Five-0 Redux: A Christmas longshot

Dec. 13, 2014 | 17 Comments

COURTESY CBSIt's Christmas in Hawaii and Five-0 travels to the Big Island, where Max is forced to work with a rival medical examiner after a cowboy is poisoned — and McGarrett pressures Danny into stealing a Christmas tree,

PHOTOS COURTESY CBS

It’s Christmas in Hawaii and Five-0 travels to the Big Island, where Max is forced to work with a rival medical examiner after a cowboy is poisoned — and McGarrett pressures Danny into stealing a Christmas tree,

BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Christmas is less than two weeks away and “Hawaii Five-0” usually delivers fans a healthy dose of holiday cheer. I think for those who watch from the continent and beyond, being able to experience Christmas by the sea — stolen tree and all — is always a welcome respite from cold weather. Throw in the additional treat of seeing the sights on two Hawaiian islands, and this week’s episode was a much anticipated one.

I knew after talking with Big Island Film Commissioner T. Ilihia Gionson about “Five-0” shooting on his home island that we would see some awesome sights. And in that regard, we were not disappointed. But for the most part, “Ke Koho Mamao Aku” (“Longshot”) was pretty tame in comparison to the last few months of the show.

I guess we can’t always have shows at the level of the 100th episode. And Carol Burnett can’t show up to guest star every week. But it would have been nice to have ended 2014 with a bit more of a bang. I think this week’s English meaning behind the episode title was telling; “Five-0” took a chance with the script and some of it worked, but also fell a bit short.

I’m not sure if I’ll be on Santa’s naughty or nice list this year, but in order to get everything I want on Christmas day I’ll try to stick to what that I enjoyed about the show and keep some of the lava rocks out of my stocking.

COURTESY T. ILIHIA GIONSON"Hawaii Five-0" shooting on the slopes of Mauna Loa at the University of Hawaiʻi's HI-SEAS site.

COURTESY T. ILIHIA GIONSON

“Hawaii Five-0″ shooting on the slopes of Mauna Loa at the University of Hawaiʻi’s HI-SEAS site.

The best part of the entire episode has to be seeing Hawaiʻi island featured. The overhead shots of Pele’s molten heat flowing through inky black rock and steaming into the blue-green ocean was amazing. If you have ever seen Chain of Craters Road on fire at night or walked out to where the lava flows into the Pacific Ocean, you know of the amazing power of Kīlauea. I loved seeing the juxtaposition of the black ropey lava fields of Kalapana Gardens, as well as the red, Mars-like terrain of Mauna Loa in the HI-SEAS (Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) scenes at the start of the episode. It was great to see a different part of Hawai‘i featured in an episode.

Not that Oʻahu is hard to look at, but it was a nice to see the team working cases on other islands and incorporating other ways Hawaiians live and work into the show. The Big Island is known for its farms and ranches as much as for the volcanoes. And while it is common to see paniolo (the Hawaiian word for cowboy), it was good to have the story revolve around that topic instead of focusing on a crime that could be set anywhere in Hawaiʻi — or the world.

For the most part, I liked how the case was about horses and ranching. It was still about murder and greed — as most crimes are — but I did like the different kind of crime that would make more sense being set on the Big Island rather than the big city life of O’ahu.

I also loved how the episode spent some time on Max (Masi Oka) and his back story about his rivalry over a “woman” with Big Island Medical Examiner Dr. Sanjeet Dhawan (Ravi Patel). It was so funny in the end when their geek love for a vintage Yeoman Janice Rand action figure from the classic television show “Star Trek” helped both characters bury their pride and solve the case.

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I don’t know what I laughed at more, Danno (Scott Caan) and Grover’s (Chi McBride) reaction to their excitement over a “Barbie” or their Vulcan farewell. But it was the kind of “Five-0” humor fans know and love. I have actually seen grown men fight over action figures and believe me, it’s nothing to laugh at. But on TV, with a bit of tongue in cheek irony, it was all so much fun.

