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Five-0 Redux

Winning the popular vote

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Leave it to “Hawaii Five-0” to highlight a major political issue in the midst the most controversial race for the Presidency since Al Gore and George W. Bush fought over hanging chads. I suppose if I had to use any kind of analogy for this week’s episode, “Ke Kū Ana” translated as “The Stand,” I would have to compare the episode to the debate between who wins an election — the candidate who wins the popular vote, or the candidate who wins the electoral college.

As we know from the 2000 election — it doesn’t matter if the candidate is the most popular, he or she has to have the 270 majority electoral college votes in order to become president. We could almost say that the life of a television show is pretty similar. A show can be popular — extremely popular — but if they don’t get those ratings, which are a bit like votes if we think about it — they won’t be renewed for another season.

This week’s episode was sort of like a strange election — I liked the show, but it may not have won my electoral votes. It had all the elements I love about Five-0 — McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) working together to catch a suspect that deep down was hurting more than he was dangerous; a bit of romance with Adam’s (Ian Anthony Dale) release from prison; and a sweet subplot of a prisoner being reunited with his reluctant daughter.

Sure, I want to watch episodes that make me love my favorite team and cause me to shed a bittersweet tear because of a heartwarming ending. Yes, I adore an episode where the entire team works together to solve a case and bring a peaceful end to a hostage situation. Of course, I like the fact that the team can mediate their way to a calm ending, even when it involves a distraught suspect who has an unstable trigger finger and a huge arsenal at his disposal.

Yes — I love all of that. But the whole political statement about gun control and the 2nd amendment veiled in a cargument was a bit much. I suppose Steve is right — what if we got rid of guns and eliminated discrimination, war, hatred, and violence. And then we all live “happily ever after and we can ride our unicorns to work every day.” It’s a bit too perfect, right? Get rid of guns and everything will be sunshine and roses. I’m sure some of our issues could possibly be cleared up, but I’m not sure it’s as simple as that.

I’m not trying to argue the issue — I’ll keep my opinion about that important topic out of a column about a television show — I’m just saying that this topic was a bit too heavy-handed for this particular action drama. Not that the show couldn’t handle a heavy topic — but we’re “Hawaiʻi Five-0” and Hawaiʻi has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.

Basically in Hawaiʻi, you can have a gun in your home, but you cannot carry it on your person or have it in your car. The state is a “may-carry” state by statute, but a “no-carry” state by practice, “as issuing authorities rarely or never approve applications for permits.” Growing up in Hawaiʻi, I’d never seen a gun except on a police officer or on television. Most people do not have guns in their homes for protection or hunting. The hunters I know strictly use bow and arrow. And my family members who are police officers only have service weapons that are part of their required uniform.

So for the suspect of the week, distraught dad Kyle Kane to use Hawaiʻi as the place where he was going to take his stand against gun laws and lobbyists, as well as against the police and the government — well, that seemed a bit weird. Why didn’t he take a stand in the state that his son was able to get a gun and where he died because of that gun? I know, Dad was trying to get away from the guilt and forget about what happened to his son — but it was just the strangest “stand” to try and execute in such a liberal state as Hawaiʻi.

Again, the gun issue is a popular topic — but for the most part, it failed to hit the right mark to get my individual vote.

One part of Kyle Kane’s stand that I did like was when Danno reached out to him like a father — relating to what he was going through and trying to help him to face his pain and his guilt. I thought the scene with Caan and guest actor Brent Sexton, who played Kane, was the most realistic part of the episode. Caan shines when he seems to speak from the heart, rather than forcing an argument into every discussion and situation. It was really well done and helped to bring a solid ending to the case of the week.

Still, it was interesting that the episode focused on Kane’s “stand” and yet the Hawaiian language title was misspelled in the press information. The title should actually be spelled “Ke Kū Ana” — with the word “ana” spelled without the diacritical mark or ʻokina in front of the first a. The ʻokina in Hawaiian language is considered a consonant and its placement can change the complete meaning of a word. For instance — “ana” spelled without the ‘okina means: “to measure, survey, evaluate, rate, or fathom.” The word “ʻana,” with an ʻokina used to start the word, means: “pumice, used as a rubber; siliceous sponge, used as medicine and as sandpaper.” The second spelling does not fit the theme of “The Stand” which is the published translation of the title.

