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Five-0 Redux

Fighting the good fight

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If this week’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0” doesn’t prove to you that the CBS series is taking a lot of great risks this season by showing us this action/drama is not your standard fare, I’m not sure what could convince you.

Most shows have an action-filled opening, add a funny moment with the main characters right before they get pulled into the case, follow with a big action scene (with either guns-a-blazing, or a kick-ass fight) and a tearful moment, then wrap everyting up neatly on a feel good note. Yet, our “Five-0” writers and crew seem to want to fight that dramatic stereotype by mixing up the formula — for both the viewing audience and our Five-0 team.

I’d like to say that watching McGarrett fight in the octagon not only made me think that if he gets into another fix like he was in last year, he definitely has the option of joining the MMA ranks. He may have to have his hands taped by a girl and Danno there to throw in the towel in case someone tries to rearrange his face, but as long as Joe White is there to jump in and take over, McG has all his corners covered.

I’ve seen sailors fight before, and Joe White could win the belt any day. His fight with Wo Fat in this week’s episode, “Ka Hakakā Maika‘i,” was just an amazing tribute to stunt coordinator Jeff Cadiente, as well as to the acting and physical ability of both Terry O’Quinn and Mark Dacascos. I really loved that both characters showed their vulnerability during the fight; White his age, and Wo Fat’s underestimation of his opponent.

Now, if anyone knows how to fight, it’s our favorite big man on TV, Kamekona. I was so happy to see him again with the team. I got a little nervous when I didn’t see his shrimp truck in the opening credits sequence, but again, that’s another clue “Hawaii Five-0” is trying to get away from the standard drama setup. Kamekona is great comic relief, on a different level from the funny eccentricity of Max (Masi Oka).

I’m not sure that air-popped popcorn with kakimochi (Japanese rice crackers flavored with shoyu) is exactly “healthy kine, sistah,” but at least he held the butter. If nothing else, Taylor Wily is a former sumo wrestler, and if you’ve ever seen those battles, he could definitely give McG a few lessons how to evade your opponent in the ring and when it’s time to pull up your mawashi and exit the dohyō.

“Ka Hakakā Maika‘i” translates to “The Good Fight,” and this episode was fraught with fighting — both good and bad. While we are used to our fearless four (now five with the reinstatement of Kono and the addition of Lauren German as Department of Homeland Security profiler Lori Watson) fighting like a bunch of trained ninjas or covert SEALs, the “fight” was both literally and figuratively painful. McG gets punched a few times too many by Joe White’s words as well as his actions, and even a few well-timed punches by MMA champion Chuck Liddell can’t stop the staunch of emotions from his fight.

I wasn’t sure how happy McGarrett was to meet Joe’s cohort from “NCIS: LA,” Kensi Blye, played by the lovely Daniela Ruah. Her lip-reading skills really helped in adding fuel to McGarrett’s quest for the truth, yet we’re still not sure if this is a truth that McGarrett wants to hear — but we know it is something he needs to hear. Joe White’s fatherly advice in the end makes me wonder if McG is on a path that will not only lead him to the fight of his life, but toward something that would make being framed for the murder of the governor and getting shanked in prison a welcomed relief.

Redux Side Note:

A Loco Moco — which is what McG brings Joe White during their meeting with Kensi Blye — is basically a local plate lunch delicacy served up by drive-ins, as well as most sit-down restaurants, all over Hawaii.

A plate lunch is what locals call a meal that comes in a take-out box and usually consists of two scoops of sticky white rice (served traditionally with an ice cream scoop), a scoop of macaroni salad, and a meat entrée. Meat dishes are normally hamburger steak — a hamburger patty covered in brown gravy — or chicken katsu, which are strips of panko-coated chicken, fried to oblivion.

Other plate lunch favorites are beef stew, chicken katsu covered in curry sauce, shoyu chicken (chicken thighs stewed in soy sauce) and of course, teriyaki chicken. A Loco Moco consists of the requisite two scoops of rice, but is topped with a hamburger patty, two eggs (usually cooked over-easy) and smothered in brown gravy. I’ve had Loco Mocos in diners, drive-ins, and even at sit-down restaurants with white tablecloths and linen napkins — basically the same places you could also order misoyaki butterfish.

It’s not really where you eat your Loco Moco, but how you eat it. With grilled onions? With brown rice? With hot mustard and shoyu? I eat mine with a side of kim chee, but no matter how you eat it — or where you get it — it’s all bad for you.

But yes, Kensi, it really is a bit of heaven.

Wendie Burbridge is a published writer, playwright and a teacher of literature and fiction writing at Kamehameha Schools-Kapālama. Reach her on Facebook and on Twitter.

