Hunting has historically been a way to put food on the table, to control animal overpopulation, and for some, a way to commune with nature and family. For the “Hawaii Five-0” crew, hunting is just another day at the office. Whether they are hunting a suspect, intelligence, or clues, there is never a time when they are not using all of their faculties and talents to catch their targets.
This week’s episode “Kanaka Hahai,” translated as “The Hunter,” dealt with McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), Chin (Daniel Dae Kim), Kono (Grace Park), and Grover (Chi McBride), with the help of Abby Dunn (Julie Benz), hunting the operators of a slave trade aboard an illegal fishing vessel. Meanwhile, Danno (Scott Caan), whose day with his children, Charlie (Zach Sulzbach) and Grace (Teilor Grubbs) is sidelined when his Camaro is stolen, uses a city Bus driven by Five-0 friend Mamo Kahike (Al Harrington) to hunt down his car thieves.
Both teams used their expert hunting skills in order to catch their prey. And I use the word “team” for Danno because he gains two sidekicks with Mamo and a helpful hunter, Vance Pekelo (Cooper Andrews), to help him track the bad guys. I suppose if Danno was going to have his car stolen, while separated from McG and the rest of his crew, it’s nice that he had them to lend him a hand. Vance was probably my favorite good samaritan, and lucky for Danno, Mamo came along to not only give him an alternate chase vehicle, but to also take over daddy duty when the thieves turned into armed robbers.
McG and the rest of the Five-0 crew were hunting a completely different sort of prey, after two men– one dead and another half-alive– are found washed ashore on Makaha Beach. The men are escapees from an illegal fishing ship where they had been kept as slave laborers. The dead man, Somchai Wattana (uncredited), is supposed to have been killed by firing squad by the Thai government six years earlier, and his partner, Edward Torres (JB Tadena) disappeared from the Philippines three years ago. Both men have low Vitamin D counts and mercury poisoning– which leads the team to believe they had been forced to work at night, counting for their Vitamin D deficiencies, and to guess that their high levels of mercury is due to only eating fish for the last several years.
Jerry (Jorge Garcia) looks into the one clue the men had with them– the life ring they had been clinging to– and finds the ship it came from had been sent to mothballs in Bangkok in the 1960s. He, in typical Jerry fashion, brings up the explanation of the men being on a ghost ship. It’s a theory that goes over so well with Grover.
I do love when practical Lou comes face to face with Jerry and his supernatural theories. Leave it to McGarrett to play upon his skepticism by bringing up other ghost stories just to mess with grounded Grover. The ghost story of “The Dress Whites Ghost” from The USS Hornet is one that I had also heard when my family visited the historic aircraft carrier, presently docked at the former Naval Air Station Alameda in San Francisco Bay. But as a Navy wife, I’ve heard many ghost stories of similar ilk about other World War II era museum ships.
But I digress, the team, of course, was not hunting ghosts– they were looking for the men who had captured and enslaved Torres and Wattana and 14 other men, and after hearing Torres’s heartbreaking story of cruelty aboard the ship, missing his wife and now-three-year-old child, as well as his harrowing days floating at sea– they are determined to put an end to the slave trade and free the rest of the men controlled by the ship’s Captain Decha (Hahn Cho). Kono seemed particularly moved by Torres’s story, perhaps recalling her own experience being stranded at sea.
In Hawaiian language, the term “hunter” is actually “kanaka hahai holoholona” or “man who hunts beasts.” Kanaka means “human being, man, person;” hahai means “to follow, pursue, chase, hunt;” and holoholona means “animal, beast, or insect.” In Hawaiʻi, hunting is not quite the same as it is around the rest of the United States. Yes, people hunt, but the game is a bit different. Most local hunters use a crossbow or bow and arrow, and feral pigs are our biggest game. On Oʻahu, only five types of birds, wild boars, and feral goats are available to hunt. Other islands have more game available as hunting options– in addition to feral pigs and goats, there are axis and blacktail deer, feral and mouflon sheep, and wild turkeys.
Like everywhere else, hunters need licenses, and for some game there is a lottery process for tags and permits. Guns are allowed (with proper permits, of course) but for the most part– like Danno’s hunter savior Vance, bow and arrow seems to be the more popular weapon of choice.
