It’s rare that a television show can give you a history lesson and raise awareness about a cause that matters to Hawaiians. “Hawaii Five-0” often uses the stories and legends of Hawaiʻi– along with historical fact– to craft interesting plotlines for McGarrett (Alex OʻLoughlin) and the Five-0 crew. This week’s episode, “He lokomaikaʻi ka manu o Kaiona” which is based on a ʻōlelo noʻeau which means “Kind is the Bird of Kaiona,” does this in a way that is a mix of history combined with a healthy dose of fantasy.
The title refers to “one who helps a lost person find his way home.” The story behind the Hawaiian proverb is that the goddess Kaiona, who lived in the Waiʻanae Mountains of Oʻahu, “was said to have pet birds who could guide anyone lost in the forest back to his companions.” In the episode, written by Rob Hanning and Sean O’Reilly, and directed by co-executive producer Bryan Spicer, Catherine Rollins (Michelle Borth), McGarrett’s former girlfriend and Five-0 team member, returns to Hawaiʻi and asks Steve and Five-0’s help.
We last saw Cath in the 150th episode, “Ka Makuahine a me ka Keiki kāne” (“Mother and Son”), when she helped McGarrett’s rescue his mother, Doris. Both women are CIA operatives, yet always seem to need Steve’s help when they have nowhere else to turn. Well, at least Catherine turns to him– as she does in this episode.
Cath needs Five-0’s help this time, to track down a uranium deposit thought to be hidden on the island of Kahoʻolawe. She suspects a terrorist cell is searching for the uranium to make dirty bombs. Cath comes to Steve, as the clue she has about where her target found the uranium, is a lei niho palaoa supposedly buried with the royal bones of King Kamehameha.
A niho palaoa is “a whale-tooth pendant, a symbol of royalty,” worn on a necklace, or lei, made of human hair. As Hawaiians believe that the head is the most powerful part of the body, hair from the aliʻi who wore the niho palaoa was used to make the lei. It gave the piece more mana, or spiritual power, and marked the royal status of the aliʻi, or chief. Lei niho palaoa are worn by both men and women of noble birth. To find Kamehameha’s lei niho palaoa– made of his own hair– would not only be a major archeological find but a huge gift to the Hawaiian people.
To Hawaiians, mana means more than just “spiritual power.” It is the eternal essence of a person– their soul, their strength, their inner power, confidence, and authority. In ancient times, aliʻi would have a servant follow them with a koa bowl, which would be filled with anything that was shed from their bodies. Hair, skin, fingernails, mucus, even waste, was collected and then secretly buried so their enemies could not steal any of their mana. When aliʻi died their bodies would be hidden by their most loyal attendants so that even royal bones could not be found. Our bones hold our mana, even after death– and those who find them gain that power. It is why Kamehameha was so powerful– as the more men you kill in battle, the more mana you gain.
To find his lei niho palaoa, and perhaps even where Kamehameha was buried, would have been a huge historical coup. Yet Cath doesn’t really want to find Kamehameha’s bones, as much as she wants to find the uranium and stop her target from gaining the means to build a dirty bomb and further their terrorist cause. As McGarrett, with the help of Tani (Meaghan Rath) and Lou Grover (Chi McBride), investigate potential areas a terrorist cell could find uranium in Hawaiʻi, they find a connection to an abandoned bunker on Kahoʻolawe.
For a long time, Kahoʻolawe was known as the “target island” as after the attack on Pearl Harbor the military used the island to practice and prepare for island warfare against the Japanese. The U.S. Navy used the island for live-fire training until 1990, and in 2003 access the island was returned to the state. The island does not have a fresh water source, and although Hawaiians at one time lived on the island– it has most been uninhabited. Today, the island is “recognized by federal, state, and county governments as a wahi pana (special place) and a puʻuhonua (place of refuge).” The entire island is on the National Register of Historic Places because of many archaeological and historic sites on the island.
Today the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) manages the continued clean up and restoration of the island. There is no harbor or airport, and if you don’t have a pal like Kamekona (Taylor Wily) to loan you a helicopter, the only way you can get to the island it by boat. And depending on the shore break, sometimes the boat will have to moor offshore and then you will swim to the island. Good thing McGarrett can fly Kame’s rent-a-chopper.
Once McG and Cath, with Indiana Jerry in tow, arrive at the island– things go from hairy to scary pretty quickly. Jerry is in search of the archeological find of the last two hundred years, hoping to find Kamehameha’s burial site. McG and Cath just want to find the uranium– but instead, are robbed by two hunters– played by Lehi Falepapalangi and Hawaiʻi UFC fighter BJ Penn. Hunting is no longer allowed on the island, and only those who work with KIRC and volunteer to help with restoration are allowed on the island. But Jerry is correct, there are feral cats on the island– but no one is allowed to hunt them.
