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Five-0 Redux

Chasing out the ghosts

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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.

Comments (21)

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  • WENDIE!! I enjoyed the interrogation heheh thought it was a wonderful piece on two levels. First for the actors to do “acting!” the second as a viewer of show – to see the “team” get some reality checks- there is the constant reference to how they have so much “pull” and get away with so much in their investigations – it is interesting to find them in palace to defend their choices. Here Chin’s choices and desires were true and not shady or suspect as the investigators were trying to portray. I did find it a bit jumpy going back and forth and would of appreciated a more continual of the past then present day or visa versa but that is director choice not mine. Yes there was no Catherine, no Danno, very little of McG but if they were there what would they of done? really nothing to ADD to the story- and thus their presence might of been missed but was the right choice in my mind NOT to have them there. I enjoyed this episode and would like to see more of these “less” procedural and character driven episodes. Can’t wait to see the Danno episodes with his mom – and hope they are as character driven!

    • I agree with you Dina, about the irrelevance of the other usual characters in this episode. I knew going in that Danny and Catherine would not be featured, but didn’t have a clue why. I missed them during the airing last night, along with Grover, Max, Gracie, etc., but then I rationalized that they would have absolutely no reason to be involved in the IA investigation! Neither were on the island at the time of Kam Tong Kelly’s death and would have nothing to add to the IA investigation. So, for the sake of realism, Danny and Catherine were absent from the story. I have no problem with that, although I am sooooo ready to see everyone together again that I feel the way I do the last few weeks of the summer hiatus – just so antsy for the season premiere I can’t stand myself!

  • Mahalo for another great review Wendie…and thank you for voicing something I was thinking as well. I too was a bit confused as to what Internal Affairs was investigating. During one of the commercial breaks I turned to my husband and said “this is really good, but I’m confused? What is this all about?” I guess what triggered the entire thing was finding the dead body hanging in the warehouse. I was a bit lost after that. Was IA blaming Chin for the formation of the cartel, as you said, or for the death of the guy in the warehouse, or…… ???

    BUT BUT BUT that doesn’t mean I didn’t think this episode was stellar. It reminded me once again why I followed Daniel Dae Kim from LOST. He is such an outstanding actor. And speaking of outstanding, Robert Knepper sent chills down my spine. I keep wondering if IA officers in real life are the bastards TV and movies make them out to be. This guy was vile….going for the answers he wanted, no matter if they were true or not, by any low means at his disposal. Those scenes, had me completely on edge, even when I didn’t understand why it was happening. THAT’S great acting.

    And, like you, I LOVED that the writers remembered and added those special little touches that make long time views like us smile. The beginning of Chin’s fascination with big guns, Kono’s noticing the clue of Gabriel’s tat, but what I truly loved was how they remembered Chin’s story to Danny about how he met Malia, and going all the way back to the 2nd episode of season 1 where John’s voice on a little tape recorder reminisced about telling Steve to be anything other than a cop. Having the great Bill Sadler himself as John utter that line was a great great moment.

    Midway through it’s fourth year and Five-0 continues to be a story of Fathers and their Sons. I can’t wait to see what goes down between Danny and his dad in the coming weeks. Hopefully their tale won’t be a tragic one too.

    Thanks again Wendie for a great review. Aloha nui loa

  • Good point Dina. I don’t like when they jump all over the place with the timeline of the story. We saw Steve and Kono give testimony but that must have happened after Chin finished and was out remembering on the beach (?) An interesting sidenote I learned from re-watching on – the convenience store owner (Michael Hasegawa) also acted in five episodes of the Original Five-O.

  • I just loved this episode. It wasn’t your typical 5-0 and I’m so grateful for that!

    I LOVE all the action, but character development has been such a huge part of this season and it’s a welcomed sight! We’re finding out after three seasons what exactly makes each and every one of these character’s tick.

    The IA scenes just blew me away. I loved Robert Knepper. He knew all the right buttons to push and, in a way, it helped the story progress. You had to swing to the past in order to understand the present.

    Just another solid,solid episode.

  • This was a great episode. Robert knepper was so good as the bad IA investigator. DDK was excellent. The little we saw of Steve and Kono and the questions they were asked left me thinking the door could be left open for another IA episode and could all of H50 be under investigation?

  • This was certainly an emotionally intense episode, and one that highlighted the great acting abilities of Daniel Dae Kim! A very well written plot!

    I was a little thrown off kilter this week by learning, for the first time in 3 1/2 seasons, that Chin Ho’s father, an off duty cop at the time, was murdered. Now, it stands to reason that Kono and Steve would have known this tidbit of information, but WE were never informed. That was rather jarring to me.

    I agree with you, Wendie, about the AI investigation going on through out the episode. Very distracting, although that was obviously the catalyst for bringing about the flashbacks to tell events of 15 years previous. Robert Knepper was superb as the IA investigator pulling out all the stops to get Chin mad enough to trip up and confess — to whatever the heck Knepper’s character actually wanted him to confess to! That remained tremendously vague for the whole episode!

