comscore Five-0 Redux: Sharing traditions
Every act of aloha counts. Click here to DONATE to the MAUI RELIEF Fund.
Five-0 Redux

Sharing traditions

Honolulu Star-Advertiser logo
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.
Get It Now
    When Kono goes on a solo outrigger trip around the Hawaiian islands in honor of her mother, she hits a patch of wild weather and must fight to stay alive.

The ocean is not only a haven of peace and relaxation for Hawaiians, but also a way of life. Hawaiians were expert sailors long before the sextant and compass helped navigate the seas. Stars, waves, and wind helped us reach our destinations; a talent that continues today.

The modern crew of the Hōkūleʻa is currently on a worldwide voyage, traveling over 50,000 nautical miles around the earth using traditional wayfinding techniques. That’s a fancy term for using the stars as a map without any other modern technology for direction.

This week on “Hawaii Five-0,” Kono Kalākaua (Grace Park) was set to sail from Oahu to the island of Molokaʻi on a wa‘a, or outrigger canoe. She planned to make the trip in honor of her mother, Nani (Catherine Haena Kim), who never had a chance to fulfill her own dream of making the same solo voyage after being incapacitated by an aneurysm.

After an emotional send off by her Five-0 ʻohana as well as her mother and father, Kono met rough seas and bad weather. He outrigger capsizes and she is stranded for days. Continuing on her physical and emotional journey via paddleboard, Kono revealed more of her background and character than fans have seen in the last few seasons.

While the episode is called “Moʻo ʻōlelo pū” (“Sharing Traditions”), the real tradition is more than just Kono and Nani’s shared love of surfing and sailing. It is also the sharing of Hawaiian beliefs and customs passed down to Kono and her cousin Chin (Daniel Dae Kim), and in a sense to their extended Five-0 crew.

“Out of water, I am nothing,” said Olympic gold medalist and Hawaiian surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku. While we know this is simply not true, in a way, Kahanamoku was speaking of more than just his talents as a waterman and surfer. I’d like to think he meant that, as a Hawaiian, he needed the ocean as much as he needed air to breathe.

I loved that throughout this week’s episode, the Kahanamoku quote came back again and again, as Kono proved how much the ocean had formed the woman she became. I know, it may seem too sentimental, but this episode touched me more than any other.

Perhaps it was because there were so many examples of real Hawaiian beliefs and culture. The connection to the ocean, Kono being taught Hawaiian traditions, even the deep ties of ʻohana — it all rang so incredibly true for me. Kono’s flashbacks showing the youth and vitality of her mother, the sayings and prayers were very well done. And when Kono called to her mother and saw her in a haze of pain and exhaustion, it spoke to so many stories from Hawaiian legends and folklore.

It’s not that “Five-0” has never had an episode that portrayed Hawaiian culture with truth and realism before. It just seemed as if this one was more innate than researched. Perhaps after five seasons, Hawaii has really sunk in for the writers.

Grace Park was really terrific in this episode. And the darling little girl who played her as a child, Miya Cech, as well as Kim as her mother; all three were really superb.

Of course, I know most fans tune in for McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), and luckily writers Peter Lenkov, Ken Solarz and Jessica Granger did not disappoint by crafting a case that paralleled the idea of sharing traditions to buffer the intensity of Kono’s peril at sea. Director Eagle Egilsson did a expert job of keeping Kono’s plight foremost in our minds and with the Five-0 crew, even as they worked what started off as a robbery-homicide case.

While McGarrett and Chin shared many moments worrying about Kono this week as they both watched the storm clouds and bad weather, they also worked a tough case that came from Chin’s past.

Makai Akana (Philip Moon), a crystal meth cook recently released from Halawa, was seen on video robbing a store of pills used to make meth. The head pharmacist was killed in the heist, and Chin recognizes Akana’s tattoos in surveillance videos. They easily track him down at a meth lab where he has returned to his old habits. Yet, this tradition is not what it seems, as Akana told McGarrett and Chin that if he stopped cooking, his son would be killed.

I suppose some family traditions shouldn’t be passed down, like criminal ways or joining the illegal family business, but for Akana’s son Carter (Jordan Rodrigues), those lessons came too late. As McGarrett and Chin realized with help from Grover (Chi McBride) and Danny (Scott Caan), Carter was really the mastermind behind forcing Akana to return to his old life of crime. He blamed his father for ruining his life and saw the money he could make selling his father’s expertly created drugs as a way to capture what he felt was a long overdue inheritance.

