Halloween, or Heleuī, in Hawaiʻi is always a unique experience. Hawaiians and kamaʻāina alike love to dress up for trick-or-treating, as well as all-night partying, and if we add in all of the island superstitions and Hawaiian legends, we have just the right mix for the best kind of Halloween celebration.
But sometimes Halloween takes on a realistic spin, and the spooky can turn into all too real terror. As usual, “Hawaii Five-0” loves to explore the twist on a favorite childhood holiday by mixing traditional Halloween happenings with their crime of the week.
“Na Pilikua Nui,” which means “monsters” in Hawaiian, focused on real-life monsters in our heroes’ lives, as well as the monsters in their closets. “Hawaii Five-0” writer Matt Wheeler did an excellent job of entwining a disturbing case while also developing major character arcs, which made for a great episode.
Director Joe Dante showed his veteran hand directing horror films and television shows with the pacing and tension of spooky moments in this episode. Dante is known for directing several cult classic horror films, like “The Howling,” “Piranha,” “Gremlins” and “Gremlins 2: The New Batch,” as well as “Twilight Zone: The Movie.” He also directed two other “Hawaii Five-0” Halloween episodes: “Ka Iwi Kapu” (“Sacred Bones”) and “Hoʻomaʻike” (“Unmasked”).
I’m usually nervous about the Halloween episode. While I really appreciate when Five-0 uses stories of the islands to flavor their storylines, sometimes the plots are a bit out there. Iʻm glad while the occult was mentioned as a possible motive, it was not the real reason for the killings. Watching McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Lou (Chi McBride) search for a monster — a serial killer seemingly inspired by the story of Frankenstein — was intense and everything one could hope for in a Halloween episode.
Not that McG and Lou worked on their own. Kono (Grace Park) was the first on the crime scene, a gory discovery of body parts by a group of teens participating in a Heleuī Eve Horror campout (I guess it’s camping like you’re in a “Friday the 13th” movie). Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) also worked the case; as did Danno (Scott Caan), and his annoying, yet accurate, nephew, Eric (Andy Lawrence). Max (Masi Oka) gave not only his expertise as chief medical examiner, but his extensive knowledge of serial killers and their makings had McGarrett asking for his specific guidance on the case.
The serial killer they were hunting was trying to create his lost love. The team had body parts from four different women and must not only identify the victims, but also find their Dr. Frankenstein.
But Max has a few of his own monsters in his closet and McGarrett had to respectfully ask him if he was up to the task. Max’s biological mother was killed by a serial killer, The Trashman, in season two and McGarrett doesn’t want to dredge up any sad memories for Max.
Max was seemingly touched by McG’s gesture, and of course, lends his knowledge to the team. The scene between McG, Danno, and Max, who was dressed as Keanu Reeves again this Halloween, was great. The fact that Danno and McG don’t really blink at his unusual costume (this year as Reeves’ character Le Chevalier Raphael Danceny from “Dangerous Liaisons”) was perfect. Our duo knows this is just another Max homage to his hero. (Max’s past costumes have been Neo from “The Matrix,” Ted of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” Prince Siddhartha from “Little Buddha” and Johnny Utah from “Point Break.”)
I love that Max appreciated Danno’s snarky comment about his costume and then gave McG a bit of a rub with a comment that perhaps he had not seen the movie because of its “lack of car chases and explosions.” It’s a good scene that sets up the real friendship they all share. It also gave viewers a lead into the ending scene between Max and McG, which shows their love on a different level. When he told Max, who was looking at his mother’s case file, that she’s not in the file, but in his heart, it was such a lovely moment amongst the darkness of the episode.
Danno also fought against a few monsters in his closet, notably one where Gracie (Teilor Grubbs) grows up too quickly and lies to her father to spend the evening at a forbidden party, was a bit of levity in between their search for a Frankenstein. Danno was both angry and hurt by Gracie’s lie, and vacillated between being a harsh disciplinarian and just being happy she was found in one piece.
I loved that he talked to himself the entire way to pick her up, as if he was trying to figure out both what to say to her and how he was going to handle the entire situation without driving a wedge between himself and his beloved daughter. The last thing Danno wants is for Gracie to resent him, but he also needs her to understand he is trying to keep her from becoming a victim like the ones he works to find justice for in his cases.
Such a hard place for any father to be, especially one who sees what happens to young women when they make bad decisions or fall prey to those who lie in wait. Like the Dr. Frankenstein killer Danno was chasing. He turned out to be Charles Oakman, an airport worker who helped all four women with their bags right after they arrived in Hawaiʻi. Oakman was a former mortuary worker who lost the love of his life in a plane crash. He was bent on trying to recreate the woman he loves by piecing together parts from different victims and creating his very own Bride of Frankenstein.
When McG and Lou found his laboratory, complete with a ceiling full of meat hooks and his bride suspended on a lab table, I thought I was going to jump out of my skin. When McGarrett walked down the stairs to look for Oakman with only his gun barrel light, I knew the killer was waiting for him, but where? And when was he going to jump out give me and McG a heart attack?
Iʻm glad we didn’t really see his face, but his slicing knife was enough to make me wish for McG CPR.
I found the parallel story of Jerry (Jorge Garcia) trying to help the blood bank find out who raided their reserves a bit on the nose, but perfectly funny for Jerry. Of course, he would think that only a real vampire could want all that blood. It was a good way to add more action to the episode, and gave Chin and Kono an interesting case to work. The criminal hiding in the vet’s office with a gunshot wound was a little familiar, but his sending his henchmen out to rob the blood bank since he couldn’t go to the hospital was the perfect addition to a Halloween episode.
I did enjoy the explosive hostage situation with a big shootout between Chin and Kono and an ambulance full of bloodthirsty men with guns. This week Chin showed he definitely knows how to use a small gun just as well as he uses his big gun in a tough situation. And Kono had the last laugh when, after stabbing one of the bad guys in the heart, she told Chin, “That’s the way you take care of a vampire.”
Still, the best ending had to be Danno and Gracie forgiving each other and Charlie passing out candy to all the kids at the hospital. Danno making him promise to never grow up was beyond precious. The worst fear a parent has is that our children will have to face some kind of monster. And, like the Five-0 crew, we’ll fight to the end to protect them, no matter what shape or size the monsters are, or where they come from.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
Dracula Jerry’s visit to the Dillingham Donor Center was a great way to remind people to donate blood. No matter the time of year, the Blood Bank of Hawaii needs donations. Each person who donates can save three lives and help supply the islands with much needed blood, plasma and platelets. Because of Hawaii’s smaller population, donations are always in demand; about 200 blood donors are needed every day to help meet the needs of patients. So follow Jerry’s lead and focus on a treat — give blood for Halloween.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.