As a Native Hawaiian, when I hear the term “fire in the sky,” the first thing that comes to mind is the Hawaiian legend of akua lele.
According to legend, if you anger or disrespect a kahuna he will send a fireball, or pōpō ahi, to frighten and/or destroy you. Even just watching an akua lele streak across the night sky is enough bad luck for you and others around you. So while I am quite thankful for never having seen an akua lele, I know the stories and warnings they carry.
This week’s “Hawaii Five-0,” written by Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt and expertly directed by Jeffrey Hunt, dealt with a more modern version of an akua lele in the form of a Chinese spy satellite from space.
While the episode was titled “Hōkū Welowelo,” or “Fire in the Sky,” the idea of the akua lele was mentioned by Kono (Grace Park) after McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) explained what could have led to the death of a honeymooning couple and their fishing guide. In Hawaiian, hōkū welowelo means “shooting star or comet,” so a defunct satellite falling into the Pacific conjures up all of those images.
And like an akua lele, this particular fire definitely brought quite a bit of bad luck with it. When McGarrett and the team tried to find out why three innocent bystanders were unceremoniously gunned down for seeing the fireball, they ended up getting involved in what could have become a major international incident with China.
Add in an couple of Chinese MSS (Ministry of State Security) agents, secretive Navy and Department of Defense personnel, a scary Russian, a Chechnyan rebel and a conspiracy theorist Jerry Ortega (Jorge Garcia), and this week’s episode could have used several high-level, Cold War era operatives to help deal with all the bad luck that was ready to rain down.
Thankfully, Jerry’s red rotary phone was just a direct line to McGarrett. I’m sure those of you alive during the Reagan era never thought you’d see that image again. Nonetheless, the Five-0 team seemed to utilize all of their strengths and talents — and Jerry — to stop China and bad guys around the world from knowing all our military secrets.
I loved how the episode brought the entire team together, and while secondary storylines were pushed aside a bit this week, it was a still a good mix of investigation and teamwork coupled with humor and just enough emotion to keep things interesting.
We got more quirky humor from Max (Masi Oka), who graciously tried to teach Danno’s (Scott Caan) mother, Clara (Melanie Griffith), some forensic science. And there was the quick shrimp truck scene with Kamekona (Taylor Wily). Both gents mentioned Clara’s lovely smile and good humor, unlike her darling son. Poor Danno, he even gets bashed when he’s not around to snarkily defend himself!
Clara’s ride-along with Capt. Lou Grover (Chi McBride) was clever and fun, but their scenes in the car could not replace McG and Danno argument outside of their car (yes, we see you trying to mix it up, “Five-0” writers). Still, the McG-Danno banter was mostly about Danno holding a bit of a grudge against McG for allowing his mom to go on a ride along with Grover and for not letting Danno in on the plan.
They also bickered about trusting Chinese spy Zi Chen (Elaine Tan), who just wanted to help the team find the missing satellite because it held enough intel that would make the U.S. vulnerable for attack. Those two will argue about anything, wont they?
I did like seeing Kono (Park), Chin (Daniel Dae Kim), and Catherine (Michelle Borth) working the case. I just wish there was enough time to work them in a bit more. Recurring character Jerry Ortega (Garcia) seems to add even more color and humor to the mix, yet he also tends to have the intelligence the team needs. Chin’s “tally” of Jerry’s score during the episode was on point; Jerry knows his stuff, no matter how zany he may seem.
He also knows how to use a taser and duct tape, so Jerry is definitely handy to have around. From the looks of things, it seems like he’ll be around for a bit as McG’s fifth roommate — if you count Mary Ann, Danno, Momma McG, and Catherine before Jerry came knocking.
The most emotional part of the episode dealt with McGarrett and his flashback to the firefight in North Korea where he lost SEAL brother Freddie Hart. McG reached out to Grover, who told McGarrett he had to get things off his chest in last week’s episode. It was great to see McGarrett open up to a fellow brother in arms and tell him the real reason why he came to Hawaii.
Yes, I know, it was to find the man who killed his father. But deep down, perhaps we all know McGarrett jumped at the chance to command the Five-0 task force because he wanted to get away from the kind of world where leaving a friend behind is secondary to completing a mission.
We all know McGarrett loves his country, but it was a different McGarrett who passed along the flash drive with intel from the fallen satellite. This McG wants it to count. It seems collateral damage is no longer “a means to an end,” but now has to count for something when three innocents lose their lives for the sake of national security.
I suppose this is why we love McG. While he is a SEAL at heart, now his family, his friends, his home and the people he has sworn to protect are more of a priority than the mission.
Danno and Clara also got a nice moment when they shared a sweet scene over a pint of ice cream as two people still in love with their exes. If nothing else, it seems Danno is exactly the person Clara should be depending on for understanding and help in her situation.
I did enjoy guest bad gal Elaine Tan, who wore her super-secret-spy pout perfectly. Her showdown with her former lover was a bit sad, yet satisfying at the same time. Not that I wanted her to kill him, but I guess it all worked out in the end; she got to go home and won’t have to enter a re-education camp with her family, and McG saved the top secret intel.
At least we all know McG’s a good guy. That was definitely confirmed this week. Let’s just hope that fireball doesn’t bring more bad luck in the near future.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
This week’s episode included several Hawaii based actors. Actor and photographer Vince Shin was the North Korean combatant in the flashback scene.
Honolulu Pulse marketing coordinator and “The Pulse Minute” hostess Laura Grace D’Angeli played doomed honeymooner Meg Spitz. She was shot alongside world champion tandem surfer and author Bear Wozniak, who was the boat captain.
Curtis Jackson played the Department of Defense employee McGarrett met in Waikiki to deliver the flash drive with information culled from the downed satellite.
And Wendy Pearson played Catherine’s Navy friend Vicki, who told Cath in the scene, “After Instanbul, I owe you one.”
I’m sure we’d all like to know what Catherine did to rate a favor like passing along top secret info about Chinese MSS agents.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.