Five-0 Redux: An alternate vision
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
I should have known “Hawaii Five-0” was going to knock me for a loop with its 100th episode. I just did not see that kind of ending coming, nor did I think that I was going to be as moved as I was by the acting and storyline. I’m torn between crying and cheering, which means that “Inā Paha” (pronounced ee-nah pah-ha) is going to be an episode fans will be talking about for a long time.
This episode completely surpassed my expectations. I mean, I knew it was going to be good, but it was more than that — it made me fall in love with the show all over again.
As the opening five minutes of the series pilot replayed, I hoped for another ending. There was McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) getting ambushed in South Korea as he transported Anton Hesse (Norman Reedus) while listening to his father (William Sadler) being tortured by Anton’s brother, Victor (James Marsters).
And then my wish was granted. Danny (Scott Caan) delivered the stunning news: “No, your father’s not dead.”
If perhaps that really happened, what a show it would be. Yet that’s exactly what “Hawaii Five-0” presented to viewers this week.
A few hours after watching this episode, I am still pondering it. There was just one part I didn’t like, but it’s something that could be chalked up to the fact I’m not one for torture. Yet, the acting, especially by Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, William Sadler and Mark Dacascos, along with the rest of the cast, was stellar. Director Larry Teng did an amazing job marrying the abilities of his actors with heart-pounding drama and action. Teng always produces quality episodes that keep viewers entranced and leave fans satisfied.
The script, written by executive producer Peter Lenkov, was the perfect mix of all the elements fans love about “Five-0.” Humor mixed with love of friends and family, as well as a dramatic payoff at the end. I loved how the story went from the pilot and gave an alternate view of what could have been. All of it stemmed from the idea of what life would be like for Steve if his father had never been killed by Victor Hesse.
In Hawaiian, “inā paha” means “if perhaps” and that theme was the crux of the episode. If perhaps John McGarrett had been saved by Danny and lived. If perhaps Danny “Danno” Williams was still married to Rachel and worked as a happy detective in love with his life in Hawaii.
If perhaps Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) had never been disgraced and had moved up the ranks to make Captain in the HPD, like he seemed destined from the start. If perhaps Kono Kalākaua (Grace Park) had never blown out her knee and continued on her surfing trajectory and become a professional surfer.
If perhaps Commander Steve McGarrett had returned home to find his father alive.
If perhaps Steve killed Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) instead of Hesse, would his life been different? I thought about that a lot during the episode, but it did not distract me from many of the great moments in the show.
As this was the 100th episode, I knew we were going to get several treats. I especially loved all the returning characters they spotlighted.
I loved when the team introduced Sang Min (Will Yun Lee) to new team member Grover (Chi McBride), who Min greeted with a loving, “You’ve been out in the sun too long, McGarrett.”
The last time we saw Sang Min, he had cut off his beloved mullet and slipped out of Halawa Correctional Facility after “helping” Chin in season three’s “ʻŌlelo Hoʻopaʻi Make” (“Death Sentence”).
Thankfully, he appeared to be in one piece with his lovely mullet all grown back, just in time to help rat out his British replacement, Johnny Moreau. Musician Gavin Rossdale of rock band Bush, who performed at this year’s Sunset on the Beach season premiere, played the doomed Moreau, set up by Min (who became a Five-0 informer). It was great to see him back interacting with the team.
While they broke apart yet another crime syndicate, they realized Steve had been captured straight out of his father’s Mercury. While they searched for him, McGarrett was psychologically and physically tortured by Wo Fat and his sidekick, Eris (Tracy Ifeachor).
The only part of the episode I did not enjoy was watching McGarrett being tortured. I’m not a fan of pain, nor watching someone else being used as a human pincushion — or being waterboarded as if he was back in BUD/S training. I know Steve is a SEAL and trained beyond what a normal man could take in this kind of situation, but it was very difficult to watch. I suppose it was a way to make it more plausible for Steve to end his torture by killing Eris and ultimately reach a showdown with Wo Fat, but I just didn’t enjoy witnessing him being beaten, drugged and electrocuted.
It did lead to an interesting plot point — McG was under the influence of some sort of truth serum, which allowed his mind to imagine what would have happened if his father had not been killed. Maybe under severe torture, victims allow their minds to think about what life would be like if it had gone in a different direction?
