Five-0 Redux: Giving thanks
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
“Hawaii Five-0” is giving their fans much to be thankful about this season. After nine great episodes of strong character development and better procedurals, viewers seem to be enjoying their Friday night fix.
This week’s episode, “Hauʻoli Lā Hoʻomaikaʻi” — aptly named as it means “Happy Thanksgiving” in Hawaiian — was a great way to lead us into the holiday season.
“Five-0” really does a great job with special occasion episodes, and this one can be added to the list. I think we all love seeing the Five-0 team kicking back and having a good time, so the opening ʻohana football game with McG (Alex O’Loughlin), Cath (Michelle Borth), Sgt. Duke (Dennis Chun), Kamekona (Taylor Wily), and Mamo (Al Harrington) up against Danno (Scott Caan), Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim), Grover (Chi McBride), Gracie (Teilor Grubbs), Nicky The Kid (returning guest star Larry Manetti) and cousin Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) was a great way to start what turned out to be a long and emotional Thanksgiving Day.
I loved how Kamekona and Flippa traded the shrimp line for the D-Line, Chin Ho expertly recalled his Kukui High quarterback days and Danno played excellent wide receiver reminiscent of his Charlie Tweeder past. Cath added to the fun, scoring a touchdown and getting a ride from Danno. Grover joined new buddy McG, with Danno giving Steve a bit of pouty interrogation about why Grover had been asked to join them before McG was pulled out of the game when his phone clucked orders to put a turkey in the oven.
Oh, McG, you never cease to amaze us. Not only can you fill a tub with lye and tell a perp, “You’ll talk or you’ll burn,” even after he’s been shot and is bleeding all over your kevlar, but you can still cry when your aunt tells you she’s dying of cancer and comfort your sister even after she failed as your turkey prep cook. McGarrett, you’re still our hero, no matter if we eat shrimp casserole for Thanksgiving or not.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist pointing out how much our SEAL hero has, I don’t want to say changed as much as I’d like to say he’s perhaps… evolved? No longer is he the “neanderthal” Danno chastised in season one. And for me, that’s not a bad thing.
Don’t start writing angry emails, folks. What I mean is, McG is a far richer character now and it’s nice that Alex O’Loughlin is allowed to show it. He’s excellent in scenes when he has to be emotional; look at how many times he’s had to react to hardships and heartbreaks, and how believable and true he’s been. I know it’s writer and executive producer Peter Lenkov’s desire to show all of the characters as real people and not card-board cutouts of typical stereotypes. And maybe because this is the fourth season, but the characters are richer and more complex, and in turn the storylines are evolving.
But the best part of this episode? Carol Burnett as Aunt Deb, Jack McGarrett’s sister who raised Mary Ann after Doris’s “death.” She seemed to be a hānai (foster) mom to Steve as well, as they seemed equally as close and affectionate. Steve wasn’t even that nice to his own mother, but seemed to share a lot of love and laughter with Aunt Deb.
I loved how she teased him about his grey temples and called his sister “Mary and her little lamb.” And her sarcastic bantering with “Hairnet,” the butcher she tries to buy a turkey from on Thanksgiving (played with perfect irony by Hawaiʻi Chef Sam Choy), was classic Burnett humor.
The backstory of Deb giving up her career to raise Mary was a great lead in for the ending scene, when Aunt Deb sang her farewell to her “little ʻohana.” And the heartbreaking revelation of her brain tumor, all while sitting in a jail cell after she had been busted for trying to buy pakalōlō (i.e. marijuana, or as Aunt Deb called it, “grass”) was much like the Carol Burnett we grew up with on television and was a testament to her storied career and talent.
While we wept right along with McG for his Aunt and for the devastating toll her news would take on Mary Ann, the scene was basically hilarious. Sgt. Duke shaking his head, probably muttering as he led McG to Aunt Deb’s cell, Deb’s explanation about trying to buy grass from a narc and then demanding someone good-looking to give her a lift home all helped to add humor and honesty to the scene. Deb is a character we could all get behind; perhaps if Doris had been a little bit like her, many of us wouldn’t be so anti-Momma McG.
I think I could probably write another 500 words about how much I liked Burnett in this episode. I did watch diligently to see if she touched her earlobe, but perhaps she only does that when she is “playing” herself. Still, all of the moments she was a part of on screen were magical. When she rubbed Steve’s back as he cried, when she sat with Cath and looked out at the “most beautiful spot on the island,” when she said Steve was once a little boy who lost his mom and had to grow up too fast – all are moments I think fans will remember and add to their favorites.
The procedural itself was good and I liked the twist of an ending. Our President has vacationed several times in Hawaiʻi during his tenure, and yes, he really does stay on the windward side of the island in a private Kailua home. I did like that the red herring in this episode was the assassination. The fact it was a hit on a dental hygienist who witnessed a Russian mob murder was not what I expected.
Wouldn’t it be cool if President Obama had made a cameo? It would have been epic to see him make his way down the steps of Air Force One, but I will settle for another show with Burnett any day.
We also got to see more of Kono and Adam’s story. Chin updated his cousin and told her the Five-0 team took down the rest of Michael Noshimuri’s faction so that Kono (Grace Park) no longer has to look over her shoulder. Now, all she has to do is find Adam (Ian Anthony Dale).
Perhaps this means Kono will be returning to Hawaiʻi? Nope. She’s heading back to Seattle to follow a lead. Hopefully this means Kono and Adam will be reunited and return to the team sometime this season?
Still, we had another episode with great interplay with McG and Danno. While there was no argument this week, there was more brotherly love shared when Danno comforted McG about Aunt Deb’s cancer news. This is a little different than the newfound friendship between Grover and McG, but it was the stuff we love about Danno and McG — sitting in the Camaro, working the case, giving each other grief and hugging it out when needed.
I just wish we’d see more of Danno this season. He seems to be on one episode and off the next. Perhaps he has a new deal that no one is talking about. It would just be nice if he would stay put for the rest of the season and stop visiting his parents or taking Gracie on trips. McG needs his partner, and even though we like the rest of the team and Grover, we still need our Danno.
I’m just thankful that this episode was about ʻohana, because that is what Thanksgiving is all about.
Redux Side Note:
This week’s TNT “Hawaii Five-0” repeats were season two favorites: “Ka Iwi Kapu” (“Sacred Bones”), which was the Halloween episode with Robert Englund, and “Lapaʻau” (“Healing”) with Masi Oka’s “Heroes” co-star Greg Grunberg. I was lucky enough to interview Hawaiʻi actor, Scott Ok, who had a great scene in “Lapaʻau” with Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.