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Five-0 Redux

Unearthing the past reveals the black tears of truth

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    While working the murder case of one of the last survivors of the USS Arizona, McGarrett learns about his grandfather's important role at Pearl Harbor. Also, Adam uncovers bone fragments at his new construction job and asks Jerry to help him discreetly investigate.

For a show headed into its eighth season, “Hawaii Five-0” seems to be one of the most underrated shows on television. While there is an obvious prejudice against the show because of its supposed lack of cable drama grit, its too beautiful scenery, and way-too-pretty leading actors, it often goes beyond its generic distinction of “action drama.” ‘Five-0’ prides itself on delivering episodes that are thought-provoking, heartfelt, and expertly done.

If you watch other police procedurals, you will have to admit that the show’s action sequences, as well as the acting and stunt work, is some of the best in primetime. And the storylines that connect to Hawaiian history and culture give it a uniqueness that cannot be duplicated.

This week’s episode, “Waimaka ʻEleʻele,” which means “Black Tears” in Hawaiian, was exactly the kind of episode that makes me wonder how for seven seasons there has been very little recognition for the show. If nothing else, it deserves more press, more promotion, and more accolades than it has received in 165 episodes.

I’m sure the credit for this episode has to do with the fact that it was written by co-executive producer David Wolkove, who has written for the show since its first season. Likewise, it was directed by co-executive producer Bryan Spicer, who has directed the most episodes of ‘Five-0’ at 26 episodes so far. Needless to say, both Wolkove and Spicer know the cast, the series background and back stories, and understand the characters at a deeper level than a guest director or a new-to-the-series writer.

One of the elements fans love about “Hawaii Five-0,” besides the characters and the relationships they share, is how the show incorporates the history of the state of Hawaiʻi and the importance of Pearl Harbor. The events of December 7, 1941, are never too far from the minds of those who live on Oʻahu– it’s hard to miss the white arched beauty of the USS Arizona Memorial or the impressive guns on the Mighty Mo out in the harbor, during our daily commute. It’s a constant reminder of the men and women who gave their lives that day, as well as how it changed our island home forever.

In Hawaiian, “waimaka” means “tears” or literally, “eye water” as “wai” is “water or liquid” and “maka” is “eye.” “ʻEleʻele” means “black or dark,” which makes “black tears” a perfect translation. The title works symbolically for the main storyline of the episode which dealt with the death one of the last survivors of the USS Arizona, Leonard Patterson (played by the legendary Hal Holbrook). It also works to symbolize the ironic connection between Patterson and  McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin). Steve’s grandfather, who he is named after, died on the USS Arizona. There is a secondary storyline that involves Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) and Jerry (Jorge Garcia) working a side investigation into Adam unearths what looks like a human bone at his new job with a construction company.

The episode really worked on all levels– the story wove well together, I especially liked how everyone had their moment in the episode, and the action kept everything moving at a smart pace. I think because the opening scene in “Ua Maloʻo Ka Wai” (“The Water is Dried Up”) when McGarrett and Danno (Scott Caan) visited the doctor to check on their liver, which is housed in McG’s body, was so great– we were not treated to any long bromantic scenes this week. There was one touching moment when Steve shows Danno the video of Lieutenant Michael Murphy (Jack Knight) who tells the story about what McGarrett’s grandfather did that morning during the last moments on the USS Arizona. And that was perfect.

Yet we did get a darling scene between Adam and his “smokeshow” (meaning: everything about her is magically perfect, like a unicorn) wife, Kono (Grace Park). She comes to visit Adam at his new construction job working with the fictional Makaukau Contracting Company. I really like how Adam, who was once a Master of the Universe and is now a felon who has struggled to find work, is now working a tough but honest job and loving it. And while his Mrs. Noshimuri brings her husband lunch every day, it is so lovely how she makes him sandwiches to see if he’s okay working a job so different from what he is used to. I do love this side of Adam. Not that we haven’t seen this from him before. Remember that he was washing dishes in a cafe a few years ago, hiding from the Yakuza in Canada when Kono found him and brought him home.

Adam finding the bone at work brings him to Jerry, who helps him look into what was there before they began working on it. Adam wants to make sure they are not working over an ancient heiau– a sacred place for Hawaiians– like a temple or a place of sanctuary. He also wants to be sure that the bones are not iwi, the bones of the ancient Hawaiians buried and hidden all around the island.

To Hawaiians, iwi are not just skeletal remains, but a most cherished possession. Every part of our body contains mana, or spiritual or divine power– even our bones. In the past, when a Hawaiian died, bones were usually hidden. If they were buried and someone found them, the finder would know to treat them carefully, as if the person still existed. In contemporary society, if iwi is unearthed at a construction site, the bones are respectfully moved using traditional Hawaiian protocols and reinterred.

