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Five-0 Redux

An epic fan-built episode

Take it from someone who attended her own 25th high school reunion — returning to my beloved alma mater to reconnect with old friends and relive our high school years was one of the best moments of my life.

“Hawaii Five-0” did a great job capturing the true spirit of a high school reunion in this week’s episode, “Hoʻi Hou” (“Reunited”), especially one as momentous as a 25th. And while Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) and “Hairy Jerry” Ortega (Jorge Garcia) tried to shed their band geek/AV club alter-egos and blend in with the cool kids at Kukui High’s Class of 1989 Reunion, in true “Five-0” fashion there was also a 25-year-old mystery to solve.

But doesn’t that just make for the best kind of reunion — one with mega-drama added into the mix? After more than two decades, the angst of acceptance or rejection based on superficial rationale, either real or imagined, seems to disappear completely. Unless of course, there’s a dead body to contend with. Then the cool kids have to take over and end the party like Milli Vanilli’s career.

Good thing this high school reunion, complete with limos and red carpets and tipsy hot girls who want your phone number, had Chin Ho and Jerry there to save the day.

I know the reunion scene was just the first five minutes of the episode, but I really enjoyed watching Jerry show off to an old AV club buddy (played by Hawaii actor and entertainer Bulldog) about being a consultant to “Five-0” and who “just last week … stun-gunned a Chinese spy.”

Definitely the type of reunion bragging that is appropriate and necessary to share. And while Chin was a complete gentleman with “Naughty” Nani Kahanu (Krista Allen), who shamelessly flirted with him, Alan Lim’s (Peter Shinkoda) question, “So you got married?” really struck a chord.

All the elements of the case blossomed from the reunion, and I loved how writer Christina M. Kim really brought all the difficult elements chosen by fans to fruition. This was the “Fan-Built” episode where fans have had a chance since October to vote on specific elements to make up the storyline.

I admit, I thought it was going to be a silly episode. How could the writers possibly kill a macadamia nut tycoon with a 5-inch stiletto at Chin Ho’s high school reunion? And where on earth could they fit in a toy rocket as a piece of evidence, and then take down the struggling illusionist suspect in a giant maze?

Well, I stand corrected. Not only did they get it all into the storyline, it all made sense and was a treat to watch unfold. True, it ended up that the struggling illusionist, The Amazing Tony Gibson (played by the really amazing Rob Corddry), was the perfect “red herring” and was cleared as a suspect early on, and the macadamia nut heiress Laura Richmond’s death by 5-inch stilettos was a little bit of a stretch, yet “Hawaii Five-0” really nailed it.

I was pleased they added in several great scenes of McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) in the jungles of Cambodia. McG was looking for the grave Jerry found by deciphering the “Shelburn” (no “e” in the cypher) clue from the Champ box. The plane-gument between McG and Danno about the roads McG doesn’t seem to “want to go down” was very telling, yet it also seems to have spurred McGarrett to really find some answers no matter what the cost.

All the McG centered scenes to find out more about Doris and to finally complete the Shelburne mystery made for an even better episode than I expected.

Okay, folks, don’t send me any more hate mail. I’m not saying I didn’t want this episode to be good or that I wanted the “Fan-Built Five-0” to fail, it’s just that the odds were not quite in their favor.

But I loved the outcome. It was entertaining, had great bits of humor and laugh out loud moments, and we learned more about Chin Ho. Who knew you could be a mathlete and quarterback of the football team, as well as maintain band geek status?

We also got to know Jerry better, which will help as Garcia will join the cast full-time next season. We also got to see how Jerry and Chin became friends.

I enjoyed all the action this week; we had tense scene at Kukui High (in reality Roosevelt High School in Honolulu) when the murder victim was chased up a flight of stairs, and of course, unceremoniously landed on her spiked stiletto. There was the maze chase, where McG clotheslined the victim’s murdering brother (Mackenzie Astin). Kamekona (Taylor Wily) also got to lend a humorous hand to the team by flying his tour chopper over the giant maze to provide McG with an eye in the sky.

