Tonight’s “Hawaii Five-0” has been hyped for several weeks now because of special guest star Sean Combs as NYPD Detective Reggie Cole, and I have to say the hype has been worth the wait. The music video tie-in of his song “Coming Home” probably gave me the entire story breakdown as well as an impressive view of Combs’s great ability to play the anguished and misunderstood cop.
But it’s not like we haven’t seen these emotions all season with our Five-0 Team, as anguish and misunderstanding definitely plague our fearless four. Between McGarrett and his quest to answer the questions of the Champ Box, and Chin Ho and the obvious misjudgment of his character by the HPD and his family, we can see that the theme of misguided assumptions has been a thorn in Five-0’s side. We can even fit Danno in with the overall lack of confidence in his ability to understand Hawaii and for being the seemingly glaring “outsider.” All of this sets them apart. Well, especially Danno. He gets picked on all the time for his love of ties and his dislike of the ocean, but I’ll bet we’ll get a shaka and see him sporting some slippers soon enough.
But for the most part, the theme of tonight’s episode would be punishment. Cole has been separated from his family by his undercover work, and then horribly punished for betraying the head of a known mob family he has infiltrated. His real family — his wife murdered, his son traumatized — is severely punished for his actions. And that brings us to the title of tonight’s episode, “Ho‘opa‘i” which according to the CBS website means “close to heart.” And if you think about what happened in tonight’s show, we can make many references to people and actions being close to heart. Cole has his family close to heart and his actions hit McGarrett and the Team close to their hearts. But according to my Hawaiian language expert T. Ilihia Gionson, “ho‘opa‘i” means “to punish.” As in, “we punish our children because we want them to grow into good industrious men and women — because we love them, and we hold them close to our hearts.”
All deep and very appropriate symbolism for this episode. In Hawaiian, we call this kaona — the hidden meaning or concealed reference to a person, place or thing. Kaona is usually used in Hawaiian poetry and mele, and as many of you know, we Hawaiian poets and songwriters love to use words that have a double meaning within our writing. So Gionson is right in seeing this as “the mainland detective who is on a mission to punish the people who hurt him and his family. So Ho’opa’i as “punish” works.” But Cole’s mission is also close to his heart. He wants peace for himself and his son, and he wants his secret life to end. The actual translation of “close to (the) heart” is “Pili I Ka Pu‘uwai,” yet I think “Ho‘opa‘i” does work — for the episode we saw tonight. In more ways than one.
The way that Cole finds peace however, is brutal and deadly, as several bad guys are shot and more than one family is torn apart by their actions. Cole loses his wife and almost his life, and the big bad guy — Mob boss Jimmy Cannon played by Keith David — loses his own son, perhaps not during the episode, but in the end to an ultimate betrayal. And in lieu of a “Book ‘em, Danno” we got a “The injection, Richard, you hear me?” I think he heard you, McG. Betrayals, revenge, punishment, all actions we saw tonight, and definitely a good representation of “ho‘opa‘i.” It was a another episode of “Hawaii Five-0” that reminds us that crime is usually about punishment, but sometimes the punishment comes much too close to the heart.
It was interesting to hear Sean Combs’s song “Coming Home” at the start and end of the episode. It definitely played a major role in tonight’s episode. Not only did it lend itself well to the action and add the to the soundtrack, but the lyrics tell another part of the story. “I’m coming home/ I’m coming home/ Tell the World I’m coming home/ Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday/ I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes.” Lines like McGarrett’s, “I answer to God and to the Governor, neither of whom are going to help you right now” and Cole’s, “Now you got heaven and you got hell, you got one chance to tell me the truth, and God can hear you,” are more reflection of the symbolism of the lyrics — the kaona behind the writing. It was nice that in the end, Cole does find some peace, found a home with his son, and perhaps found some forgiveness for his mistakes. In the end Cole came home, and after so much punishment, he is deserving.
Redux Side Note:
McG explaining the ingredients of Spam completely burst my bubble. Kamekona is right — spam is the Hawaiian steak, the nectar of the islands. It is not a traditional Hawaiian dish — really, it isn’t — but we love it. Six million cans sold annually just in our little state tells of our love for the tinned meat. Yes, McG, processed pork parts, salt and meat stock — that’s what gives it the glaze — is a dish we can live off here in our lovely islands. Just look at Kamekona, does he look like he’s starving?
Personally I think I would have liked to see the scene where McG loses the bet and takes Kamekona to the water park, but maybe they are saving that one for another episode.
Wendie Burbridge is a published writer, playwright and a teacher of literature and fiction writing at Kamehameha Schools-Kapālama. Reach her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Five0Redux and Twitter @WendieJoy.