being “completely forthcoming” about his suspicion of Eddie Thorne (Jason Tam); Maggie Hoapili’s (Summer Glau) reluctance to tell McG and Danno about her father’s lua training center; and of course, the secret fight club, all helped keep the tension and conflict within the episode.

Kamekona finally got his chance to shine, as he was central to the storyline. Taylor Wily downplayed the humor and upped the emotion in this episode, and I thought he did a very nice job reminding us that taking care of ‘ohana is still one of the central tenets of the show.

Even the sub-plot around former warrior, Mama McG (Christine Lahti) and private investigator Mick Logan (Treat Williams) was another ‘ohana reminder; most notably, son Steven is worried about Mom. Or maybe it’s not worry as much as it is suspicion. I did like the idea that Williams will return as Logan, as it seems as if Mama has taken a shine to the charming private eye — much to McG’s chagrin.

I love that “Hawaii Five-0” mixes action and drama with just enough humor to keep us entertained. Danno and McG had enough snarky sniping moments; although I don’t think calling McG “goofy” was exactly called for, Danno. Kamekona had some nice funny lines, enough to keep their characters from diving right into a sappy hug-a-thon.

I did enjoy that Danno relaxed his rulebook, to put Kamekona on “Shrimp Truck Lockdown” instead of breaking his handcuffs on the massive teddy bear. Paired with the tender scenes between Kamekona and Maggie, and his lovely moment with Kono, the episode was skillfully handled by director Larry Teng.

Teng is known for directing great action sequences, and his expertise really came into play in the fight club scenes. The MMA fight with the lua-trained Maggie was hard-hitting and brutal. While I’m not sure what Maggie was doing could actually be called “lua” per se, she sure looked like she could fight.

When she won — with a broken arm no less — I thought, “Well, she is a Terminator, right?” Sorry, wrong show. (Glau is well-known for playing the re-programmed terminator Cameron in the television show “Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles.”)

The climax of the episode was the fight club scene and while it was pretty raw watching Maggie and Miss MMA fight, I did love when McG jumped into the fight club ring to stop Shane Kawano (Joel de la Fuente) from killing her. It was very Indiana Jones of him to have brought a gun to a knife fight. Yet knowing that Maggie and Thomas’s trusted friend Kawano was the real mastermind behind wanting to exploit the sport of lua, was ironically refreshing to me. I was glad the secret of lua and the honor and tradition behind the sport wasn’t going to be slandered and turned into a fight club cliché.

Overall, the episode was solid. It wasn’t a showstopper like “Hookman” was last week, but it was a strong representation of all the elements we enjoy. And that is no secret.

Redux Side Note:

If you have not caught up with your DVR, you may have missed the handiwork of Jason Koger, in last week’s “Hookman.” Koger, a double upper amputee, was Peter Weller’s stand-in for the Hookman’s hands, and he also played the customer in the Chinatown mailbox rental shop.

<em>Jason Koger films a scene with Peter Weller. (Courtesy Jason Koger)</em>

Jason Koger films a scene with Peter Weller. (Courtesy Jason Koger)

After the episode aired, Koger shared some great pictures of his time on the “Hawaii Five-0” set, showing how he “became” Weller’s hands for the scenes. Koger also talked about his “Five-0″ experience with Mike Gordon for his “Outtakes Online” blog and most recently was interviewed by blogger Amy Bakari.

Follow Koger on Twitter and support his Jason Koger Foundation page on Facebook.

In this week’s episode, two Hawai‘i actors had some nice screen time, Jason Tam, the lawn-gnome loving, Eddie Thorne, is a Punahou and NYU Tisch School of the Arts Graduate, and is most notable for playing Markko Rivera on “One Life To Live” as well as Paul in the 2006 Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line.”

The opening male stripper Brad Steel was played by Christopher DiPrete, a Castle High School graduate, who is a dancer and model from Kāne‘ohe. Way to start off the show, Christopher.
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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://www.facebook.com/robin.j.bridges Robin Jane Bridges

    I liked it, too, even with Alex fighting a cold.

