Five-0 Redux: Chasing the dream
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
I don’t know about all of you, but I love classic film noir detective stories, where the private eye is a little cynical, a lot damaged, and sexier than sin. I suppose we could use some (or all) of these traits to describe McGarrett and Danno, but really the entire set up of this week’s episode, “Wāwahi moeʻuhane,” which in Hawaiian means “Broken Dreams,” really worked as an homage to the old-school detective trying to save a damsel in distress story.
I think my favorite parts were the smokey voiced narration of special guest star William Forsythe, as ex-HPD detective-turned-private-eye Harry Brown, as he told the backstory of poor victim Brooke Waiakea (played by real-life hula dancer and entertainer Delys Kanemura Recca). Some may have thought it melodramatic, but I loved the poetic way he analyzed his situation, the murder of Brooke, the way her father would react, as well as the reality of McGarrett and his dedication to all victims in the world.
Really, the voice-overs could have been really hokey, but I thought they were an interesting way to tell a very common story. Like Brown says in the opening voice-over: “The American Dream: Everybody’s chasing it. Some find it. Most don’t. Then there’s the unlucky few who die trying to find it.”
“The unlucky few” include young Brooke Waiakea, who headed off to the big city to find her dream of becoming a star, only to fall into the evil hands of a money-hungry villain and her untimely end. We’ve all seen that story, right? But add in a bit of world-weary narration, tinged with sadness and just a sliver of hope, and I’m hooked. It made the overused plot seem even more interesting — and up until almost the very end, I was still guessing whodunit.
Yet, even though the storyline was nothing new, the episode was, and I very much enjoyed the different take on the case-of-the-week.
In Hawaiian, wāwahi means “to tear down, shatter, wreck, dash to pieces, break into, demolish,” and moeʻuhane means “to dream” or, more specifically, “to soul sleep.” And there was a lot in the story that dealt with dreams, which helped add some really nice depth to the episode.
Written by Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt, from a story by executive producer Peter Lenkov, and expertly directed by Sylvain White, there was a great deal of revelation about characters and relationships. There was definitely a lot more depth to the investigation of a story that perhaps we’ve heard far too often in our cinematic world, and sadly, in the real world as well.
There’s always a girl trying to leave something behind for something better, who falls into bad luck, spurring some great detectives to try and solve her murder/disappearance/kidnapping. That is perhaps why I thought the film noir aspect of this episode really worked.
I also liked that hula was used as in the plot — albeit please don’t think that when you watch a hula hālau dancing in a lūʻau at your hotel in Waikīkī, that the dancers also moonlight as escorts. That is very far from the truth. Hula dancers train for years and are serious professionals. All hula dancers take their craft, and the stories they tell through hula, very seriously.
In truth, the writers could have made murder victim Brooke a singer or an actress, and the story would have still played the same way. Yet, this is “Hawaii Five-0,” so why not use a profession that is specific to Hawaiʻi? So I did appreciate that this episode really could have worked only here in the islands. And adding an actual hula dancer like Recca, from a known hula family, to play Brooke helped me like the episode even more.
There was a lot to like in this one. McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) seemed to be getting along just fine. I did love Danno’s advice on not signing up for being set up by McGarrett’s workout partner, P.A. Ellie Clayton (Mirrah Foulkes). I also liked learning more about Max’s (Masi Oka) new partner, Dr. Mindy Shaw (Amanda Setton). She and Danno had a nice getting-to-know-you scene. Perhaps Danno will be moving on to a girlfriend closer to home, I mean, work?
And yes, I did catch Danno saying how he “didn’t understand surfing.” I personally wondered how much Scott Caan laughed on set as he said that line?
I also liked how the bad guy kept changing, though it would have been nice to just have a couple of bad guys to focus on instead of four. David Waring (Trevor Kuhn) was the first suspect in Brooke’s death, until Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) found him dead. Then poor ex-beau Cody Kaniaupio (Christopher Latronic) turned up with blood on his hands, but was just a “love-lorn kid with a busted heart.” Guest star Eric Roberts became the third suspect, Richard Sheridan, the owner of the boat that took poor Brooke to her watery grave in a marine pod, and then — who would have thought — the father of Waring’s to-be-bride, Robert Young (Doug Savant), was actually the killer.
Oh, but wait, there actually was a fifth suspect — evil madam Kiana Thompson (Andrea Roth), who set the girls up on dates but swore there was “no money exchanged.” I was glad they didn’t make her character a kumu hula. That would have been very insulting to our great hula experts and teachers.
It was really great that the entire team got to be involved with all of the investigation: Kono (Grace Park) and Chin shook down Brooke’s roommate Annie (Carlie Casey) and caught Cody red-handed; Grover (Chi McBride) worked a lot of the clues and tracked down people via the magic table. I also loved the sweet Kono scene at the start when Adam (an unseen Ian Anthony Dale) leaves her a trail of flowers to a platter of breakfast and a sweet note. And we had a couple of scenes of comic relief with Jerry (Jorge Garcia) — now Chin’s roommate — who is on the job hunt and involved in the marketing and sale of garlic shrimp plates for Kamekona (an also unseen Taylor Wily).
But, really, the star of this one was Forsythe and his gumshoe ways and everyman poetry as he broke down the suspects and the case. The scene when he comforts his old friend Mr. Waiakea (Byron Ono) as he kisses his dead daughter good-bye was lovely. And when McG tells him he can’t blame himself for Brooke’s death, he says something that I think the entire Five-0 team understands: “Men like us, weʻre born to protect and serve. When somebody dies that we could have saved, then that doesn’t go away.”
So even if you didn’t like the narration by a non-Five-0 team member, or you disliked the hokey detective style poetry, you had to appreciate Brown’s farewell summation of the case and McGarrett: “Time doesn’t heal all wounds. When someone you love is ripped from your life, that scar stays with you forever. But the one bright light in all the darkness is knowing that men like Steve McGarrett are out there making sure the good guys come out on top.”
And that is definitely a good part of the dream — that men like that are out there in our world — on the fictional Five-0 and in real life.
Redux Side Note
I hope you all noticed the adorable Youngaisa Wily who played Jerry’s clever programming mentor Ani in this week’s episode. I’m sure many of you realized that Wily is the son of recurring cast member Taylor Wily who plays the incomparable Kamekona.
Besides actor Wily and actress Recca, other Hawaiʻi actors were showcased in this week’s episode. Christopher Latronic who played ex-boyfriend Cory Kaniaupio most recently played Timo in fellow “Hawaii Five-0” actor Keo Woolford’s film “The Haumāna.” He also played the lead “Billy” in the film “Truth or Dare” written and directed by Hawaiʻi filmmaker Tom Boyle. Byron Ono, who had a heartbreaking scene as Brooke’s Father, was also in “Hana ʻaʻa Makehewa” (“Desperate Measures”) where he played the Bomb Squad Captain.