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Five-0 Redux

More than just misfortune

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If we have learned anything from three seasons of “Hawaii Five-0” it is that if they can’t find trouble, it sure can find them. This week’s episode finds our team facing a lot of “Pōpilikia,” which was translated as “Misfortune.”

There is a lot more to the Hawaiian word than just basic lack of fortune. In Hawaiian, “pōpilikia” means trouble, distress, tribulation, straits, disaster, calamity, ordeal, hardship, adversity, and misfortune. And while watching the episode I could see many ways the word was threaded throughout. Let’s take a walk through the word and see how McGarrett and the “Five-0” team wound themselves around a lot more than just misfortune.


I know, it was the last defining word, but I wanted to start here since it’s opened the episode. Bai Ling as “Madame Esmerelda,” the mystical fortuneteller, was an interesting way to introduce the well-known cliché of an overly jeweled/heavily accented Asian woman who separates desperate people from their money for a intuitive guess. She reads your mis-fortune, and it usually means she foretells your death or in this case, that you may lose your head riding a horse.

When Esmerelda tells Nicole Carr (Arielle Kebbel) that, “Death is closing in on you, you will feel its icy touch,” I reacted the same way her boyfriend Billy Keats (Robbie Arnell) did—by wiggling my hands and saying “Ooohhh . . . .”


This comes pretty easily to the “Five-0” team, doesn’t it? Between Mama McG (Christine Lahti) stirring up a bit of breakfast trouble for Catherine, “Doris detail” trouble for Chin, and housing trouble for McG, there was enough trouble to last the entire episode. Add in the trouble between rival Polo teams, and the doping of horses, mixed with a very troubled family, these Mama McG troubles seems to be the least of their concerns this week.

I think Mama measuring the floor of the family home and unearthing a 35mm film case with secret microfilm that she probably hid there twenty years ago, would be a lot more trouble than getting busted for having your girlfriend sleep over. Or for playing with your guns.


I think the most distressful part was the polo player losing his head at the start of the episode (see “misfortune”). Danno’s headless horseman comment added a little to my distress, but it was very much a quip that I would expect from our sarcastic sidekick. Funny, but a little “too soon.” All though that seemed to stick, as it was Billy’s new name for the rest of the episode. And even though I knew he was going to lose his head, I still gasped when it happened.

When the head rolled, I was torn between distress and disgust. Yuck. I did like how Max demonstrated how the victim died. Nice use of a cane to find a clue, Dr. B. There was also a lot of distress with the story about Jake Madsen’s (Guy Wilson) kidnapping ten years earlier and how he lost a finger. Really? A finger? We seemed to have been losing body parts left and right in this episode.

What’s next? Wait — don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.


This means “distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution.” I would say Jake Madsen was persecuted, and his father Spencer Madsen (Jere Burns) was persecuted by his adulterous mother, Amanda (Sarah Finley). What a happy and well-adjusted family. No wonder the “Five-0” team was called to step in. They definitely know how to stop suffering — even if they have to use an accurate shot aimed at a rider on the back of a horse.

Disaster and Calamity

If an Asian woman with many rings reads your tarot cards and tells you death awaits you — that would be disaster and calamity coming to get you. But it wasn’t coming for Nicole, but for the Spencer family.

Maybe that disaster started when Jake Madsen was ten, or maybe when he was born, but either way, whether it was death coming or the disaster that the Madsen’s called a family, it came and it came hard. It was a sad ending, with a child killing his own mother, and a father blaming himself for not protecting him, as well as causing his murderous anger. All in all — this episode was definitely disastrous on many levels.

Ordeal, Hardship and Adversity

I think I covered it all — but the main hardship for me was waiting to find out the reason Mama McG was back in town. I mean, we know she didn’t leave, but I want to know what that film is all about, and where has she been since she turned her plane around and faked flying off into the sunset?

And what is she trying to hide from McG about Wo Fat? Her excuse to McGarrett about how they “struggled, and the gun went off” and how he escaped when he heard Catherine coming,” was pretty thin.

