With only a few more weeks left in season seven, “Hawaii Five-0” has thrown open their doors and welcomed us into the circle of trust. This bond of confidence is great to see, as the team gets more confirmation about who truly has their backs. This week’s episode, “Ua Maloʻo Ka Wai” (“The Water is Dried Up”), was written by showrunner Peter Lenkov and fellow executive producer, Eric Guggenheim, and directed by Eagle Egilsson, who also directed “E mālama pono” (“Handle with Care”).
I’m sure I am not the only person who was thrilled to see Lenkov’s name listed as a one of the writers of this episode. His episodes tend to be tighter and obviously written by someone who intimately knows his characters and their stories. Co-writer Guggenheim also has a good grasp of the Five-0 ʻohana, as he has been writing episodes since season three. His first writing credit is “He Welo ʻOihana” (“Family Business”), the episode where we learned a few more details about Momma Doris McGarrett’s (Christine Lahti) super secret spy life.
The story takes part of the Five-0 Team– McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), Danno (Scott Caan), Chin (Daniel Dae Kim), and Kono (Grace Park)– to Lānaʻi to find the killers of the crew of a Hawaiʻi Maritime Patrol Cutter. Special Consultant Jerry Ortega (Jorge Garcia), who is an expert on technology and using all kinds of spy equipment to find even those who do not want to be found, has a great episode helping his Five-0 ʻohana face their ultimate nemesis. Jerry finds that the last transmission of the HMP Cutter was to report a suspicious Japanese fishing trawler entering U.S. waters. Five-0 figures out that the trawler is linked to the Yakuza, and the bullets found inside the bodies of the crew– are linked to the Yakuza’s wily Lady Boss, Michelle Shioma (Michelle Krusiec).
While the team “goes dark,” meaning without HPD backup, Grover (Chi McBride) takes a trip to Chicago to testify against his ex-partner Clay Matthews. What he thinks is going to be a “Boy’s weekend” with his son, Will (Chosen Jacobs), they find that Grover’s old hometown is not as hospitable as it once was for the Captain.
One thing I always appreciate about “Hawaii Five-0” is their use of Hawaiian language in their titles. This week’s title is yet another clever use of a traditional ʻōlelo noʻeau, or Hawaiian proverb. The translation of the title is correct– “maloʻo” means “dry or dried up” and “wai” is “water”– but it is the deeper meaning of the phrase that parallels the episode. The proverb is also defined as being “said of inhospitality.” As most Hawaiian proverbs often address human nature, the idea of “drying up the water,” is metaphorically the same as being inhospitable to guests.
Think of it this way– water means life. We cannot survive without it. Likewise, in the Hawaiian community, no one would have been able to have food, shelter, protection, yes, even water, without help or sharing within their community. Ancient Hawaiians lived communally– everyone had a job that helped the entire community to live and grow. So sharing and hospitality helped entire families to survive. If they turned someone away because they did not have enough for share, or did not want to share, that would almost be the same as committing a crime.
Like in most cultures and communities, hospitality is a very important in Hawaiʻi. Even in contemporary Hawaiʻi, if you invite someone to your home, you always have something to eat and drink ready for them. Guests should never arrive without a gift of food or drink in hand. And hosts should always have a gift of leftovers or some sort of parting gift for their guests to take home. Most Hawaiians take great pride in showing their aloha when they have guests in their home, regardless of how much they have to share. It is the act of giving that creates the bonds of aloha and ʻohana that is most important.
So Jerry stays behind in Five-0 headquarters and watches the magic table– which is keeping electronic track of McG and Danno, along with Chin and Kono– as they fly to Lānaʻi to search for what they think is Michelle Shioma’s hiding place. He is nervous as they are going into the proverbial lion’s den without HPD backup. He is also their only contact to safety, and as they are his friends, when they “go dark”– break communication with him– he realizes that they may be in trouble. I love how he reaches out to other members of the Five-0 ʻohana for help– first Dr. Noelani Cunha (Kimee Balmilero) and with her encouragement– Sgt. Duke Lukela (Dennis Chun).