    I have to admit, of all the flashback episodes we’ve had in this series – Danny’s 911 flashback, Steve’s SEAL training flashback, this was probably my least favorite. To me, it was harder to follow and rather disjointed. Maybe it wasn’t as tied to ongoing events in the present? I don’t know, I just didn’t follow it as well.

    I found it incredibly amazing that an almost 40 year old Grace Park could play such a convincing teenager! The gene gods were just abundantly kind to her! I actually laughed out loud at Chin’s comment about the big gun “I have to get one of these!” My husband looked at me and said “what was funny about that?” He’s obviously not as devoted to the show as me!

    Lastly, I think, but I’m not 100% sure on this! that near the end of Chin’s interrogation, the IA guy referred to a large sum of missing cartel money and inferred that Chin might have an idea of where that money could be – now that must be the money that Gabriel tried to bribe Chin with. I don’t think there was any one thing IA was trying to pin on Chin – I think as all of us know, Chin has had an incredible string of bad luck in his life and that’s not exactly normal, so There must be a dirty reason behind it all. IA intends to catch him red handed, eventually.

    So when is IA going to come after Danny? There’s never been any repercussions from letting Matt go or shooting his daughter’s kidnapper in the leg after he’d already been arrested!

    Also love your description of Aloha, and how doing this one favor for his love brought about the death of Chin’s father and the creation of a drug lord.

    Thanks again for another wonderful review, Wendie!

    • Huh….I never thought about the money again until you mentioned it Lynnette. Could be that IA never got over the entire asset forfeiture locker business and are using that as justification to go after Chin anytime he’s near any investigation where money, or more particularly, missing money is involved.

      Gabriel kidnapped that woman and her son (were they the wife and son of the man dead in the warehouse?) and took the woman to the bank where he said HIS money was in a safety deposit box. If IA thinks money is missing, it’s still in that box and they just don’t know it. Chin and Five-0 wouldn’t know it either unless Gabriel tells them about it, which he won’t of course. So maybe THAT’S why IA was after Chin again???

  • Aloha Wendie Mahalo for a great review !!! who know how much I love to read your reviews 😉

    As usual, u descrbe perfectly the episode and the important moments on it.
    Even, as you said, part of the IA detective interogation was a bit irritating and confusing, and yeah I do agree, Knepper killed it ! Seriously, i follow him since prison break, before being the huge fan of H50, I was quite the same crazy fan about Prison Break and Lost at the time, and he is excellent !
    Robert is IMHO, the best guest star they could have for H50, he is just so perfect in his acting !

    DDK was absolutely great in this episode ! Far for being my fav character, I ALWAYS loved his episodes because he is such a great actor ! that was totally golden acting from DDK and it was amazing !
    Loved to see the young Kono as well ! Impressed by the fact an 38 years old actress can play an 18 years old girl, just WOW …. we all need her secret right 🙂

    As for Papa McG, I was glad we could see him more ! Always wanted to see more of him, unfortunately, only flashbacks can do it! looking forward to some with Doris, maybe if he is involved in all this WF/Doris story 🙂 who knows ? 😉

    an awesome epsiode ! could have been a 2 hours though, !

    Mahalo Wendie, u rock my friend XO

  • Wendie,
    Great review as always. I also had a hard time with the jumpy part of the flashbacks. However it was a good ep. Thank you fellow poster for pointing out that the store clerk was from the original Five0. That was a real catch that I totally missed.

  • Great review Wendie! I have to admit that I was rather confused as to why IA was on a witch hunt for Chin and Steve and Kono. I could figure questioning Kono since they’re related and, therefore, guilty by association, but Steve? Are both men paying for sins of their fathers?? If Chin would have known 15 years earlier that his b-i-l would become the head of a drug cartel I think he would have done something to stop him then. In this case, hindsight would really have been 20/20.

    Daniel is a great actor and it showed again last night. Emotional, angry Chin and Steve are always a treat to watch. Even though I had no idea of who either IA agents were (I find h50’s idea of “guest” stars and mine differ greatly) they pulled off the good cop/bad cop scenario quite well. I’m wondering if this episode will lead to another IA-driven one so we can get some answers.

    It was so nice seeing Reiko and William again, they always add so much to the storylines! And the ending was very touching. Watching Chin reminisce was bittersweet. All in all it was a strong, emotional episode.

  • What an absolutely outstanding, captivating performance by Daniel and by Robert Knepper! I’m not saying the other actors were bad though – don’t get me wrong!

    I, too, was wondering throughout the episode what Chin was actually accused of and, to be honest, I was expecting – up to the showdown on the rooftop – that Chin would kill the murderer of his father – brother-in-law or not! After all, the guy he had once saved by doing Malia a relatively small favor had turned into a ruthless cartel boss who had just most brutally murdered a family father and had threatened to get the son killed in the same brutal fashion. Oh, and I almost forgot that he killed another family father 15 years ago!
    But I’m glad Chin didn’t kill Gabriel (like he did with Delano) because now Gabriel has to face a trial and life sentence. And Chin will not be charged with murder (which could have easily been called self-defense though) – and I’m quite sure that he can’t seriously be accused of not foreseeing that his brother-in-law would turn into a heavy criminal.