Sadly, Akana only wanted to get out of Halawa to be with his son, and it was Chin who encouraged him to not give up and return to his old life of crime, but to make something of himself. Chin told him to see the break Five-0 gave him as a second chance.

Still, most of our attention this week was on Kono and her frightening story. Luckily, in true “Five-0” fashion, Kono found the inner strength to make it to Molokaʻi as her ʻohana really pulls out all the stops to find her. McGarrett rallies the Coast Guard, even offering to fly himself in order to keep the Coasties out of harms way. All of the Five-0 crew got in the air to look for Kono, but Kono saved herself and made it to land with a little spiritual guidance from her mom.

I think I loved it more that Kono saved herself and that Chin and McG didn’t swoop out of the sky to save her. I loved how she found moments of strength in her traditions as a surfer, daughter and Native Hawaiian. It’s good to see the traditions of Hawaii have made a mark outside our island home, as sharing them with others has always been our way.


May 1 was officially May Day, or what Hawaii residents like to call Lei Day. Everyone celebrates by wearing aloha attire and lei of all colors and flowers.

In Friday’s episode, Grace (Teilor Grubbs) gave Kono a lei before she sailed off. Lei are usually given to mark or celebrate a special occasion, and more than anything are given with aloha, so a kiss or a hug should accompany the lei. So if someone ever gives you a lei, don’t begrudge them from hugging you or giving you a kiss on the cheek.

Another example of Hawaiian culture was when Kawika (Kala Alexander) shared “ha,” or breath, with Kono after he blessed her waʻa. Ha is what gives aloha its deeper meaning. Aloha may mean hello and goodbye, but when giving a lei it means more than just a greeting.
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

  • This was such an amazing and special episode. I loved everything about it – and while I was watching it, I was thinking of you, my friend, and just knew you would love it, too! I know how much your home Hawai`i and its traditions mean to you – and this episode incorporated these traditions in such a wonderful way in Kono’s moving storyline and the flashbacks to her childhood. I actually cried when Kono finally spotted land again and went ashore. And, like you, I thought that her making it back to land on her own – guided by her mother’s childhood advice and by the stars, like her ancestors – was so much better than to have her saved by her Five-0 `ohana, although I certainly loved to see Five-0 do everything they could to come to her rescue. The boys of Five-0 are definitely the best `ohana one could wish for.

    From the beautiful scene on the beach at the beginning with Kawika’s blessing of the canoe, and the entire `ohana coming to bid farewell to Kono, all the way to the end, this was a nearly perfect episode because it highlighted what makes this show so special – Hawai`i with its culture and traditions and natural beauty (I’m referring to the simply spectacular beach), as well as the team’s spirit of `ohana and aloha. The crime of the week fit in very well, too, although the main focus of the viewers was certainly on Kono’s storyline.

  • The scenery was beautiful. I love wind and waves. Coming from Duluth, Minnesota we get a lot of that. And I never get tired of hearing the sound of it. Okay, I’ll admit to being kind of shallow in that I usually don’t care about Hawaii Tradition. I just like to watch Steve and Danny and the gang chasing down criminals. But they did a really good job of it in this episode. I truly enjoyed the tradition and the scenery and I really got the feel of Hawaii in this episode. Kono’s love of the ocean was beautifully portrayed. And I also loved the little side story. I would have never guessed at the ending of that one. Hawaii 50 does a wonderful job of connecting their storylines. You see Kono risking her life to honor her mother and then this boy setting up his own father. But Kono’s mother was another outstanding actor. And you could see how much she taught Kono and her passion for the land and sea. Maybe there is a lesson there. You reap what you sow. The father was not exactly father of the year. He may have loved his son, but he was absent when the boy needed him most. My only complaint was, not enough Danno. But he’ll be back next week, so that’s okay. This was a powerful episode, with some tender moments to prepare us for the action and adventure next week. I hope they are all back for season 6.

  • Wendie,
    Great review and thank you for your insights regarding the culture. Very enjoyable ep. Now we have to hope for a season 6.

  • Great review! Loved learning about Hawaiian traditions and culture through Kono’s story and the case of the father & son as well. I have to say that the casting was superb-Catherine looks so much like Grace,it was uncanny! This was a great episode!

