Five-0 Redux: Dodging the long con
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
One of the many reasons why fans love “Hawaii Five-0” is how the show gets viewers to fall in love with the bad guy. For “Five-0” villains like Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) and Gabriel Waincraft (Christopher Sean), there’s just something about them that brings fans over to the dark-side. Even the antagonists are characters worth watching each week, no matter what evil they bring to the Five-0 team’s lives.
This week, Five-0 met its match of evil in “Piko Pau ʻIole,” which in Hawaiian loosely means “A Chronic Thief.” Written by Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt from a story by executive producer Peter Lenkov, the episode was layered and meaningful, taking the overarching police procedural and allowing it to simmer down to connect with the team in several ways.
While the Hawaiian title is in reference to guest star Kristoffer Polaha’s character, talented and charming con man Hank Weber, the writers actually translated the title to mean “The Artful Dodger,” a far more flattering term.
One of the most iconic characters from classic literature is The Artful Dodger, created by Charles Dickens for his novel “Oliver Twist.” While some of you may have not read Dickens’ tale of orphaned pickpockets in 1830s London, you may have seen the musical or the 1968 film “Oliver!” based on Dickens’ story. The Dodger basically set the stage for the idea of the cunning and clever thief, known more for his personality and his thieving acumen, than for being the most common of criminals.
In Hawaiian, “piko pau ʻiole” means “rat-taken navel cord,” as it is believed a child could become a chronic thief if its navel cord is stolen by a rat. (In ancient Hawaiʻi, rats were famous for thieving.) “Piko” is Hawaiian for the navel or the umbilical cord, “pau” means finished or done, and “ʻiole” means rat. The concept is that the umbilical cord is finished by the rat, which would cause the child to grow up and become a thief.
Hawaiians would take great care for this to not happen, often taking their child’s cut cord, wrapping it in kapa (cloth pounded from bark) and securing it in a bottle so no rats or mice could find it. Some Hawaiians burn the piko and scatter the ashes somewhere special to the family in order to further tie the child to his home. My grandmother suggested my husband complete this ritual with our son’s piko so he would be as connected to his father as he was once connected to his mother.
The translation of the episode title is both poetic and wonderfully appropriate. Weber was funny and charming, which made him so likable. He definitely added an extra dimension to the well-established bromance between McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan). I’m not sure, but I think I may have fallen in love with Hank the moment he described the Five-0 duo as “Starsky and Hutch.”
I definitely enjoyed watching McGarrett and Danno take apart Hank’s story in order to figure out who killed his grifting partner, Katie Dawson (Natalie Dawson). I also loved watching them figure out the “long con” that Hank cunningly put together for complete a job for none other than Gabriel Waincroft. In the end, Weber tricked McGarrett and Danno into loading spyware into their magic table so Gabriel could spy on all of Five-0’s moves.
Luckily, the team figured out the scam. Hopefully Hank will return to aid McGarrett in turning the dodge against Gabriel. I’m not sure how that will entirely work, as Gabriel stopped Chin to give him the whole, “hey, you had your chance to join me, and now I don’t need you because I got my Yakuza buddies to back me, so watch out bro-in-law” speech.
Leave it to Gabriel to be the most wanted man on the proverbial planet, and yet he’ll stop two cops in order to deliver a message. Does he not text?
Really, I’m still trying to figure out all the layered ways the episode’s three storylines all danced along with and wrapped around each other to give viewers a satisfying end. Well, not a real end — more like a resolution of sorts.
Director Joel Surnow did an awesome job streaming the procedural with a continuing story arc, with Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) trying to settle up his debt with Goro Shioma (Akira Hirayama) while trying to find the money that Gabriel stole from him and trying to keep Kono (Grace Park) out of harms way. This storyline overlapped both the McG and Danno Artful Dodger case, as well as the second case Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) worked with visiting San Francisco Police Inspector Abby Dunn (special guest Julie Benz).
While I thought it was cool how their case overlapped into Gabriel’s long con — he seems to be the one who executed the five dead arms dealers in order to steal the guns they were smuggling into the United States — I also loved that Duke (Dennis Chun) helped Chin and Abby with intel and details. He was in several scenes in the episode, working Chin’s case as well as helping McG and Danno arrest and process Hank once they learned of his conniving ways.
I know the curiosity of the episode is probably the Abby Dunn character. The jury is still out for me on Abby. While I’m all for Chin finding love and happiness (really, I am; I’ve been saying it since season two!), I thought she seemed a bit forced. It was almost too obvious she and Chin are supposed to become an item. I wasn’t reading very much chemistry between the two; they just seemed like two good cops working a case, and one cop was a little too perfect to be very realistic. She knew all the right people, didn’t make a single faux pas and she even threw out some casual Hawaiian language to impress Chin.
I guess “ʻaʻole pilikia” (“no troubles”) is pretty standard (it’s a common response to “mahalo”), I wonder how believable it is for someone to practice Hawaiian phrases as they fly here. Now, if she spoke Chinese or grew up in the Mission District, that would have been cool and added a bit of multiethnic flavor that could make Abby far more interesting.
But I guess McG and Lynn (last week’s guest star Sarah Carter) can handle the chemistry on “Five-0.” It was nice they did have an off-screen coffee date, which was a good way to remind us about her, as Carter was not in this episode. It also gave Danno an opportunity to weigh in on his opinion of McG’s new girl.
Overall, the episode was really well-layered and left me with a severe case of jaw drop, especially at the end when Adam went to the Honolulu Police Department and confessed to a double-murder. The episode started with major tension while we watched Adam being led into the Makua Keaʻau Forest Reserve by two of Goro Shioma’s goons to be executed for not paying his debt. Luckily, he escaped, but only after he killed the two men in what I saw as self-defense. And when he was picked up by more of Shioma’s men, only to attend a business meeting and to be told that his “debt has been paid” and that his business with Shioma was over — all paid for by Gabriel — I wanted to cheer. But Adam could only think about the men he killed for “nothing.”
So what does this mean? Does it mean that Adam now owes Gabriel? And why do I think this does not mean that Gabe is ever going to be out of Adam and Kono’s life?
But Adam’s confession at the end, as if he wasn’t being threatened with two armed Yakuza men who would have had no qualms in shooting him and pushing his body into a deep ravine, really had me twisted in knots. Poor Adam and Kono, can they ever catch a break?
Sometimes, I think Adam needs to take it a little easier on himself. He is the polar opposite of the Artful Dodger. His consciousness will almost never be clean until he realizes he is not a common criminal.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
One of my favorite shows, other than “Hawaii Five-0,” was the short-lived 2012 series “Alcatraz,” created by current Five-0 writers Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt.
I was really thrilled when Jerry (Jorge Garcia) made an Alcatraz comment while talking to Abby, the San Francisco detective. He said to her in the elevator of the Five-0 Headquarters, “You know that more than one person escaped from Alcatraz.”
Meaning, of course, that as a conspiracy theorist, he knows of others who escaped from the legendary island prison.
Or perhaps, Jorge Garcia meant himself, as he was the star of “Alcatraz.” Lucky for us, there was a third island that wasn’t done with him.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.