So Adam’s Foreman (Brian McNamara) should have listened to Adam and shut his site down, as legally he had that obligation. But I did enjoy how Adam and Jerry figured out that Daniel Nesmith, (Matthew Pederson) the real estate agent who originally sold the property where Adam and his crew had been working, had killed his wife and buried her in the foundation of the house they had just torn down. Sometimes progress can ruin even the perfect plan.

Interestingly, “mākaukau” the name of Adam’s company means “able, competent, capable, skilled, expert, qualified; prepared, to know how, to know well.” I supposed the company was not so aptly named, but Adam sure embodies someone who is mākaukau.

While Adam’s case continued to represent the title– the skeleton that was unearthed was black with age– the main case Five-0 investigates also deals with tears and a different kind of darkness. The initial case starts with the death of Pearl Harbor survivor Patterson, who is consoling his granddaughter Amanda (Lexi Atkins), during an ice-cream run after she has broken up with her boyfriend. He is killed after Amanda’s car is t-boned by a group of bank robbers running from the police. When Five-0 arrives, Lou (Chi McBride) informs McGarrett that the suspects had just robbed a nearby credit union before causing the wreck, and Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) tells McG that Patterson was a USS Arizona survivor. McG immediately feels a kinship with Amanda, as his grandfather died on the same ship during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

And in true McGarrett fashion, he promises to find the men who killed her grandfather– and we all know that is a promise he will keep. McG is intrigued and wants to know more about Patterson, so he finds a documentary commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor (which was just this last December 2016) where Patterson shared his experience on the Arizona during the attack. It was very cool seeing more of Hal Holbrook in the episode. His voice is so distinctive– he worked perfectly in this role. It was too bad he had to be the victim, it would have been nice to have him in the episode a bit longer.

Really, the investigation is not about Patterson’s death as much as it is about finding the bank robbers. It seems as if they are robbing banks for small payouts, and the team is curious as to why four men with obvious military training are holding up military credit unions for seemingly small change. As they team investigates they piece together that the men are a group of disgraced, but expertly trained, private security contractors who are robbing banks to keep the widow of one of the men from their unit, who was killed in Afghanistan, from losing her home.

Of course, the team tracks the bank robbers down using clues and technology– but it turns into more of a chase. They track one suspect, Nicholas Rider, to a house in Punaluʻu and engage to storm the manor. Once they get there, Rider blacks out the house, and uses night vision to engage the Five-0 team and SWAT in a major gunfight, and then before jumping out of a second-floor window, he blows the place up. After a chase, Rider shoots McG– who plays dead– and when Rider checks him, McGarrett kills him.

The tactical scenes– when the team loads up their weapons, puts on their armor, and strategize how to capture their targets– is very cool. And the gunfights and car chases all make for great visual excitement. But the one drawback for me was how the two gun/fight scenes McGarrett engaged in were so very violent and almost shockingly deadly.

True, I know that people die in the show, but McGarrett killed the same amount of people as all the guns did in the huge gunfight the team engaged in the middle of Auahi Street toward the end of the episode. In the first gun fight, when McG shoots Rider in the middle of his forehead– I jumped a little. I wasn’t expecting him to kill him. Maybe maim him so he could be interrogated, but I supposed McG was thinking that Rider wouldn’t have given up his boys– and Rider wouldn’t have stopped fighting in order to get away.

The second scene, where McG fights the villain Lee Campbell (Dylan Bruno) in hand to hand combat, was even more brutal. Campbell wraps plastic around McG’s face to suffocate him, and delivers several hard punches to his kidneys, and beats McGarrett’s face more than just bloody.  Still, when McGarrett flips Campbell onto a stake and kills him, that was really too much for me. Yes, yes, call me wimpy, but man, it was tough to watch.

Yes, you are right, I would rather it be the bad guy than McG. But if his doctor ever finds out about all the damage his body took this week– jumping off a second story, being shot with a big bullet he dug out of his own vest, almost being suffocated, being punched in his kidney/liver area– many times– that all sounds like things McGarrett is not supposed to be doing with his new liver. Light cardio and some weight training is all he was allowed to do. Doctor Kohashi (Shen Sugai) should not be told of anything that occurred this week.

But I digress– overall the episode was excellent because of its attention to details. The story of McGarrett’s grandfather volunteering to flood the ammo shed to give whoever was left alive time to get off the Arizona, and therefore sealing his own fate. The scene where Steve opens his grandfather’s footlocker and looks at the purple heart– the medal his own grandfather never saw. And the sweet moment when McGarrett salutes the Arizona at the end– most likely while they are interring Leonard Patterson’s ashes with his shipmates.

All of these moments mean so much and make the episode so much more than just an action drama show where they chase after bad guys and end up saving the day. So much more.

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

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