“Fair winds and following seas” is a common phrase for those in the United States Navy, where it’s used to say farewell to those retiring or leaving for deployment. It is a common gesture of goodwill and good luck to those we love and care about, friends we will miss and sailors who have served their country with honor, courage, and undying commitment. It is goodbye, farewell, and amen.
This week, “Hawaii Five-0” used it so very appropriately for Michelle Borth’s farewell as Catherine Rollins. “Makani ʻOlu a Holo Mālie,” which in Hawaiian means “fair winds and following seas,” makes for a kind sentiment for a well-liked character.
In Hawaiian, makani means “wind”; ʻolu means “cool and refreshing”; holo is “to sail”; and mālie is “calm” — which makes up the bones of the phrase, “fair winds and following seas.” The idea is to basically wish all sailors good weather and safe travels when they head out to sea. And as both Rollins and McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) are Naval officers, it seems highly appropriate to say goodbye to Catherine in the same tradition that the Navy has used for centuries.
Of course, “Five-0” couldn’t just wish her well and have a nice party to send her on her way. No, writers Peter Lenkov, Ken Solarz and Eric Guggenheim had to surround the episode with such drama that by the end of the hour my head was spinning. Not because of any confusion, but because of how much they packed into the hour-long episode.
Director Jeffrey Hunt handled the complexities with expert skill, keeping the tension moving with the police procedural and secondary storyline of Catherine taking off to Afghanistan to rescue the child of a Pashtun man who saved her life. Both storylines seemed very streamlined and almost truncated, but I would guess it would have to do with the fact that there was a lot of story to cover in less than an hour.
While I thought the police procedural was superfluous with McG and Cath heading to Afghanistan, it did help to keep Danny (Scott Caan), Chin (Daniel Dae Kim), Kono (Grace Park), and Grover (Chi McBride) in the episode. Still, if we were going to spend time with the team, the opening poker game could have taken up the entire hour if fans had their way — just seeing McG beg Danno to spot him some cash and Kono beating the boys at their own game was enough to entertain us for most of the night.
We got a glimpse of several of our favorite recurring characters: Nicky “The Kid” Demarco (Larry Manetti) and Duane “Dog” Chapman (playing himself) returned to play cards with the team for charity, and Kawika (Kala Alexander) and Mamo Kahike (Al Harrington) also joined the crew for some friendly competition.
Max (Masi Oka), Kamekona (Taylor Wily), and cousin Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) added more comic relief to the start of what would become a pretty heavy episode. Add in Chin, Grover, Lukela (Dennis Chun), and Cath, and the entire set up of the episode helped to balance all the fear and dread that was quick to come to the team.
When I say fear and dread, I don’t really mean what the characters felt. I mean what the audience probably felt watching McG and Cath head to Afghanistan without proper military clearance and not knowing what faced them when they landed. All we knew was that Cath was headed to help her friend Amir Khan (Mido Hamada) find his son Najib (Christianno De Lugo), who had been kidnapped by the Taliban. Amir and his wife, Farah (Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat), saved Cath’s life seven years earlier when she had been separated from her unit and badly wounded.
As she tells McG, “It sounds crazy, but I’m going.”
Well, yes, Cath, it sounds really crazy. But when McG calls her “stubborn” before he joins her on the flight out of Hawaii headed to Kabul, I thought, “Takes one to know one.”
But really, McGarrett, can we stop heading over to foreign countries because women ask you to? Seems like the last time McG headed overseas to help a woman find someone, he was captured and tortured almost to death there as well. Yet, unlike Jenna Kaye (Larisa Oleynik) who took McG to North Korea and delivered him to Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), this time McG is heading into territory that he understands and where he knows the game. This time McG is helping Catherine because he loves her and he wants to keep her safe.
And what about that love? It seems as if the writers have left the door open for Cath to return, but I wonder if the door is open wide enough. McG seemed genuinely crushed when Cath called to tell him that she was not going to come back until she had found out where Najib was being held. Perhaps it was the fact that McG was almost beheaded by “high-level target” Umar Hassan (Farshad Farahat) that made him so emotional. Or perhaps it was because fear-of-flying Danno had flown on a military transport without a beverage service to help save him.
Whatever it was, McG was torn up knowing that Cath was staying in Afghanistan, and he was powerless to help her.
As we know that Borth will not return next season, the way she rode off on the back of a motorcycle into the Afghan sunset seemed a bit odd. Yes, it was a good way to write Cath out of the show and still have a way for her to return, but it seemed very unrealistic that a former Navy intelligence officer would be able to hide out in Afghanistan to look for a boy who had been captured by the Taliban. Perhaps I need to brush up on my covert ops/rogue agent research.
I know some folks will say it was also very strange that McG didn’t stay in Afghanistan to find her, and I guess we’d all like to think that being threatened by the brig and two big sergeants-at-arms sent by the CIA wouldn’t scare our McG, but I’ll just ride with it that it did. Or maybe he was too beat up (and then some) to fight Danno about going home.
It was even stranger to me that Cath seemed sad to say goodbye to Steve, but not devastated. Perhaps her mind was already on the mission in front of her. Which is a good thing, because it is going to be a difficult one.
Overall, I thought the episode was a good one. O’Loughlin just gets better and better with all the stunts and action he has to handle, as well as the dramatic moments he nails when needed. While we love to call him Super SEAL, he showed genuine fear when a sword was held above his head. When the SEALs grabbed him and asked, “Are you Steve McGarrett?” and he hesitated to answer, the look of terror on his face was absolutely palpable.
Danno coming to his rescue always warms our hearts because we love the two of them ribbing each other and giving each other grief, but we also love the brotherly love they share more than the humor. I think their relationship has definitely matured and progressed into something far more than a bromance. All good things as the team heads into season five.
Still, we wish Borth a fond aloha ‘oe until we meet again. Fair winds and following seas, shipmate.
“Throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
REDUX SIDE NOTE:
There were several Hawaii actors in this week’s episode that you may have missed during all the drama.
John A. Weaver played the suit who demanded to know why Chin and Danno were arresting his CEO and CFO at the conclusion of the murder case the team investigated. Weaver is a local magazine art director and webmaster for several businesses. He began as one of the Others on “LOST” and studies at Scott Rogers Studios with fellow Hawaii actor Dennis Chun.
“What a thrill and honor it was to work with Dennis in a ‘Five-0’ scene,” he said. “And with Daniel Dae Kim after ‘LOST.’”
And I hope you all noticed trainer Egan Inoue as one of the Taliban fighters. Inoue was in the scene when the Taliban search Amir’s house for Catherine, as well as in the gunfight with McG and Cath. Unfortunately, Inoue was taken out by Cath during the scene. Too bad, as we’d all love to see him in a future episode. Perhaps the next time, he won’t have to wear a disguise.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.