Five-0 Redux: Never forget
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
One thing I love about “Hawaii Five-0″ is that they never forget their roots. Even the little reminders, like the use of the Mercury Marquis once driven by Jack Lord, who played Steve McGarrett in the classic version of the series, to the presence of Dennis Chun, the son of Kam Fong who played the original Chin Ho Kelly — they all serve as markers that honor where the reboot came from.
This week’s episode, “Poina ʻOle” (“Not Forgotten”), also played out several storylines that many fans have never forgotten.
Remember Paul Delano (Daniel Baldwin), who kidnapped Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) in season three and dropped him into Halawa Correctional Facility as revenge for Chin killing his brother Frank (William Baldwin)? Frank was the one who not only killed Chin’s wife Malia (Reiko Aylesworth), but he also kidnapped cousin Kono (Grace Park) and almost caused her death as well.
Another storyline brought back to the surface was the aftermath of Grover’s (Chi McBride) daughter Samantha’s (Paige Hurd) kidnapping by blank-faced villain Ian Wright (Nick Jonas) in the season four finale. Although Samantha was rescued by Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), she is still dealing with some post-traumatic stress from her ordeal.
Even the murder investigation McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and his team investigated this week delved into a bit of Hawaiʻi history and the fate of four long-forgotten reform school boys.
I often wonder where the writers get their ideas. This episode, written by John Dove and directed by Brad Tanenbaum, mirrored the real-life story of the Waialeʻe Industrial School and an escape by four boys in 1946. According to the Historic Hawaii Foundation, the school was known to have a history of abuse and neglect of their charges. Much like the fictional Wailea Reform School in this week’s episode, there is very little information available about the school; the only buildings that still exist are a burnt out shell of a dormitory and a graffiti-covered music hall where students once practiced for parades.
The Five-0 storyline trimmed off 30 years, allowing characters who lived and worked at the reform school to not have to be in their 90s. Veteran actors Wings Hauser, who played former Wailea warden Walter Russell, and Gregory Itzin, who played the aptly named former guard Huhū (which really does mean “angry” in Hawaiian), were the right age to have been at the reform school in the 1970s.
The episode started with the murder of a neurosurgeon, Dr. Christine DuPont (Sarah Jane Morris, best known for her work on “NCIS”), who coincidentally was supposed to perform surgery on Chin’s nemesis, Paul Delano. That detail added a layer to the theme of not forgetting Chin’s past.
It was also a good way for viewers to see while Chin has not forgotten Malia or who caused her death, he seems to be able to handle being faced with his sad reality. And it’s always nice to see Chin ready to continue the battle and show his strength.
It was really great to see Max (Masi Oka) more active in an episode than normal. He helped put the pieces together and link Dr. DuPont with dead Halawa inmate Mana Tahni (Rodney Oshiro), which eventually led the team to the story of the four escapees who were never seen again.
While the boys were considered to be “useless worthless punks” no one cared about, the Five-0 team worked to find their bodies and bring their killer — the guard they called Huhū, Alex Mackey (Gregory Itzin, best known for his presidential work on “24”) — to justice. Mackey also killed Dr. DuPont because she tried to find the four boys to help a dying Tahni and ease his conscience.
This case really showcased the team as they worked like a well-oiled machine. McGarrett is always in charge, but Grover took the lead on having to break the news of Dr. DuPontʻs death to her husband (Brian Letscher). He also had a very cool action scene disarming the very unstable warden Russell.
I also loved the scene where Grover shared details of his daughter’s nightmares with Chin, and Chin’s resulting advice.
“Knowing she has a father who loves her and will do whatever it takes, that’s exactly what she needs right now,” Chin said. In return, Grover basically gave this same advice to DuPont’s husband.
It’s always lovely to see the team holding each other up in times of need, and this week was no exception. All had a hand in the investigation of the case, and like last week they all worked seamlessly together. Chin and Kono worked the technology and evidence, but still were present in key scenes and it didn’t feel like they were just on the sidelines. Danno (Scott Caan) was back this week, and while giving McG a healthy dose of goodnatured grief, he also took the lead on questioning Mackey and trying to get him to confess his 40-year-old sin.
I do love when Danno questions a suspect who has harmed a child. His farewell to Mackey was priceless, as he threw Mackey’s words back in his face: “You are going to die in prison a useless worthless punk.” McGarrett’s smirky smile was a perfect comment on Mackey’s pending fate.
Still, the best part of the episode had to be the secondary storyline that paralleled the main case — McGarrett’s precious car being stolen. And not just any car, but the Mercury Marquis that once belonged to his father. We’ve seen the car a few times this season, more than we have in previous years. It’s always a very cool touch.
Okay, so Danno called it a classic piece of junk, and after it was stolen and stripped it did look pretty junky, but McG loves it. And of course, because of its connection to his father, it does mean a lot to him. Yet, when he caught the car thief with the help of Duke (Dennis Chun) and Kai (Shawn Thomsen) and found it was taken by a homeless, parentless young man named Nahele (Kekoa Kekumano), who stole the car because he was hungry and needed money to eat, McG did what we know is in his heart.
It’s hard to not imagine that Nahele reminds McG of the pictures of the four forgotten boys he just found in a grave at the old reform school, their skeletons still shackled after 40 years. And we also know McG believes in second chances and he truly is a fair and good man. He didn’t have a useless, worthless punk in his office crying because he was caught; he was with a young man who had no other options except trying to survive, and was sorry for what he had done.
So like a half-baked cookie, all gooey on the inside, McG got Nahele cleaned up and fed and made a deal with the young man. Help rebuild the Mercury with McG, keep his nose clean, and McG will keep the felony charge for auto theft in his desk.
McGarrett also knows washing his hands of a situation and forgetting those who truly need help is never a way to solve a problem, which is why fans love him and won’t forget this episode for a long time to come.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
There were several Hawaiʻi actors in this week’s episode besides our recurring actors: Dennis Chun, Shawn Thomsen, Taylor Wily, and Teilor Grubbs.
Grubbs had a great scene with Uncle Steve training for the Presidential Physical Fitness Medal, and Wily had a nice moment with McG who thanked Kamekona for giving Nahele — fellow Hawaiʻi actor Kekoa Kekumano, a job at the shrimp truck. I hope Kekumano returns in a future episode so we can see him grow and succeed under McGarrettʻs mentorship.
Rodney Oshiro, who played Tahni, is a voice over and stage actor, and makes short films and documentaries.
Veteran Hawaiʻi actor Esmond Chung played Dr. Chad ʻEwalu, the replacement surgeon for Paul Delano. Chung is most famous for role as the Sheriff in “50 First Dates,” but he also appeared in “Lost,” and had a recurring role in “Magnum P.I.” as Sgt. Kenny Chung.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.