It was also great to see a few good scenes between Danno and Kono (Grace Park). Who knew Kono could catch and hog tie a perp in less than a minute? Their chat about Gracie growing up and Danno lamenting that the “cat was out of the bag” in regards to the truth about Santa was sweet. It’s been a while since we’ve had a good Danno/Kono heart-to-heart.

I did enjoy the focus being on different characters with Danno, Kono and Grover heading the Big Island investigation as McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) aided them from Oʻahu. I just wish we had a bit more McGarrett. And it does lead me to wonder, what was the “big meeting” with the Governor about? As they say in all good mysteries, the plot thickens!

The entire Christmas tree debacle with HPD Officer Pua Kai (Shawn Thomsen) investigating McG and Danno cutting down a tree on preservation land was not as funny as I think it was supposed to be. It was actually a bit irritating. Would a lower ranking cop really go through that much time and legwork just to issue a citation to a member of an elite HPD task force? And what newly minted officer would want to issue a citation to those in a group he seemingly wants to be a part of at some point in his career?

Right. No cop would do that. If it was supposed to be funny, it just fell flat.

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Other parts of the episode fell flat for me as well. I wish there were Christmas tree lots on the beach. McGarrettʻs heart was in the right place, but you can find trees until Christmas day on Oʻahu that look a heck of a lot better than what Christmas Pine had for sale.

I know, I know, the episode was filmed in September and Christmas trees don’t arrive in the islands until right around Thanksgiving. And yes, Danno’s Charlie Brown comment was perfectly timed. Still, it was just too forced to really work.

I always love the ʻohana style endings with the team. This time, Grace (Teilor Grubbs), Duke (Dennis Chun), Kamekona (Taylor Wily), and Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) joined the core Five-0 team around the Christmas tree. It would have been nice to have spent a little more time hanging out and sharing some Christmas cheer. And the Hawaiian language version of “Silent Night” would have been a perfect way to end the episode.

Alas, like Danno’s tree, the gathering was a bit tainted by Officer Kai showing up to serve his citation.

Still, much like Danno forgiving Pua for disrupting his Mele Kalikimaka, we too can be thankful for a fun evening with Five-0 and wish our favorite show a very Merry Christmas and hope for a strong New Year.

REDUX SIDE NOTE

There is no “Hawaii Five-0” scheduled for Dec. 19, but the Christmas episode from season four will air Dec. 27. The thrilling episode features Chin bringing down a sick serial killer and Danno and Gracie giving some long distance Christmas cheer to a Japanese Tsunami survivor.
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Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

  • pauldunn1

    Wendie,
    I agree with your comments. While I fully enjoyed see the Big Island and what it has that is different, I thought that the ep itself was weak. I was annoyed at the rookie HPD officer spending so much air time trying to ruin Christmas for a fellow officer. The last scene should have been granted more air time that would have been available if they did not waste so much on the story line about the tree.
    Paul

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  • TerrysaGirl

    I actually liked this episode a bit more than you did, Wendie. I prefer seeing the fun side of our characters more than of the over the top, unrealistic stunts or Steve getting kidnapped and tortured for the umpteenth time. And I really enjoyed learning more about the island of Hawaii. The opening scene was brilliant, because it seemed incomprehensible and most viewers literally had no idea what was going on, but it turned out to make perfect sense. I missed more scene time for McGarrett but enjoyed the rest of the team, particularly Danno (who I must say was looking exceptionally good last night) and Kono. And although I’m not a huge Max fan, the battle of the nerds was pretty darned fun, and it did bring out some rare, human emotion from Masi Oka’s character.

    On the not so positive side: Yes, we can believe that Danny didn’t want to steal a tree because it was illegal, but I just found it difficult to buy that Steve’s first and last solution was to break the law by chopping down a pine in a protected forest. Also, the scriptwriters need to learn just a tad more about Christmas trees in Hawaii, because that was no Blue Spruce on the lot as the salesman claimed. Not even close.

