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.
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I liked this episode, and thought of it as also a ramp up for the much anticipated 4.21 ep that is coming up.
That being said, I can totally understand Danny being upset at McG and Grover going behind his back to take his mum on a ride along without consulting him. Considering the kind of cases they catch, and with Clara being nothing like Doris, I can see Danny’s concern about keeping his mum safe. That Steve would go against that is not only typical Steve, but a little insensitive – especially when he turns around and says he doesn’t want to be stuck in the middle. My advice to Steve would be – then don’t get involved!
I enjoyed Jerry’s return and loved that he has a red phone direct link to Five-0. I notice he also got over his fear of cell phones too.
I do find it a little weird that McG confided in Grover and not Danny, considering Danny was there for Freddie’s body’s return. That’s not to say that he hasn’t already told Danny, but given the scene, and Grover’s insistence that he talk (something I’m sure Danny has been telling him to do since first season, though correct me if I’m wrong) it seems he hasn’t.
The direction was brilliant, as it always is from a Jeffrey Hunt episode.
I am loving having Clara Williams on the show. Scott and Melanie have fabulous chemistry, and I really hope we get to see her come back next season.
RIGHT ON WENDIE!!!! yes yes great episode all around and of course I SO AGREE with your words of two “ex” still in love!!!( oohh please let it be heheehe)
But actually my favorite part of your piece was learning about the Hawaiian legend. So WHO may of the team “angered” what bad luck is on its way- we are nearing the end of season.. is this the fiery “lead in” to finale?? hmmmmmmmmmm
We are being foreshadowed toward future episodes. Of course that means McGarrett’s flashback to Freddie. But it also includes Catherine “owing” Vicki and Kono talking on the phone to Adam, about his deposition on Michael’s death. Maybe some of those stories won’t be told until Season 5.
As always Wendie thank you so much for the lesson in Hawaiian culture and understanding of the language and legions. You always make a very enjoyable show so much more interesting when I can fully understand the meaning behind the titles and stories.
I really liked this episode a lot. I loved how every character had screen time even if it was limited for a few. I think this is the first time we’ve had all seven main characters and Kamekona in an episode IN Hawaii ever. I really liked how they all were involved in the story.
I liked the international element of the crime of the week, I LOVED Clara and Grover together for their ride along and of course, what’s not to love about Jerry. I thought it was all done really really well.
I was very moved by the beginning and Steve’s nightmare about Freddy. It’s very logical that this would still and forever be on his mind. It was very well done and expertly acted by Alex. While in past years, if this storyline were written, it would have been Danny who Steve called, it makes sense after last weeks episode, that Steve would call Lou and the scene was extremely well done. But something stuck out to me.
When Steve said he “jumped at” Jamison’s offer to head up her task force. Well, no, not exactly true. He told her point blank on the dock of the Missouri he was not interested and only changed his mind when he met the haole cop assigned to his fathers case. Now it is entirely possible that after the events of the pilot, Steve decided to STAY because of Freddie and the fact that the Navy didn’t feel the same…the exact reasons he gave to Lou. But then it should have been written that way. “After we found Hess, the idea of going back to the Navy full time just didn’t appeal to me so I jumped at the chance to stay home” would have made sense without the need to revise story history.
I’m really can’t wait for more of Steve’s PTSD storyline. The potential for more superb acting from Alex makes this storyline one to definitely look forward to.
Thank you Wendie for this wonderful and thorough recap. It’s always good to learn about Hawaii’s folklore and traditions. I really enjoyed this episode. Now that McG had opened up to Grover we can probably expect Grover to do the same in the near future. I also enjoyed the scene where Danno waited for his mom to come home from her date; reversal of roles as we get older. But most of all, I loved hearing Adam’s name mentioned. Hope to see him soon.
Like you I really enjoyed all of the scenes with Jerry and the balance of investigation with the personal, but some of this episode was a bit of a puzzle to me The writing just wasn’t as true to the characters as other episodes this season. Yes, Grover has relaxed considerably since he first landed on the island but he’s the head of the SWAT team, not a beat cop, and isn’t about to take anyone on a ride-a-long. And I was right with Danny in wondering why Steve was so quick to believe the word of Zi Chen.
Now that I think of it, McGarrett automatically trusting a Chinese spy’s word is consistent with the earlier episode having him evade Grover and the police in order to keep his promise to a convict. A promise he only made because he and Danno’s lives were being threatened. In Season 2 we saw many character inconsistencies as though writers just weren’t paying attention to previous episodes. Based on comments on social media, viewers were disappointed in the writing, so let’s not go down that road again. We want many more years of Hawaii Five-0!!
I adored all of Danny’s scenes. Some say he complains too much, but I say that’s just Danny and I liked the scene the with him claiming his friendship with Steve was over. Steve knew he didn’t mean it, as did we, but it was cute and funny. Scott takes the lines written for Danno’s conversations with his mom, and imbues them with a real warmth. I just wish I could appreciate Melanie Griffith as Clare Williams. She seems like she’s flirting with every man she shares the scene with, and that’s just awkward.
