BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Since the reboot of “Hawaii Five-0” on CBS, the themes of ʻohana and pilialoha — family and friendship — have been the foundation for much of the team’s actions and methods of operation.
This week’s episode, “Hoa Pili” (“Close Friend”), dealt with four groups of friends, all who become wrapped up in a mystery that starts with an explosion and ends up with several dead — and friendships destroyed.
Expertly directed by Jeff Cadiente and written by Kyle Harimoto from a story by Harimoto and Richard Arthur, “Hoa Pili” gave us several meanings to the idea of pilialoha.
At the start of the episode, we meet close friends Ryan (Brendan Ford) and Liam (Yuri Lowenthal), who seem to be sharing not only a business relationship, but also Ryan’s wife, Allie (Tara Platt). Ryan is not very happy with Liam and is ready to kill him, when the explosion of a nearby boat seems to stop his cuckold revenge.
It’s too bad the set up didn’t continue into the main storyline, because I really thought it would have worked out perfectly if Ryan had fed Liam to the sharks, but the adulterous trio never returned to the episode. Still, it was a nice sexy/dramatic way to start the episode. Well, it was only sexy when I figured out the actors who played the adulterous couple are actually married in real life.
Once we got into the procedural, the friendship motif continued. Brother’s Jason and Craig Brant (Mac Brandt), owners of Oʻahu Shark Tours, whose story seemed ripped from the headlines, have lost three of their boats to arson. When Jason is found dead in one of their shark cages, Five-0 finds a link to a fishing boat company, run by friends Jay Lappert (James C. Victor) and Bruce Kaneshiro (Kelsey Chock). The friends point their fingers at the Kapu, a surf club with a reputation for negotiating with their fists when people “mess with their break.”
McG and Danno head to the North Shore to question Kawika, the Kapu’s leader (played by professional waterman and Mauli Ola Foundation team rider, Kala Alexander), who has helped McGarrett and the Five-0 team on several occasions in the past.
When McG and Danno show up to question him, they find that a house on the Kapu’s homestead lot was mysteriously set on fire. They ask Kawika about his involvement with the Brant brothers and their shark tour operations, but he denies hurting them or wanting them hurt and offers to help McGarrett find out who may have beat up Jason, and led his brother, Craig, to take revenge out on the Kapu by setting fire to their property.
Once Kawika confronts his crew about who gave Jason Brant “lickens,” Levi (played by veteran stuntman Tanoai Reed) confesses to roughing up Jason about feeding the sharks and making them “not afraid of humans.”
Sharks not being afraid of humans may seem a little backwards to many, but it’s true. The reason why sharks “attack” people has more to do with the fact that we look like yummy turtles or seals on our surfboards than the idea that we taste delicious or that they want revenge on us for killing their pups. This is really what Levi is upset about; the fact that the sharks don’t feel threatened around people, and thus made its way to a family surf spot and almost killed Levi’s young cousin.
Personally, if Levi, or Kawika for that matter, showed up even a little bit angry at my shark tour, I would probably pack up my boats and start giving catamaran cruises for charity, as that would most likely be a better, if not healthier, career choice. Tanoai Reed, who also doubles for actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is monstrous, so he was undeniably scary, yet I still found him realistically concerned about his family and a very believable character.
I thought the episode tried to present all sides of the shark tour controversy that really does exist in Hawaiʻi. We have conservationists trying to save sharks from becoming shark fin soup, surfers who would like ocean life to stay naturally balanced, and Hawaiians, who believe that sharks, or manō, are one of the animal manifestations of an ‘aumakua, or family guardian.
“Hawaii Five-0” explained all the sides and didn’t try to get on one specific soapbox to solve the issue. They did show what happens when simple greed becomes more important than friendship. And as the Five-0 team tried to solve the mystery, they began to find more bodies — and body parts — along the way.
Overall, this episode had so many great parts. We had several carguments between Danny and McG and one very great chopperment that really wrapped up the episode. The cool scenes all had to do with the illustrations of pilialoha—all the way to the ending, with Kono and McG helping Brant clean up his last boat, and Chin and Danno showing up to help rebuild Kawika’s homestead.
Even the last moment with the murderer—fisherman Jay Lappert — who not only killed Jason Brant the original victim, but who also killed his friend Bruce, and left his fishing partner Hal to die and be fed to the sharks. When McG leaves him the picture of his dead friends, that just brought home the idea of how even a close friendship can end.
I did also enjoy the scenes that had little to do with the procedural. The scenes with Kamekona learning to fly his “shrimp copter” were hilarious, and even if you were not a “Magnum P.I.” fan, you had to be thinking of the reference when Kamekona was flying McG, Danno, and Max on an inaugural chopper tour over Waikiki. I’m not sure if Kamekona is more like T.C. or “Higgy Baby,” but that scene was absolutely priceless.
I was very happy to see that Cath and McG seemed to have made up, as she seems to be hanging out at the McGarrett home, and at ease with Steve. And I very much liked the scene between Chin and Leilani, and really thought that was handled very well, with a good balance of humor as well as patience. I don’t want Chin to be miserable for too long, so I liked the set up of the door being propped open for Leilani to come into his life.
“Hoa Pili” seemed like a very special episode as it was well steeped in the concept of friendship, perhaps because a close friend of the show, stunt coordinator Jeff Cadiente, directed this one.
In Hawaiian, “hoa” means “companion, friend, associate, colleague, comrade, partner, mate, or peer” and “pili” means “to cling, stick, adhere, touch, join, adjoin, or cleave to.” Cadiente definitely embodies those words — he is definitely all meaning of “hoa pili” to ‘Five-0’ and as he has been with the cast and crew since season one of “Hawaii Five-0.”
While Cadiente is known for directing and coordinating stunts and second unit teams, he said he would prefer to direct character driven episodes to show that he is more than just about action and stunts.
I think with this episode, he definitely succeeded in showing off his skills at telling a story, and showing the characters at their very best. I can’t wait to see more of his directing this season or the next.
Redux Side Note:
This is no April Fool’s joke — the “Five-0 Redux” will be all new next week with a recap of my chat with “Hoa Pili” director Jeff Cadiente. Next week’s “Five-0″ broadcast is a repeat of “ʻŌhuna.”
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.