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  • great episode – i really like lori alot shes has a dry wit and her scene at the coroners was great – her concern for steve was touching you can see a real connection growing . wether its a romantic one or friendship it is refreshing to see someone truly caring for him. loved it all the crossover was too short but i enjoyed the scene it came very naturally. i cant help but think steve is heading down a dangerous path – well, duh it is #H50 but it seems like hes willing to go it aolne and be damned anyone who gets hurt in the crossfire. this bothers me a little but , well, peter isnt shy about his plot twists and turns. i can only assume hes been laughing about all the silly comments about the new charachters, now that i feel theyre gelling well in the cast its funny to look back on the comments about the “new girl” who seems to fit in as well as all the rest – the lori-steve scenes are genuine and honest and you can tell the actors are really enjoying working together. she was written in as close to the vest and is starting to open up slowly. her dialogue is not by accident , she is timing her  dialogue and reactions perfectly. i thought the return of kono  needed something – anything – a small bit of dialogue with steve, something to bring her in she just appeared out of the blue 10 minutes into the story like shes always been there. could have been fun to see some lori and kono banter over the guys–lol but i for one have trusted peter and the writers all along and they have never left me disappointed. very well done and alot of fun to watch. steve/alex had alot of physical work in this one and it looked like he was having alot of fun – really saw the alex smile on him alot which means he was having a good time. danny was a hoot with the towel thing and his concern for the victims son was touching. there is alot of fun coming our way i really really love the was season 2 is dhaping up- not a copy of last year and as always theyre keeping us guessing and excited to see what is next – that my friends, would be called excellent scripted television!

  • Wendie,
    Excellent recap as usual. Good description of the local plate lunches. A friend of mine who travels there frequently has explained them to me. However while I like some of the items, I do not think I would like them all together. Perhaps I could order mine as a special request to hold certain items. In any case I thought this episode was excellent, and the season continues to build upon the overall story of team and family. This was a good show.

    • 🙂 Well, youʻre in luck Paul- most places will let you substitute mac salad for tossed salad or slaw, and you can also skip the white rice and order brown, or just get one scoop instead of two. But sometimes– i just have to have my carbs! 🙂 Thanks for reading! ~WJ

  • Not only did you do a great job of reviewing the show but you managed to make me hungry at the same time Wendie! Great recap! Thank you. I love your positive spin. It’s always refreshing to read your reviews.

  • Here’s the thing I’m not understanding about Joe. He’s now sort of lectured Steve twice about the collateral damage that has come with this investigation. However, Joe knew the stakes were high walking into this. By the time he got to Hawaii, Steve was sitting in jail and the governor was dead. The bodies of some of her former associates had been left in her wake. And Victor Hesse got taken out before Jameson’s corpse was even cold. Tell me the situation could’ve been worse, or that Cmdr. White didn’t quite grasp the seriousness of all that had happened? Highly unlikely.
    I also think Joe clearly knows a lot more in regards to Steve’s father than he’s letting on, and I’m getting irked that he’s not simply coming clean with Steve. I think if Joe would give him the answers he’s looking for instead of keeping him in the dark, Steve might not go off half-cocked and do something insanely stupid again. (As it appears he’s going to) Furthermore, Joe’s the one who gave him the lead on Makoto, and he also brought Kensi into the investigation without consulting Steve. It gives me pause to see these things happening during an episode focused on family betrayal. I keep wanting to believe Joe White is on the up-and-up, but he keeps giving Steve (and the viewers) reasons not to trust him.

    • Steph I really thought that too about Joe at first – but perhaps he is trying to shield Steve too as good friend to John McGarrett.  Remember he must know this family’s dynamic extremely well since John’s dad would call frequently to check up on the wellbeing of his son while he was serving each week.  That’s a very strong bond for a father like John who’s just a cop to have with a naval seal commander. 

      Does Joe know more about Wofat, its really hard to tell but he took a huge risk by demanding to know what Shelbourne was which pushed Wofat to go after Makoto which means Makoto knew what Shelbourne was so that also means we won’t know about it just yet. I think Joe is truly worried about Steve.  I hope he doesn’t end up getting killed in the process of keeping secrets from Steve. 

  • Do you guys really eat loco moco for breakfast? Geez, I can barely get a
    cup of coffee in my stomach in the morning let alone that huge plate of
    food. But I must admit, it sure looks good. And that misoyaki
    butterfish sounds awesome. Loco Moco, butterfish, coco puffs, malasadas
    …yeah, someday I really need to get my butt to Oahu and just eat my way
    across the island. Will you and my other 808 Ohana be my tour/food
    guides so I don’t miss a thing?!?!?!

