This week we celebrated Veterans Day, the day where we thank our soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and marines, and remember the wars and battles they fought on our behalf. So it seems fitting that this week’s episode would air on Veterans Day — as McGarrett and several of our team sidekicks are veterans. And while Danny isn’t technically a veteran, he is a law enforcement officer and did pay a similar price in his past. Like military veterans, our police force have bravely served our communities and we should definitely thank them for their hard work and service.
This week’s episode, entitled “I ka wā mamua,” is translated as “In a Time Past” by CBS. That’s fairly close to the mark; from the Hawaiian Dictionary, “I ka wā mamua” means “before, in past times, formerly.”
It definitely makes sense this week, as Danno tells the story of his past. Scott Caan’s character may have a sharp tongue and feel anger before he feels happiness — unless you are talking about his daughter — but his story has always been a little thin. Until now.
It was fascinating to me to watch Danno realize he was a certain kind of cop before becoming a father, moving away from his home and partnering with McGarrett. Coupled with the experience he had with his former partner and the tragedy that followed that day, it all made him a better cop, a better father and a better man.
This week’s episode had so many elements I love about the show — the cliffhanger opening of Danno’s story, along with the hot foot chase of their suspect in downtown Honolulu only to find a chest full of bomb, brought me to the edge of my couch. Add the scenes of playful dress shopping with Gracie, the loving ribbing the team gives Danno about his dancing ability, as well as the morbid happiness of Max’s body puzzle at the crime scene — all helped to up the tension and the tempo of this episode.
THIS WAS a hot one, and while I never want to think that terrorists are targeting my island, I know after the events of 9/11 and the ongoing tensions in the Middle East that this is a concrete and real possibility. This I can wrap my brain around.
Last season, we all cringed while we watched McG get the electroshock treatment in North Korea by Wo Fat in “Ki‘ilua.” So I suppose this season it was Danno’s turn for some brutal treatment. All’s fair in bromance and blood, I guess. But I really had a hard time with how brutal it was to watch Danno get pistol-whipped and beaten — even in flashback.
Maybe it was because I expect Vietnam-era torture treatment from Wo Fat, and McG is a trained Navy SEAL, so even though I had to avert my eyes for a lot of McG’s ordeal, I knew he would make it. I know for a fact that SEALs are actually taken through some heavy paces to be able to handle many levels of torture and interrogation, so McG being able to take the pain and escape was very believable.
But Danno — our kind-hearted, Daddy of Gracie, lovably sarcastic Danno — being beaten and tortured gangstah style, was even more difficult to watch. I actually held up my hand to block the screen. I mean, I don’t think they send Jersey cops to SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) training, like they do Navy SEALs. SERE is a program that trains SEALs to “survive and resist the enemy,” which roughly translates into “how to live through torture and not give away any information about your country.” I’m pretty sure that’s not normal New Jersey cop training.
So Danno’s story about his toughest case was that much harder to see. And while the flashback scenes into Danno’s past were difficult to watch, the entire episode was so far, the best of this season. The Danno-centered storyline was nicely set up with Danno’s past, present, and his future partnering with McGarrett, and his daughter Gracie. The scenes with Danno and Gracie shopping for a dress and at the father-daughter dance were just too darling. I’m pretty sure I heard a collective “awww!” around the world when he bought Grace her first fancy dress, and when they joined hands to dance.
Paired with the action and intensity of the scenes with McGarrett and the bomb, juxtaposed with the equally gripping scenes with guest stars Terrence Howard, Rapper T.I., and Sydney Tamiia Poitier as Danno’s unfortunate partner, Grace Tillwell, all helped to make this a strong showing for “Hawaii Five-0.”
Danno’s discussion with McGarrett as they waited out their suspect in their car really hit close to home. The idea that we live in “Fortress America,” that our children do not know a time when we were not fighting a war overseas, and perhaps think of “peace time” as happening a long long time ago — that’s a sobering thought.
But after seeing the outcome of Danno’s story about his friend Grace — his unfortunate New Jersey partner and his daughter’s namesake — and the start of the events of 9/11 in New York City, I can see where his thoughts were born. “Borrowed time,” he called it. The idea that he shouldn’t have this life with Gracie, because he almost lost his life that day back in the past, and that at any moment it could all end.
And then, right after he tells McGarrett this, he meets Mr. Chest Bomb and his 100% Danno promise to Gracie seems to be a false one. Didn’t that make you suck your breath in?
IT WAS scenes like this that made this episode gripping and just a pleasure to watch. This episode seemed to have it all — a strong feeling of ‘ohana, a procedural that I could get behind and more information about a character that I love — which made it a definite home run for me. Add the scenes with the Secretary of Defense at Palm Circle in Fort Shafter, with all those very real soldiers standing in formation, and to watch that all on Veterans Day was more moving than I had expected.
And then Danno came out of that warehouse and saw the black smoke above his New Jersey city, and I remembered the day that I saw the same smoke on my television set, my fifteen-month old son in my arms, my Navy husband on his way to work, and knew just like Danno did that our lives would never be the same.
So this week, of all weeks this episode could have been shown, “Hawaii Five-0” could not have planned it better — and they actually didn’t plan this episode to air on Veterans Day. This episode was supposed to air last week. But “Five-0” needed a bit of luck, and I think with this episode they are back on the right path. Perhaps “Hawaii Five-0” is no longer working on “borrowed time.”
Redux Side Note:
This week the “Five-0 Redux” received a very special message from recurring cast member, Dennis Chun, who plays “Sgt. Duke Lukela.” Chun sent “Hawaii Five-0” and ‘Five-0 Redux’ fans a lovely greeting.
A special mahalo goes out to Dennis and to fellow “Five-0” blogger Amy Bakari for taking the time to make the video. What an amazing treat!
And to all of the veterans, Honolulu Police Department personnel and Honolulu Fire Department members who watch “Hawaii Five-0” and read the “Five-0 Redux,” mahalo nui loa for your service to our country and our community.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.