    One thing that made absolutely no sense to me was the main plot. The whole crime revolved around Al Mokuau stealing a champion horse in order to command high stud fees. The problem with that is that stud fees are based on the reputation and bloodline of your horse. If you can’t tell people who the horse really is, those high fees ain’t gonna happen. And I can’t believe that if you told even a small group of people on an island, it wouldn’t be common knowledge before long, and you’d be in jail. Even if you know nothing about horses, that would seem like common sense, no?

    The other negative was Officer Pua. I mean no disrespect to the actor, but I find this character just plain annoying and it sure seems like the writers are trying to force us to like him. He’s sly and pompous with an overblown sense of self (as evident in him hitting on a “ten” like Kono. I mean, seriously?) And why would a junior cop who has spent so much time trying to ingratiate himself with the Five-0 team, go out of his way to trying to nail the team’s two top guys? It made no sense and just upped my Pua-irritation level more than usual.

    The final scene with Kamekona leading a Christmas carol was a surprise because as many of us know, Shawn Kaua’awa-Mokuahi Garnett (Cousin Flippa) is a singer and musician by trade and would seem like the obvious choice to lead the song, but Taylor Wily had a nice vibrato going on! I do wish the last feel-good scene with the team/family had gone on a little longer.

    So yeah, it wasn’t an extremely exciting episode, but overall I enjoyed it. Not everything has to be a volume 11 (sorry, a Spinal Tap fan here.)

  • http://www.mostlyfive0.wordpress.com/ MostlyFive0

    Wendie, nice job on the review for a less than stellar episode. The most annoying part was the whole tree business. I can’t stand that rookie cop anymore. What an annoying character he became. Ugh.
    It was nice to see some new places, but honestly, the case couldn’t hold my interest. But to fair to all actors, even with Steve there the episode wouldn’t have been one bit better.
    I hope for more good episodes next year.

  • Dina

    Wendie I enjoyed the episode in the same way you did with the one exception of the citation.. our cop family sat and watched “enjoyed” Officer Pua Kai doing everything YOU CANT by law in his search and seizure of evidence to his clearly tainted picture line up- We fully expected the ending to have Danny and Steve to escape all “repercussions” because of the rookie mistakes- yet Officer Pua Kai showing up at door with the citation AND Danno not being able to prove how wrong it was- well that fell very short for us.

  • http://www.fiveohomepage.com Mr. Mike

    Danno and McGarrett should totally fight the $1200 citation Pua Kai gave them.

    Of course, they will use the usual “immunity and means” B.S., but on what grounds? Maybe McG could plead temporary insanity, saying “I had to cut the tree down because that freakin’ Danno was driving me crazy.” :-)

    On the other hand, a smart lawyer could probably get the ticket easily overturned, because Pua Kai’s “photo lineup” was highly prejudiced against the two of them. All of the guys in the lineup except McG and Danno were tough-looking Hawaiian dudes. The woman who picked them out didn’t have to work too hard, describing them as “two haoles.”

    I thought it pretty funny at the end that “Silent Night” was cut similar to the Five-O theme during the show’s end credits. But to make up for this, there was an expansive arrangement of the Five-O theme near the beginning when Max, Grover and Danno arrived at the crime scene.

    A bit of trivia: the name of the astronaut at the beginning of the show, Richard Royce, was the same as the character in the original show’s 10th season episode Shake Hands With The Man On The Moon, about a washed-up astronaut involved with a sleazy real estate developer.

  • jlopie1

    Well, I liked the episode! I’m never really one to worry about how realistic a story plot is, so I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the possibility that a top notch thoroughbred could be stolen and stud rights sold without anyone in the business knowing it. I DID enjoy all things ranch and rodeo about this episode! Loved the little bit of added back story about Kono and her dad going to rodeos in her youth. Curls now to find out more about her dad – did he also teach her to shoot a gun?

