Five-0 Redux: Becoming maʻa
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Being Hawaiian, when I think “fish out of water,” I always think of a person somewhere unfamiliar, playing a part they are unaccustomed to, or in harms way, because a fish out of water connotates a deadly situation.
Metaphorically, “Hawaii Five-0” has used the fish out of water theme before. In the first season, Danno (Scott Caan) was the New Jerseyan who recently moved to Hawaiʻi. The same could be said for McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), growing up without a mother and far from home, as well as for Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) when he was exiled from the Honolulu Police Department.
And while this week’s episode focused again on the theme, the Five-0 team actually showcased being more “maʻa” (accustomed, used to, knowing thoroughly, habituated, familiar, experienced) about their world than they have the last three seasons.
For Native Hawaiians, learning to navigate the seas using moon phases, the stars and the tides, is fundamental to their very existence. In Hawaiian language, the phrase “ʻAʻale Maʻa Wau” means “I am not maʻa,” or, “I am not experienced, accustomed, or familiar.” This is an apt translation in more ways than might be obvious, as guest star Tim Daly, who portrayed Texas Ranger Ray Harper, looked like he was the epitome of someone who is definitely NOT maʻa.
Perhaps it was the big Stetson hat, rodeo belt buckle and pointy cowboy boots that gave him away, yet Harper adapted to his new situation and became maʻa about Hawaiʻi and some of our history and customs. A second definition of “maʻa” is “to adapt,” and Harper’s knowledge about rats and mongooses in the cane fields showed this to his advantage.
I loved how he didn’t change his appearance during this episode — he never once donned an aloha shirt or traded his cowboy boots for slippahs — but he knew that in order to accomplish the task of finding his missing daughter, he had to become maʻa to the situation quickly.
The procedural was pretty strong for the second episode of its new season; I really enjoyed Daly’s character and how the team took his side once they unraveled his story. I knew once Danno heard Harper’s daughter was in danger, there would be no stopping him from helping Harper find her.
McGarrett, of course, always has the back of the underdog. Despite Harper not being straight with them at first, McG did what is pono (righteous) for a man who is seemingly cut from some of the same cloth as him.
Now, I have no idea if “Five-0” writers read this blog, but I have to say thank you for apparently listening to some of my advice last season about taking time to show the development of characters and worry less about guest stars and their stories. While I enjoyed the Harper, Texas Ranger story, I loved seeing Kono (Grace Park) and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) in China duking it out with the Yakuza, as well as seeing further development of McG and Catherine’s (Michelle Borth) relationship.
And let’s talk about who is truly maʻa here — is there anything Kono can’t do? Oh, right, cook and clean, but damn, she can sure take out a team of assassins and bring home the freshly caught fish for dinner. Adam really shouldn’t send her home; how is that boy going to eat and stay alive?
I’ll be sad if they separate, but I also want her back with the Five-0 team, so I’m torn. As a true romantic, I’d like them hiding out and fishing for dinner and fixing broken-down jeeps for a little while more. Sometimes facing the unknown in a relationship is more romantic than candlelit baths and drinking red wine while watching the sunset.
On the flip side, McG and Cath are facing a different kind of unknown. Is Billy Harrington (Justin Bruening) playing the good guy in front of McG in order to get to Catherine like Danno suggested? I think Danno may be onto something and McG needs to pay close attention to his advice. But no matter what Billy has in mind, Catherine seems to be going in the direction Borth hinted at when I spoke to her on the red carpet at “Sunset on the Beach.” She is going to resign her commission and take this perfect job with Billy’s new security company, all with McG’s blessing.
If nothing else, McG seems to really be gaining a lot of trust in his team and with his lady. Now if only he could gain some trust in his mother. The almost anti-climactic way it was revealed that McG and Wo Fat were not brothers was sort of a letdown. Even with Max’s (Masi Oka) sneaky passing of DNA results and Danno’s subsequent cargument interrogation, it did nothing to heighten the drama around what was a huge reveal in the season opener.
But it still highlights how much little Stevie doesn’t trust Momma McG. Danno is right when he asked Steve what the DNA helps clear up for him — nothing, really — but McG’s burning desire to know why Wo Fat left Doris alive is the crux of this mystery. And of course, I only ask the payoff to that question is as mind-blowing as when we found out the truth about Jenna and Victor Hesse.
We also got some great ‘ohana scenes with Danno and Gracie (Teilor Grubbs), with Uncle Steve and Uncle Kamekona (Taylor Wily) helping out on the baseball diamond, and the introduction of new toys for the team. A new magic table appeared, slicker and better than the last one, and Danno got a new ride. One he seems destined to never drive, but still, it sure looks nice and fast. McG can probably testify to that.
Overall, I really enjoyed the first two episodes of the new season. It’s almost as if the show is finally finding its stride and riding some of the best waves since season one.
“Friday Night ‘Five-0’” has a nice ring to it. And I, for one, am certainly enjoying the ride.
Redux Side Note
TNT Thursday continued this week with repeats of two popular episodes, “Pōwā ma ka moana” (“Pirate”) with guest stars Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo, and “Loa Aloha” (“The Long Goodbye”) with Dane Cook as Danno’s wayward brother.
We always love seeing local actors return to the show, and this week we got two cute scenes with Gracie (Teilor Grubb) playing baseball, plus Shawn Mokuahi Garnett returned as Flippa to sell a few hot dogs in the stands. Dennis Chun made a brief appearance in uniform at one of the crime scenes, holding Kono’s tablet to give the team background, then appeared out of uniform in a cool aloha shirt and hat to cheer in the stands at Gracie’s game.
I loved how the entire Five-0 ʻohana showed up to support Gracie, as well as her coaches Danno and Steve, and even Cath’s opposing team. It was a nice way to show the team off the clock in the real world, so to speak.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.