In Hawaii, extending a hand to a friend or doing someone a favor is as natural as our love for family and our ties to the land. We are the Aloha State, and giving aloha — love, affection, compassion, kindness and charity — is never questioned or second-guessed. If someone asks for a favor and we can do it, it’s done.
This week’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0” gave us more of Chin Ho Kelly’s (Daniel Dae Kim) backstory and delved into the years before he joined the Five-0 Task Force. A favor asked of Chin comes back to haunt him, and he has to work to clear his name as well as chase the ghosts from his past.
“Hana Lokomaikaʻi” (“Favor” in Hawaiian) was another flashback episode that showed us the start of Chin’s HPD career and training with Sgt. John McGarrett (William Sadler); the moment he met his future wife, Malia Waincroft (Reiko Aylesworth); and the story of his father’s death.
The episode flashes between present day and 15 years ago — the year Lt. Kam Tong Kelly (Gary Ala) was murdered in an botched convenience store robbery. Chin is partnered with Sgt. McGarrett, Kono (Grace Park) is a young up-and-coming surfer and Steve (Alex O’Loughlin) is on his way to becoming a Navy SEAL. It was pretty ironic when Poppa McG says to Chin about Steve: “I worried he was going to want to be a cop.”
There was so much to like about this episode. Basically, it told three different stories: Kam Tong’s death, coupled with John McGarrett and Chin’s investigation; the present day chase of Mexican drug cartel boss (and Malia’s baby brother) Gabriel Waincroft (Christopher Sean); and the Honolulu Police Department’s internal affairs interrogation of Chin, Kono and Steve.
Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out what detectives Rex Coughlin (Robert Knepper), aka “The Bad Cop,” and Nicholas Cruz (Brian Thompson), aka “The Good Cop,” were investigating. It seemed as if they blamed Chin for creating a drug cartel because he didn’t arrest someone 15 years prior for stealing a car. I know the storyline was written to create drama, but are cops also supposed to be fortune tellers and see the future of criminals they interact with?
It was a bit confusing to me what exactly they blamed Chin for. Doing someone a favor? The whole interrogation scene was a bit muddled.
The episode would have been just as a dramatic if the team followed all their leads to Gabriel and the drug cartel, and if more time had been spent in the flashbacks to Chin’s early life. The interrogation just irritated me. All I wanted was more about Chin and John McGarrett in the past, and more of Chin and Steve in the present. That juxtaposition would have been a far better use of time, in my opinion.
Yet, that was my only negative. The acting, emotion, guns and action really were incredible. Finding out why Chin always has the biggest gun was so fun. I get such a kick out of even a tiny character detail like that.
I also loved seeing William Sadler reprise his role as the long-dead John McGarrett. I feel like every time he is on “Hawaii Five-0,” I get to know the man both Steve and Chin admire and try to emulate. And Grace Park’s Kono as young girl was a great touch. Seeing the birth of her investigative skills as well as the depth of her relationship with Chin was spot-on.
While we didn’t get a lot of McG in this episode, his friendship and trust in Chin was evident with just one look. When Steve encounters Chin after he’s confronted Gabriel about his role in Kam Tong’s death, the look of pride on his face was palpable.
The story of Kam Tong’s death was tragic. The funeral scene, beautifully done with a speech by John McGarrett — “Kam Tong Kelly was the best man I ever knew. His love of life was exceeded only by his love of family” — and the sweet goodbye Chin bestowed upon his father only made the episode more complete.
The fact that Chin’s future brother-in-law was the one who killed Chin’s father, and then 15 years later Chin is the one who brings him to justice, helped me to believe there is honor within the Five-0 ranks. The knowledge that Chin carried this burden — that the brother of the woman he loved killed his father — is enough to make someone seek revenge, much like how Wo Fat, and to some extent McG, reacted in regards to their own fathers’ deaths. Even Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale) is guilty of seeking revenge for the death of his father.
While Chin and John McGarrett had done their jobs and couldn’t find evidence to prove who killed Chin’s father, Chin never allowed himself to continue the investigation, despite his own gut feeling. As McG told the IA detectives: “That’s the type of man he is — he doesn’t want to burden anyone with his troubles.”
But Chin knew, and when Gabriel said Kam Tong was in the “wrong place at the wrong time,” it’s a wonder Chin didn’t toss him off the building the two were on. I actually thought that’s what happened, and that was why IA was so bent on getting Chin to admit his wrongdoing. Yet, knowing Chin and his love of Malia, he would never have killed her brother — even as payback.
As usual, “Hawaii Five-0” knows how to end an episode on a high note, or at least a poignant one. When Chin returned to the place he met Malia and reenacted the story he told Danny the night of Malia’s funeral while watching a beautiful sunset, it was enough to make us all a bit wistful.
If nothing else, perhaps this episode helped clear out one more ghost from Chin’s past.
Redux Side Note:
One of the most interesting details from this episode was the name of Chin Ho’s father. Kam Tong is the real name of actor Kam Fong Chun, who originated the role of Chin Ho Kelly in the classic version of “Hawaii Five-O.”
“I know Dad would be very honored to have such a quality person and actor as Daniel Dae Kim continue the story of Chin Ho Kelly,” said Fong’s son, Dennis Chun, who plays Sgt. Duke Lukela on the CBS reboot. “I am most grateful to Peter Lenkov for this remembrance of my father.”
When John McGarrett said Kam Tong’s “love of life was exceeded only by his love of family,” I know many would say the very same thing about Kam Fong. And like Kam Tong’s pride in Chin Ho joining the police force, I’m sure Kam Fong would be very proud of his son’s acting work on the show.
Christopher Sean, who played Gabriel Waincroft, will be the featured guest on the “Amy and Friends Show” on Monday, Jan. 20. Join host Amy Bakari and myself at 2 p.m. on KPRP 650 AM to hear more about his experience on “Hawaii Five-0.”
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.