Boxing is a sport not for the faint of heart. While some see the sport as one of organized brutality— it has also been called “the sweet science”— in honor of the skill and craft of the sport. Boxing requires proper training and thoughtful strategy, like playing chess or the preparing for battle
There’s a method— and a bit of madness— to the sport. In the same way that there always seems to be a method to the madness on “Hawaii Five-0.”
This week’s episode, “Ka Mākau Kaʻa Kaua” (“The Sweet Science”) gave us a glimpse into the professional boxing world, and brought the Five-0 team together to solve a heartbreaking murder case. The “madness” this week had more to do with the major twist in the investigation, which led to none other than Gabriel Waincroft (Christopher Sean).
While the team worked to find out who killed ex-boxer Ben Nakano (Joseph Kim), big brother to local boy boxer Luke (Lewis Tan), Gabriel was also working his own con to secure his place as King of the Organized Crime World. Luke is slated to fight the reigning Welterweight champion, Devon Hayes (Harold House Moore), and Gabriel is using the pay-per-view extravaganza to orchestrate the assassinations of the heads of three major crime syndicates.
If boxing is a sweet science, Gabriel has added that kind of science to his criminal master plan.
While there is no direct translation of “the sweet science” in the Hawaiian language, if we break down the title, it works for both boxing and for criminal scheming. “Mākau” means “skill,” “kaʻa” means to “roll, turn, or twist,” and “kaua” means “war, battle; to make war, fight.” Together the terms add up to the idea and meaning behind boxing, as well as everything Gabriel needs to accomplish his masterplan.
The episode, written by John Dove, was an excellent mix of a clever plot and strong characterization. Director Bryan Spicer kept the pacing steady and the tension stimulating. I love when an episode keeps me thinking and wondering what will happen next. It’s so much better to be wowed than to say half-way through the episode— “saw that one coming.”
Sure, it’s no stretch to see Gabriel showing up again and again like bad habit, but I just love how diabolical he has become. But I also love that McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and the Five-0 team seem to counter his every move. Their chess game is so intriguing to watch. It’s a great show of the feint and jab, of bobbing and weaving, with lots of fancy footwork added in for good measure.
If anything is a sweet science, it’s watching Five-0 chase Gabriel. He is a perfect villain. I hate what he does, but I love how good he is at being the bad guy.
Besides the evil fun Gabriel added to the episode, I also enjoyed seeing the entire crew working the case. McG and Danno (Scott Caan) picked up where they left off after Danno became a professor to catch a killer.
I do adore their good-natured bickering, especially when they are discussing topics we know that both actors have a good grasp upon, like boxing and MMA. Danno bringing up the idea of boxing as “the sweet science” was a neat way to tie the Hawaiian title in with the theme and plot of the episode.
The team had a nice bonding moment at the start of the episode, when they all gathered at McGarrett’s home to watch the weigh-in for the fight. It was the only mention of the holidays— as Max (Masi Oka) arrives with the traditional menorah and candles to celebrate Hanukkah. I did appreciate how Max explains to Abby (Julie Benz) about being adopted by the Jewish Bergman family and a little bit about the meaning behind the eight days of observance. Some viewers may not know that Oka’s character name is an homage to the original “Hawaii Five-O” character Doc Bergman, played by Al Eben, who was not at all Japanese like his successor.
In the same scene, it was great to have Kamekona (Taylor Wily) and Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) over at McG’s for the fight festivities. I loved having the two large and in charge friends at the party, as they helped to explain the hometown connection of Luke and why the fight was being held in Hawaiʻi. I wondered a bit if Flippa had loaned out his extra-large puka shells to Ben Nakano— who the team watched give lip service to his brother’s opponent on television. Of course, not knowing that they would soon be investigating his murder.
I did like how Lou (Chi McBride) and Jerry (Jorge Garcia) got into the mix this week, with Jerry getting to work the magic table to help the team, and Lou delivering one of the best lines of the evening. As McG and Danno try to settle their MMA vs. boxing disagreement, Lou quips: “You should get your money back from that therapist.” Even those that love McG and Danno understand their mercurial relationship.
Once the case began, the entire team came together and everyone had a moment to shine. Even Abby got into the investigation. She seems to be Chin’s (Daniel Dae Kim) new partner, and their relationship seems to be on a slow burn. I love the looks they keep exchanging and the fact that they both seem to be looking out for each other. In the ending sequence when she runs to help Chin after she hears shots fired, they share a very loaded look. Looks like things may be progressing well for the two.