I wonder if we’ll get to see Jerry Ortega rooming with McGarrett because Jerry is always humorous. McGarrett is so sweet with him but I don’t think Ortega can stick to the Navy SEAL’s 3-minute shower rule with all of that hair!
This was another excellent episode because it had a great mix of everything. There was a rather exciting “international crime of the day”, as well as some funny moments and a bit of emotion – and the writers really did their very best at trying to please everybody’s fans by giving screen-time to almost all of the favorite characters on the show. I really loved to see the entire team, as well as Max and Kamekona etc. all in the same episode.
To me personally, however, the opening scene with Steve calling Lou after having another nightmare about losing Freddie in Korea, was the most outstanding one because Alex is fantastic as an actor whenever he gets to show the emotional and vulnerable side of Steve – I just love those moments.
It was good to see Steve finally opening up to someone about how much Freddie’s death had really affected him. After their little talk in last week’s episode about Lou’s reasons for leaving Chicago, it really made sense that Steve called Lou. Both have experienced similar and equally traumatizing losses while doing their job, so they understand each other perfectly. However, I do understand that quite a few fans think that Danno is the one whom Steve should have talked to about those nightmares. Danno has endured similar losses, too, after all – He lost the childhood friend who drowned and his cop partner Grace back in Jersey. Most likely, Steve just didn’t want to burden his close friend and partner Danno too much with his own problems.
About your blog, Wendie – I always love it when you give us an insight into Hawaiian culture and language. It makes your blogs so very special – apart from your excellent writing skills, of course, and your own love of the show that is reflected in what you write. All of this makes your blogs a pleasure to read every week.
The first cut from Nielsen says Five-0 again led viewership – by quite a bit, actually – with 10.27 million, while yielding 18-49s (again) to Shark Tank.
When will we hear the announcement about Season 5?!
Did it seem to anyone else (spouse and I almost simltaneously said it out loud) that Jorge has ‘pulled down’ a little? Still a customer at Big&Tall, but to our eyes a little slimmer.
Technically season 5 and 6 have all but been guaranteed when Lenkov was given a two year contact extension as EP of 50. This was announced this week.
Good episode. More of the procedure than personal, but they need to switch it up. I all the actors in this show. I miss the ones that don’t get a lot of scenes in each episode, but other than Alex who is always there and should be, we need to share the space with all the talented actors. Looking forward to the rest of the season, and seeing what they leave us to ponder over during the summer months.
Again, another excellent review, Wendie! I had no idea that the title translation, Fire in the Sky, had more meaning than just a large burning object falling into the water! This is why I so look forward to your reviews – I learn something new every time!
I heard Kono say “akua lele” and look at Chin with knowing eyes, but that was all. I waited all episode for an explanation, but nothing forthcoming from the show. So, thanks for clarifying what Kono was talking about.
This was one example of a few writing inconsistencies with this episode. Another being that I don ‘t recall Steve “jumping” at the chance to head up Five-0. More like he wasn’t about to let the hauole mess up the investigation!
I’m also a little concerned with the direction Steve and Danny’s friendship is taking. Steve is apparently becoming more and more at ease with Grover and more willing to talk to him as an equal who has suffered similar tragedies on the job. That’s all fine and dandy, but in the last couple of eps it looks as if Steve is pulling away from Danny a little. He’s more critical of Danny’s actions, more dismissive of Danny’s suggestions, and just all around less tolerant of Danny in general. Maybe I’m imagining all this maybe future episodes will shed some light on this.
I, for one, enjoy Clara. I think she is indeed flirting with every man she meets (Clara is, not Michelle), because she wants to see what it’s like to be desirable after almost 40 years of marriage! She’s certainly sly about getting her way, but I think she’s had to learn how to deal with a strong-willed husband and apparently four challenging children!
Even the crime of the week was entertaining! Loved have Jerry back, and I thought the Chinese spy lady was interesting! I was surprised with the ending -Steve giving Intel the retrieved information off of the satellite, but he does know the value of that info to national security and I guess it does make sense for him to insure it does not fall into the wrong hands.
Thanks again for a good review of a strong episode, Wendie!
I enjoyed this episode. It had a little bit of everything! Jerry is always good for some comic relief but give him his due, the conspiracy master knows what he’s talking about! He’s a fun addition to the crew!
I love Lou and think the addition of Chi to the show was perfect. Seeing him interact with Steve is masterful. I’m happy that Steve turned to him and not Danny to help him through this battle. Danny’s constant snarky sarcasm is trying and trite and wears you down. I think the bromance is alive but maybe headed in a slightly different direction.
Seeing the “dark” side of Steve was very interesting. It was good to have some of the BAMFness back. I’m hoping the writers give us more of it.
Thanks Wendie! Love your reviews!!
Thank you again for all of your insights to the Hawaiian culture aspects to this ep along with all of the others. This is a true learning experience for all of us. I did enjoy seeing most of the characters in one ep, despite no Duke nor Fong. Oh well, we cannot be greedy.