I know Doris McGarrett is a tough lady, and she has obviously taken care of herself these last 20 years, but does she also think her Navy SEAL, “bad-cop” interrogator son can’t see through a lame story? If nothing else, this episode introduced even more adversity into McG’s life. Nothing ruins girlfriend sleepovers than living with your Mom, who is also a spy. And someone McG doesn’t seem to believe and perhaps, trust.

Poor McGarrett. He needs to get his own place. One that perhaps is free of pōpilikia.

Redux Side Note:

A couple of last minute likes: The Fonger (Brian Yang) got to actually work a scene! Cath’s “Book ’em” was pretty cute. And she got a kiss from McG. It was on the cheek, and it was more of a ‘thank you’ kiss, but it’s about as affectionate as we’ve seen McG and Cath so far this season.

Sadly, there will not be a new episode next week, as CBS will air the second Presidential election debate on Monday, October 22. But there will be two repeats on special nights before “Hawaii Five-0” will be back. Friday, October 19 is a repeat of “Kālele,” the episode that introduced us to August March. Saturday, Oct. 27 is a repeat of “Pū‘olo.” Both repeats start at 7:00 pm HST. Season three returns Monday, October 29, with “Mōhai,” a Halloween themed episode. Last season’s Halloween episode “Ka Iwi Kapu” was very popular with fans, and it looks like this one might top it. The preview, as well as the title, which means “sacrifice and offering,” could make for a scary evening.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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  • I may have been the only person who didn’t enjoy tis episode that much. The story was kind of lame, the Doris sub-story was contrived and there is was no real action in this episode. Not enough McDanno. I felt like this was very much a filler episode – moving the main plot along ever so slightly. I’m looking forward to the halloween episode.

    • Aloha Sandra- I don’t think you were alone. After how great “Lana I Ka Moana” was I think we were hoping for more of that kind of action. I’m looking forward to “Mōhai” as well. Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Great recap Wendie. I have to say I’m not liking Dorris at all. Steve’s distrust of her is palpable. At least Danny and Catherine are there for him. Who supported her for the past 20 years? Well they need to keep on supporting her because she needs to find her own place and move far away from her son. After a 20 year disappearance she just can’t waltz back into his life and resume life as normal. When she dug up the old microfilm I was hoping for WoFat to be there, kidnap her, and put an end to this getting-real-old-real-quick story. The rest of the episode was different. I was upset at the decapitation and then found it hard to follow the story, tarot cards, horse doping, mutilation, kidnapping. In the end, cold-blooded revenge was the theme. I guess there’s no such thing as a “normal” anymore. It was good to see Fong, albeit briefly. Hope he makes return appearances!

    • Hi Karen- I agree– it seems very strange that she just moves back in and seems upset that Steve wants to protect her. I mean, he’s her soon- he’s supposed to feel that way. I hope her storyline doesn’t get “old” fast- I think she adds some interesting conflict for McG- and to a certain extent the rest of the team. LOL Yep, I think you are right– no such thing as normal anymore:) Mahalo for your comments and for reading and supporting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Wendie,
    Great recap especially about the title as you bring a real insight into the title/theme each week. While perhaps crude, the bit about the headless horseman was priceless. I agree with some of my fellow posters that the mother McG storyline is getting old very quickly. I could be happy to see that line on every third ep. Lets have more Fong.

    • Thanks Paul for your comments. I did love some of the “headless” jokes- especially since it came from the right character- Danno would be the one to add sarcasm into the mix:) And yes! More Fong! Thanks for reading:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Dang girl, I hope Peter Lenkov appreciates you because you make his writers look really good. I always get so much more out of the episode with your insight and this one was especially good. Love the cohesiveness of the team this season, not totally sold on Doris though. The decapitation and Max’s recreation made me jump twice! You got mad writing skills my friend, thanks for all the hard work.