I always love when we get to see some of our favorite characters, even if it’s just for a few short scenes. Max (Masi Oka) was back to lend not only his expertise at the crime scene, but to give McG a hand in his clandestine search for Champ Box/Shelburne/Momma McG/Wo Fat answers. When he found Laura Richmond killed by stiletto heel, he made me realize that it had to have been a really strange death for Max to say, “This is a first for me.”

It seemed to also be a first for Max to have lost a sample sent to the lab, as his panic and obvious sorrow at disappointing McGarrett was palpable. I was just glad McG had saved some of the hair sample he found in the empty casket in Cambodia “for a rainy day.” Danno was right, that’s the McG we know and love.

Sgt. Lukela (Dennis Chun) also had two key scenes, including one that specifically helped the team connect the murder victim to her killer. Lukela gave Kono (Grace Park) the case file from his rookie days on surfer Corey Johnson’s disappearance and told them he was “never convinced Corey Johnson drowned.”

I was glad it was Duke telling the team a bit of insider information, and not just some random HPD officer. It’s always a comfort to have a familiar face work with the team, and as Chun is a fan favorite, we like seeing him help the team work the crime.

I always love when the episode wraps up with the team gathering at Kamekona’s Shrimp Truck with the view of Diamond Head in the background, as they get a chance to decompress as friends. Flipping through the 1989 Kukui High yearbook to see Jerry “Most Likely to be Abducted by Aliens” and Chin Ho “Most Dependable” as Danno made fun of the “goofballs” was definitely a great way to end an episode.

Yet tossing in a McG on a mission scene as he leaves his friends to find answers from his CIA contact (James Brennan), only to find his office cleaned out and the phone ringing, gives me a “this is not good” feeling. All I know is that when McGarrett said, “You think that making an agent disappear and making that casket in Cambodia disappear is going to make me stop?” I know that means business, and when McG gets involved in someones business, they better watch out.

Overall, this episode really worked, despite my initial trepidation. It made me appreciate the care Kim and director Sylvain White took to make the choices of the fans work as a plausible episode. From the opening song by Hawaii band The Green, to the title, to Chin Ho and Kono’s wardrobe, as well as all of the plot pieces and characters, every part stayed true to the fans’ desires and turned into an epic episode.


If you were wondering about the giant maze that was the back yard of the Richmond Estate, you can visit it yourself the next time you are on Oʻahu. The maze is actually the world’s largest, located at Dole Plantation just outside of my hometown of Wahiawā.

The maze is one of the few botanical mazes in America, is over three acres in size and is made up of two and a half miles of paths crafted from 14,000 Hawaiian plants. The “R” featured in the middle of the maze in this week’s episode is actually the image of a pineapple in real life.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

12 responses to “An epic fan-built episode”

  1. Dina says:

    ROCK ON Wendie!! another direct and honest take on show!! Agree agree agree

  2. pauldunn1 says:

    Thank you for your usual great review. I also liked the excellent way they got the “fan” plot lines into the ep, including one that I voted for. I do like to see Duke get his well deserved screen time. He is a fan favorite and should get even more especially since he can relate to his early career at HPD with references to the original show. I wish they would resolve the Shelborn thing, so we can move on. At this point I find it tiresome. Still missing the Fonger.

  3. edmattes763 says:

    “Choose the Killer” was not one of my favorites of last season, and with the fans choosing so many of the elements of this episode, it could have been a real disaster. Christina Kim for sure deserves an “attagirl” for writing a good and coherent story. I thought Chin’s reunion was a no-brainer for the scene of the crime and I’m glad my fellow fans agreed.

  4. Linda M. Stein says:

    Great review Wendie. Like you I had my doubts about this episode too. Well, back in the fall when the news of a “fan built” episode first came out anyway. Of course my first thought went back to the “you pick the ending” episode. While I really enjoyed that episode (well, it’s Five-0, I enjoy every episode, who am I trying to kid?) I thought the choose the ending bit was just a bit lame, if still enjoyable.

