Most of us are used to playing roles — social roles, family roles, even professional roles. We all know how each role is supposed to be played, and for the most part we tend not to deviate. We can pretty much anticipate how a parent is supposed to act toward a child; how a teacher or coach instructs a student; how a man is expected to treat a woman.
Of course, these social roles have a set of norms or rules, and those who skew from what is acceptable tend to stand out. This week’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0” took a few roles for granted and tried to solidify others. Danno (Scott Caan) masqueraded as a professor, as McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) played father figure and protector to young Nahele (Kekoa Kekumano). Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) was his normal chivalrous self, but this left visiting San Francisco Police Department inspector Abby Dunn (Julie Benz) a bit puzzled by a man who deviated from the norm she has grown to expect.
There were a couple other characters who added to the Professor Danno charade, including his annoying nephew Eric Russo (Andrew Lawrence), who acted the collegiate fool, and Jerry (Jorge Garcia), who took on the role as evidence collector in order to aid the team.
If nothing else, “Hana Keaka” (“Charade”) really nailed this week’s theme, as the team had to break out of their everyday roles in order to solve a murder. In actuality, “hana keaka” means “to act in the theater; show business; a play.” As I was entirely entertained, the episode met its mark on both the inferred and literal meaning of the title.
The investigation started when a ranch hand (Tracy Brooks Swope) found her pigs dining on a body. I’m with Kono (Grace Park), who decided to give up eating bacon after Max (Masi Oka) found a thumb in the mud and was able to identify the body as Oahu State professor Elliot Thomas.
(A bit of trivia: Max’s cry of “Eureka!” when he finds the digit, was writer Carmen Pilar Golden’s shout out to the television series of the same name; Golden was an assistant writer on the show in 2007.)
Danno went real Jersey during the investigation, as he was quick to make reference to the “old Mob trick” of dumping bodies in pig farms, as “pigs eat through bones and don’t leave anything behind.” Max also got to gross viewers out by explaining that while pigs will eat most of the evidence, like the bullet that seemed to have killed the professor, they can’t digest lead.
Luckily, they had someone who could wait for the evidence to re-enter the scene, and that would be Jerry. You have to give Jerry props. For him, working with Five-0 is always a glass half-full experience. He generously turned McG’s request to wait for the bullet to pass through the digestive tract of a pig into real police work and validation that the team trusted him to get the best clue to crack the case. If only we all were that optimistic about life, right down to reading “Charlotte’s Web” to pigs being raised to be the star entrée at a Waikīkī lūʻau.
But really, the best part was watching Danno play school with a bunch of eager students. Who knew he had minored in business at Seton Hall and only needed nerdy glasses and an old tie in order to play Professor Ben Jefferies?
I loved that beyond the charade, Danno really could teach economics, to the point that a student dropped off an apple for the new teacher and another gave him a “great class” shout out in the quad. Even his fellow faculty members accepted him and he seemed to be a welcome change from the dead prof he replaced.
It also seemed as if everyone wanted to kill Professor Thomas, who was hated by many. After the team went through several possible suspects (I think I counted four: a star basketball player who was failing his class (Micah J.K. Ramos), the star’s coach (Hawaiʻi actor Jason Quinn), the campus drug dealer Alfie Tucker (Samuel Larsen) who was in the pakalōlō (the Hawaiian word for marijuana; paka means tobacco, and lōlō means stupid or crazy) growing and harvesting business with the dead prof, and a scary local drug dealer (Hawaiʻi actor Aikue Kalima) who they thought wanted to get rid of his competition.
I guess if one of those four hadn’t worked out, they could have interrogated Porky to see if he was out for the professor’s blood, or if he was just hungry when the body was dropped into his sty. Because really, did there really need to be four suspects? Yet it’s a good thing Jerry found the bullet so they could figure out, not once but twice, that Alfie killed the prof for money, a bigger cut, so he could get an A in economics… I’m actually not sure why.
No matter, I think the real reason for the episode was to see Danno shine in a completely different world. We all know he usually has to deal with the unruly and delinquent in his real job. And no, I don’t mean McGarrett.
I suppose I have to mention Danno’s nephew and his role in the case. Eric, who has been working at the crime lab while I pretend Charlie Fong (Brian Yang) is saving lives with Doctors Without Borders or working with the UN to solve international war crimes, was tasked to back up his Uncle D. Eric donned puka shells and board shorts in order to infiltrate the student population and find information to feed back to Five-0. When Danno remarked that his college idiot persona was an epic fail I had to laugh, as Danno mirrored my own thoughts.
But Eric did help figure out details Professor Danny would never had gathered. While I often wish Eric’s character could dial down the ridiculous, I did find him less irritating this week, perhaps because he was actually playing a character right in his wheelhouse.
One of the sub-plots this week had to do with McGarrett trying to continue his mentorship and friendship with Nahele. McGarrett was not playing a charade; he really was being a protective parent, trying to find out if Nahele’s father, Kaili Huikala (James Duval), was truly thinking of his son’s best interest, or if he had ulterior motives in trying to gain custody of the boy.
The jury is still out for me on Nahele’s father. I can’t tell if Kaili was just playing the good father charade in order to keep his son from telling that his father was a murderer, or if he really had changed in prison and wanted to make things right. It seemed as if Kaili was sincere and wanted to re-connect with Nahele; he did seem concerned for his son’s welfare. Even after he shot his victim, Kaili was still concerned about his son buckling his seat belt. But nonetheless, his cool demeanor after shooting a man in the head and the way he almost convinced McGarrett he had changed for the better makes me lean toward Kaili being bad news for Nahele.
Does this mean the boy will now have to move in with McGarrett? Perhaps it’s time McGarrett has a meaningful relationship. I just didn’t think it was going to be a father-son relationship, but that would still be lovely to watch.
The other sub-plot was more subtle, but the sweet flirtation between Abby and Chin made their connection a little more realistic than it was last week. I did like how Abby was taken aback by Chin’s politeness and consideration. While being overly polite and going out of your way to be generous and kind are indicative of Hawaiian culture and values, it was nice he wasn’t playing a charade and that she was surprised by his sincerity. It seems as if they are taking the development of their relationship one step at a time, which makes for it becoming a more realistic union.
This week’s episode may have been all about playing charades, but if nothing else it was the real characters and their true emotions that kept me watching and continuing to enjoy the ride.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
Adam’s (Ian Anthony Dale) confession last week was only mentioned in a conversation at the start of the episode this week, and it doesn’t bode well for our newlyweds. Adam was offered a deal of 24 months for the murder of two men who kidnapped him and almost killed him. Kono sees the deal as something the district attorney’s office is offering the son of a yakuza boss more than they are concerned that he killed in self-defense.
I hope they don’t just talk about Adam for the next few episodes, but this may be the case as Dale’s “Murder in the First” was renewed on Nov. 12 by TNT with a third season premiering in 2016. While I wish Dale great luck continuing on the show, I hope he will also have time to moonlight on “Five-0” as one of our favorite recurring cast members.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.