Five-0 Redux: A bittersweet legacy

Oct. 25, 2014 | 7 Comments

PHOTOS COURTESY CBSOn the fourth anniversary of his father's death, McGarrett meets a woman who helps him reopen the last unsolved case his father worked on before his death.

PHOTOS COURTESY CBS

On the fourth anniversary of his father’s death, McGarrett meets a woman who helps him reopen the last unsolved case his father worked on before his death.

BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser

We all know the impact the death of a loved one has on our lives. Unlike traditional literature and poetry, where the loss of a loved one leaves an ache in our hearts, Hawaiians believe that kind of pain is felt in our naʻau, or the intestines (or guts). But it also refers to the mind and heart, as well as affections, mood, temper and feelings.

If you think about it, when we have an emotional problem of any kind, all our physical reactions manifest in our belly — butterflies when we are nervous or falling in love, or loss of hunger when we are sad or stressed, for example. Hawaiians believe the naʻau holds all our emotion; the puʻu koko, or the heart, is simply the organ that pumps blood through our systems.

This week’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0” revolved around an issue that resides deep within the naʻau of Steve McGarrett (Alex OʻLoughlin) — the hoʻoilina, or legacy, left behind by his father John McGarrett (William Sadler). Steve continued to wrestle with the guilt of his father’s death, as well as the mysteries he left behind. So the Poppa McG ulcer has burst again, this time bringing with it a clues to a case John McGarrett never had the chance to solve before his untimely death.

Hawaiians believe we cannot bury anything in our naʻau, for it will fester and ache until our issue is resolved. So on the fourth anniversary of his father’s death, we find McGarrett visiting his father’s grave and updating him on the lives of those they love: John’s sister, Deb, and her chemotherapy treatments; Mary Ann and her daughter Joanie.

The visit was bittersweet.

“I wish you were here for all of this, I think you would have liked being a grandfather,” McGarrett said.

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Oh, there it is — the twist in our gut as we feel Steve’s sadness. When he kissed a quarter and left it on his father’s grave, I was reminded of the custom of leaving coins on veterans’ tombstones.

Soldiers tend to leave coins as a way to pay their respects to fallen comrades. A quarter left on a grave sends a message that someone who was with the soldier when they died paid a visit. When the camera focused on the quarter in this week’s episode, I was reminded that Steve was with his father when he was killed. Sure, it was over the phone while thousands of miles away, but he was still with him at the end.

The episode kept coming back to John, telling more of his back story — which of course is also tied up with the story of his son.

It’s always a treat to see William Sadler return to the show. For a dead guy, we sure get to see a lot of him! But I’m glad for that, as Sadler is not only an amazing actor, but we learn more about Steve every time his father shows up.

This week’s flashback revolved around a 19-year-old case John McGarrett was investigating up until his death. Steve met Ellie Clayton (Mirrah Foulkes) after seeing her leave flowers on his father’s grave, just minutes after he had paid his own respects.

I thought it was sweet how Steve wanted to help Ellie. He was immediately intrigued by who she was and her connection to his father. They both lost their fathers to violence and are both on the same side of the law. And McG told John’s former partner, Chin (Daniel Dae Kim), when he decided to reopen Paul Clayton’s (Martin Copping) murder case: “This obviously this meant a lot to my dad. I owe it to him.”

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Chin and the team rally around the case, with Kono (Grace Park) and Grover (Chi McBride) working the evidence, Max (Masi Oka) and Dr. Shaw (Amanda Setton) exhuming Clayton’s body to gather bullet fragments, and Chin helping McG run down leads. Noticeably absent is Danno, who was in New Jersey dealing with his family and the repercussions of last week’s journey to retrieve his brother Matt in Columbia.

McG is quiet and quite introspective for most of the episode. The sweetest scene was a flashback to 6-year-old Stevie helping John work on his Mercury. Yes, the famous Mercury Marquis only seen in a few episodes of the reboot. If you didn’t already know, this is the same car that Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett drove in the original “Hawaii Five-O.”

Along with the Mercury, we got to see Sgt. Lukela (Dennis Chun) in a mustache, a rookie Chin, and a young Stevie (Nicolai Makana Perez).

The flashbacks were my favorite part of the episode, as they were very telling of what really happened with John McGarrett and his true feelings for his family. The elder McGarrett felt for Ellie because when she lost her father, she was the same age as his own daughter, who he sent away to live with his sister. He cared for her because she was an orphan, but also because he missed his own children.

As Chin told Steve, “Your dad had some regrets — the biggest one was sending you and Mary away when you thought your mother had been killed. But I think he thought it would have been better if he hadn’t, if he had kept you close and been in your life every day.”

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That regret was so evident on John’s face. It was nice to see, and even better that Steve learned about it. I think much of what sits deep in Steve’s naʻau is the fact he was so angry and a little bitter about his father sending him and his sister away when they were younger. That came through when we first met Steve in season one. Now in season five, that bitterness seems to be almost gone.

I think that anger has been replaced by guilt, and Steve is still dealing with that four seasons later. This episode brought a little more closure and definitely better understanding.

While the episode wrapped up in an interesting way when McG and Chin had former corner boy Jordan Lewis (JR Lemon) confront Clayton’s killer, Jimmy Sykes (Steven Bauer), who saw Clayton as a threat to his drug dealing all those years ago. Ellie got her answers and John’s case was solved. But what doors did it open?

It seems Steve may have a new friend to share memories of his father with. Perhaps now he can begin to get past his father’s death and continue to live out John’s legacy without so much regret and guilt.

