Sometimes a good story that follows a linear path and gives viewers a ton of reminders about why they love “Hawaii Five-0” — is enough to keep any fan happy. And it’s not that we like our television shows dumbed-down or overly simplistic — it’s just sometimes we don’t need all the bells and whistles, added fireworks and streamers, and the kitchen sink thrown in — to keep our love alive. This week’s episode, written by Rob Hanning and directed by Brad Tanenbaum, had all the elements we love of “Hawaii Five-0” — the love of ʻohana as well as a tidy case that could be solved with teamwork and some fancy shooting.
This week’s episode “Hana Komo Pae” (“Right of Passage”) sets Danno (Scott Caan) in an interesting position, as he needs to chaperone his daughter Grace’s (Teilor Grubbs) Winter Formal, and has to skip McGarrett’s (Alex O’Loughlin) poker night. Of course, once Danno gets to the dance, the real excitement begins. I did love how the case fell into Danno’s reluctant lap, but after seven episodes of cases that took more turns than going up Tantalus Drive, it was a nice change of pace.
Still, while Danno is on Daddy duty — McGarrett and the boys are getting their poker on — all while eating the sandwiches that Danno — who being from New Jersey, takes his sandwich commitments very seriously — graciously delivered earlier that evening. McG, of course, does not heed Danno’s “don’t take credit for my sandwiches” warning and spends the evening losing to Dog The Bounty Hunter (Duane “Dog” Chapman) while his boys lavish praise on his “out of control” and “fit for an aliʻi” sandwiches.
I have to say it was nice to see Mamo Kahike (Al Harrington) return to say the “aliʻi” line. Kamekona (Taylor Wily), Jerry (Jorge Garcia), Chin (Daniel Dae Kim), and Lou (Chi McBride) joined the poker game to round out the table. The scenes were easy and lighthearted — and fun to watch. I would have loved to have seen Sgt. Duke (Dennis Chun) and Cousin Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) join the group — but I suppose it would be too contrived to always have the entire gang over for poker. And Kono (Grace Park) and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) didn’t make the party, but I suppose we can excuse the love birds from poker night.
Many people see a teenager’s first formal dance, dressing up in a tux or a fancy dress, being picked up by your date, getting a corsage or a lei, and dining and dancing all night with your friends — as a right of passage. In Hawaiʻi many high schools have Winter Formals in November or December. It’s like a prom, but all grades can attend, while in the spring, prom is only for Juniors or Seniors. Danno is tasked to chaperone as Rachel had to leave town. And the fun starts for him the minute he arrives. He gets hit on by the hot cougar mom at the check-in table — she was disappointed he wasn’t “packin’” and had left his handcuffs at home — and after he escapes her, he stops Will (Chosen Jacobs), Lou’s son, to see if he knows the identity of Grace’s new boyfriend.
Will and Grace have been studying together and have become friends — Lou and Danno are aware of their friendship — but nothing more. Will, ever the gentleman, bravely confesses to Danno that he is actually Grace’s boyfriend. As Danno interrogates Will in the bathroom, they hear gunshots outside and Danno flips into cop mode.
It’s already so tough being a dad — and for Danno, now it’s especially hard as terrorists have taken over his daughter’s winter formal, and he has left his cop stuff at home. Not only has Danno lost out on a potential hot date, but he also has no weapon to defend his child, his buddy’s child, and all the other kids at the dance. And he has no phone or internet as the bad guys have jammed all technology. The only secret weapon he has — is Will, who thankfully is a very smart kid, and seems to have a touch of Daddy Grover in him.
As Danno checks out what is going on outside the Koʻolau Ballrooms (a conference and wedding venue in Kāneʻohe) he spots their big electronic marquee and gets the idea to change the message. Will gently asks him if he’s tech-savvy enough to change it. This is when I really started to like Will. He doesn’t ask Mr. Williams like a smart-aleck teenager, he asks honestly, knowing how important changing the sign is in their situation. He’s really trying to help, not be a sarcastic, arrogant teenager. And he knows that perhaps Mr. Williams, who once upon a time could barely text because of his goofy thumbs, might not be able to figure out how to alter the marquee. Now I know that Danno probably could have figured it out, but it worked out to have Will with him. Not only could he keep Will safe — which he does, but he also gets to bond with him, and then realizes that Will is a pretty neat young man.