As McG hallucinated, McGarrett saw his friends living other lives and reunited with his father, who he seemed to have not completely mourned. It was bittersweet to see McG hug his father and meet Chin Ho — who is now Captain Kelly.
He also experiences a very happy Danno, clad in aloha attire, who has fully embraced island living. He loves the sun and the ocean, the ‘ono eats and drives his own car. He even told McGarrett perhaps he should shed his formal attire. This Danno has lost his neckties, his hatred for Hawaiʻi, and seems to have taken on a bit of the un-altered McG when it deals with finding out information from a suspect.
We even got a glimpse of Lou Grover as a golfing tourist who had his clubs stolen and was bullying a gentle Sgt. Duke Lukela (Dennis Chun) into investigating his case. When Lukela interrupted Grover’s angry tirade to greet McGarrett and pass him off to Danno, it was an ironic moment when Danno said to Duke: “We say mahalo, don’t we, Duke?” after Mcgarrett shook his hand to thank him for saving his father.
Many parts of McG’s past come up in his hallucination. When they visited Victor Hesse in the hospital, he got a glimpse of the long-dead Jenna Kaye (Larisa Oleynik) asking a nurse about her fiancé — who was very much alive, but had been in a bike accident. Max (Masi Oka) interrupted Danno’s interrogation of Victor Hesse — who has also been dead since season two.
It’s as if the pain and heartache McG experienced in his life was being exorcized by his subconscious. It was almost as painful to watch as the physical torture he experienced.
Not all of McG’s alternate reality encounters were happy ones. We saw Jerry (Jorge Garcia) as a paranoid homeless man. Kamekona (Taylor Wily) was behind bars and unfortunately had a strange mustache and head tattoos — and sadly, yearned for shrimp as he was no longer the free and successful shrimp truck entrepreneur he is in reality.
And Wo Fat met a quick end in a dockside shootout that McG originally had with Hesse in the pilot. Wo Fat dies with McGarrett asking him, “Why did you try to kill my father? What did he ever do to you?”
It’s as if he has always blamed Wo Fat for his father’s death. It seems even in his drug-induced mind, Wo Fat is the cause of much of his pain.
The story Wo Fat told McG about how he and McGarrett are “brothers” gave me a bit of a shock, but it answered many of the questions about the connection between Momma McG and Wo Fat. The idea that Doris McGarrett raised Wo Fat after accidentally killing his mother when he was a baby was pretty original and helped make sense of some of Doris’ actions.
So Wo Fat and McGarrett share more than just good fighting and shooting skills. They were both robbed of their mother at a young age. Steve grew up thinking Doris died when he was a teenager, and Wo Fat was abandoned by Doris once her government found out she was raising the son of the man she had been ordered to kill. Both men are tortured by more than just their pasts, but by the abandonment of the only mother they ever knew and loved.
That was a stunning piece of information, yet what was even more shocking was when McGarrett shot and killed Wo Fat. Even after Wo Fat asked him, “You’re not going to kill me are you? Brother?”
I’m not surprised McG killed his arch nemesis, the man who truly turned his life upside down. I’m just surprised his character was allowed to die.
I still can’t believe it. Who is going to be our villain now?
Maybe I’m even more upset because I love Mark Dacascos so much. He’s such a likable actor and his portrayal of Wo Fat was so perfect. Wo Fat is cunning and so delightfully scary. He is such a great villain, I really did not want him to die.
Yet, as William Sadler has returned in all five seasons even though he died in the pilot, perhaps Dacascos will return for flashbacks and to help us understand the entire story surrounding Doris and her years underground.
We all can say “if perhaps” in our lives. If perhaps I had done this or that, would my life be different? I’m sure we all can say yes to that question, but different in what way?
Different doesn’t always mean better. If perhaps Steve had returned to Hawaiʻi and wrapped up his mission so neatly, would we have the Five-0 team we know and love?
In Steve’s alternate vision, I’m not sure I liked how his life — and to an extent, the entire Five-0 team’s lives — ended up. I think I like our McG, Danno, Chin, and Kono the way they were from the very start.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.