I do like that they are including her in the investigations, as that is why she is with the team. She seems to be meshing better as well, since her awkward start in “Piko Pau ʻIole.” She also shared a nice scene with Danno as they watched McGarrett dragging a suspect behind him on a jet ski. Danno’s sage advice about not bringing Steve’s version of immunity and means back to San Francisco was a nice bit of humor for the emotional episode.
Not that the episode was overly dramatic, but there were moments of good drama and seriousness. When Luke is told of his brother’s death, his heartbreak was very well done. At first I thought Tan was a bit over the top, sweet but a bit too teary eyed on the day of his big fight. But when he hugs Nicky DeMarco (Larry Manetti), who seems to be his manager, and begs him not to cancel the fight because it was what his brother wanted— I was sold. Of course, in the end when he envisions his brother and finds his mana, his power, in order to beat Haynes, that’s when his tears and emotion really made sense. Tan did an excellent job as Luke, and coupled with Jeff Cadiente’s awesome choreography of the boxing sequences, he looked and acted like a champ.
A bit of a side note here: did anyone else notice Manetti wearing his gold Cross of Lorraine signet ring when he hugged Luke? This is the ring that Manetti wore, along with his cast mates Tom Selleck and Roger E. Mosley, in “Magnum P.I.” It signified Magnum’s Vietnam Team, which was also a joint service task force, much like the Five-0 team is in “Hawaii Five-0.” I think many of us would love it if they tie in that storyline in a future episode, just in case they need ideas for a seventh season.
But I digress. Speaking of Nicky, and his role as manager to Luke, I think the best parts of the episode had to be the fight sequences. They looked great, and I loved having James “Buddy” McGirt in Luke’s corner as his trainer. It added even more authenticity to the fight scenes and it was just a cool touch of reality to the boxing theme. Call an episode “The Sweet Science” and have Buddy McGirt, a retired welterweight champion and boxing trainer, playing himself, just made the episode even stronger.
Coupling the fight scenes with the action of McG, Danno, Chin and Lou working their way through the crowd to catch Gabriel’s hit men, was perfection. As Kono (Grace Park) is preoccupied with Adam (Ian Anthony Dale), it left Jerry and Abby to help the crew catch the assassins. Gabriel sent three men, using Ben’s fight access pass (which was why he was killed), to kill Goro Shioma (Akira Hirayama), the head of the Yakuza; Akela Makuakane, head of the Makuakane crime family; and the leader of the Triads, Wong Yu. As McGarrett explains, if Gabriel takes them out, then he shows the rest of the criminal world that no one is untouchable and he can get to them at anytime.
Pretty brilliant plan. If not for McGarrett and his crew. I just loved the juxtaposition of the team having to save three bad guys instead of arresting them. I guess if anyone wanted to question the integrity of the team, this would stop the doubt about which side of the law Five-0 is on.
Sometimes I wish the team wasn’t so law abiding. Especially when it comes to my favorite couple, Kono and Adam. I’m still trying to figure out what Adam was thinking when he confessed and turned himself in for murdering the two Yakuza men in self-defense. I know, it was the moral thing to do, and he’s thinking about his future with his law officer wife, but still— can’t these two catch a break? I was so sad to see their tearful goodbyes and to hear them both say “I love you, forever.” I swear, if someone shanks Adam in Halawa there will be hell to pay. I will not be a happy viewer if Adam dies. And I bet I am not alone.
It killed me to watch that last scene, but also warmed my heart to see the entire crew show up to support Kono. Friends are good to have when your heart is breaking. And while it is sweet— it’s really just pure aloha— and there doesn’t need to be any science behind that.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
While we all count down to Christmas, season six of “Hawaii Five-0” takes a break until January. But there will be several repeats from season five for the next two weeks to take up some of our holiday down time.
A replay of the 2014 Christmas episode “Ke Koho Mamao Aku” (“Longshot”) will air Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 9:01 pm. On Christmas night there is no episode during their regular time slot, but 8 pm on Saturday, Dec. 26 “Lā Pōʻino” (“Doomsday”) will repeat.
On Friday, January 1 two episodes help ring in the new year: “‘Ike Hānau” (“Instinct”) at 9 pm, and fan favorite “Kū kaʻawale” (“Stakeout”) at 10 pm.