But Cath and McG finally corner the bad guys, who are building dirty bombs in an abandoned bunker. They shoot one, and while the other gets away– he trips and falls and dirty bombs himself into oblivion. It was quite darling when McG immediately says “I didn’t do it.” Their case wraps up nicely, as they are able to find a connection to Cath’s target and they send the SEALs to take him down. Seemed like it wrapped up pretty nicely– except for Jerry, who finds that his search for Kamehameha was all built around fake artifacts made in China that had washed ashore on the island and had been left in the bunker.
Really the biggest part of the whole chase on Kahoʻolawe was a way to get Cath and McGarrett to “catch up.” They do get a chance to do that– Cath asks about Lynn, which Steve admits is good, but they are just keeping it casual. And Cath admits, while it is difficult to do as a super undercover agent spy, she is dating. They congratulate each other on being adult enough to talk as friends. But the last time they saw each other– Cath admitted to Steve that she would have said “yes” if he had proposed. This time, Cath asks Steve if he meant to propose to her, or if he just had the ring in case he decided to propose. He quickly says yes, he really meant to propose. So even as they were high-fiving each other for having a more mature relationship that seems to have evolved past romance– it seems there are still some lingering feelings between the two.
While Cath and McG are trying to save the world from terrorism, and Jerry is trying to solve one of the biggest Hawaiian mysteries in history– Junior is having a bad day. First, Tani lets him eat one of Eddie’s doggie treats, a Snickerpoodle, and then he accidentally falls into a ravine and cannot climb back out. Eddie is with him but seems to have forgotten his radio and his flare gun, so he just has to run from Kuliʻouʻou Valley to Five-0 Headquarters to get help. If you know how far that is– I think Eddie may have cheated and gotten a lift. Nonetheless, he makes it back to Tani who worries about where Junior could be and starts to look for him.
Junior is killing time with his phone listening to old voicemails and looking at pictures. While we see him take a few extra seconds to look at pictures of he and Tani together– we see him looking a pretty young girl, who turns out to be his sister, Maya, who we learned died in an accident. Like Tani, she also calls him “Juns.”
We get more of Junior’s backstory as he strolls down digital memory lane. We knew he doesn’t have a very good relationship with his dad– as he went on this unlucky run to avoid celebrating his father’s birthday. But we find that the conflict may have started when Junior told his father he wanted to join the military, and follow in his footsteps. When his father said no, because it would be too hard to lose another child, it seems that was when their rift started. Junior records a birthday message to him on his phone, only to have it be cut short when his battery dies.
Luckily, Tani finds Juns and gets him some help. While Tani makes a comment that Eddie is not Lassie, he gets some props for trekking through Kalanianaʻole Hwy, into Waikīkī, past Ala Moana, and into downtown Honolulu to reach Five-0 headquarters to alert the team about their missing friend. He definitely needs a Five-0 badge or at least a couple more Snickerpoodles.
So we had two fairly big storylines running throughout this episode– the action-filled hunt on Kahoʻolawe with Cath and Steve, and the more reflective storyline with Junior and his past. But the Adam subplot was the big kicker.
Adam is seriously mourning Jessie’s (Christine Ko) death and blames himself for her being shot in the head. He tells McG he promised to protect her, and he failed. McGarrett tells him they are going to find Noriko, but Adam tells him they will have to find her without him. He can’t put anyone else at risk. Tani tries to get him to change his mind, but Adam is done. He looks and acts defeated and again, we wonder if Adam can ever catch a break.
But then he goes to Mr. Kimura (Dana Lee), the Yakuza bankman, and asks him for an alibi. At first, we wonder what he needs an alibi for– but at the end of the episode, as the team is chilling at Kamekona’s having beers and shrimp plates, McGarrett takes a call from Duke (Dennis Chun). Duke informs him that they have fished a body out of the ocean, and it is Noriko, Adam’s sister.
Is that what Adam needed an alibi for? Did he kill Noriko and exact revenge on her for stealing his money and killing Jessie? Or did he do it so that she could not go after Kono and Chin? Whatever the reason Adam needed an alibi– you can bet it was for a very good reason. Because Adam may act lost, like McGarrett, he certainly knows how to find his way. Perhaps the difference is that while McGarrett will go rogue and bend the rules, Adam knows how to break the rules. We only hope he didn’t break himself along the way.