Five-0 Redux: An epic fan-built episode
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Take it from someone who attended her own 25th high school reunion — returning to my beloved alma mater to reconnect with old friends and relive our high school years was one of the best moments of my life.
“Hawaii Five-0” did a great job capturing the true spirit of a high school reunion in this week’s episode, “Hoʻi Hou” (“Reunited”), especially one as momentous as a 25th. And while Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) and “Hairy Jerry” Ortega (Jorge Garcia) tried to shed their band geek/AV club alter-egos and blend in with the cool kids at Kukui High’s Class of 1989 Reunion, in true “Five-0” fashion there was also a 25-year-old mystery to solve.
But doesn’t that just make for the best kind of reunion — one with mega-drama added into the mix? After more than two decades, the angst of acceptance or rejection based on superficial rationale, either real or imagined, seems to disappear completely. Unless of course, there’s a dead body to contend with. Then the cool kids have to take over and end the party like Milli Vanilli’s career.
Good thing this high school reunion, complete with limos and red carpets and tipsy hot girls who want your phone number, had Chin Ho and Jerry there to save the day.
I know the reunion scene was just the first five minutes of the episode, but I really enjoyed watching Jerry show off to an old AV club buddy (played by Hawaiʻi actor and entertainer Bulldog) about being a consultant to “Five-0” and who “just last week … stun-gunned a Chinese spy.”
Definitely the type of reunion bragging that is appropriate and necessary to share. And while Chin was a complete gentleman with “Naughty” Nani Kahanu (Krista Allen), who shamelessly flirted with him, Alan Lim’s (Peter Shinkoda) question, “So you got married?” really struck a chord.
All the elements of the case blossomed from the reunion, and I loved how writer Christina M. Kim really brought all the difficult elements chosen by fans to fruition. This was the “Fan-Built” episode where fans have had a chance since October to vote on specific elements to make up the storyline.
I admit, I thought it was going to be a silly episode. How could the writers possibly kill a macadamia nut tycoon with a 5-inch stiletto at Chin Ho’s high school reunion? And where on earth could they fit in a toy rocket as a piece of evidence, and then take down the struggling illusionist suspect in a giant maze?
Well, I stand corrected. Not only did they get it all into the storyline, it all made sense and was a treat to watch unfold. True, it ended up that the struggling illusionist, The Amazing Tony Gibson (played by the really amazing Rob Corddry), was the perfect “red herring” and was cleared as a suspect early on, and the macadamia nut heiress Laura Richmond’s death by 5-inch stilettos was a little bit of a stretch, yet “Hawaii Five-0” really nailed it.
I was pleased they added in several great scenes of McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) in the jungles of Cambodia. McG was looking for the grave Jerry found by deciphering the “Shelburn” (no “e” in the cypher) clue from the Champ box. The plane-gument between McG and Danno about the roads McG doesn’t seem to “want to go down” was very telling, yet it also seems to have spurred McGarrett to really find some answers no matter what the cost.
All the McG centered scenes to find out more about Doris and to finally complete the Shelburne mystery made for an even better episode than I expected.
Okay, folks, don’t send me any more hate mail. I’m not saying I didn’t want this episode to be good or that I wanted the “Fan-Built Five-0” to fail, it’s just that the odds were not quite in their favor.
But I loved the outcome. It was entertaining, had great bits of humor and laugh out loud moments, and we learned more about Chin Ho. Who knew you could be a mathlete and quarterback of the football team, as well as maintain band geek status?
We also got to know Jerry better, which will help as Garcia will join the cast full-time next season. We also got to see how Jerry and Chin became friends.
I enjoyed all the action this week; we had tense scene at Kukui High (in reality Roosevelt High School in Honolulu) when the murder victim was chased up a flight of stairs, and of course, unceremoniously landed on her spiked stiletto. There was the maze chase, where McG clotheslined the victim’s murdering brother (Mackenzie Astin). Kamekona (Taylor Wily) also got to lend a humorous hand to the team by flying his tour chopper over the giant maze to provide McG with an eye in the sky.
I always love when we get to see some of our favorite characters, even if it’s just for a few short scenes. Max (Masi Oka) was back to lend not only his expertise at the crime scene, but to give McG a hand in his clandestine search for Champ Box/Shelburne/Momma McG/Wo Fat answers. When he found Laura Richmond killed by stiletto heel, he made me realize that it had to have been a really strange death for Max to say, “This is a first for me.”
It seemed to also be a first for Max to have lost a sample sent to the lab, as his panic and obvious sorrow at disappointing McGarrett was palpable. I was just glad McG had saved some of the hair sample he found in the empty casket in Cambodia “for a rainy day.” Danno was right, that’s the McG we know and love.
Sgt. Lukela (Dennis Chun) also had two key scenes, including one that specifically helped the team connect the murder victim to her killer. Lukela gave Kono (Grace Park) the case file from his rookie days on surfer Corey Johnson’s disappearance and told them he was “never convinced Corey Johnson drowned.”
I was glad it was Duke telling the team a bit of insider information, and not just some random HPD officer. It’s always a comfort to have a familiar face work with the team, and as Chun is a fan favorite, we like seeing him help the team work the crime.
I always love when the episode wraps up with the team gathering at Kamekona’s Shrimp Truck with the view of Diamond Head in the background, as they get a chance to decompress as friends. Flipping through the 1989 Kukui High yearbook to see Jerry “Most Likely to be Abducted by Aliens” and Chin Ho “Most Dependable” as Danno made fun of the “goofballs” was definitely a great way to end an episode.
Yet tossing in a McG on a mission scene as he leaves his friends to find answers from his CIA contact (James Brennan), only to find his office cleaned out and the phone ringing, gives me a “this is not good” feeling. All I know is that when McGarrett said, “You think that making an agent disappear and making that casket in Cambodia disappear is going to make me stop?” I know that means business, and when McG gets involved in someones business, they better watch out.
Overall, this episode really worked, despite my initial trepidation. It made me appreciate the care Kim and director Sylvain White took to make the choices of the fans work as a plausible episode. From the opening song by Hawaiʻi band The Green, to the title, to Chin Ho and Kono’s wardrobe, as well as all of the plot pieces and characters, every part stayed true to the fans’ desires and turned into an epic episode.
REDUX SIDE NOTE:
If you were wondering about the giant maze that was the back yard of the Richmond Estate, you can visit it yourself the next time you are on Oʻahu. The maze is actually the world’s largest, located at Dole Plantation just outside of my hometown of Wahiawā.
The maze is one of the few botanical mazes in America, is over three acres in size and is made up of two and a half miles of paths crafted from 14,000 Hawaiian plants. The “R” featured in the middle of the maze in this week’s episode is actually the image of a pineapple in real life.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.