    • Kathy- thanks:) How nice of you to say:) I think you are in the same boat as a lot of fans about Doris- she’s a sneaky character and I’m with you- not sure how much I trust her. But I am enjoying all the yummy conflict she is stirring up:) And I’m with you- love me some clever Max! Thanks for reading and supporting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Enjoy reading your review Wendie as always. I always look forward to see how you intertwine this week’s characters with Hawaiian culture and tradition – like you I felt really squeamish when I saw how quickly that head got decapitated, it was awful and to see max drop it inside that plastic bag sent waves of chills. That fortune teller psychic was creepy but when she tried to tell Kono’s and Danny’s fortune about the many babies they would have, we could see right through her scams. Doris is a fascinating character to have on the show. Boy she could tell a lie and make you feel like you were eating a coco puff for a treat, she had Chin and Catherine both wishing they were anywhere else but in her presence. The only person that hasn’t fooled or intimidated yet is Danny!! He clearly is very suspicious of her and is not the least bit afraid of letting her know what he thinks of her as a mom and as a spy.

    • Val- I so agree on your assessment- nice:) I think Danno is very protective of Steve, and that sure comes out when he talks to Doris and about Doris:) LOL I like that about him. She sure is conniving. I don’t know what I thought she would be like- I guess my image of her when we thought she was dead was that of a sort of “June Cleaver” kind of Mom, and she was killed because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But man- this Doris is not what I pictured! But it works great, because if Doris is a spy- she would act like Lahti how portrays her. I’m just enjoying the conflict she is creating. Thanks for commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Thanks for your review, Wendie. I had no idea that “Popilikia” had so many definitions! You did a great job of pointing out how each definitive word could relate to this week’s episode!

    In the end, though, I’m not quite sure if you liked the episode … or not! I enjoyed it, but I’m a pretty hard core fan, so it’s got to be really terrible for me before I’ll admit as much publicly (makes me a pretty boring commentor, I’m afraid!) I felt we got a good procedural this week – I didn’t figure out the real killer until the very end, so that was good. Yes, it was a sad, troubling story, but hey, everyone keeps wanting more procedurals! Stephanie Sengupta once again delivered a well-written script. Doris is becoming the one everyone loves to hate! I truly believe that is Christine Lahti’s job this season! Make the fans mistrust and dislike Steve’s mom – something big is building on the Doris front. I am enjoying her story a lot more than Shelburne! Thanks again, Wendie!

    • Hey Lynnette- thanks for your thoughts- I’m with you- didn’t realize it was the son until pretty well into the case. I liked this procedural, even if it was really really sad. I agree with your theories on Doris for sure! I think she’s even taking over for Wo Fat on the distrust-o-meter. LOL Thanks for reading and commenting:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Wow Wendie! As always, I learn more from your reviews every week! Each definition really did illustrate the every element of this episode. I really liked this one. To me, it had a definite feel of a season 1 story. I didn’t figure out the killer right off the bat. They case was not straight forward. With it’s misdirects and false leads it really did remind me of Season 1. I really liked that.

    I loved the writing in this episode. Everyone had great lines and great come back lines. I mean, we always expect if from Scott/Danny but this episode everyone got into the act. I liked Catherine’s part in this. Although short, she again showed she can be a benefit to the team without actually being ON the team. She only adds to the dynamic in my opinion. I do think that Steve needs to find a better way to repay her other than all-you-can-eat-Kamekona shrimp. However, considering who she gets to wake up next to in the morning, I get the feeling she’s more than “satisfied” with their arrangement.

    I am also really glad Steve is keeping his wits about him where Doris is concerned and not just blindly putting his trust in her. Not that I think Danny would allow that anyway. Danny will be, as always, Steve’s rock and voice of reason should Steve start down the “trusting mom” road.

    All in all I really liked this one. It had a good vibe to it despite the gruesome murder and extremely sad back story of Jake. I look forward to more like this one and your reviews afterward. Mahalo nui loa sistah!