Which, sadly, I wish I could say about his own daughter. Grace has grown up to be more than just a “typical teen,” she has become the type of teen that only exists on television. I know this is not Teilor Grubbs’ fault. If you have ever met her, she is the sweetest, most respectful young lady, and she would never be rude to anyone. In real life, girls do not act like this with adults who control their transportation, technology, and their feeding schedule.
Yes, sometimes teens are this disdainful and mean to each other, and to other adults to some extent, but how Grace acts is really over the top and absolutely ridiculous — and not believable at all. I’d like the writers to understand that real teenage girls do not behave like Grace — except, of course, on television. They need to stop writing such an unrealistic teenager — let Grace have more moments to shine.
They wrote Will so well, why not write Grace as a realistic teen? Sure, Will might be a little too perfect, but at least he’s not off-putting. You like him, you want him to succeed, and get that last dance with Grace. I just wanted Grace to get her phone taken away and be told to stop acting like a brat.
But I digress — I did love how Grace does realize how great it is to have Danno at the dance once everything goes to hell. But Danno has always been there when she has been in danger, so she was sure he would come through again. And that Uncle Steve would be there as well. Because Danno was there — everything would work out. That was a great moment when she turns to her friend and says — “It’s going to be okay, really. My dad’s here.” She knows Danno wouldn’t let anything happen to her. And when she tells Danno, who is forced to sacrifice himself to keep the kids from being shot — that she’s glad he’s with her — that’s the Grace we know and love. More of her, please.
Still — beyond the really small things — the episode was great. The story of the terrorist group who wanted the son of a Filipino diplomat, Jeremy Ramos (Max Tepper), so they could blackmail the Philippine government into handing over one of their members before he is executed, worked for the most part. I do love when Danno gets to play SEAL and take on the bad guys single-handedly. Yes, Will did help, which made for a few humorous moments — but it was really all Danno.
I also loved how Lou’s spidey sense got him to take a drive to the dance in order to save his son, who Lou knew was being interrogated by an overprotective Daddy Danno. And when the rest of the Five-0 team — Steve, Chin, and Kono bringing the SWAT backup, with Jerry on the magic table doing background research on the terrorist group, that just made it all the more exciting.
The ending was sweet and great and made us all want to cheer — the best line had to be when Steve calls for Grace and hugs her, and then asks Danno for a hug. When Danno says: “I’m so happy to see you, I’ll give you a hug, I’ll give you a kiss, pick a base,” really, that was perfect. It made the happy ending work so well on this one. I loved the way the ʻohana came together — and we also got more development of characters and their relationships. That always makes for a strong episode that we all can enjoy. The episode might have been about a right of passage, but for me, it was made of the absolute right stuff.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
There was a bit of Hawaiian and Hawaiʻi Creole English, or Pidgin English to the people of Hawaiʻi, used in this week’s episode. Here are the terms I caught and the translations as I know them.
Aliʻi– Mamo says during the poker game: “This is a sandwich fit for an aliʻi.” Aliʻi is the Hawaiian word for “chief or king.” Mamo is basically praising the sandwich as being the very best he’s ever eaten — or if nothing else the king of all hoagies.
High makamaka — Dog says “Okay, all you high makamakas, you’re in trouble now . . .” when he ups his ante during one of the poker hands. Granted, what he said sounded more like “high mucka mucka,” but he was really saying the Pidgin English term “high makamaka” (makamaka is pronounced “mah-kah mah-kah”). In Hawaiian “maka” means “eye” and if you call someone “high makamaka” you are basically calling them stuck-up or full of themselves. The image comes from the idea that those who think highly of themselves are arrogant and would keep their head and eyes up. This term comes from both the phrase “muckety-muck,” (which sort of sounds like “makamaka”) and means “a person of great importance or self-importance.” It also comes from a clash of cultures. You see, the tendency for Hawaiians and Asians alike is to keep their eyes downcast in respect to the person they are speaking to. In American and European culture, that is seen as a sign of weakness, not respect or reverence, so the pidgin term comes from that difference.
No can handle — Mamo says this during the poker game as Dog looks like he’s going to take it all. “No can handle” is a popular Pidgin English term which means exactly what you think it means — someone who cannot handle the situation. Sometimes we use it to mean someone can’t hold down their cocktails, or deal with a relationship, or win playing a game. It was a perfect way for Mamo to exclaim that he was out of that round because the pot was too rich for his blood, or that his cards were lousy. Either way, it worked.