So much for an easy summer. I thought for sure, once I knew the secret of Shelburne, and was secure with the knowledge that McGarrett and the team were happily reunited, healthy, and happy, I could survive the summer hiatus with calm nerves and sleep-filled nights. If you are laughing as you read this, then you know why my anxiety-free summer is now a thing of the past.
“Hawaii Five-0” is pretty famous for its cliffhangers, and as far as their season enders go — both left me, what’s the word Alex O’Loughlin might use, oh yes, gobsmacked. Season one ended with the team torn apart, and season two ended with too many shocks to keep me on an even keel the rest of this week.
“The Shelburne Slam,” I want to call it. Because, wow — who knew right?
Death in the family is a pretty heady title for a season finale. It does not bode well, and however you look at it, it pretty much means someone is going to, well, die. But die in what way? Will it be a more figurative death than we perhaps expected? Sorry, I tend to wax poetic when the word death is mentioned. Perhaps I’ve read too many English lit books for my own good.
For a season ender, “Ua Hala” or “Death in the Family” does not disappoint on many levels, but it does leave us wishing three months of hiatus will pass by with super SEAL speed.
For this season’s finale, writers Peter M. Lenkov, Paul Zbyszewski, and Elwood Reid wanted to surpass what they did in 2011. And with the cliffhangers they left us with, we’ll be debating the fate of Chin Ho’s Malia, Danno and Rachel’s “relationship,” as well as his joint custody of Gracie, Steve’s Shelburne revelation, and of course, Kono’s ability to swim in duct tape cuffs, all summer long. But like Danno said, “There is no ‘my own’ in a friendship — your problems become my problems,” and for the Five-0 Team, I have no doubt they will work together to help each other and not leave each other “on their own.”
In Hawaiian, “Ua Hala” means “passed away,” according to Hawaiian language expert Ilihia Gionson. That’s why the hala lei is usually reserved for occasions of passing from one part of life to another — graduations, retirements, and yes, funerals. I might say “Death In The Family” is something like “Ua Hala Ka ‘Ohana,” or “a relative has passed.” But Gionson said “Ua Hala” is not totally wrong to use for the title, especially if someone is going to pass on.
And right away we get the literal meaning of the title, with Capt. Fryer (Tom Sizemore) ambushed, shot and killed. Then Max (Masi Oka) is shot and more people are put in danger when HPD headquarters is blown up. McGarrett is shot — thankfully, he is wearing body armor and survives without injury — and it gets even more serious when members of the Five-0 family are kidnapped and put into dire predicaments.
About halfway through the episode, I wondered who wasn’t going to be put in grave danger. There were so many twists and turns, I almost felt like the whole show was a car chase and my television was the vehicle. A couple of crashes, a few wrong turns, major issues flying at my windshield. I needed someone to slam on the brakes. Which of course, didn’t happen until the very end of the episode.
But what an ending to an interesting sophomore season! McGarrett and Danno were in fine form with their trademark banter, and when McGarrett told Joe White (Terry O’Quinn) he had to call Danno before they left for Japan or “(Danno) would never speak to me again,” it was more classic Five-0 bromantic humor. Joe’s retort of “is that a good thing or a bad thing?” was perfect, and we have to like him for saving the day for Max.
I loved the scene with Danno and Gracie, which confirmed for me what makes Danno such an appealing character — his great love for his daughter. His obviously conflicted love for her mother also makes for good drama. Scott Caan was in fine daddy form in this episode, and while I’m glad he is not as tortured as he was last season, I like how his internal conflicts have kept his character interesting.
Alex O’Loughlin also showed us a range of emotion, between his frustration with Joe, his anger at losing Fryer, which made him take a huge risk to take out the female shooter — and then the almost boyish confusion at finding out who Shelburne had been all along, was just beautiful acting without too many words. You could see it all on his face, and knew exactly what he was thinking and feeling in his eyes.
Daniel Dae Kim got quite a bit of action tonight, not only did we get to see several tender moments with Chin Ho and his relatively new wife, Malia (Reiko Aylesworth), but the scene between Chin and Frank Delano (William Baldwin) was palpably frustrating. I wanted to reach through my television and manhandle Delano myself. And the pain and anguish of having to make a “Sophie’s Choice” was brilliantly desperate. If next season the team doesn’t hunt down Delano and throw him in a shark cage and leave him there, I’ll start the email campaign myself.
But the pure evil in this episode had to be Karl Herlinger, credited only as “Toothpick,” based on his penchant for chewing on his own moniker, who created more mayhem and pain for the Five-0 Team. The look he gave Kono at the start of the episode foreshadowed the beginning of the creeps he gave me the rest of the night. It was great to see a different kind of bad guy, one who was calculating more than physical. Most of the bad guys we’ve had in the past rely on their physicality and weaponry, to get the villain job done.
Even the woman who shot Fryer, Hilary Chaver (Taylor Cole), used her very large gun to get what she wanted, yet all the while it was Toothpick who seemed to be pulling the strings. Even though he was the muscle behind the mastermind plan of Delano, he was still menacing and a perfect bad guy for the season-ending episode.
Overall, this was an explosive and revealing episode that left me scared and nervous for the team. It definitely will have me anxious for the start of season three, which of course is what every good season finale should do — leave us wanting for more.
Redux Side Note:
I hope you all got to read about local boy and season finale mayhem-maker, Karl Herlinger in Mike Gordon’s “Outtakes” in Sunday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s. You can read about Herlinger’s rise from being a regular Kailua boy to becoming a favorite television villain. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of Herlinger’s character in season three. Be sure to put “Outtakes” on your required Sunday morning reading list, as Gordon not only covers “Hawaii Five-0,” but also all television and film projects happening in Hawaii.
“Five-0” PR rep Erika Kauffman also sent out a special Monday morning surprise — an exclusive “Mahalo” video of Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, and Grace Park thanking all of the fans for their support of season two.
While it probably won’t keep us satiated during the summer hiatus, it definitely was a nice treat for the fans.
Speaking of the hiatus, last summer the “Five-0 Redux” continued, and this year will be no different. I’ll be talking with guest actors from the show and traveling to other filming spots to show you more about Hawaii, our culture, and our people. The show might be on vacation, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be waiting impatiently for season three to start. I’ll try to keep us occupied until the show returns to television in September.
Until then, be there, aloha.
Wendie Burbridge is a published writer, playwright and a teacher of literature and fiction writing at Kamehameha Schools-KapƒÅlama. Reach her on Facebook and on Twitter.