For the most part, “Hawaii Five-0” viewers enjoy many aspects of the hit television show, but they especially like when their heroes solve the case, catch the bad guy, and save the victim. When they can also watch McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) fly a racing plane, and defy death and gravity — well, that just makes them cheer even more.
This week’s episode, titled “He Kaha Luʻu Ke Ala, Mai Hoʻokolo Aku,” is a ʻōlelo no‘eau, or Hawaiian proverb and poetical saying, which means, “the trail leads to a diving place; do not follow after.” It is basically a warning to leave well enough alone. While it’s a caution for many to not follow the dangerous path, the Five-0 team doesn’t usually take this type of notice to heart. When they follow a trail, it often leads them toward a place of success.
Written by Liz Alper and Ally Seibert and directed by Ron Underwood, who directed last season’s Halloween episode “Ka Hale Hoʻokauweli,” (“House of Horrors”), the episode was another solid edition of season eight. The episode started off on a high note– showing off an amazing special effects sequence where McG flies a small racing plane at top speed between pylons set in the ocean. Overall the episode was entertaining and a nice change of pace from the more dramatic storylines of the last few months.
The episode started with McGarrett flying in the Hammerade Air Race for the racing team “The Shadow Baron.” Danny (Scott Caan) and the rest of the Five-0 team — Tani (Meaghan Rath), Jerry (Jorge Garcia), Lou (Chi McBride), Junior (Beulah Koale), and Kamekona (Taylor Wily) on pins and needles as he cuts through a pylon and loses control of the plane as he’s flying at 175 knots.
Of course, they left us hanging as McG is spiraling down toward the ocean and his team is watching helplessly on the beach. They flashback to 31 hours earlier when McG is asked by an old Navy buddy, mechanic “Rockin’” Ronnie Turner (Dohn Norwood), to investigate the death of his Hammerade pilot, Jason Sachs, who crashed in a practice run. He thinks something strange happened to his pilot and suggests that perhaps someone wanted to kill him because of the competitiveness of the air racing community.
When Danny and McGarrett meet the NTSB investigator Agent Callahan (Ricardo Chavira) McG’s spidey-sense is pinged by the strange way Callahan almost casually deems the crash a result of pilot error. Especially after McGarrett notices that they have not found the trim tab among the wreckage, which is a key piece of the plane that would help them to decide what really happened in the crash. The trim tab is basically a rudder on the tail which helps to control the plane, and if anything would happen mechanically to it, the pilot would not be able to stabilize the plane. Danny points out to Agent Callahan — if they don’t have the trim tab, it would be difficult to figure out how the crash happened. McG concludes that Callahan is either an idiot or hiding something, and is even more sure that Callahan is dirty in some way.
The best part of this scene is when Danny tells McGarrett how he thinks getting radiation poisoning was probably a good thing for Steve, as pre-radiation he would have punched Callahan in the mouth. It is sweet and sarcastic at the same time– which is classic Danno at his best. He’s not really wishing that Steve got poisoned, but he does appreciate this mellow side of McG.
Meanwhile, Lou and Noelani (Kimee Balmilero) discuss Jason’s autopsy and what his body went through in the crash, and Tani and Steve go to see Elena Sachs (Danay Garcia), Jason’s wife, to ask her questions about Jason and the morning of his death. She tells them a story of how Jason saved her from a bad relationship when she was living and working in Puerto Palomas, Mexico near the U.S. border. She tells them that Jason didn’t have any enemies and that he was always so focused in the air. She also reveals that Jason had an altercation with a man she did not know as they headed to breakfast before the crash.
While McG and Tani drive back to Five-0 headquarters, Tani is somber after meeting the victim’s widow and young son. McGarrett tells her that it’s good to care. I love the moments when Steve tries to mentor her on how to deal with different aspects of investigating and police work. It’s such a change from the last few seasons where the team were all pros and knew how to work a case. This McG as the Mentor is really a great addition to the many facets of Steve.
