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Painful chapter of WWII revisited in powerful episode

  • CBS
    The latest episode of “Hawaii Five-0” will focus on local internment camps during World War II.
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‘Hawaii Five-0′
8 tonight on CBS

What it’s about: As ceremonies close out a Dec. 7 memorial at Pearl Harbor, an aging wheelchair-bound veteran begins to leave when he is approached by another vet armed with an old military-issue service pistol. The man is apprehended before he can fire. Later in custody, David Tori­yama (James Saito), a Japa­nese-American Korean War vet, tells Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) he wanted to avenge the murder of his father, killed by an internment camp officer 70 years before. The vet in the wheelchair, he says, was that officer. McGarrett places Tori­yama under house arrest, while he — along with Danno (Scott Caan) and Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) — begin to unravel the coldest of cold cases. Expect plenty of flashbacks and a side trip to an overlooked piece of U.S. history: Japa­nese-American internment camps.

My say: Even though melodramatic, a bit manipulative and far too conveniently wrapped in the allotted 44 minutes, this is still a hell of an episode. You don’t usually come to "Hawaii Five-0" to think, or to feel, or to learn about a tragic miscarriage of justice that took place more than 70 years ago, but the episode, titled "Ho‘o­nani Makua­kane" (Hawaiian for "honor thy father"), easily scores with all three.

This episode doesn’t seek to cast blame for a painful episode of American history, but seeks a little understanding instead: What national sentiment (and context) could have led to something as depraved as "internment camps," and at what cost were they to Japa­nese-Americans, however briefly that cost is sketched here?

Saito is excellent as an old man who nurses a grudge as fresh and as powerful as the moment it was forged. He doesn’t play this like an easy paycheck, but like a role that has genuine personal meaning. The episode wraps with an on-screen "card" that even feels genuine (Imagine that!): "Dedicated to the Greatest Generation and All Those Who Fight for Our Freedom."

Bottom line: "Hawaii Five-0" has a winner.

———

Verne Gay, Newsday

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