    I definitely did not enjoy Pua this week. In fact, I haven’t all season. He’s just plain annoying, and I don’t think there is anything the writers can do to make me like this guy now. Let’s transfer him out of Five-0’s realm in the new year, shall we?

    I concur that the tree cutting was not as enjoyable a sequence as perhaps it could have been. It had it’s funny moments, but come on – do people really spend -anywhere in the US – $750 for a Christmas tree? If they do, I’m opening up the hills on our ranch – come on over and cut your own! The best part of this was the new Cargument. This one was reminiscent of the S1 carguments. It was organic and unforced and fit with the storyline. Lot’s of great one-liners in it, especially: “Please hold for Mr. Malcontent.”

    I do enjoy it when the team switches it up – partnering Kono and Danny always works for me, and Grover added into the mix worked just fine. Loved Max getting some more screen time and thought the rivalry between the ME’s was fun.

    Not enough Gracie this season. She’s growing up so fast! I can think of some entertaining scenarios for Grace and Danny, why can’t the H5-0 writers?

    Anyway, I probably liked the episode more than most viewers, because it had horses, cowboys and rodeo, and it emphasized different team members working together. It ended with an upbeat feel, and even though we’ll be waiting three weeks for the next new episode, when it comes back in January, things will undoubtedly start heating up again – it always does. Plus, there are still 16 new episodes to air this season!

  • edmattes763

    I’ve always liked Danny and Kono teamed up together … they always have interesting conversations in the car. This one was really special though … talking about kids believing in Santa Claus.

  • Mary Tomshack

    Well, Wendy, I really love the Steve and Danno moments, but I have to say that Max stole the show for me last night. He and the other ME were hilarious. And, well, I really like to see more of Steve, and especially Steve and Danno, I also liked the way they mixed it up last night. Not as good as the episode last Christmas season, but it had it’s moments. I agree with you, Wendy. I would rather focus on the positives of the episode. I loved when the horse saw his original owner, and the look on the 50 teams faces. These actors are so great, they don’t even have to talk to express their feelings. It has been said about Johnny Depp, in Edward Scissorhand, he acted with his eyes. Our 50 cast do that every week. They are fantastic.

  • Susan M

    I agree with you, Wendie, on all counts. I actually went to bed annoyed about the whole tree debacle. First of all, if someone was going to cut down a tree in a forest preserve it would be Danny, not Steve, who espouses respect for the culture and the islands. He wouldn’t disrespectfully have cut down that tree. Steve actually seemed irritable throughout the whole thing as if Alex’s heart wasn’t in it either. I would more easily have believed that Danny, as much as he ‘follows the rules,’ would have felt justified in cutting down a tree for Christmas in protest of the exorbitant cost of buying one. Even the ‘cargument’ was forced and aggravating. Secondly, Pua’s investigation and eventual citation — where did that come from? Whatever made him suspect Steve and Danny in the first place? You were right…the joke fell flat and no laughs from me.

    I also missed more Steve time. I do remember that, while I was vacationing on O’ahu in September, I met Alex at the gym on September 20 and he said he’d been under the weather all week and almost didn’t attend the belt testing session. So, since that episode (#9) would have been filmed shortly after that, maybe he was still not feeling well and they downplayed his role to allow him time to get better. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. Of course, there is that mystery of the visit to the governor’s office…could there be more brewing there? Hmmm….

    And finally, the closing gathering was flat and seemed rushed. Why was it just the team members? If it’s Christmas day, where were the other family members — Grover’s wife and kids? Adam? And, as nice as it was to see Duke, he seemed to be stuck in there to make it a complete ensemble — not a natural get together at all for me. I did like the comparison of best Christmas albums, but my favorite was missing — Johnny Mathis!

