Five-0 Redux: Strengthening the ʻohana
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
After four years of drama and action, “Hawaii Five-0” has matured nicely into a show that seems to have outshone their competitors, quieted naysayers and outdone themselves with quality storylines and characters.
Out of all the finales, I’d have to say this one left me the most excited about the upcoming season — and yet strangely satisfied. In the past, season finales have left me as frustrated as Danno riding in the passenger seat of his own car, watching McG drive his Camaro like he stole it from a NASCAR track. Friday night’s finale was the pièce de résistance of the magnum opus that was season four.
According to Hawaiʻi Island Film Commissioner T. Ilihia Gionson, “ʻO Ka Pili ʻOhana Ka ʻOi” means “family first, or literally, the bond of family is the best.” And we definitely saw this theme play out in the episode between Grover (Chi McBride) and his fierce desire to rescue his daughter, Samantha (Paige Hurd), from the woodenly callous Ian Wright (Nick Jonas), as well as within the entire team and the strengthening of their own bonds with each other and the ones they love.
Jonas returned to reprise his role as the computer mastermind, and I guess he didn’t hit up Donnie Wahlberg for advice on how to make an awesome transition from boy band to hit drama series. His performance in November’s “Akanahe” (“Reluctant Partners”) was two-dimensional at best, and this week’s return was not much better.
“Hawaii Five-0” has been known for their cruel and calculating villains, yet they have always been interesting enough that we like them in a strangely ironic way. Yet, all I really wanted was for McG (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) to take Wright out to sea and feed him to the sharks. (It’s not like they haven’t tried that before.)
Thankfully, there was a villain to save the episode. The return of Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) was more than I had hoped for, and not just because we love seeing Mark Dacascos, even with his face half-burned. We finally got a few more breadcrumbs to follow on the whole McGarrett/Wo Fat connection mystery.
I know, they were small breadcrumbs, but at least we know Doris is still out there misdirecting McGarrett from clear answers. But the enigma that is Wo Fat is even more profound, as now we are left to wonder if Wo Fat is really a villain. He came to the rescue this time, killing Ian Wright — did you all cheer like I did when that happened? — and freeing Grover’s daughter.
Have I mentioned how much fans love Mark Dacascos? He plays a villain we all can admire as well as loathe. Perhaps it’s because Dacascos himself is such a kind and humble man, but also because his portrayal of Wo Fat gives new meaning to the “less is more” acting technique. Wo Fat gives the camera one look and tells us so much about his feelings, what he’s thinking and what he might do in his fight for his own kind of twisted justice.
He is most assuredly a villain we love to watch, and dare I say, root for? Not that we want Wo Fat to beat McG, but we sure love when he shows up. And this week was no exception.
Sure, I’d love to have had more information about what Wo Fat wants and more of a wrap up of Momma McG’s role in the grave site in Cambodia, as well as all of the CIA shenanigans that have derailed McG in his search for the truth. But just knowing that Wo Fat is in the wind and will most definitely come back to stir up trouble for McG and the Five-0 team is sweet anticipation for yet another amazing season starting in September.
And what a season this has been! The finale has definitely put more of a spin on the makeup of the task force, but has also given me some hope that season five will be just as strong. Adding Grover to the Five-0 team was something I figured would happen, and I hope he doesn’t get sidelined like Cath did when she joined. Perhaps his SWAT experience he will be put to good use; I just hope he and Chin don’t have to fight over who gets to carry the biggest gun.
The finale was one heck of a ride written by Peter Lenkov and Ken Solarz. They incorporated all the aspects that we love about “Five-0.” The humor and McG/Danno banter was fun and entertaining, especially in the opening scene with the two of them racing through Waikīkī on three wheels. I was glad a few moments were given to the men to discuss the loss of Catherine and how it affected McG.
Caan and O’Loughlin are always good at the bromantic jabs, but it is the quiet moments between the two that seem to click so well. When McG says to Danno, “She’s not coming home until the job’s done,” we get that McG has made peace with her decisions. While he may not like them, he understands her need to be separated from him.
We may not understand, but I was glad last week’s episode was discussed one more time. O’Loughlin was stellar in that episode, and while the focus was on Grover and his playing puppet to Wright this week, he still handled having a gun held to his head — as well as focusing the team’s aid for Grover — in a way that reminds us that he is the commander. Still, his obvious angst at how to help his friend, as well as his obvious distaste for Wright, added to the drama of the finale.
Kono (Grace Park) and Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) also had a good scene, where we learned a bit more about Kono and Adam. So much of season four was spent with the two on the run, as well as the team’s work to clear them to return home, that I was glad something was said about their relationship and where it stands.
Chin’s advice to his cousin was bittersweet. When he told Kono he wished he had not waited to marry Malia, we remembered his heartbreak and understood when he said, “this life we live is unpredictable.” We know he did not have a chance to live the life he wanted with Malia, and as Kono has also experienced a separation from Adam and wondered if she would ever see him again, this was sage advice from a man who is more experienced than he should be about the loss of a loved one.
Grover was just as strong, channelling his huge stature of tough Chicago cop into a man who was almost broken by the thought of losing his beloved daughter. McBride nailed his dramatic and heart-wrenching scenes of despair and I was sucked in by his intensity and palpable frustration. Danno’s stepping in to comfort, as well as encourage Grover to snap out of his sorrow and get back into the game, was perfect.
These are the kind of moments where Caan particularly shines. His ability to empathize with parents who have children who are lost or suffering remind us of his obvious love for his daughter, Grace (Teilor Grubbs) and the times when he too imagined a different outcome for her well-being. Both men showed the juxtaposition of fathers who must set aside their love and paternal bonds in order to focus on getting the job done and their children home, even in the midst of fear and danger.
Overall, I was left satisfied and excited for season five. In the past, I’ve always felt bereft, wanting more and desirous of better information and answers to questions posed throughout the season. While I still don’t have the entire story, I still got enough intel to keep the hiatus from not being as torturous as it has in years past.
But who am I kidding? I’m still going to be chomping at the bit waiting for September to arrive. Not only because I want to know more, but because I know the show will be heading into another season stronger than ever before.
REDUX SIDE NOTE:
I always try to point out Hawaiʻi actors in “Hawaii Five-0,” and this week is no exception.
Two of the recurring Hawai’i actors returned this week — Taylor Wily, who plays Kamekona, had a funny scene at the shrimp truck trying to talk Grover out of his “spare” shrimp plate.
And Dennis Chun was in several scenes as Sgt. Duke Lukela, helping the team catch a bank robber on the run in Waikīkī, plus a sweet scene with Samantha, comforting her as she waited to be reunited with her father.
Surfer and Hui O Heʻe Nalu (Da Hui) founder Eddie Rothman played Inoke Makuakane, the leader of the group that helped rogue agent Novak (Richard Burgi) smuggle $100 million out of Hawaiʻi.
Interestingly enough, Burgi also has a slight connection to Hawaiʻi; many may remember he played detective Mack Wolfe on “One West Waikiki” in the mid-1990s.
Other local actors featured this week included Nolan Hong and Chad Burch as state sheriffs in the airport scenes; former University of Hawaii football player and Denver Bronco Ma’a Tanuvasa played the sheriff who escorted Ian Wright into Five-0 headquarters; and Keala Kahuanui-Paleka played the tattooed soldier unceremoniously handcuffed to himself when the team stormed the Makuakane homestead.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.