    I think the writers just wanted to point out that once you are on the “black list” of IA (like Chin when he covered up his uncle’s theft), you never really get wiped off that list again. So whenever IA finds just the tiniest reason to grill someone again, they will eagerly do so – as was demonstrated so effectfully by Coughlin, the IA guy who seemed to get the most sadistic joy out of interrogating Chin and his team mates Steve and Kono.

    Overall, I thought this was an excellent episode again, even though part of the team wasn’t on it – but that made sense. In turn, we got some welcome screen-time with the wonderful Daddy McGarrett, and we got to see a miraculously young-looking Kono. How did Grace do that?!

    Mahalo, Wendie, for another very well-written review! I always love your blogs.

  • Loved Daniel’s potent scenes and
    those of the newcomer, Christopher Sean, who managed to convey both a confused,
    vulnerable boy, as well as a cold-blooded murderer. Great direction by Sylvain
    White, who also directed the memorable Danno 9-11 flashback episode. Robert
    Knepper did a fine job with the role he was given, but like you I’m stumped as
    to what exactly Chin Ho was being accused of. Not consulting his crystal
    ball so that he could see every action everyone was taking, and would take in
    the future? The accusations seemed so rambling and ridiculous I almost
    expected Coughlin to shout “Ah,
    ha!” when Chin didn’t have an answer to one of the absurd questions.

    Hopefully, there will be a
    follow-up episode that makes sense of the seeming shortcomings of this
    episode. Even if there isn’t, this
    season has been such an improvement on the past two, that I’m willing to give forgive.

  • Hi Wendie. My take on this episode, is that the IA never really believed Chin was innocent in anything. I’m sure this was a prelude to future investigations down the line. The way Robert Knepper’s character said to Kono, that the govenor could not get them out of this, meant to me, that he was head hunting for pretty much all Five-0 members. I’m sure IA does not like the leniency with which the governor’s has given to Five-0. But you are right, they could not possible has thought that Chin would guess his brother-in-law to be would be such a bad guy. Chin showed his integrity and compassion for Malia, as well as his sense of right and wrong.

    I enjoyed the back story of Chin, and of the character of John McGarrett. I would love to see a back flash scene of John and Doris. They still have not totally proved that John was in the dark about Doris’ life beyond her family. Kono being made to look younger was great. Grace Park herself looks so much younger than her actual age, it probably was not too much work for the make-up and wardrobe crew. I enjoyed the episode.

  • This episode was just okay for me. There wasn’t enough Steve. Also, there hasn’t been a McGarrett – centric episode this season.
    After such a horrendous occurrence fifteen years earlier, you’d think there would have been tension and awkwardness between Chin and Malia, when they resumed their relationship. So it’s obvious this storyline was pulled out of the air this season.
    After a lot of mostly good episodes, this was a letdown.

  • Thanks, Wendy, for another good review.

    I think this episode could have been a lot better. DDK’s performance was great, as were the others. But the time wasted (in my opinion) in the interrogation room could have been used to unravel this whole case way better. The IA guys were just completely pointless.
    The story lacked in so many regards. And that is really a shame, because they did have such great acting in it.
    For me this was just okay, but I think they should have done better, even if this was just an ‘in’ for a future storyline. This whole episode felt rushed and not rounded.
    In my eyes one of the weakest episodes so far, despite the stellar acting.

  • Just thought I’d point out that the officer in uniform who hands the funeral flag to Kam Tong’s widow is former Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue. Great casting!

  • Great recap Wendie. Our criticisms are just due to the fact that 1 hour of this show just isn’t enough. Giving justice to all of our beloved characters just needs more time. But I am never disappointed in the time given to the whole cast. It glues me as a fan to the show.

  • Nice review, Wendie, as always. And I agree about the whole I.A. investigation. Given the tactics used by the team over the years you would think that they would be regulars in front of the internal affairs guys. Kind of odd that they pop up now but with no clear agenda.
    Great to have Grace Park back. Kind of a kick to see her portray Kono as a teenager, especially when you consider that Grace is about to turn 40!
    In general, this has been an excellent season in spite of Kono’s absence. I hope they keep up the good work and finish strong.

  • It’s been two weeks since I watched the episode, but wasn’t there a part where they implied that Malia had been talking with her brother by phone even though Chin had said that they haven’t spoken in years? Putting that with the ending scene, I interpreted it not as a “cute” flashback scene to show how they met, but to show that maybe she wasn’t the girl that Chin Ho thought she was. If she was hiding secrets like talking to her drug lord brother when she was saying that she wasn’t, then maybe there’s more to her.

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