    I feared this episode would be more of the same. But as the different elements to choose from were posted and I began to see what was being chosen and started to hear more and more about how it was being put together I began to thing… “hey…this might actually be pretty good” and began to look forward to seeing just how it would come out. And I have to say, I was not disappointed in the least.

    I was particularly wondering how they were going to work a toy rocked into the story and using it to conceal the roll of film was extremely clever. The entire episode was extremely clever. I’m ashamed of myself for ever doubting it could work and I really hope they do it again in the future. It was a ton of fun feeling like I was a part of creating an episode of my favorite show (no matter how miniscule my contribution…only a couple of my choices made the cut LOL). All in all a really fun, exciting, innovative episode which I enjoyed immensely!

  5. Angela Gerstner says:

    Wow! I simply loved what the writers created out of the fans’ choices. We gave them some really tough nuts to crack but they did a perfect job at incorporating all those rather unusual elements in one episode. And, yes, I admittedly had some doubts, too, before I watched the episode because creating a credible, consistent storyline out of those elements seemed to be an almost impossible task.
    I still have my doubts about the stiletto as a suitable murder weapon because the average heel would probably break off when a body falls upon it at full force – If H50 disclosed the brand of those super-robust stilettos, they would most likely sell like hot cakes 🙂

    Peter mentionned earlier that this episode would include several things that the fans love about the show and he was perfectly right. It’s always great to see all my favorite characters in the same episode! Kamekona and Max are both a lot of fun to watch, and Duke’s always very welcome. I love those scenes when the team comes together at the shrimp truck. And getting those moments with just Steve and Danno was definitely a much appreciated bonus, too.

    From the grand entrance by Chin and Jerry at the reunion – which was super-cool and a fun way to start the episode – all the way to the end when a frustrated Steve is, once again, left with nothing but open questions, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and very well-done episode!

    And, Wendie, I agree with Linda and Peter (on Twitter) – Your blog totally rocks, as always 😉

  6. KAD1228 says:

    I enjoyed this episode. What I liked most about it was the return of BAMF Steve, he’s been MIA recently. I love seeing him so driven and conflicted. Hope he’s here to stay!!

    The writers did a very good job using the props they were handed and making an interesting story from them. Truth is stranger than fiction, last week I heard about a case on my local news of a woman killing her lover/husband (don’t remember which) with stiletto heels. I wondered if she was a 5-0 fan! I was rooting for Jerry to get the girl. Maybe next time!

    Kudos to PL, writers and directors. The episode showcased their talents beautifully! Hope we’ll get to do it next season too!

  7. jlopie1 says:

    This turned out to be a very enjoyable episode! Kudos to the fans, writers, director, cast and crew for taking seemingly random selections and turning them into a coherent storyline! I really had a good time watching this fan built episode evolve over the months – I admit to voting, and voting often! Not all my picks were chosen, but that’s fine, too! The final product was believable – well, as much as any H50 story is, because it was well executed from start to finish.

    The episode had a definite familiar feel to it, reminiscent of Season 1’s team dynamics. It even included an advancement of Steve’s personal saga, which I really didn’t know I was missing until it was in front of me again! All in all, a very satisfying episode!

    Thanks for a great review once again, Wendie!

  8. Robin Jane Bridges says:

    I loved the episode last night. It all worked together. Now what about a family reunion, so we can learn more about Chin and Kono’s family. You bet Danny would flirt with the wrong girl and get in to trouble. LOL!!

  9. cw says:

    when is episode 421? i’m in that one! w/michelle’s character. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  10. Carol S. Konn says:

    A very different one than what I’d expecxted for the vieweer created show; I’d enjoyed it from beginning to end. Wish we could have more of this kind of episodes more often in the next season for Five-0 of more of the history of everyone in the carst! Bravo!

  11. june77 says:

    This was MUCH better than “Choose the Killer”and I hope they do this again next year. It was great to see the shrimp truck and Kamekona again. Also nice to see McG and Catherine kiss; she has been in the background for too many episodes now. I really appreciate the show for consistently bringing attention to things that only locals know about – the world’s largest maze isn’t something known to most Mainlanders. Thank you for your great review, Wendie!

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