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

      You know, I didn’t notice, but you and others mentioned it- you guys pay attention! :D I hope it wasn’t too bad for him. Thanks for reading commenting, Robin:) Aloha, Wendie

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

      You know, I didn’t notice, but you and others mentioned it- you guys pay attention! :D I hope it wasn’t too bad for him. Thanks for reading commenting, Robin:) Aloha, Wendie

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

    You know Wendie…every time Five-0 delves into the Hawaiian culture it makes me all the more excited to get there. I know…a lua isn’t something that I’m likely to see, not that I really want to mind you. Hand to hand combat really isn’t my thing LOL. But the more I learn about Hawaii, her people and her culture the more fascinated I am. Until Five-0 and the wonderful 808′ers I have come to love, I thought of Hawaii as nothing more than our 50th state and that she had some beautiful beaches and Pearl Harbor. It’s so wonderful to learn how wrong I was to think that’s all she had going for her. Thank you for educating me week after week. Can’t wait to get there and learn even more first hand!

    I’m also glad that we have you and the other 808′ers to show us that Five-0 is doing it’s best to be respectful of the culture and activities they portray. I am happy when you guys point out how good they are at it but I’m also grateful when you guys call them on it when they get it wrong. For entertainment purposes it’s one thing…but in realty, I like it when you guys set us straight so are impressions are as accurate as they can be. Keep up the awesome job you do! I hope our show gives you many more years to educate us! Mahalo and aloha nui loa!

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

      Thanks Linda:) Looking forward to showing you some history and culture first hand when you come to Hawai‘i:) That will be great. And I SO appreciate the fact that you (and many others) love the cultural aspects that H50 brings to the show. They at least give us a taste of culture every week within the time they have for each episode. That’s what set the original show apart from the others and now- the contemporary version does the same. I feel sometimes I should “correct” because I don’t want viewers to get the wrong impression about Hawai’i- not because I want to bash or waggle my finger (hope that doesn’t come through! Not my intention:) We have enough people/shows/misinformation to do that for us already. Thanks for always commenting and adding an interesting viewpoint to the conversation:) Aloha, Wendie

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

      Thanks Linda:) Looking forward to showing you some history and culture first hand when you come to Hawai‘i:) That will be great. And I SO appreciate the fact that you (and many others) love the cultural aspects that H50 brings to the show. They at least give us a taste of culture every week within the time they have for each episode. That’s what set the original show apart from the others and now- the contemporary version does the same. I feel sometimes I should “correct” because I don’t want viewers to get the wrong impression about Hawai’i- not because I want to bash or waggle my finger (hope that doesn’t come through! Not my intention:) We have enough people/shows/misinformation to do that for us already. Thanks for always commenting and adding an interesting viewpoint to the conversation:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Anonymous

    Great recap Wendie and I always love the history lessons you provide in your blog! Poor Alex was so sick – he voice was froggy enough to be sexy! Coming off of such an excellent episode as Hookman this one paled in comparison – it was just an ok one for me. And I think the reason was Doris – I don’t like her character at all. Can you say snake? Her comment at the end to Steve about if you want to know what I’m up to all you have to do is ask was condescending and a lie because if he did ask, she’d lie to him, as she has been. I feel he’s not worried about her, he doesn’t trust her and rightly so. I laughed at the “coincidence” of Treat Williams PI name being Mick! Loved it – loved Moonlight!! I would love to see Treat Williams more, I love him, but know his returns means more Doris. Kamekona playing a serious role was heartwarming and I loved the scene w/Kono. The fight scene was brutal but I’m glad it ended well. I was hoping for a little more Catherine time – we (read me!) are in serious need of a steamy McRoll scene – and I know it’s not happening anytime soon, sigh. It was great that the entire crew was in this one, if only briefly!!

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

      Thanks Karen! I’m with you- this wasn’t Hookman, but it was a good one. And one that incorporated more culture and ‘ohana than was eluded to in the preview- so it was a nice one for me:) The only thing about Treat was that he reminded me of my Dad- isn’t that interesting? (Or maybe not? LOL!) Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • http://twitter.com/BertHayling Bert Hayling

    Okay, so it’s always random stuff that jumps out at me. :D

    I cracked up when I realized Kamekona was calling the garden gnomes “trolls.”

    Don’t know if it was deliberate or not, but I liked the callback to the events of the S1 finale when Kamekona explained giving Hoapili the gun as looking out for family, something Steve would understand. After all, Steve armed for bear in Kamekona’s secret gun stash before going after Jameson.

    “Shrimp Truck Lockdown” — yeah, for all his crabby, crotchety griping, Danny’s idea of what constitutes family, and how you look after your family, has taken on more and more of the spirit of ohana. I always get a kick out of Danny and Kamekona’s interactions, as for all their snark and verbal scuffling, they’ve got each other’s backs.

    Totally irrelevant, but Summer Glau’s “Firefly” character was named River Tam, so having Jason Tam on board was a fun little coincidence.

