Surfing is typically one of the activities most people associate with Hawaii. Ask a someone to name three things about our island home and chances are they will mention the beaches, sunshine, and surfing. Not that those are bad elements, as they are definitely aspects we enjoy, but surfing is a bit more sacred than sandy shores and warm weather.
Surfing is a very important part of our culture and ancient heritage; it was the sport of nā aliʻi, the kings, and in modern times it was made famous by Hawaiian Olympian Duke Kahanamoku. His statue graces Waikīkī Beach, arms outstretched to welcome visitors, his surfboard resting in the sand behind him.
While locals and surfers alike grumble — correctly, I might add — that he is facing the wrong way (a surfer never turns his back to the shore), we do appreciate the idea that Duke is there with us when we head out for dawn patrol or to ride one last wave before we’re pau, or done, for the day.
The title of this week’s episode includes a nod to the men and women who ride those mountains of water. “Ka Nalu Hope Loa” translates “nalu” (pronounced nuh-loo) as waves or surf, “hope” (pronounced ho-peh) as last and “loa” (pronounced low-uh) in this phrase means distance, length or height. “The Last Break” may have been what several of our villains faced in this thoughtful episode.
It also seems to have been the theme for Danny (Scott Caan) and Jerry (Jorge Garcia) as well. Danny caught a break in figuring out the mystery his younger brother Matt (Dane Cook) left behind. And Jerry got a big break with a little help from Kamekona (Taylor Wily) in his continuing investigation — although McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) calls it stalking — of antique book shop owner and seeming bad guy Thomas Farrow (Greg Ellis).
The case this week focused on three bikini wearing female armed robbers: Lea (“Ten Things I Hate About You” actress Allie Gonino), Alana (2004 Miss Hawaii Teen USA Sonya Balmores Chung) and Keilani (Hawai’i-raised Japanese actress Sumire). The scantily clad trio hijacked a Waikīkī Trolley led by friendly tour guide Amy Hill (Sue from “Fifty First Dates”) and robbed unfortunate riders as they drove down Kalākaua Avenue.
When one of the tourists fights back, he’s shot and falls to the sidewalk near the statue of Kahanamoku.
The connection to the surfing legend didn’t escape me, nor did the metaphor. The last break for the three girls as well as the other villain on the bus, white collar ex-con Vanessa Hansen (Erica Piccininni), came right about the time the tour guide talked about the Father of Surfing.
While the mystery surrounding our three gun-toting Bonnies was quickly solved, finding them turned out to be a job for Kono (Grace Park) to handle. She donned her surf togs and heads out to catch some waves and our bad girls.
With a little help from the Fonger (so great to see the return of Brian Yang), who DNA tested the wigs the bikini bandits wore, Kono discovered surf wax and sand from the beach near Diamond Head in their hair. It’s enough to tell her where to paddle out, as well as promise Fong a free shrimp plate lunch.
At one point, McGarrett family friend Mamo Kahike (Al Harrington) gave Kono a few tips and a special glimpse into her former life as a professional surfer. Mamo’s trip down memory lane was lovely. My favorite part of the scene had to have been when he looked out at the ocean and told Kono where the swell was coming from.
“If you’re a true kanaka maoli, you’ll know it,” he said, meaning if you’re Hawaiian you’ll know the waves and where to catch your best ride.
Kono’s sweet response of a kiss with her “Mahalo” and a farewell of “Mālama aku no,” was perfect. Thanks and you take care, Mamo. It’s more than just a “Thanks, brah,” it’s a bit of love in return for well wishes for a good break, both with her case and in the surf.
Oh, I could go on about the breaks in the case, the bad girls getting caught and McG, Lou (Chi McBride) and Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) kicking in a few doors and getting into a couple of good old-fashioned shootouts, but that’s what we like about the show. The villains, whether they look good in a bikini or not, always get caught. They don’t get a break, in or out of the water, when Five-0 is involved.
I know, the good guys are always supposed to win. But sometimes, even their win is bittersweet.
Kono spoke about her love of surfing and how she understood why Lea, Alana and Keilani fell in love with it.
“Those girls wanted to ride those waves as long as they could,” Kono said. Yet that love turned them into criminals and “their endless summer is over.”
Danno seemed to have caught a different kind of break this week. It looks like he’s seriously headed for heartbreak as he figures out what baby brother Matty has set up for him. When he discovered the 18.5 million dollars his brother left behind, I wondered if Danno was thinking if Matt left the money to help him raise Gracie, or because Matt knew one day he would have to use that money to save him.
Either way, it looks like all of our questions will be answered next week.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
I spoke to actress Amy Hill in July when she was in Hawaii shooting a scene for “Hawaii Five-0” as well as to teach an Acting Core Intensive class with Pacific New Media.
Hill’s first day on set was also the first day of shooting for season five. She attended the opening ceremony and talked about how “wonderful” it was to see a Hawaiian blessing. She also talked about her time playing the tour guide in a scene that set up the initial crime for the Five-0 crew, saying that while she didn’t get a chance to act with the main cast, she enjoyed her time on the show.
“The character was fun and I got to ride around on a real Waikīkī Trolley bus, which was full of lights and cameras yet tourists still came up to see if they could get a ride to Ala Moana,” she said. “Tourists were going crazy. They kept taking pictures and were all over the place. One fan even tried to buy things off of us.”
We talked a lot about the different roles she has played throughout her career, from the grandma in the Margaret Cho-led television show “All-American Girl” to Sue in “Fifty First Dates” (which was filmed in Hawaii).
Hill said she always believes in creating real and “authentic” characters, and that she based her grandma character on her own mother. Sue in “Fifty First Dates” was a local girl and Hill said her many years of visiting Hawaii and hanging out with her sidekick, Nick (played by Hawaii actor Pomaikaʻi Brown), helped her to portray Sue as a true local.
“I’ve been coming to Hawaii for many years and I have a lot of friends who are here, but I’m not from here,” she said. “But I always feel embraced when I’m in Hawaii.”
Brown also appeared in season one of “Hawaii Five-0,” as the host of the lūʻau in “Manaʻo” (“Belief”) when the remains of Danno’s first partner, Meka, were found in the imu.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.