Jerry brings Noelani the last transmission McGarrett sent him– four pictures of rotting corpses that the team found hanging in the trees in an abandoned area on Lānaʻi. It is their first clue that the Yakuza could be nearby. When Jerry admits that he suspects that one of the corpses could be Michelle Shioma, Noelani asks him what is going on. He unplugs her phone and her computer (always the conspiracy theorist) and brings her into his “circle of trust”. He admits to her that the team went rogue looking for Shioma, keeping the search “off the books,” as they are still suspicious that the Yakuza have moles in HPD who would tip off the bad guys of their arrival. He thinks they are probably in trouble and need help, but he doesn’t know who else to trust. Noelani encourages him to reach out to Duke, who she says, “is ʻohana first, HPD second.”
Meanwhile, McG and crew have been captured by the Yakuza, and are forced to drag the corpses to their camp. They are stripped of their weapons and shoved into a cage. They know they are in trouble, and yet all they can do is watch as the Yakuza start to break down the hideout to cover their tracks. McG tries to make a play for their release, offering the group $2 million to let his team go, but who walks out of the jungle to call his bluff– the mystery woman herself– Michelle Shioma.
While Shioma is a little better playing the Lady Boss– she still falls incredibly short as someone the team should be afraid of. Even when she swipes her head to get someone to knock McG to the ground, I just wasn’t afraid of her. It’s too bad because she could have been a great character, she is just so stiff and two-dimensional. Still, her appearance gets McGarrett to fight back and secure a bullet during the fight. Love how he took out several thugs with two fist fulls of dirt and well-aimed punches. There were really too many of them for him to stop single-handedly. Which was cool– because if McG won every fight, even he would become a caricature.
With the gunpowder in the bullet, McG macgyver’s a way to open the lock– using the gunpowder and a handmade flint to blow up the lock and get them all out. . Love when McG pulls a MacGyver in an episode– no crybaby SEAL here. Once the crew is out, they get guns and try to get to Shioma before she escapes. While the team is fighting it out on Lānaʻi– Duke, of course, comes to see Jerry, and after a quick update– tells Jerry that he can get a crew together who he trusts with his life. With a reassuring “Let’s go get our friends”– they take off.
And Duke swoops in like John Wayne with the cavalry– only these rescuers are in helicopters and ready to storm the beach and back up the Five-0 team. While the intrepid four were holding their own for a bit, if they hadn’t gotten some back up when they did– they may have never made it out of that abandoned beach on Lānaʻi. Steve says mahalo to Duke, who very warmly tells Steve that it is Jerry he should thank. McGarrett good-naturedly scolds Jerry for disobeying a direct order– we all cheer like Jerry did when Duke found them– and love his James Tiberius Kirk and the “Search for Spock” reference. Yes, we know that Jerry would gladly choose to suffer the consequences of not following McG’s orders– but we like it better that McGarrett thanks him with more than just words– but with a Five-0 Task Force badge.
So Jerry feels the warm hospitality of the Five-0 team– and is now part of their ʻohana in a stronger, and more permanent, way. It was a sweet way of finally giving Jerry what he has always wanted.
While all this is happening, Grover is in Chicago with his son, and they are not getting a very warm reception in the Windy City. Chicago is Groverʻs home– he is a native Chicagoan and spent 25 years with the Chicago Police Department before leaving to move to Hawaiʻi and was named Captain of the SWAT team. So when he takes Will out for a slice of heaven– also known as Chicago Deep Dish Pizza– Grover finds out that the men he thought were once his buddies, no longer like or trust him. They see him as a snitch, someone who ratted out one of their own. They don’t see Clay as a murderer– because Grover could not prove that he murdered his wife, Diane, when they were on vacation in Hawaiʻi two years before. They see Clay as a man who was turned in by one of his own, and his best friend to boot.
It was hard to watch Grover’s obvious pain at losing his friends, the stories, and good times of his past. But it was great to watch him stand up for himself to the young Officer Bennett (Joseph Anderson) who seemed to have already made up his mind about Grover before even meeting him. It was also so beautiful how he was teaching Will how to be a real man– how to recognize the real thing from the fake, how to romance a lady, how to make good decisions no matter how hard they are. Chi McBride always shows up for the moments that are painful. He is such an amazing actor– it’s hard to remember a time when Grover wasn’t with the team.
Which brings us back to hospitality– Grover would not have fit in so easily, would not be seen as someone who has always been part of the team– if he had not so graciously been allowed in. It seems that the Five-0 team is always willing to be hospitable to someone new– but like most relationships, it takes everyone giving and sharing together to make it work.