    Doris and Mick — you just KNOW Doris figured him out almost immediately! Figured him out and then put him where she could keep an eye on him, suss him out, and neutralize him as Steve’s surveillance guy. Steve, ol’ son, you should’ve seen that coming a mile off.

    I do enjoy seeing H50 incorporating Hawaiian culture into their storylines and working a teaching moment of sorts into the episodes. While the presentation can sometimes be a wee bit awkward, the global outreach of H50 means people the world over are introduced to Hawaii’s rich and vibrant culture and history along the way.

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

      Hi Bert!
      Love your comments- so insightful:) All of you who comment will put me out of a job if you ever decide to write your own! But for now, I’ll take your comments here! Mahalo nui! I agree with you- Steven should have known Mom would have smelled Mick coming a mile away. LOL I thought all the “getting to know you banter” was a bit sarcastic. I could tell she was laughing at him the entire time he was talking about his “tire business”- or whatever his cover story was. LOL And thanks about your Hawaiian culture comments- I agree- it’s great to be able to show our amazing culture and history on a global scale:) Mahalo nui for your support of the Redux, Bert:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Diane

    Hi Wendie, great review as always. I liked this episode, it flowed well. I like/hate the Doris character, and yes McG does not trust his mother and he should not. I still think we are not suppose to like or trust Doris, because she lies to her own son, who is our hero. There are still a lot of layers to this storyline, and I hope they don’t take too long to tell the whole story, but I do like Christine Lahti and hope this character lasts awhile.
    I was expecting more Catherine in this episode, I love her expressions as McG’s quirky nature of eating MRE’s and drinking out of a canteen. You can almost see her thinking, “what have I been dating”. We have all had those moments about a relationship. Looking forward to more new episodes. Thanks for telling us more about the Hawaiian culture, I enjoy that as well.

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

      Hi Diane-

      As a woman who has been married to a Navy Chief for 15 years- I will say that you can’t beat the Navy out of any sailor- or SEAL it seems:) Chief still dreams about MRE #14 Chicken Parmesan. He also likes #12 Cheese Tortellini and #15 Grilled Chicken and #11 Chicken w/Rice. So… it must be a Navy thing. :D

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • http://twitter.com/H50BAMF ESS

    Great recap Wendie! Especially loved the insight into the lua. Always appreciate your history/culture lessons as they relate to what the show is trying to portray. I also appreciate that show respected the lua and didn’t turn it into the “bad guy”.

    I probably liked Doris in this episode more than any other. No, I know we can’t really trust her and that she’s lying to our hero, but for most of an episode she seemed more like a real person. She had real desires and lets face it, she has a beautiful smile. No wonder Mick fell for her. Of course Steve did the right thing, if he had asked (silly Danny) she would have only lied to him. But this little banter between McG and Doris, her walking in on McRoll, McG being the protective son, it was a welcome change and a facet to this relationship we desperately needed to see.
    I have to admit, I’d grown a bit tired of Kamekona’s usual shrimp truck repartee. I was pleasantly surprised at his story line and the way Taylor Wiley knocked it out of the park. It was much needed and very appreciated.
    While I was sad at the little screen time Catherine had this week, I loved the moments she had. What I love about her relationship with Steve is the level on which she ‘gets’ him. Instead of criticizing or teasing Steve about his craving, she turned it to her advantage. (smart, lucky girl) She understands our hero and all his little quirks and she accepts them. It’s what makes them so great together.
    Oh one more thing…I would be remiss without giving a proper shout out to director Larry Teng who once again provided us with a show that was perfectly paced and well balanced IMO. I really liked this episode, in some ways more than last week’s, though it didn’t have the hype. It was still a solid, enjoyable episode that provided us with a few character moments that were truly needed and welcome.

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

      I was so happy lua was certainly honored and respected in the episode. I so agree wtih you on Doris- man, she is hard to dislike. But she is easy to distrust, for sure! Larry Teng is an expert director and he is one of my favorites- can’t wait for more from him:) Thanks for all of your comments and for reading and supporting! Mahalo! Wendie

  • http://twitter.com/hedwig2212 Dina

    Awesome recap as always! I thought the same exact thing when McG shot the guy in the leg- a nod to Indiana Jones and that classic whip scene!

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

      Hi Dina- Loved that moment! Thanks for reading and commenting:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for a another great recap, Wendie! Once again I have learned something new about the Hawaiian culture – namely, what a Lua is.

