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.