  • Having been to the Hawaiian Islands a few times now, I have to say you do feel different when you are there. If you are a perceptive person in any way, and if you are willing to open your heart and mind, the Aloha spirit will find a way in! I have felt peace and tranquility, as well as a sense of welcome and love, each time I have stayed.

    I felt it again while watching this episode! Kono’s story was a beautiful representation of love, respect, tradition and honor between family and Ohana, while the COTW showed us the opposite side of the coin.

    It also showed us strong, beautiful women carrying on and passing down their traditions and strength to the next generation. Very impressive and satisfying!

    Thanks for another great review, Wendie! I always look forward to your review and to learning some new aspects of Hawaiian life each week!

  • As a fan of the show, I love all of the cast and always want to know more about these characters. This episode did not disappoint with so much heart while giving us action. Not the typical police drama action but nature putting us on the edge of our seats. What a perfect combo.

    I love your recap Wendie. Hawaii draws us to this show as an important “character” along with the actors. Thinking many of us go to sleep on Friday nights dreaming of warm sand and blue water. You always fill in the details about Hawaii so many of us don’t know about those beautiful islands. Thank you as always for your work to share with us.

  • I liked the episode and giving more background to Kono. The one thing I wish the producers/directors/writers would do is not give the impression that you can see the water from wherever you are on the island. I grew up in Waipahu and went to that store all the time as a kid and what Chin was really looking at was the bus station. I know, buses aren’t as interesting as the ocean but that’s really taking it far. I guess I should be happy that Waipahu is featured a lot on the show because it’s cool to see my friends keep posting pictures of them filming there.

  • I enjoyed that the show delved more deeply into the Hawaiian culture and thankfully, we have you to explain a bit more about it. 🙂 I thought they did a great job of finding a little Kono and Catherine Haena Kim was excellent at both at portraying the motherly warmth and showing reverence for Hawaiian tradition. As a bonus, it was wonderful to see a woman on the show who has a strong athletic body instead of the whippet thin actresses we so often see on there. But where the heck was Adam as everyone else was worried about Kono’s survival?

    The crime story itself, didn’t really grab me but I thought the dynamic between the father and son was just heartbreaking. Speaking of “heart,” overall, I say this episode had a lot of it.

  • Its pretty cool that one of the last lines of the show was Nani saying to her daughter, “You’re going to get knocked off your board many times, Kono. The only thing that matters is … you get back up.” It’s really what saved her.

  • As a Kiwi I could really identify with and instantly recognise the ha or Hongi as it’s called here. The sharing of breath and intermingling of life force is a very important cultural tradition for the Maori people. If you are a visitor you become one of the tangata whenua (people of the land). It stems from the creation of the first woman made from clay, her name was Hineahuone and life was breathed into her through her nostrils by Tane, a son of Papatuanuku (Earth Mother). It’s always interesting to me to see how the traditions and language of Hawaii are so similar to Maori.

    I love seeing how this show highlights Hawaiian traditions in a respectful way and so we can learn from them. This was a great episode. The two actresses playing Kono as a child and her mother were wonderful and believable.

  • Hawaii Five-0 started out as a reboot of an old crime show and it was fun to see how it was updated and how the characters interacted and solved the crime of the week. I could have gone on loving the show if it had kept to the basic procedural cop show for the past five years. What I absolutely LOVE about the show, however, is that it has evolved and expanded in its depth and characterizations and, with this latest episode, portrayal of the Hawaiian culture. There are so many layers to this show now, so much more than the original series ever offered. I don’t need to see a cargument every week or shootouts every episode. When those episodes are interspersed here and there between the great character stories and cultural episodes (like this one and “Honor Thy Father” and the 100th episode, to name a few) and the longer backstories (like Wo Fat and Adam) then it really works and doesn’t get redundant. Mahalo to the whole cast, writers, crew for another superb show!

  • I really liked the little girl who played young Kono, and felt badly for poor Akana who just wanted to be with his son. Chin’s words of advice to him were very heartfelt. And I too wondered where Kono’s fiance was during this disaster; he saved her once in the water.

    Perhaps I am alone here, but I was thrown out of the moment every time that the actress who played Kono’s mother kept pronouncing her name wrong. It’s “ko-no” and not “kowe-know” – the Hawaiian “o” does not rhyme with “owe.” How could the director let that go??

Click here to view ongoing news coverage of the Maui wildfires. Sign up for our free e-newsletter to get the latest news delivered to your inbox. Download the Honolulu Star-Advertiser mobile app to stay on top of breaking news coverage.

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