BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
I love when “Hawaii Five-0” sets me up for an exciting episode, full of action and humorous bromance, and yet still manages to leave me in a puddle of tears. While the show always delivers on action, they also seem to know how to pull at my heartstrings.
Many of you may collectively roll your eyes about my sappy tendencies, but if you saw this week’s episode, you may have felt the same way about the conclusion to the team’s complicated case.
The translation of the episode title “Peʻepeʻe Kānaka,” meaning “Those Among Us,” was a clever interpretation of the Hawaiian word “peʻe” which means “to hide oneself; clandestine.” I also thought of the word “hoʻopeʻepeʻe” which means “camouflage.” Both are appropriate terms for the underlying theme threaded throughout the storyline. “Kānaka” is the plural of “man”— and the idea of men hiding or camouflaging themselves among us was exactly the theme that writer John Dove seemed to be shooting for in this episode.
This week McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and the Five-0 team dealt with domestic terrorism and three homegrown student terrorists who are willing to kill and die for their cause. While their cause is Islam and their target Hickam Air Force Base (which in reality is actually Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam), the idea that teenagers born and raised in America would embrace this kind of extreme radicalism is just as frightening as foreign terrorists hiding within our midst.
I’m not trying to play politics or debate ethics or morality— I just think of my home and my friends, both civilian and military, who live and work on or near Hickam, and even if I am watching a television show— I would never want life to imitate art.
Some may have thought that this week’s plot was too farfetched to take place in seemingly insignificant Hawaii, but the fact that our state is strategically the most important spot in the Pacific for our nation’s military, may have had something to do with the thought behind the storyline.
I think the set up of the initial murder of the pool guy Nico Kane (Sam Upton), which led us to the cold-hearted and ill-educated Dawn Hatfield (Sasha Pieterse of “Pretty Little Liars” fame), was a way to ease us into the Islamic radicalism. When McGarrett catches Dawn after she has tried to kill him, Chin (Daniel Dae Kim), and Grover (Chi McBride), he says “so you surf, you kill people, and you make bombs— you’re a real renaissance woman,” I had to laugh at the irony. Only McGarrett is that cool after being shot at by automatic weaponry for several minutes and after pulling a bullet out of Grover’s tactical vest.
“You got lucky twice in one day,” McG tells Grover, after flicking what’s left of the round onto the flood. And yes, Grover, we agree— only McGarrett would see getting shot as lucky.
McGarrett’s luck reference is to Grover catching a “lucky” fish with Chin at the start of the episode. Whatever kind of luck Grover had, it certainly was with the team in this episode. They got a few lucky breaks in order to solve their case— but also to find out who killed four Marines, and maimed another, in a convoy hit by an IED in Afghanistan.
Long story short— the FBI has a database of all IED’s used against our troops— so that they can keep track of types, perhaps who makes them, and they also dust for fingerprints to see if they can catch who killed or attacked our soldiers, in order to place them on watch lists and keep them out of our country. This is true in reality— in 2003, the FBI established the Terrorist Explosive Devices Analytical Center, or TEDAC.
So life influencing art—because that was the most fascinating part of the episode. When FBI Analyst Katie Halinan (Eden Riegel) helps Chin find out who was teaching the three students how to make IED’s, by tracing the IED sketches Chin found in Dawn and Brian’s house, back to a bomb made in Afghanistan, I thought that was a great idea for a plot point. The information also helps the team solve the case, as the information from the FBI led them to Uday Jahani (Jorge Alfredo Martinez) and Rahim Ahad (Ahmad Tadjvar) who were hiding in Hawaii like they had never killed or taken the legs and arm of anyone.
Which of course, leads us to the most touching part of the episode, when McG and Danno (Scott Caan) make their way to San Diego to give the news of the arrests of Jahani and Ahad to Kirk Emerson (played by real life Iraq War Veteran and Triple Amputee Bryan Anderson).
When they see all the injured soldiers going through physical therapy, and Danno tells McG to basically “punch him in the head” if he ever complains about pain when he attends his own PT sessions (a reference to his injury from the building collapse in “Kū I Ka Pili Koko”), I was moved as well by all the courage displayed on my screen.
When Emerson asks how to say thank you in Hawaiian, I was tearing before he even said “Mahalo” and shook McGarrett and Danno’s hands.
But I’m a softie. And when “Hawaii Five-0” delivers a great episode with so much action and movement— seriously, the scene when the kid jumps to the next building with McG and Chin hot on his heels, then add a gun fight, a lights-and-sirens take down, as well as intense interrogation of a blindly misguided suspect— and then give me a heartbreaking moment— I’m ready to have a scene with the Five-0 ʻohana kicking back with friends and food.
Which of course, is always a perfect way to end an episode. I know we all love seeing the team hanging out, teasing each other, and betting on something or other— this time- a “fish off” between Grover and McG.
It all came together when I asked Director Jeff Cadiente what he thought about directing this episode. “I was excited to tell a good story. Not just direct action and stunts, but to direct real and touching moments. [It was] my favorite project ever! [It] has a perfect balance of humor, action, drama, and sense of true ʻohana. And it deals with a very serious and real threat in our world. I’m very, very proud of this episode,” said Cadiente.
And he should be proud. It was a perfect balance of all the elements we love about “Hawaii Five-0.” It also reminded me that, while I know we have dangerous people hiding hiding in our midst— we also have heroes amongst us— and thankfully, McGarrett is right. For every one who plots against us, there are a thousand of us who will fight to protect what we have and hold dear. Perhaps not a thousand McG’s, but some who are pretty close. Like Mr. Anderson and his fellow soldiers, sailors, and marines.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
This week’s episode could not be complete without mentioning the Hawaii talent that shone through the serious nature of the procedural.
As always it is wonderful to see Dennis Chun return as our steadfast “Sgt. Duke Lukela.” And while we saw him for just a few minutes— informing McGarrett about the lack of incriminating evidence in a suspect’s apartment— when I asked him about working with Jeff Cadiente he was quick to compliment.
“Through my scene was brief, Jeff made it totally enjoyable. His leadership creates a very positive atmosphere for an actor to work in. He was very patient and supportive. He’s a true professional. I can see a very productive career ahead of him as a director. [I am] very privileged and humbled to work with him,” said Chun.
Actor Shawn Thomsen reprised his role from the season four opener, this time as HPD Officer, rather than Recruit, Pua Kai. Thomsen flirted heavily with Kono (Grace Park), letting her know that “if things went south with Mr. Ten”— her reference to how serious she was with her boyfriend Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale), that she shouldn’t hold back, as once he got his detective shield, he was going to be “quite a catch.” Looking forward to seeing more of his laid back humor in future episodes.
Thomasen joined fellow island funny men, Taylor Wily “Kamekona” and Shawn Mokuahi Garnett “Flippa” at the end of the episode pāʻina. I spoke to Garnett last week for the Redux, and hope to talk to Thomasen about his experience with Five-0 in the near future.