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Five-0 Redux: Too soft an offering
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Finally, we get the Halloween episode we have been waiting for, albeit a week late. But not to worry, “Hawaii Five-0’ definitely came through with a spooky tale — it’s Halloween, there’s a full moon, we have a missing hottie, we find a dungeon like basement, our killer is the boy next door, who lives with his sweet, but sinister, Grandmother.
Wow. The writers just needed to add satanic symbols and the use of a sacrificial altar to the mix and it could have been the perfect small screen slasher film. Oh, wait. Well, so much for being original.
Sorry folks, I thought last year’s Halloween episode had a better storyline. This one seemed more like an excuse to allow Lee Meriwether (who played the killer’s invalid grandmother) to have a shot at channeling Joan Crawford in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” This type of serial killer/satanic worshiper/Goat Boy kind of story probably could have worked elsewhere, but in Hawaiʻi, it was a bit improbable.
For one thing — most homes don’t have basements or cellars. I know many of you will post here and say you had a basement growing up in Mānoa, or your downstairs sort of is a basement because it was cut into the mountain, or something like that. And yes, I know there could be a few older homes on the island with basements, but for the most part we don’t have them. If you dig down eight feet to build a basement, you’re going to hit lava rock — and in many cases, water.
Not an ideal situation for building a basement, even if you need one in which to hide your sacrificial victims.
And another thing — the luakini heiau on O‘ahu are not found so close to the ocean. They are usually on hills so invading armies could see the sacrificial blood streaming down to the ocean. It was to give them pause before getting off their ships and canoes to enter battle. Pu‘u O Mahuka, a heiau on O‘ahu’s North Shore, and Puowaina, originally located in Punchbowl crater, are two of the more infamous luakini heiau. (Pu‘u O Mahuka, the “Hill of Escape,” is now a state historic site, and Puowaina, the “Hill of Sacrifice,” is now the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.)
So the killer’s lair, and the ending set up for the pagan full moon sacrifice on the beach, was a bit too much for me to swallow. I know this is entertainment, and for the most part, I was entertained, for thankfully there was more to the episode than a crazy Don Ho-loving Satan worshipper killing horny teenagers. And again, the scenes with the main characters and all the humor brought on by our “Five-0″ heroes, those were the parts I liked the most.
The scenes with McG and Cath trying to have a simple “Mom’s not home so let’s watch a scary movie, and neck on the couch” date, being interrupted by everything from SEAL Kamekona, Daddy Danno, and Bumble Bee Gracie, was classic. And Max was in great Halloween form in his Keanu Part II costume, dressed as Theodore Logan from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” Party on, Max.
But those moments were just filler to add a Halloween theme into the mix. I would have liked a little more meat to the story. The satanic theme and the whole idea that the killer worshipped a goat god and needed to complete a pagan full moon ritual (I’m not even sure if that was what he was supposed to do, but you get what I mean) was all just too weak for me. With all of the Hawaiian folklore and stories that surround our islands and culture, it seemed like a missed opportunity.
I keep going back to “Ka Iwi Kapu,” last year’s Halloween episode, and how they wrapped the storyline in with our Hawaiian beliefs and local superstitions. That worked. This one just did not come close.
The direction by Larry Teng was great — the action and suspense worked well, and the gore was just enough to gross me out. No complaints there. I was also glad to see Brian Yang gathering evidence, and a couple of local Hawai‘i actors with large scenes: Albert Ueligitone as Officer Hale and Kristen Nemoto as the Wiccan shopkeeper Ilani.
And I did enjoy the fact that McG and Cath seemed to actually be a couple in this episode. It was great that they are starting to incorporate Cath more into the personal aspects of McG’s life, the kissing, McG revealing personal info about his life to her, as well as her chance to play “Aunty” to Gracie — all hallmarks that Michelle Borth is really becoming a part of the team and is not just there to “gather intelligence.” Teilor Grubbs was undeniably darling as the budding teenager Gracie, not quite understanding Daddy Danno’s need for father-daughter time. The scene between Catherine and Gracie was a great moment for both characters. And I can’t say enough about the ending scene with McG and Danno settling in for a special Halloween showing of “The Notebook” with their two favorite girls.
It was too bad that most of what I liked about the episode I had already seen before the episode even aired. Since there was no “Hawaii Five-0” the week before “Mōhai” was supposed to air, all the good stuff was posted by CBS in order to keep fans hyped about the episode. Then with the pre-emption due to Hurricane Sandy coverage, they released yet another sneak peek.
A total of three short clips were posted online, leaving little to our imagination. I know it was a weird week for them with the short notice change in schedule, but the scenes they did share were really the best parts of the episode.
I also think the translation the writers came up with for this episode seemed a little too soft. “Mōhai” means, “sacrifice, offering; to offer a sacrifice.”
I can see where their translation works, with the killer wanting to make an “offering” to his god, and the victims being seen as “offerings,” but really there was more to the theme of “sacrifice” in this one. Gracie understanding that Danno has to sacrifice his time with her so that he can do his job, McG and Cath sacrificing their couple time to help out friends, and the killer’s grandmother sacrificing herself so he could get away, not to mention the use of a sacrificial altar in the ending—all seemed to lend itself to the episode being about “sacrifice” more so than the kinder gentler “offering.”
But all in all, I really want to see the writers sacrifice the procedurals and focus more on the relationships and character development of our team. I know I’ve been saying that since before the start of season three and I wish I didn’t have to repeat this comment. But really, the sacrifice will be a small one for them — and it will be one that will pay off with the viewers in the end.
Redux Side Note:
“Hawaii Five-0” fans got a special treat this week, spending a Monday night with Teilor Grubbs, “Five-0 Undercover” and the “Five-0 Redux” at Big City Diner Pearlridge. Fans got to meet and take pictures with Grubbs, then stayed to watch her in the episode. It was a great night for all the young fans who came to meet Gracie Williams, as well as for all the regulars to watch an episode with one of the stars.
Two great Hawai‘i actors had some nice screen time this week. Albert Ueligitone played Officer Hale, the HPD officer who finds the victim’s rammed car on a full moon Halloween night. Ueligitone is a strong local stage actor who most recently played Oberon in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Mission Houses in August, and the Hawaiian Patriot Robert William Kalanihiapo Wilcox in Kumu Kahua’s “Wilcox’s Shot,” last March.
Kristen Nemoto, who played the intriguing Wiccan Ilani, was wonderfully spooky, covered in tattoos and an all-knowing smirk. Her scene where she helped Chin and Kono decipher the occult clues left by our creepy killer, only added to the idea of the theme of sacrifice. A Waimanalo girl, Kristen is the daughter of Po‘okela Award winning Hawai‘i actor Eric Nemoto, and “Hawaii Five-0” is her first major role on television.
Because CBS pushed “Mōhai” from it’s original Oct. 29 airdate to this week, the original Nov. 5 episode will air Nov. 12. The episode, “I ka wā mamua,” includes a host of special guest stars, including Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Terrence Howard, Tip “T.I.” Harris, and Kendall Jenner.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.