In Hawaiʻi, blood means everything. Blood lines and family ties really define the lifestyle and culture of our island home. Everything we do between our food, our beliefs, and our traditions uses ethnicity and ancestry to help identify ourselves from one another. Take the Five-0-0 team: McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) defines himself as a local kama’āina from Hawaiʻi, yet he does not have Hawaiian blood. Both Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Kono (Grace Park) identify themselves as Hawaiian meaning they have the koko, or blood, to be called kānaka maoli, or native Hawaiians. Chin is also Chinese and Caucasian based on his last name, Kelly.
I love when “Hawaii Five-0” takes a strong theme like the idea of family ties and loyalty in week’s episode “Pilina Koko” (“Blood Ties”) and develops it on several levels. Writer Eric Guggenheim really brought these themes into play for several characters, and created a plot twist that was delightfully surprising. Director Maja Vrvilo handled the action, as well as the emotion of the episode, with style and superior pacing.
Really, it was one of the more satisfying episodes of the season. I think most fans enjoy the episodes where the weekly case moves into the personal lives of the Five-0 team. And I love when the theme is multi-layered and becomes even a deeper symbol for us to contemplate.
The episode starts out dealing with blood actual spilt blood, having to be cut out of the carpet by former art dealer, turned crime scene cleaner, Gerard Hirsch (returning guest star Willie Garson). The murder victim, Vanessa Diaz, a single-mother living in a multi-million dollar home with her young daughter, is thought to have been killed by an intruder. While Hirsch is cleaning the home, he finds the intruder hiding in a safe room tucked into one of the walls. Hirsch is injured by the would-be killer, and Kono is tasked to protect him.
Poor Kono relegated to rookie duty after all these years. The scenes between Kono and Hirsch are funny and light, and while the episode wasn’t heavy with emotion and angst it did allow for a few moments of standard Five-0 humor. Thankfully, there was no leering of anyone’s actual caboose. There was, however, quite a bit of Kono leering, as Hirsch’s painting of her hanging on his wall, was very lifelike. Who knew Kono looked so good as a work of art?
It was also very sweet seeing Kono interact with Gerard’s father, Leo, played by veteran actor Elliott Gould. Gould played the elder Hirsch as a sweet man who is very concerned about his son’s love for the finer things in life, yet knowing that this love was what changed him into a criminal. I loved how he asked Kono to watch out for his son, and how Kono connected with Gerard over their similar stories of parental caretaking. While Gerard may creep out our Kono, she knows he doesn’t really mean her any harm, and his awkward infatuation comes from a place of need for friendship and trust.
Still, regardless of Hirsch’s creep factor, his memory proves useful as his artistic drawing of the intruder, Doug Morrow (Michael Guarnera), helps the team to catch the thief, who turns out to have not been Vanessa’s killer, after all. Max (Masi Oka) finds evidence that Morrow actually tried to resuscitate Vanessa, to no avail. Morrow does, however, have video evidence of the true killer and the team tracks down the assassin, Jimmy Brigante (Hawaiʻi actor Mitchell L. Johnson).
Brigante was hired by Michelle Shioma (Michelle Krusiec). Shioma, who presents herself as a wealthy mother of two, just trying to do the best for her girls, is ice cold and annoyingly arrogant. Her attitude is real, but her cover story is not, as she is really the head of the Yakuza after the death of her father Goro Shioma.
We met Shioma’s daughter in “Ka pono kūʻokoʻa” (“The Cost of Freedom”), when she sent out her Yakuza minions to kill Adam (Ian Anthony Dale), after he “escaped” from Halawa. Five-0-0 thwarted her attempt, and this week Shioma again slips through McGarrett’s fingers when they bring her in for questioning about her connection to Brigante. McGarrett and Danno (Scott Caan) tries to get her to confess that she sent Brigante out question Vanessa about her husband Gabriel Waincroft (Christopher Sean). Shioma wants Gabriel dead to avenge her father’s murder.
