I like to think of myself as someone who is always prepared for any kind of obstacle that could come my way. When you grow up on a tropical island, where a hurricane can wipe out all that is civilized in a matter of hours — you figure out quickly how to be ready for anything. A three-day supply of food and meds; extra toilet paper, water, and batteries; cases of Spam and beer — can set us up for a hurricane, a tsunami, and yes, even a zombie apocalypse.
But even I do not have my bags packed and stashed under my bed just in case of emergency. I suppose that means I’m not ready to get off the grid — no matter how many zombies are headed my way.
Last week, legendary actress Patty Duke passed away in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, where she lived with her husband of 25 years, Michael Pearce. “Hawaii Five-0” fans may remember her as Sylvia Spencer, the mother of murder victim Blake Spencer, who suffered from Alzheimer’s in the season 2 episode, “Mea Makamae” (“Treasure”). Duke also guest starred in “Thanks for the Honeymoon” in the fifth season of the original “Hawaii Five-O.” Duke played Toni, a pregnant woman who cons McGarrett (Jack Lord) into paying for her wedding, as well as her honeymoon, in exchange for information to convict an elusive gangster.
In 1994, I worked on the extras casting crew in an NBC production called “A Wing and A Prayer.” Duke was the star and the executive producer of the television movie, which was filmed in Spokane, Washington, about 30 minutes from her home in Coeur D’Alene. It never aired, but was the impetus for Duke’s short-lived series “Amazing Grace.” I was fresh out of college and after ten years of stage acting and theatre training, working on a television set was very exciting and new for me. What I remember about Anna (what she preferred to be called) was that she was a consummate professional, extremely humble, and so down-to-earth. She made everyone feel at home and at ease around her — we all loved her.
I still remember that she knew my name, even though I was nothing more than a glorified gopher with a walkie-talkie. One of the assistant directors, who knew I was from Hawaiʻi and called me “Hawaii Five-O” as he had worked on the show in the 1980s, mentioned to her that I was a theatre major from Gonzaga University. Her advice to me: always hang up your own costume, know how to put on your own make-up, and never treat anyone you work with in the industry badly — no matter if they are working the craft service table, are an extra, or acting beside you — because you just might be working for them one day.
On the last day of filming, my mother sent hand-braided ti leaf lei, kona coffee, and chocolate macadamia nut candy to give away to my crew mates and for all the actors. Anna wore her lei all day around the set. That’s how I’ll remember her — amazing grace until the very end.
This week “Hawaii Five-0” took us as far off the grid as I wanted to go. “Mālama Ka Poʻe” (“Care For One’s People”), written by Ken Solarz and Bill Haynes and expertly directed by Brad Tanenbaum, was an episode I have been anticipating since “ʻUmia Ka Hanu” (“Hold the Breath”) aired in January of this season. While I was glad Grover (Chi McBride) got to follow his naʻau and put his ex-friend and partner away for murder, the episode was a tough one to watch. Whatever Grover thought he had uncovered in Chicago and had finally dealt with — I knew it could come back with a vengeance.
What I did not realize was how much this week’s episode would move me. I knew there would be a lot of action and a big chase scene, as well as a good deal of well-executed tension and suspense, but I suppose I didn’t think that watching Grover and his sweet family run for their lives would affect me so deeply.
I know that sometimes Five-0 fans are not always thrilled when an episode focuses on another character, and they especially do not appreciate when McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) takes a backseat in the storyline. But I thought that they did a nice job in keeping McGarrett in the scenes as he really was the driving force in helping to find Grover and his wife Renee (Michelle Hurd), and their children Samantha (Paige Hurd) and Will (Chosen Jacobs).
I loved watching Grover and McG having breakfast at the iconic Wailana Coffee House in Waikīkī and of course, bickering about the bill — though McGarrett was right, it was his money paying the bill — he won it fair and square. Albeit, illegally because you can’t gamble in Hawaiʻi, but who am I to stop an officer of the law from paying for his own pancakes? I also loved the discussion of coconut vs. boysenberry syrup — leave it to the two to criticize Danno (Scott Caan) about his syrup choice as he is in Las Vegas chaperoning Gracie’s cheerleading trip and cannot defend himself — nor give McGarrett any grief for being a cheapskate.
But, alas, this was the only lighthearted moment in the episode, as moments after McG pays the bill and flirts for the zillionth time with Ona (played by real life Wailana Coffee House waitress Terry Cablinga), Grover gets a shady text, argues with a mystery man on Ala Moana Boulevard, and disappears from McGarrett’s sight.
I do love McG and his spidey-sense. He knows something is up, and well, I suppose it’s in his nature to suspect the worst. While Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Kono (Grace Park) try to allay his fears, it all does seem odd for Grover to take off without a word, and then to stop answering his phone.
Yet, once McG sees the door left open, he and Chin find the dust voids under the beds, and then of course, all of their cell phones microwaved to black pulp, it all starts to make sense. Off the grid and untraceable — but why? I do love how Chin and Kono try to figure out why Grover and his ʻohana have to jet, and for once it wasn’t an overload of details and graphics. I liked the old school undercover pics of Grover, and the story of “what happened in Philly.” It seemed plausible and as realistic as could be for a reason for the family to be in the wind.
I’m not surprised that Clay Maxwell (Mykelti Williamson) was the one who gave him up to bad guy Barnes (Kasper Nelson). Clay seems to be almost as evil as Gabriel in a bad to the bone kind of way. He might be in prison, but I bet he could come up with more supposed dirt on Grover to make his life miserable.
Overall, the chase within a bigger chase was really fun — but a little sad and heartbreaking. It was fun — as the boat ride, the car chase in the mud, and the breathtaking helicopter ride past Diamond Head and off the coast of Molokaʻi all made for dazzling visuals and stellar stunt work. But sad as the family had to say goodbye to their new home and the kids had to leave their friends and their lives behind. It was also sweet how they all came together and reinforced the theme of family first, ʻohana forever that Five-0 is known for.
Really, I can’t say enough about the depth and emotion that made the chase through the rainforest seem very real and believable. When Grover leaves Renee with the kids — I mean, you’d have to be an IA agent to not have at least teared up a little when he hugs his kids and kisses his lady. And when McG and Kono shoot it out with the Barnes and his band, well — we just love watching the team get the bad guys while using very big guns. I just missed Chin. I’m pretty sure the Magnum chopper had room for three — Chin would have been perfect with his really big gun there to finish off Barnes. Yet, I did love that Grover’s pancake partner ended the need for him to move to Utah. Because really, what are friends for?
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.