    As far as the new episode goes, I enjoyed it. It had an interesting crime of the week, and Summer Glau was a very effective guest star. Treat Williams was a delight, as well. I’m enjoying this new twist to Mom McG’s storyline, and had to giggle over befuddled Steve at the end scene – Mom has had a few more years in the covert field, for sure! Plus, Danny knows just a bit more about women than Steve apparently does! Danny would just out and out ask Mom what she’d been up to, but Steve has to pull out the PI with 25 years of Naval Intel experience to find out what his mom has been up to every afternoon! Five will get you ten that Mick is not going to find anything worth Steve’s money! Anyway, it’s a fun turn.

    The star for me this week was Taylor Wiley! Who would have thought that Kamekona was in the show for anything other than comic relief? I was so impressed with his emotional turn – first the anger over his cousin’s death, then the depth of caring for his cousin’s daughter. Yes, Bert, I duly noted the look and comment to Steve that he should understand what it means to take care of Ohana and also thought of the S1 finale.

    All in all, an enjoyable episode. Loved the beginning, giggled at the ending, and was entertained by the middle! Goes to show I can enjoy H50 just as much without explosions and shootouts (but…I do like those, too!)

    Thanks, Wendie.

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

      Lynnette- Always love your comments and your view point:) You always make me think about 500 other things I should have written about! Wish you were awake when I’m writing so I could brainstorm with you:) Mahalo nui for always reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Anonymous

    I suppose I should confess that I thought the writer had made up this phony Hawaiian martial art form, because I’d never heard of it before. Instead, you tell me that lua is REAL! Amazing…. I always thought lua was the Hawaiian word for basin, like Kailua is “salt water basin/bay” and Wailua is “fresh water basin/bay.” But the biggest and best surprise was seeing Kamekona in a serious turn. It’s wonderful how this minor character has become an integral part of the Five-O ohana.

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

      Hi June-

      Here are the other definitions for lua:

      lua

      1. n. Hole, pit, grave, den, cave, mine, crater. Lua is a hole that has a bottom, contrasting with puka, perforation. Hoʻopiha i ka lua o ko inaina, fill the pit of wrath [eat heartily]. hoʻo.lua To bake in the oven. Cf. hoʻolua under lua 3 and kālua. Puuʻa hoʻolua, pork and taro tops baked in ti leaves, called laulau today. (PPN lua.)

      2. n. Toilet, outhouse, bathroom, cellar.

      3. num. Two, second, secondary, twice, deuce, double; doubly, much, a great deal. Ka lua kēia o koʻu hele ʻana mai, this is the second of my trips here. ʻO ka lua ia o nā keiki, this is the second of the children. Kaʻukaʻu lua, to delay much. Kaumaha lua, extremely sad or heavy. Konikoni lua i ka puʻuwai, throbbing, throbbing in the heart. hoʻo.luaTo do twice, repeat, do over and over; to bake twice, as food in the oven, (PPN rua.)

      4. n. Equal, likeness, duplicate copy, match. See lua ʻole. Ōlaʻi ikaika loa i ʻike ʻole ʻia kona lua, very strong earthquake, the like of which had never been seen before.

      5. n. Companion, mate. Cf. kōkoʻo.

      I think lua in Kailua or Wailua could mean more water crater more than basin. Basin is translated as ipu- as it holds something like a container- or ipu. Bay translates to kū‘ono or kai kū‘ono.

      The place name Wailua means two waters. And Kailua means two seas or two currents. It is a use of translation #3 in the definition of lua.

      And I agree about your Kamekona comments as well. Taylor Wily was awesome:) Loved that they used him- instead of creating another character to play the victim’s cousin. It helped keep it more in the “H50 ‘Ohana” for sure! Mahalo for reading and commenting:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Anonymous

    Wendie,
    Thank you for the info on the culture as others have mentioned. I still do not trust nohow Mama McG. Good ep, not great like Hookman.
    Paul

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

      Hi Paul-
      Thanks for liking the info about Kapu ku‘i a lua- it was a pleasure to write about it. There’s so much more I didn’t cover, just because of time constraints. But I felt H50 did a decent job presenting it and respecting the sport. I’m with you on the distrust of Mama McG- whew! She’s an interesting character. I loved Hookman, but this one was a solid episode. Thanks for always reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

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

      Hi Paul-
      Thanks for liking the info about Kapu ku‘i a lua- it was a pleasure to write about it. There’s so much more I didn’t cover, just because of time constraints. But I felt H50 did a decent job presenting it and respecting the sport. I’m with you on the distrust of Mama McG- whew! She’s an interesting character. I loved Hookman, but this one was a solid episode. Thanks for always reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie