comscore Five-0 Redux: Stoking the embers - Honolulu Pulse
Five-0 Redux

Stoking the embers

Honolulu Star-Advertiser logo
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.
Get It Now

When I think of fire, I imagine it as more of a representation of passion and desire. The fire in your belly, the heat of the moment, the kind of love that burns so deep nothing can quench it.

This week’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0” dealt with both the literal and metaphoric fire. “Nānahu,” or embers, can be stoked in order to rekindle what was once lost, but it can also be used to start a blaze that can be deadly. While poetically fire is a beautiful thing, literal fire is nothing to play with, for it does more then just burn — it kills.

Not to state the obvious, but usually on “Hawaii Five-0” the team deals with what kills, and this week is no exception. McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and crew worked with ATF Agent Kathy Millwood (guest star Melina Kanakaredes) to catch a serial arsonist (MMA fighter and former UFC champion Randy Couture) who targets young couples and watches them die after setting fire to their homes.

Couture’s character, Jason Duclair, is a seemingly charming man who gains access to his victims’ homes as an exterminator. Agent Millwood tracked him from California, where she worked the same case, and came face to face with him when he burned her house down and killed her husband. She came to Hawaii after HPD entered the burn patterns from two fires on Oʻahu into a national database and she recognized his work. The arsonist had since upped his game, killing two couples in their homes and watching as they died — first via live feed from a nanny cam, then standing in a burning home dressed in a flame retardant suit.

I’m sure if someone wanted to experience the burning passion of love, there is a better way, right? Thankfully, this episode did not air on Valentine’s Day weekend. Still, love was definitely involved when dealing with Danno (Scott Caan) and Amber Vitale (Lili Simmons).

As much as I was hooked by the case and enjoyed watching McGarret, Grover (Chi McBride), Kono (Grace Park), and Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) work the arson case with Millwood, the secondary storyline involving Danno and Amber was just as engaging. Danno sure knows how to pick romantic spots; meeting Amber at the Mai Tai Bar in the famous pink hotel, The Royal Hawaiian, was classy enough, but to then whisk her away to a romantic beachfront hideaway secured his leading man status.

Danno knows how to stoke the embers of love, so I was thrilled he got to have a few happy moments before trouble showed up at his door. Amber, who came into Danno’s life in “O Kēlā me Kēia Manawa” (“Now and Then”), said she was making a new start in Hawaii. Little did Danno know it was to escape a violent husband who seemed intent on getting her back this week.

I loved how protective Kamekona (Taylor Wily) got of both Danno and Amber when the ex-husband, Frank Simpson (David Hoflin), showed up at his shrimp truck. Kamekona wouldn’t give anything away. Not a table, not a shrimp, not even the idea that he knew who Simpson was looking for. Kamekona may pinch shrimp tails and pennies, but he’ll never scrimp on his love for his ʻohana.

And I know we all sighed a little when Steve jumped into action to find out who Simpson was and what he wanted with Amber. I never thought Amber was “stepping out” on Danno, and it didn’t seem as if McGarrett thought she was either. But he knew something was up, and when Chin found out about the abuse Simpson inflicted on Amber, they moved as if a fire had been lit under them. Even Sgt. Duke Lukela (Dennis Chun) added to the investigation with details about where Amber and Danno could be staying and warning Chin that Simpson had been by Amber’s office asking about her. All in the ʻohana when it comes to helping a friend.

The scenes between Amber and Danno were sweet and romantic. Still, one moment made me pause. Danno seems to be having dreams about killing Reyes. I know he feels guilty, but about what? Letting his brother Matthew get on the plane that led to his death? Shooting an unarmed man?

Or perhaps he just feels bad, because even though he has closure, he is still a bit tortured by the whole situation. Whatever Danno is going through, I love the conflict it creates for Caan’s character.

Conflict is definitely something that surged though this episode. Conflict of interest with Millwood and her desire to catch the arsonist. Conflict with Amber’s ex-husband finding her with Danno. Conflict all over Steve’s face when he learned Danno was hurt. Thankfully, it all wrapped up nicely — except for Simpson, who was used as a speed bump as Amber drove an injured Danno to the hospital. But the fact Danno accepted Amber’s explanation for hiding who she really was and why she left New York was a nice way to end the episode.

There was a lot to really like about this episode. The story by Akeba Gaddis Lynn and teleplay by John Dove included guest stars who were well-developed. Simpson was overly obsessive and scary, as he was supposed to be.

Director Joe Dante handled the pacing and tension with familiar expertise. I loved the golfing scenes with Hawaii LPGA golfer Michelle Wie (who needs to teach McGarrett every week, she was such a natural!). I enjoyed how they were a great show of McGarrett and Grover’s growing friendship. The light-hearted scenes were a perfect balance for all the tension-filled scenes this week, especially after the scene where Duclair kidnapped Millwood and doused her with an accelerant.

It was so scary, and Kanakaredes’s fear was almost too realistic. Couture was so eerie as he coolly explained how he was ready to die with Millwood. When McGarrett and the team break in and take Duclair away, Millwood telling him he was going to burn in hell seemed a tad redundant. Or perhaps she was thinking he would last a little longer before sending himself there once he got to Halawa?

Still, McGarrett’s farewell to Millwood as she left the team was perfect.

“Don’t look back,” he said. “You can’t change the past. Trust me on that.”

And we know he’s right. If McGarrett has learned anything since starting the Five-0 team, stoking the embers doesn’t get you anything but burned.


I love when my pre-show prep reveals little bits of info that connects the dots between the “Hawaii Five-0” cast and crew to special guest stars and other television shows. Perhaps one day there will be a trivia game for “Five-0” fans which would make this kind of intel be of some use. It also reminds fans that the theme of ʻohana exists on more than just one level with this show.

Guest star Melina Kanakaredes is probably best known as Detective Stella Bonasera from “CSI: NY.” “Hawaii Five-0” executive producer and showrunner Peter Lenkov also helmed “CSI:NY” in the same roles before rebooting “Five-0.”

Guest star David Hoflin played the ageless prisoner Tommy Madsen on “Alcatraz,” a short-lived series created by “Hawaii Five-0” supervising producers and writers Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt that also starred Jorge Garcia. Lilien and Wynbrandt also wrote and produced on “CSI:NY.”

And co-executive producer John Dove, who wrote this week’s episode, was a co-executive producer on “CSI: NY” before joining the “Five-0” staff.

And if we needed more ʻohana reminders, Hawaii actors were great and plentiful this week. Michael Hake, who has been in on “CSI:NY” and in the independent film “The Sensei,” played Hagen Mahoe, the husband in the first fire at the start of the episode. Haley Williams played Sabina Mahoe, his wife.

Scott Stevenson, who played the homeless man who gave Kathy the arsonist’s pictures, is a professional singer and entertainer who has preformed in Hollywood and Las Vegas. Antonio Anagaran, Jr., who played Kala Lono, the husband in the second house fire, is a former Honolulu Theatre for Youth actor and was last seen in “Godzilla.”
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Comments (15)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Leave a Reply

  • Wendie,
    Great review as always, but especially for the background of local actors and production persons who have worked on other shows.
    I am curious about the actual production of this show. How many weeks of shows do they have completed at this time; and when would the last one of the season be completed. The final episode of the Vintage Five0 had Wofat being jailed. The final shot has him pulling a file out of his mouth.

  • Loved your review, Wendy. This was another edge of your seat episode. The arsonist was just plain creepy and he actually had me scared. I sat there holding my breath wondering what he was going to do next. I enjoyed the ATF agents character. I enjoyed her on CSI New York and now on Hawaii 50. Maybe she could pop in from time to time. And Danno’s story was a thrill too. I kept hoping that the team would get there before the nasty ex. This episode moved at a good pace and flowed along very nicely. The action, romance, and humor were all there just at the right time. And Grover provided the humor last night. Just seeing him in those loud shorts and that big cigar sticking out of his mouth at the end, was enough to make me laugh. And at the end, both Danno and Grover were ganging up on Steve. I loved the golfer’s comment “If these are your friends, I’d hate to see your enemies.” Grover and Danno make a great tag team. And we also had some bromance. Who didn’t love Steve racing down that hallway with a worried look on his face to see how his bro was doing.
    It was just a few weeks ago that Danny was walking down those hallways with that same expression worrying about Steve. Like you Wendy, I think it was very significant that Amber found Danny sleeping in the hammock because he was having trouble sleeping. I can’t imagine many guys would do that when Amber is around. (lol) I’m sure Danny is having trouble with past events. I’m sure that will play out in a future episode.

  • Great review for a great episode! The story had quite a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming! The entire story flowed smoothly and had everything in it. Love McGolf and McGrover! Lou and Steve are great together even though I was bit upset when Lou got on the Danny diss Steve train w/his comment about Steve crawling out from under a rock w/a driver in his hand but then realized Lou was just jealous of Steve (who wouldn’t be)!! Melina was great, I loved her on CSI-NY and hope she’ll make a re- appearance. The ending was very good, and did Lou actualy think he was going to win the match! How sweet is it that Sam calls Steve Uncle Steve now! And best of all were all the Steve hugs to complete this good episode!!

  • I really like the idea of Michelle Wie as a golf instructor or perhaps even better as a coach (after she’s done playing). She’s so positive and upbeat: “it doesn’t look like it, but this is an easy putt. You’ve got this. You’ve got this.”

  • I really liked last night’s episode. The fire guy was creepy and I screamed when Amber hit her ex with the car. Poor Danny, he stills feels bad about shooting that guy, who had his brother killed and the bad guy was unharmed.

  • Great review and I couldn’t agree more – it was a great episode all around. I enjoyed the Danny and Amber story and am so glad to see Danny in a happy relationship. I was wondering when Reyes name was going to come up again as I am sure how everything went down with his brother and Reyes is weighing on him heavily. And the look on Steve’s face when he found out Danny was hurt you could just see how much Danny means to him.

  • I’ll take the lighter side of Danny’s PTSD. It will give Steve and Danny something else to talk about and argue over in their “annual psychological audit”. We wouldn’t want any of our favorite characters to be too well adjusted. It’s too much fun to see their flaws.

    Thanks for the great review Wendie.

  • I’m sorry, but the Danny/Amber thing is creepy. She is way too young for him. She looks like she could be Grace’ s friend from school. The story was great but I wish they would cast someone more age appropriate.

    • It’s not like people don’t have these relationships in real life, though. And it does seem that Amber is pretty mature for her chronological age. If she was 18, I’d find it creepy but she’s over 21. I would like to hear more jokes about it from the rest of the team!

  • Great review,Wendie! Kathy is such a great character-I would love to see her again! Danny definitely proved his love for Amber and her ex deserved the run over he got by her! It’s amazing to me how much Steve & Lou’s relationship has changed since they first met and I really like the dynamic of it now! This season is getting better and better!

  • We usually really notice Scott Caan’s talents in the more emotive scenes but I loved him in the early romantic scenes with Amber. He was just so natural and you didn’t feel he was playing a part at all – the sign of a very talented actor.

  • I have to say, I’m finding the COTW more compelling as the season progresses. I have especially enjoyed the ones we have had since January. The art heist, the hula dancer/vintage PI, the African warlord, and this one with the serial arsonist!The mechanics of the stories may not always be perfectly correct, but the entertainment value is there every time.

    This week’s arsonist storyline was creepy/scary – the arsonist and his final intended victim were well developed and well portrayed! I, too, thought Melina Kanakaredes showed a very realistic level of fear and panic when she had accelerant poured all over her and had a lighter flicked in her face! Love that the big soft and squishy on the inside cookie man decided to fix another broken toy and allow Kathy to stick around to help out after he found out she had lied about her official involvement in the case. Steve advising her at the end to not look back, the past is unfixable – true words of wisdom on his part.

    What can be said about Danny and Amber? I was a sceptic, still wishing for Danchel, but this girl is winning me over! Considering what those pictures of what her ex had done to her in New York, he was lucky he just got used as a speed bump on her way to the ER! Danny, Amber, and their extra baggage are good together – she’s no push over and she appears to adore her man. My only problem is that I always come back to PLenkov’s comment in a season 1 interview -“A happy Danny is a boring Danny.” I disagree, because snarky Danny can easily become annoying Danny. Let’s have happy for awhile, at least!

    Thanks for another enjoyable read, Wendie!

  • Hi Wendie. Thanks for your review. I moved toward accepting Amber/Melissa a little more in Danny’s life, not a Rachel fan either, but he does need someone in his life, and so does Grace. A happy Danny, helps Grace. I think the not being able to sleep is what sets up future episodes, and although most of us would have been emotional enough in seeing a loved one stuffed in a barrel, would have done the same given the opportunity. Although killing someone does have its guilt trips to a person with a conscience. We all know Danny is a good guy. Loved Michelle Wie in this episode, she did a great job. Loved that they showed her at the beginning and at the end. Her cameo got a little more than most. Grover fits right in to the Five O ohana. Melina Kanakaredes did an excellent job, the scene with her being tied up was truly emotional and she could not have acted it any better. I hope we see her again.

  • This episode was beautifully written! All of the actors were great in
    portraying their characters. This season just keeps getting better every
    week!! I love this show. It has alittle bit of everything in it. It’s not just
    a cop show. I hope it continues next season!!!!!

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up