Five-0 Redux: Shaving it close
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
They say confession is good for the soul. While we are always looking for good in the world, sometimes confession can do more than just cleanse a conscience.
“Hawaii Five-0” often experiences confessions — some good, some bad, and some very evil — yet all help to set the truth free.
And what a truth it was this week.
While the truth is always something McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and his team search for in their investigations, he got into a couple of close shaves, with Chin (Daniel Dae Kim), Kono (Grace Park) and Grover (Chi McBride) working hard to get Jerry (Jorge Garcia) out of one as well.
I always love when the writers play with the theme of the episode on more than one level, and Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt did just that in “Kahania” (“close shave” in Hawaiian). It was fun to watch McGarrett get a literal close shave from friendly neighborhood pacifist barber Odell Martin (Michael Imperioli from “Pōwehiwehi”) as they talked story during an early morning appointment.
It’s always a treat to be able to see McGarrett have a chance to relax and enjoy a bit of normalcy in his life. Those moments are so rare in this show. And of course, it was quite short-lived, as just before Odell was about to give him a “high and tight, don’t touch the burns” hair cut, trouble walked through the door.
Isn’t that always the case? Trouble always seems to knock on McGarrett’s door. Yet, this time it showed up with a bullet to the leg and a fairy tale on its lips.
Trouble this time was Eran (Steven Krueger), who had just witnessed an automatic-weapon-toting Armenian gang kill a man in an alley near the bakery where he works. He told McGarrett and Odell that the gang was out to kill him so he couldn’t talk.
I suppose this should have been my first clue. Why would an obviously well-supported gang who controls the neighborhood where Eran lives and works want to kill him so badly? Most gangs would just threaten to kill his family or cut his tongue out if he talked — you know, something scary enough just to keep him quiet.
But why would they waste their time shooting up a barber shop, killing a uniformed HPD officer and threatening the head of Five-0 in order to get a kid they could obviously control with a few harsh words and threats? Why even waste a bullet on him?
Okay, hindsight is 20/20, so while I watched McG and Odell barricade themselves and make homemade molotov cocktails from hair dye and aftershave, I was distracted by the friendly banter that included some of the truths McGarrett revealed about Doris and Wo Fat.
I did enjoy how McG and Odell seemed to become better friends. All of the details about their respective pasts was a nice touch. Odell was particularly revealing about his life as a rich and privileged kid who went to the right schools and grew up to be became a lawyer like his ambitious defense attorney father. But he gave it all up to live like his hero, grandfather Jack, who was a barber and seemed to have taught Odell more than just how to give a good shave and haircut and make his two bits. I’m just glad what Odell learned seemed to help McG get them out of his bullet-riddled shop in one piece.
Yet, Odell’s motto of “wela ka hao” or “life’s too short” seemed a bit too ominous while people tried to kill them. The actual translation of the phrase is more along the lines of “strike while the iron’s hot.” In Odell and McG’s case, this seemed a little more relevant. They had to strike fast and hard to get out of the jam they were in.
I know you are going to argue with me about a few details I let slide as bullets and chainsaws threatened McG. I know I shouldn’t give him a pass on forgetting his cell phone, but as a woman who has her entire life on her phone, I too have forgotten it in my car, and usually on the days when I needed it most. It’s believable to forget your phone in your car when you’re getting a haircut and you’re parked just a few feet away.
But as an officer of the law, it is not okay to forget your gun. McGarrett thankfully had his. I know, I know, many of you will say it’s not believable, yada yada yada. But really folks, need I remind you this is a television show? Sometimes we have to let characters be human and forget phones, have guns and overlook a few minor inconsistencies.
So while McG and Odell dealt with the Armenians, Chin, Kono, and Grover worked to get Jerry out of a bind. He looked an awful lot like a man committing home invasions that have left victims in the hospital. Jerry agreed to be a plant in a lineup, and a victim identified him as the man who invaded her home.
While Jerry is of course, innocent, as he was gambling with Max (Masi Oka) at a Magic The Gathering card game, Chin assured him he would be cleared of the charges.
I love when Chin and Jerry get to have some bro time, although Chin seems to be more of a big brother to Jerry. I also liked that Grover talked to Chin about Gabriel’s phone call and Chin’s feelings about “owing” his brother-in-law for making Coughlin go away for good.
I’m glad Chin does not have any reservations about what he will do if Gabriel comes back in his life. Really, he owes Gabriel nothing. An eye for an eye, so to speak. Chin saved his life twice. Gabriel paid him and saved his career. They are pretty much equal, don’t you think?
Speaking of all things being equal, I liked how both stories wrapped up and everyone caught their man. The twist in McGarrett’s case really got me, however, especially the fact that I missed all the clues McG and Odell had on the real bad guy the entire time.
While I did sort of admire Eran’s father, Armenian gang leader Garig Dobrian (Mark Ivanir), I was horrified at the reason why Dobrian wanted to kill his own son. McGarrett finding the proof of Eran’s crimes was heartbreaking. O’Loughlin was amazing in his reaction to the photos of Eran’s victims as he portrayed horror and sorrow with no words and real tears. It wasn’t overwrought or unnatural. It was sincere and told viewers more about what makes McGarrett the man that he is. It also reminded fans why we root for him week after week, regardless if he forgets his phone or survives hundreds of bullets being shot at him at once.
His face at the end of this week’s episode was enough to excuse the little details that were completely insignificant if you wanted to see true human emotion played out on TV.
So I confess, while the stunts and action make “Five-0” super fun and entertaining, it’s really about how I feel and think about the characters — how much I believe in them and want them to succeed. If I love them, I’ll come back and watch again and again. I’ll stick around to see them get out of every close shave they get into, real or metaphorical, and even if it’s shot full of holes. It’s always worth it.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
Lots of Hawaiʻi talent in this week’s episode. Thanks to CBS for the insight into our local actors.
Keo Woolford returned as Det. Chang, who runs the lineup where Jerry was identified. Woolford has played various versions of Chang in four other episodes of “Hawaii Five-0” and he was last seen in “Kupouli ‘ia” (“Broken”) when he was bitten by a zombie victim.
Chris Kim, who played Officer Eric Nohona and was shot by the Armenians outside of Odell’s shop, is an actual Honolulu Police Department officer. He is a detective in the Criminal Investigation Division.
Paulette Franco, who played the City Mill cashier, was in the classic “Hawaii Five-O” in the episode “Man on Fire” and in “Magnum P.I.”
Jill Kuramoto, former local news anchor and reporter, played attorney Chelsea Reed. Kuramoto now serves as public information officer for the City and County of Honolulu’s Board of Water Supply.
Pogi Tevaga played Tauna Lahani, the real home-invasion robber. Tevaga was Mr. Polynesia 2013 and works as a fire knife dancer.
Two local businesses where also featured this week. City Mill is a locally owned and operated hardware store started by Chung Kun Ai in 1899 and still run by his family. His grandchildren currently operate the business.
Rainbow Valley Supermarket, the Armenian front owned by Garig Dobrian, is a real mom-and-pop grocery store on Palolo Avenue. My grandmother grew up in Palolo Valley and Rainbow Mart has always been Palolo’s version of 7-Eleven. Spam musubi, ice, beer — if you need something quick while back in the valley, Rainbow Mart is your stop.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.