    Anyway, while not a favorite, it was at least better than the worst episode of all — the one where the reality hostess follows the team around. AAGGHH!! I can’t even watch that one over again! I fast forward to the last scene where Steve visits Wo Fat in the hospital room. I thought it was a terrible episode in which to have such a pivotal scene — Wo Fat’s capture. Anyway, I digress…sorry.

    Mele kalikimaka, Wendie, and mahalo for your time and words on behalf of the fans of H50! Susan

  • Jill Griswold

    I also agree!

  • alex fan

    Sad to say for me this episode fell flat on most accounts mainly the tree and the cargument with Danny telling Steve he couldn’t believe he made him an accomplice to a crime when in a few episodes back he made Steve an accomplice to a murder and also Chin. Makes me wonder if all the writers actually watch the show. I missed McG an Chin but as always I really enjoyed Grover and Max.

  • KAD1228

    This episode didn’t have enough oomph to fall short. Of course for me, as an Alex fan, his 10 mins of airtime was good as his not being present at all. On an annoyance level of 1-10 every character was a 100. So much whining. The too few “good” scenes were overshadowed and outweighed by the the silly, inane plot. The best part of this epi was when the horse ran to his trainer. The rest of it was a major bah humbug.

  • Robin Jane Bridges

    I really liked last night episode, it kept making me laugh. I loved the horse running up to it’s trainer. I wished they had used Steve’s truck instead of Danny’s car, but then they would not have the side story, which was funny. It nice to have a funny episode before the holidays.

  • KippyVee

    I wasn’t really a fan of this episode. I loved the Big Island scenes and the crime-of-the-week as it turned out to be an unusual crime within a crime, even though I did wonder why someone would pay stud fees for a horse that had seemingly never even raced and really had to suspend all logical thought about that one. I like Max a lot and couldn’t believe he was reduced to feuding over a Star Trek action figure; I found the whole Max storyline to be really annoying — but Pua beat that on the annoyance scale. If he’s supposed to be the comic relief, they’ve gotten it wrong. He’s coming across as really pompous for someone who wasn’t even a cop the first time we met him.

    I was annoyed by Steve and Danny stealing a Christmas tree simply because Steve has tried to teach Danny about the Islands in a way that says he’d NEVER have cut down a tree like that. It would be the same as chipping away at the petroglyphs so he could have a piece of it lying in his garden. He just wouldn’t do either one of those things — and Danny wouldn’t have gone off into the middle of the “jungle” on his own looking for a tree. It was totally uncharacteristic for both of them.

    I’m going to go out on a limb (no Christmas tree pun intended) and ask if I was the only one who saw Santa and his sleigh flying across the Moon during the last scene. I thought, at first, that it was a bird but after watching it a few times, I think it was a sleigh. Check it out — please — and tell me I’m not crazy!

  • Linda M. Stein

    I have to agree that this episode was not a very strong one but I did like it. You know me, I always find things to like in every episode. I also agree that cutting down the tree was not something I would have ever expected Steve to do but I did like the resulting cargument that went with it. I thought the use of “Holiday Road” as the background music was inspired.

    I actually like Pua but I do prefer him is small doses. Seems like once the writers committed themselves to the tree cutting there had to be a price to pay for that and Pua leading an investigation into who cut down a protected tree made sense even if I’d have preferred the writers to find a different way to get Danny a tree.

    I wish the Ohana Christmas Eve had gone on longer. I just love when they all get together like the family they are. Anyway, I agree this was not the strongest episode we’ve seen but it wasn’t horrible. It’s #H50 after all… no way it could be.

  • Shelby T Mitchell

    This episode was the reason why I didn’t like Steve. Like I despised him all of last season. He was a bully and self righteous pri*k like in season 4. He treats Danny like a servant or peasant boy at times. Doesn’t treat him or see him like an equal as a partner. Feel bad for Danny as he always has to clean up Steve’s mess. You have to feel for Danny.