REDUX SIDE NOTE

There is lots of information on social media about the 100th episode, “Inā Paha” (“If Perhaps”). Five for Fighting frontman John Ondrasik wrote an original song for the landmark episode, entitled “All For One.” Many dead or long gone recurring characters will return, including William Sadler, Will Yun Lee (Sang Min), James Marsters (Victor Hesse) and Larisa Oleynik (Jenna Kaye.) The episode seems to have an “It’s a Wonderful Life” slant, as Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) returns and kidnaps McGarrett — only to have McG experience what it would have happened to the team if they had taken different paths.
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Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

  • jlopie1

    Thanks, Wendie, for another interesting review of H50! I’m so glad I read this first thing this Saturday morning, as I really didn’t know what to think about 5.05, and your analysis helped me focus on what was important to take away from the episode.

    I was somewhat confused – maybe flustered is a better word – while watching the episode unfold. I think a major reason for that being the online uproar about “Steve’s new love interest” being introduced, so I found myself focusing more on that aspect of the show (ultimately wondering what in the word I was supposed to be seeing but wasn’t.)

    It was certainly interesting to delve further into Champ Box artifacts, and thinking back far enough, Steve did say there were articles in the Champ Box that pertained to other cases besides his mother’s “death”. So, it was indeed nice to see Steve honor his father’s legacy by solving one of those cases.

    5.05 was an introspective sort of episode – with a lot of time spent on getting Steve to a place where he can be some what at peace with his father’s memory. I having a feeling this will be important when it comes time for “The 100th!”

    Thanks for helping me get past meeting the “new girl” in Steve’s life and seeing more of the depth of the storyline. You rock, as usual, Wendie!

  • Dina

    Yes not an action packed episode a poignant one and one to set in gear other episodes- Nicely reflective XO Wendie!

  • Angela Gerstner

    As a huge fan of Alex/Steve, I felt this episode was a real treat since we got to see so much of him this week – and he looked awesome, too :-)
    Alex was great in the scene at the grave. And, yes, seeing sad Steve made me feel that “twist in my gut”. Over the seasons, I’ve come to love this guy so much that I “feel with Steve” whenever he’s down, sad or being vulnerable and emotional. This guy has endured quite a few “gut-wrenching” experiences in his life and, over time, he will hopefully succeed in overcoming the lingering pain and “festering” deep down inside of him, as he gradually comes to peace with his past and the years lost with his father when he was sent away.
    Mahalo, Wendie, for explaining the scene with Steve putting the quarter on his dad’s grave. I had no idea what this was about but now the scene makes sense.

    We really learned a lot about Steve’s past through Ellie, Chin and the flashbacks. I’m glad Steve has found someone in Ellie who not only understands his feelings as someone who’s lost a parent, too, but who also knew his dad, so they can share memories.
    I liked the flashbacks because they showed how John actually felt about sending his children away. I guess he was trying to make up for that a bit by helping Ellie. It was also a good thing that Chin told Steve about the regrets John had, as it will make Steve feel better (or differently) about what his father did to protect his children – while it is still extremely sad that they lost all those years they could have spent together as a family.

    Speaking about Chin – I thought Daniel did a great job with the scenes he had in this episode. Those funny looks on his face when he finds Jerry listening to the bookseller and tells him to get back the book put a big grin on my face – as did those scenes with the extended Five-0 family helping Jerry pack his boxes, as well as the scenes with cousin Flippa. It’s amazing how the writers of this show make me smile every week – even when the main storyline of an episode is rather calm, sad and serious. And yet those funny moments never feel awkward or out of place.

  • KAD1228

    I enjoyed this episode. I love when we get a break from the usual shoot-em-up COTW. This time we were treated to some deep feelings wonderfully acted by Alex. It was moving and poignant and bringing him a step closer to the closure he so really needs and deserves. Thanks for the explanation of the quarter, I didn’t know why he left it. A lot of hype swirled around Ellie, and I was happy to see some chemistry between them, easy and a tiny bit flirty, like old friends reuniting. They seemed intrigued with each other. Will she become an important part of his life? Maybe, hopefully. Time will tell. For me, seeing the team rally round to help and support him is always the best part. The ohana was strong last night! Thanks for another great review!

  • Linda M. Stein

    “Hawaiians believe that kind of pain is felt in our naʻau, or the
    intestines (or guts). But it also refers to the mind and heart, as well
    as affections, mood, temper and feelings”

    It absolutely amazes me Wendie how I’m able, after 4+ years, to always learn something new from you each week about Hawaii, their beliefs and their way of life. It makes me feel even closer to the show I love and the wonderful friends I have made because of it.

    I too was worried about this “new girl” but I found I really liked Ellie. She and Steve have great chemistry together and I look forward to the great friendship they will build. I also think this episode is a great stepping stone for us to Episode #100. Steve is further along the road to putting aside his guilt and resentment towards his father and seeing him as the great cop and father he was. This is going to play right into the hands of WoFat and whatever mind games he has planned for Steve. I can hardly wait.

  • Niecie Williams

    As always, Great article Wendie!

  • Diane

    Hi Wendie. Thanks for continuing to teach us about the Hawaiian culture. When it comes down to it, no matter where you are, the loss of a loved one affects us for the rest of our lives. We move on, because that is what is expected, but our lives are always changed in some way.

    I loved that someone who knew Steve’s father comes into his life. There are probably so many stories that Ellie can tell Steve about his father. I think I always knew that John McG had regrets about his sending his children away, even though he thought it was the best thing he could do, not knowing what really happened to Doris.

    They never really, out right, said if he ever found out about Doris or not. I hope they clarify a little more in a future episode. Thanks again for the review.