Five-0 Redux: Stealing time
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
In today’s world, most of us are more concerned about stealing time than we are about stealing things. Time is far more precious, so a story about something being stolen is so common, most of us tend to concern ourselves with more interesting news or finding a few more minutes of that precious time.
This week’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0” made me really think about the role art plays in our world. Art is far more than just something colorful we hang on our walls or use as computer screen-savers. Art truly reminds us of the beauty human beings can create, especially when that human was an artist named Vincent Van Gogh.
If you have ever stood in front of a Van Gogh — a real one, painted by the master, and not a poster — you probably experienced the power behind looking at a piece of artwork. When you witness true artistry, it can sometimes move you to think about what it would be like to possess more than just something colorful to hang on your walls.
Perhaps we don’t always understand it, but without art, our world would be a bit more mundane, and far less interesting.
With all that said, I certainly enjoyed “Ua ʻaihue” (“Stolen”), which featured an attempted murder over a piece of stolen art entitled “Blue Irises.” (In real life, the painting is known as “Still Life: Vase with Irises Against a Yellow Background” and is safely ensconced at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.)
The stolen painting was stashed in the carry-on luggage of unsuspecting tourist Bryan Wallace (Gerald Downey) by Belgian art thief Lukas Janssen (Henri Lubatti). Janssen escapes TSA scrutiny in Honolulu before finding Wallace and shooting him for his luggage — all so he can sell the piece to a high roller in town for the Pacific Art Forum.
Of course, McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and the Five-0 team — which was made up this week of Chin (Daniel Dae Kim), Kono (Grace Park), Lou (Chi McBride), Jerry (Jorge Garcia) and bounty hunter Nicole Booth (Rebecca Mader) — discover the stolen Van Gogh is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. It’s actually a cover to find more stolen art held by wealthy local businessman Tom Emery (Casper Andreas), which Janssen and his crew plan to steal in a major bait-and-switch operation.
Chin goes undercover as a wealthy art patron with Kono as his beautiful assistant, who proceeds to hook shady art appraiser Gerard Hirsch (Willie Garson) into helping them connect with the black market via Emery. Hirsch brings them to a ritzy charity event under the guise of buying art at Emery’s home; when Hirsch gives Emery the nod that Chin and Kono are interested in more than just the mundane art set aside for the charity event, Emery leads them to a secret room where famous pieces of stolen art decorate his walls.
I found the story very fascinating. The tension was nicely played throughout. Like the secret room of famous stolen paintings, nothing was as it seemed in this episode.
“Hawaii Five-0” loves to lead us down false paths, and this week was no exception. But unlike other episodes that often leave me guessing and frustrated, I happily went along for the ride. The tension was superb in this episode, and I found myself watching more than taking notes. Even the incorporation of Jerry into the storyline seemed effortless and made a lot of sense this week, moreso than other episodes this season.
The idea of stolen art being forged and then sold next to legitimate art added to the intrigue. The high stakes, glamour and prestige was very cool to watch. And Jerry’s “everything is a conspiracy” thought process worked nicely into the storyline.
As Chin donned James Bond spy glasses and Kono strapped herself into a glittery gown, the two played undercover with cool style. And Jerry’s computer hacking skills, which helped the team figure out Janssen’s ultimate plan to steal all of Emery’s ill-gotten art, didn’t seem like the writers were just trying to give Jerry something to do with the team.
McGarrett’s secondary storyline with Kamekona (Taylor Wily) and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto working together to beat Hawaiian chef Sam Choy at the Shrimpapalooza was priceless. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much during “Five-0” in ages.
Morimoto becoming Kamekona’s shrimp sensei was perfect, while Kamekona’s revelation of how he became a chef was terrific. I don’t think we’ve ever had this much of Kamekona’s backstory revealed in one episode. Sure, we’ve gotten bits and pieces of his life over the course of four and a half seasons (we know he was a confidential informant for Chin and the HPD, and he has a criminal past and is trying to go legit with his shrimp truck and his helicopter businesses.) But the story of how he learned how to cook from Trigger Mike while locked up in prison and how he first stared to become well-known there for his shrimp dishes — that was awesome.
Morimoto was right when he told Kamekona to cook from the heart, even if that meant cooking on a hot plate running off a car battery and using the bottom of a coffee can and a razor blade as a knife to make the perfect shrimp dish. It was how he needed to cook to become a shrimp samurai.
Really, I’m not sure what I enjoyed more, the fun and lighthearted competitive story with Kamekona and Morimoto or the slick undercover operation the team took on to capture a few bad guys of the art world. Both made for fun entertainment, and I appreciated writer David Wolkove’s script as well as Jeffrey Hunt’s excellent direction.
Hunt always keeps the tension perfect, and even the ending shootout between the art thieves and Five-0 was a hot scene. He also did an excellent job matching the humor with the action and drama. The Kamekona story could have been overdone and hokey, but it was quite enjoyable without relying on slapstick humor to make it work.
I also love seeing familiar faces, and this week we got a dose of Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) in a very funny scene with Kamekona, who was trying to kill him for signing him up to be in the cooking battle with Sam Choy. Flippa shouting to Kamekona, “I love you!” was so darling, even as Kamekona almost begged McGarrett to let him “rough him up a bit.” It’s obvious the cousins really love each other.
Sgt. Duke Lukela (Dennis Chun) was back in a short scene with Kono, helping her find out who their shooter was at the start of the episode. At some point I’d love to get more of his backstory as we did this week with Kamekona. I bet there’s more to Duke and his relationship with McGarrett’s father than we know.
Officer Pua Kai (Shawn Thomsen) also returned to help Kono again. Thankfully, his character was a bit more subtle and his confidence didn’t overstep his role as it did in the Christmas episode.
If nothing else, all of the characters seemed to be at ease in their roles this week. McGarrett was in charge in both storylines; Lou took on Danno’s role as McG’s back-up guy, even offering some good advise about pride and what makes a man hide his failure from his family; Chin and Kono took on some cool but dangerous undercover work, especially Kono having to play pretty bait to get some much needed intel; and Jerry worked himself seamlessly into the team.
Overall, it was an entertaining episode, with several precious moments of humor and charm. All things we can certainly steal time for on a Friday night.
Redux Side Note
In case you missed him, comedian and popular Hawaiʻi entertainer, Augie Tulba was featured in this week’s episode. He played the judge who crowned Kamekona the winner of the cooking battle. Tulba also played Kekipi, the helicopter pilot McGarrett borrowed choppers from in season one.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.