The word “kū” means: “to stand, stop, halt, anchor, moor.” If we put “kū” with “ana” (no ʻokina) we would have a phrase that basically means “to anchor and fathom” — which metaphorically would mean what we envision the idea of taking a stand about our beliefs and feelings.

Yet, besides the two issues I had about this episode — it still had me in tears at the end. I was beyond happy to see Adam get out of Halawa and meet Kono at the gate. When she put his wedding ring back on his finger, I was as happy as she was. It was such a great moment. And I loved that they went to get a plate lunch at Kamekona’s (Taylor Wily) shrimp truck, and the team got to welcome their friend home. I also loved Cousin Flippa’s (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) serenade of the newly reunited couple.

The fact that one of the things Adam wants to do on his first day of freedom — besides a good meal and some quality time with his wife — is to help a friend from prison, Louis Kalama (Christopher Cho), reunite with his estranged daughter (Hawaiʻi actress Tani Fujimoto-Kim).

Between that sweet moment and the wrap up of the hostage situation — I was a pile of tears. So I suppose that the episode would get my vote in order to win the election. I think there were many moments in the episode, written by Jason Gavin and Derek Santos Olson and directed by Bobby Roth, that I enjoyed — Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) working to find out about Sara’s Aunt and Uncle in order to make sure she is going to be adopted by good people; McGarrett promising Chin he would do whatever he could to help Chin make sure Sara was going to be safe; loving text messages to Adam from our missing Max (Masi Oka); and a funny/naughty message from Sang Min (Will Yun Lee) — who still calls Kono “Spicy”; and Lou (Chi McBride) who had the best line of the year — “The door is open. I hate when the door is open. Nothing good happens when the door is open.”

Seriously, those are the moments we all love. And those moments, my friends, are the ones that get “Hawaii Five-0” the vote — each and every week.


I was so glad that Cousin Flippa, played by Hawaiian musician Shawn Mokuahi Garnett, had another chance to sing in an episode. His ʻukulele version of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” was a cute welcome home serenade for Adam and Kono. I love Garnett’s music, and really, the man can sing and play just about anything on the guitar or the ʻukulele.

Last season Garnett did get to sing one of his own original songs in “’I’ike Ke Ao” (“For the World to Know”), while he and Kamekona (Taylor Wily) were stranded on a not-quite-deserted island with Max (Masi Oka). I was hoping there would be more Shawn Garnett originals in the background soundtrack of the show this season. I gave a little mini-review of Garnett’s CD, “Slowly But Surely,” last summer after my family and I saw him play at Monkeypod Kitchen Ko Olina. Garnett is an amazing singer and entertainer, but his own music is his real gift to the world. Don’t miss checking out his songs at iTunes or find out where you can catch him next at Garnett’s Facebook page.

The Mānoa Career Center will host “A Conversation with Hawaii Five-0” on Thursday, November 3 at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Art Auditorium from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Executive producer Peter Lenkov, along with co-executive producer and director Brian Spicer, as well as Hawaiʻi casting director Rachel Sutton, will speak about how an episode is made, what is involved in hiring the cast and crew, how the storytelling comes to life, and how the show takes care to tell the diverse stories that reflect the people of Hawaiʻi. The group will also give their own insight into how to break into the entertainment industry. Tiffany Smith-Anoaʻi, the CBS executive vice president of entertainment diversity, will moderate.

Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter  and Instagram.

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  • I can only describe this episode as powerful. Yes, Wendy, I agree that Scott Caan really shined in this episode. Of course, I always love him in every episode, but like you say, he was able to speak from his heart in that last scene and obviously this guy is all heart. Because that is when he really shines. I also loved Cousin Flippa’s singing. I am not a music lover but I love his music. I am going to watch the episode a second time around tonight. I always say, Hawaii 50 is always better the second time and sometimes even the third time around. I sometimes need that to get all the feelings this show brings out.

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