    • Hi Linda- thanks for your thoughts:) I liked this one too. I thought the Mom-McG dynamic was pretty funny- loved when Steve yells “Mooom!” In a sorta teenagey boy voice. LOL so funny. Thanks for always commenting and for your support of the Five-0 Redux. XO Aloha, Wendie

  • Great review as always! I love that we watch the “same show”!!! hahah two things I would like to add… First was the horse doping piece- When Steve tells the team about his research the vet came from Nevada. Now maybe i is jsut me but that vet could of come from California… New Mexico anywhere- but Nevada was chosen- why I find it odd…isn’t Stan and family being shipped off show to Las Vegas>Nevada????
    Second thing the repeats – I wish there was a rhyme or reason to why episodes are picked. One of the repeats is my favorite with Rachel delivering little Charles. Maybe just maybe writers will give final clarity to the whole custody dealings.

    • I think perhaps Nevada was chosen because horse racing in Las Vegas is big money and so they would “know” more about illegal horse doping? I’m just guessing, but that’s an interesting question. And as for the repeats- not sure- I think they choose episodes that had good ratings- not sure. But I’m with you- would love to know what is happening to Danno’s custody battle and perhaps we will see some of it during the Halloween episode since Grace will be in that one:) Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Another great review, Wendie.
    I liked this episode a lot. I could have done without the decapitation scenes and the ensuing jokes but the episode was a solid who dunnit with some nice moments.
    I liked the cargument between Danny and Kono instead of the usual (kind of contrived) battles between Danny and Steve. I also liked it when the fortune teller thought that Danny and Kono were a couple. It only makes sense that there be a little romantic tension between the Five-O team members given that they are all young and attractive, despite their various relationships. I still remember how Kono flinched when Steve took off his shirt in the episode filmed on the U.S.S. Missouri – the show needs more moments like that.
    I also liked the back and forth between Steve and his girlfriend at the shrimp truck. They actually seemed like a couple for a change and Michelle Borth is really starting to grow on me.
    Looking forward to more episodes like this, minus the decapitations.
    Thanks Wendie.

    • Nice comment about romantic tension between the team- I agree with you- I like those little moments. It’s nice to see them react to the little things:) I hope Michelle Borth gets more scenes like the one at the shrimp truck- it did make me think “okay, they seem to be a couple.” Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Hi Wendie, I very much liked this show. I thought the crime of the week was well played. I don’t think what the kid did to his mother was right, but I could not bring myself to feel sorry for her, I felt for the kid more.
    I loved that Danny and Kono were together. I like it when they mix the partners up once in awhile. They all play off of each other very well. I’m glad to see that they are showing that Catherine is helping Steve, but she is not the door mat everyone makes her out to be. I will wonder how Mama being in the house will work though. I love Christine Lahti’s portrayal of Doris. I don’t like Doris, but we are not suppose to, she has too many secrets, and I would prefer she just come right out and tell her son what has been going on. But, I guess that would end that part of the show, wouldn’t it.
    Looking forward to your review in a couple of weeks after the Halloween episode.

    • Hi Diane- Nice comment about “feeling for the kid more”- I agree, his parents really messed him up. The scene with Kono and Danny was hilarious- nice interplay between the two of them, but we’ve seen them before together and more often than not, they are a funny team. And I completely agree with your assessment of Doris- I like her, but don’t trust her, but I DO like Christine Lahti’s portrayal of the character. Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Great review, Wendy! I used to live on Oahu, and I fell in love with the islands and the culture, which is a huge reason why I like Hawaii Five-0. I watch the show to reminisce about Hawaii. I’ve been recording episodes on my Hopper, which has enough memory that I can save the entire season, so that I can re-watch my favorite episodes and enjoy Hawaii again, at least a little. It’s such a gorgeous place, and I’m always talking to friends I work with at DISH about the islands and the culture. I hope the show continues to promote Hawaii, and that blogs like this expand on the culture that the show only touches on.

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