So our expert hunters– seem to use all of their skills, as well as their teamwork, to bag their catch. Danno luckily figures out quickly how to drive a bus, and uses it to go after his precious Camaro– just recently back from the shop after being riddled with bullet holes— only to find his prey has abandoned his ride and set out on foot. Vance comes along, wild boar decorating his hunting truck, and while Danno wants to borrow his phone, which Vance does not have while he is communing with nature, Danno then sets out to borrow his gun– which Vance also does not have as the crossbow is a more civilized weapon of his hunting choice.
Danno is, if nothing else, pretty flexible when it comes to changing his hunting tactics. I do love how Vance helps him track (a McGarrett skill) and also doesn’t let him face two armed criminals alone. I know, one should never go into a gunfight with just a bow and arrow, but really Danno proves that perhaps it’s not skill, but aim. I wonder what would have happened if he had actually aimed for the gunman’s chest instead of his leg. Perhaps Danno would have taken out an eye.
Still, it was a nice change of pace with Danno being the star of his own case, even if he was wounded in the process. And it was also very good to see Mamo again after almost two years. I love Harrington’s character– and it was lovely to see him as a friendly bus driver. I also loved how he was the same affable Beach Boy, just spreading his aloha through a different occupation.
My biggest question really was how believable it was for Danno to commandeer a Honolulu Bus, and to my surprise, it’s not that implausible, according to former bus driver, and local comedian, James Mane.
“As far as a police officer stopping the bus, it can happen. I’ve had police officers stop my bus to see if someone was on it. It was a suspect in a robbery. As far as driving the bus, personally I’d allow it. Mainly because he’s a police officer and he has a gun, and because I know I wouldn’t get fired over it. I would, however, make sure to notify the passengers and have them and myself evacuate the bus. Safety is always first,” Mane told me via email this week.
Which is what Mamo and Danno did before any guns started blazing. Safety first seems to be important to all public servants, which is always a good thing.
If nothing else, I did love how the bad guys were caught, and Danno and his children’s day together didn’t turn out too darkly. I’m sure Grace is still upset she didn’t Instagram the whole thing, but it was probably much safer that she was able to focus on taking care of her little brother than trying to get a few selfies, as her father chased down some bad guys with a big bus.
I was super nostalgic as I watched Danno and his children riding the 52 Bus from Haleʻiwa. It is The Bus I grew up riding into town to go to Ala Moana when I was about Grace’s age. The 52 route starts at Ala Moana and runs through Mililani, Wahiawā, and Haleʻiwa, and then makes it’s way back to Ala Moana– which is just a few blocks from the start of Waikīkī. If I remember correctly, it actually stops right in front of Five-0 Headquarters.
Which of course, brings us back to the beginning. Danno gets his car-nappers, McG and the rest of the team catch the evil Capt. Decha and free the other fishing boat slaves, and Chin– well, he seems to have also gotten his girl.
I loved that Abby gave up her badge to make it right with Five-0, and that McGarrett asks her to stay and basically join the team. And I loved how she and Chin made up in the end– because isn’t this what we’ve wanted all along? For Coughlin to not have any more fuel (however thin it seems to be) to add to his fire, for Abby to be honest with Chin, and for them to be together? At least one couple in this show needs to have some happiness– that’s what I’d like them to hunt for week after week. Happiness, love, and honesty. It all makes the hunt worthwhile.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
On Thursday, March 31, the School of Travel Industry Management (TIM) of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa honored “Hawaii Five-0,” specifically the late Leonard Freeman, creator of “Hawaii Five-O” and Peter Lenkov, executive producer of the current “Hawaii Five-0,” for their contributions to promoting tourism in Hawaiʻi.
Five-0 actor Dennis Chun, who plays Sgt. Duke Lukela, and veteran television reporter Emme Tomimbang emceed the UH TIM School’s 50th Anniversary gala event. Also attending the gala event were friends of the show, artist Laura Mellow, who plays Nalani Lukela, Sgt. Duke’s wife; Amy and Zoom Bakari of Hawaii Jeep Tours; Yaling and Bruce Fisher of Hawaii Aloha Travel; Al Harrington, who played Ben Kokua in the classic Five-O and currently plays Mamo Kahike; and Rosa Harrington, his wife.
Leonard Freeman’s daughters, Robin, Lisa, and Susan, sent a beautiful letter of support for Lenkov, that included a touching tribute to their father.
“We are quite moved that you are giving a special tribute tonight to our late father, Leonard Freeman. Dad would be amazed, humbled and grateful to be remembered nearly fifty years after “Hawaii Five-0” came on the air. As our sister Lisa describes it, our father knew when he wanted to make a television show in Hawaii, that he was a guest upon this ancient land and that the real star of the show was our 50th state.”