But this is only part of the plot twist. Seems as if the team only found out this connection between Vanessa and Gabriel, after Vanessa’s daughter told HPD that she has an uncle Chin who is a police officer. I think we can rightly guess that there is only one Chin on the HPD roll call.
Sgt. Duke (Dennis Chun) contacts Chin, explaining to him what the officers learned from Sara (Londyn Silzer) and Duke leaves Chin to talk to Sara about her uncle. As Chin questions her, the child is shy and doesn’t really look at him while he asks her about her stuffed rabbit, Newton, and her rabbit charm bracelet. Sara tells Chin her uncle was married to her aunt, who she is named after. When Chin asks her if her aunt’s name is Sara, his face thinking that this is probably a mistake, the girl says her middle name is “Malia.”
Talk about punching Chin in the gut. The look on his face, the tears that fill his eyes, after hearing his dead wife’s name, was a bit of a shock. But when the little girl looks at Chin, and we see just the sweetest resemblance to Malia, there was the big knockout punch of the entire scene.
Because who saw that coming? Really, it was a brilliant plot twist. It keeps Chin connected to Gabriel, it answers so many questions about Gabriel’s motives and why he keeps wanting Chin to join him in his world, and it masterfully gives us even more of a reason to continue our love of Gabriel.
Seriously, the episode could have ended there, but we needed to see more drama, so after McG and Danno question Michelle Shioma and figure out the ice queen is basically untouchable, Sara is kidnapped while being transported to a safe house. Chin characteristically tries to stop the kidnapping, and is shot in the process. I did call finding out about Sara a punch in the gut, but I really didn’t need to see Chin get shot there to bring that all to reality.
After Chin is shot, Abby (Julie Benz) is trying to comfort him, and he whispers to her about Sara’s rabbit charm bracelet before he is taken to the hospital. She helps the team by telling them about a kidnapping case she once worked where the victim’s mother made her wear a bracelet with a GPS tracker. This is how they find Sara, who was kidnapped by Brigante, probably to use as leverage to bring Gabriel out of hiding.
Chin breaks out of the hospital, and he and his shotup Mustang, limp to where the team is setting up to save Sara. He asks McG not to tell him to stand down. I thought he was going to say, “Let me get my girl, Steve.” You can just see it on his face how much he already loves Sara. She’s a part of Malia, and while she is also part Gabriel, I think the Malia part overrides the evil daddy part of her.
So the team sharpshoot the three goons holding her, and when Brigante takes over and holds Sara up like a shield, McGarrett shoots him, knowing that he is the only way they can catch Michelle Shioma. But as he tells Lou (Chi McBride) it is worth it to lose him, in order for Chin to have his niece back in one piece.
If you can’t tell by reading this I really liked this one. Everything worked for me. Except for one small thing. Michelle Shioma is too cold and too evil. She’s so twodimensional, she’s boring. I just wish we knew more about her or she would show some emotion about losing her daughters, then she would be a likeable villain. Even the fact that she is avenging her father’s death doesn’t give me much in order to like her. Her arrogance is off putting and I’m just rooting for McG and Danno to put her in her place and for good. I wouldn’t even blink if they tripped over their guns and accidently put a bullet between her eyes.
Yes, that may be vicious but after having so many welldrawn villains I guess I have no tolerance for sloppy bad guys or girls, for that matter. Either make her real and more three-dimensional or kill her off quick.
Other than that, I loved all the layers in this episode, and while blood is always thicker than water, we know that sometimes blood ties us to those we may not always want in our lives. I wonder how Chin will deal with loving the child of the man who killed his father, and who basically helped to put Kono’s husband in prison. This might be the tie that binds him to Gabriel in ways he hopefully will not regret.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
Mānana Island, or “Rabbit Island” as Chin described to Sara, is really a small islet located off the Windward coast of Oʻahu. It was once inhabited by a rabbit colony, which had to be eradicated in the 1980s as the islet became a State Seabird Sanctuary. It is also a sanctuary for Hawaiian monk seals. You can see the islet if you hike up to Makapuʻu Lighthouse or drive past Makapuʻu beach. And yes, it really does look like a rabbit’s head.