    I loved that Kono is back on the team but there wasn’t enough of her.
    I thought there should have been at least one line from Steve and/or
    Danny during the briefings when they said something, just briefly, like
    “Kono it’s great to have you back!” Just a little one off to tie her
    back in because she just kind of appeared 10 minutes in as if nothing
    had ever happened. It just seemed a bit disjointed. I did love the new
    maturity she showed though and I still think that once they start to
    write for them more, she and Lori are going to make a formidable team.

    I don’t have a problem with Lori being on the team. I like that there
    are two strong women balancing out the guys but I still don’t really
    understand her purpose. Basically, as of now, she is doing one of two
    things. She’s gathering intel at the computer table, which is what Kono
    does, or she’s interviewing witnesses with Steve which is what Danny
    does. What exactly does SHE do that is unique for her. She’s supposed
    to be a profiler but other than in the first episode she was in we
    haven’t seen that much of those skills. I still think the writers need
    to flesh her out more. But there are 16 or 18 more episodes so there is
    plenty of time.

    Her little scenes with Steve tonight helped in that respect a bit.
    They could be seen as flirting or just as the two of them becoming
    friends. I didn’t find it awkward except I was wondering how she was
    able to just walk into the men’s locker room like that. But the scene
    was cute. She does have a sense of humor and that is always a good
    thing. I’m looking forward to Lori and Kono bonding over Longboards at
    the local bar discussing the guys they work with. Could be a very cute
    and funny scene especially if the guys show up and KNOW the girls are
    talking about them! Could be a nice light moment at the end of an
    episode like the one at the end of Ma Ke Kahakai.

    Great blog as always Wendie….can’t wait for next week and the Halloween episode.  Get to see Grace again too!  I want to see Steve tease Danny over all the scary stuff in the cemetery.  Should be a lot of fun!!!!

  • Loved the recap Wendie. I look forward to reading it each week and seeing your take on the episode. I just wish they would have used Daniela (Kensi) a little more in this episode. Maybe we’ll see some other cast members from NCIS:LA in the future. Mahalo for making us all hungry when describing the loco moco.

  • Great review Wendie as always – one thing that does come to mind which I find really sweet is that despite the outward appearance of how tough Steve truly is, he’s also a big softie and surroundered by the best of friends I’m sure he’d never imagined to find since coming to the island for example Lori after one meeting, seemed defensive and didn’t like Steve at first but then she warmed up to him very quickly and Steve to his best credit is not known to hold grudges against anyone.  I think our team of heroes are all “big softies” and I couldn’t love them more than I already do.  The caring concern that Danny has for Steve in this week’s episode was just adorable.  Having a girl in the locker-room rapping his hands for him and wishing him luck with a final rap on his clenched hands – the look on her face showed concern as well and well its clear there is a little “spark” there but she’s terrific with everyone she partners – that is why I prefer Lauren as the possible fifth member of the team.

    Though I do have a question similar to Linda’s what role will Lauren play?  Besides being a profiler, she isn’t seen doing anything uniquely different to what any other member of the team does each week.  But does it really matter?  Do we really need all five to fight the kind of crime we see each week?  Will Steve turn to Five-0 to get their help to go after Wofat or will he do it alone?  After Joe’s warning in that last scene, I think more than likely Steve will not get the team involved, he cares for them deeply and he most likely will go after Wofat on his own and if he turns to Jenna for help that would really be bad for Steve because he most certainly can’t trust anyone in his quest for justice for his dad or his family.

    I truly wonder what danger Steve will fall into that will as you say Wendie make the murder rap of the Governor and her assistant seem like childsplay compared to what Wofat’s really capable of.

  • OMG! I SO want to come and EAT my way around Oahu!! Unfortunately I won’t look so great then in my over-stuffed bikini! LOL!

    Great take on The Good Fight, Wendie!  It was such an action-packed episode.  How do they consistently cram so much story, action and character development into 43 minutes? The procedural was unique, with a few wrong turns and dead ends leading us back to the obvious culprit, and there was a world of action with the MMA fight, the home invasion take down (way to go all McGarrett, Danny!), the surfing warehouse fight (Kono told you not to engage in hand to hand, Steve) and the wowser of a fight between Joe and Wo Fat!

    We need to see Danny in Daddy Mode more often!  We had it a lot last season, was one of the elements that drew a lot of fans to the show (I didn’t say “women,” I said “fans”!) When Danny realized the victim had a young son on his way home from school and dashed out the door to intercept him before the boy could see his father’s corpse or the destruction of his home, I thought to myself “that’s what a real father is like.”

    Peter – we need more Grace! Danny needs his Grace! Even Steve needs Grace! Would you get on that right away, please? Thanks, Wendie for giving us this chance to discuss and gush about H5-0 – and Hawaii, too!

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