The case progresses as Ronnie gets his hand on the trim tab, and one of the Hammerade technician Isaiah Phillips (Alex Monti Fox) who fished it out of the ocean. Phillips tells McG and Tani that something was wrong with Jason’s tab– that somebody messed with it. Tani asks him if it was the s-word– sabotage– which conspiracy-suspicious Jerry suggested earlier in their investigation. Philips’ confirms their suspicions and says the trim tab was altered before the crash.
As usual, the case had its share of red herrings — not only Agent Callahan and Phillips but also Norman Andrews (Chris Flanders), a man who thought he had been swindled by Jason Sachs. Danny and Lou head to the Hawaiian King Hotel (which are actual condos and vacation rentals in Waikīkī), to question Andrews about why he argued with Jason on the morning of his death. Andrews tells them that he thought Jason Sachs stole all his money in an investment scheme, but when he confronted Jason, it wasn’t the same guy. They looked the same but were not the same height.
So Lou begins to look into Andrews’ story, and with Noelani’s help, they run Jason’s prints and find that he was hiding behind both The Shadow Baron and the name Jason Sachs. He really is a pilot named Luke Nixon. The real Jason Sachs died in a car accident six years before, and Nixon used his identity to hide from the DEA and a Mexican drug cartel. He took on the alias when he and Elena, who is actually the daughter of Juan Camilo, the head of a cartel he was helping the DEA investigate, escaped together to the U.S.
It seems as if Luke Nixon/Jason Sachs was not the only one who was not as they seemed. Agent Callahan had been paid off to cover up Hammerade’s crashes. He was supposed to cover up the mechanical errors and find that the crashes were caused by pilot error. He was paid off so the company would not have to pay the families of the pilots who died, and to save themselves from a PR nightmare.
And Tani might also be hiding a few things from McGarrett as well. One of the key ways the team figured out the truth of Jason’s crash, was because the trim tab mysteriously showed up on McG’s desk. Tani is in her office when he walks in and finds it sitting there, with its NTSB tag still attached. In the end, we know it is Tani’s brother, Koa (Kunal Sharma) who stole it from the NTSB. It is the clue that breaks the case wide open for them. And while the entire situation is a little unorthodox, I loved how McG asks her how it got on his desk, and she says “I don’t know. But don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right?” McG agrees and tells her that she is “getting along just fine around here.”
If Steve knows Tani stole it and admires her pluck, or he just likes the fact that she thinks like he does– act now and deal with the blowback later — is an interesting conundrum. It seems as if McGarrett knows or at least suspects that Tani is the one who got/stole/acquired the trim tab– as he gives her a knowing look and smiles while they are celebrating the end of the case. I’m not sure if any of this will come back to haunt Tani, but it seems as if she and her brother have come to a sort of truce. How long this will last between the siblings is up in the air, but maybe Tani will be less stressed about her brother and his issues while working for Five-0.
In the end, we had a happy ending on this one. The team saves Elena and her son Tomas (Noah Khan) from the cartel who sabotaged her husband’s plane in order to take them back to her father. Tani and her brother make peace and seem to be making an effort to get along. A trip to Rainbow Drive-in will do that for any relationship. And it seems as if Junior and Tani seem to be setting up a nice friendship. Their discussion of their similar family “issues” over shrimp plates at Kamekona’s was a nice moment for the newest members of the Five-0 ʻohana. Junior is not a part of the team yet, but the writing’s on the wall that he will be very soon.
Really, the best part though, was when McGarrett decides to fly for Ronnie to help get Elena some of the insurance money she is owed. Danny tries unsuccessfully to talk him out of it and watches along with the rest of the team as he pulls himself out of the spiral of death. When he tells his partner “To put the plane on the ground please, maniac” and McG thinks Danno has called him “Maverick,” as in Tom Cruise’s character in “Top Gun,” and thanks him for the “greatest compliment ever”– that was the second greatest moment in the episode. The very best moment was when Lou says “I feel the need…” and Jerry finishes, “the need for Steve.” And when over beers and shrimp plates Tani and the team tease Jerry about his new catchphrase– it’s these kinds of moments that sets an episode on the right path.