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‘Five-0’ helps us to see an important truth

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    When a man accused of killing his wife threatens to commit suicide, Grover (Chi McBride) reveals how he too was once on the brink of taking his own life.

    When a man accused of killing his wife threatens to commit suicide, Grover (Chi McBride) reveals how he too was once on the brink of taking his own life.

There are times in life when everyone needs to take a breath and think about what is truly meaningful in life. “Hawaii Five-0” does a great job using the breathtaking scenes of our beautiful island to help viewers escape our everyday life for an hour each week. Many viewers think that watching Five-0 fight crime in Hawaiʻi is a fun escape from our mundane world. It’s a way for us to be entertained and not have to think about reality. Yet, when a television show helps us to see an important truth– that makes the escape even more special.

This week’s episode, “O ka mea ua hala, ua hala ia,” brilliantly written by Sean O’Reilly and expertly directed by Roderick Davis, sets us on a journey of two men– Lou Grover (Chi McBride) and Brad Woodward (Devon Sawa), who is accused of murdering his wife. The men have come to a strange intersection in their lives, and it is the demons from their past that will either save or end them both. The title is a ʻōlelo no‘eau, or Hawaiian proverb and poetical saying, which means, “what is gone is gone.” The saying basically tells us that “there is no use in recalling hurts of the past.”

The episode starts with an escapist scene– McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Tani (Meaghan Rath) are having a stand-up paddleboard session at Ala Moana Beach Park, a popular local spot where Kamekona’s (Taylor Wily) Waiola Shave Ice stand started. The scene is beyond picturesque–the sky is blue, the ocean glassy, and Diamond Head stands out in the background. The conversation is easy and the two friends are enjoying the day laughing and paddling at an easy pace. It’s a nice scene before the real drama begins– a respite from the tension and anxiety that will follow.

McGarrett is telling Tani about his friend Chin Ho Kelly– about the time Chin found himself locked out of his hotel room with nothing but a towel and his abs. Tani laughs when she hears about how Duke (Dennis Chun) and his wife, Nalani (Laura Mellow) were there when it happened, and how Duke is still mad at Chin after Nalani bought him a gym membership because of Chin’s Valentine faux pas. It’s a sweet story and it reminds us that Chin still lives in the ‘Five-0’ universe, even if he is not actually present. McG promises Tani she will meet him one day because the island always draws people home. Perhaps Steve means that Hawaiʻi is not done with Chin just yet.

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They also talk about Danny (Scott Caan) and what will happen once Grace goes to college and Danny goes back to New Jersey. Steve promises Tani that Danny isn’t going to leave Hawaiʻi because he doesn’t want to leave and because Steve’s not going to let him. Brothers from another mother, Tani calls them– and she’s right.

The episode segues into another funny scene between Lou and his son, Will (Chosen Jacobs), who is lamenting a little conflict he is having with Grace (Will’s girlfriend, who also happens to be Danny’s daughter). Papa Lou is trying to give Will some wise advice about women.

“The key to a happy relationship is a fixed gaze and open ears,” Lou says, telling Will that women just want to be heard and supported– they don’t want to be fixed. He reminds Will that he has two ears and only one mouth, which means he needs to listen more than offer help, advice, or solution. The foreshadowing is cut short when Will spots the car mentioned in the HPD alert he received on his phone during their drive. Lou stops to investigate and finds Brad Woodward’s car smashed into a stop sign, with Brad inside holding a gun to his head and telling Lou to back off.

Like the title, Brad is dealing with the hurts of his past– the death of his wife and the issues that plagued their relationship. He swears that he did not kill his wife, but no one believes him or will listen to him. Lou tries to talk him into giving up his gun, just as Duke and Junior (Beulah Koale) start to set up a perimeter around Brad’s car, and Danny, Steve, and Tani arrive on the scene. Junior fills in everyone about Brad being charged with his wife’s death, and Duke tells them how he had negotiated with his lawyer to surrender himself, but when he did not show up they sent out an alert. Tani remembers the case, and along with Duke’s HPD information, they fill in the rest of the gaps.

It seems as if Brad’s wife fell 15 stories to her death, and while Brad swears she jumped– no one believes him. Even Tani describes with disdain the several domestic disturbances calls made to HPD. Duke explains that they could never charge him because HPD never saw any signs of abuse and the wife would not press charges.

Brad tells Lou the same story as Lou tries to get him to give up his gun. Lou tells Brad no one will listen to Brad unless he gives up the gun. He starts to understand that what the tormented man is going through is something he can relate to. Lou goes beyond his call of duty and reaches out to save his life. Lou’s been there before, and he begins to tell Brad the tale of his own walk toward suicide. He has to share his past in order to stop Brad from killing himself.

Steve calls Lou and they decide to look into what Brad is saying in order to get him to stand down. Steve trusts Lou and knows he has the experience to deal with this kind of situation. Lou has dealt with this before, as it was the same kind of situation that caused him to go down the same path that Brad is now upon.

“Suicide is not a rehearsal. Death is final. You pull that trigger and there’s no rewind, man. You will have thrown away your whole life in one split second mistake,” Lou tells Brad. And he knows. He was in a similar situation seven years ago in Chicago, before he came to Hawaiʻi to take over SWAT. He was negotiating with a man who was holding his two-year-old hostage, the negotiations went south, and the guy killed himself while on the phone with Lou– after he had killed his young son. It devastated Lou who blamed himself for both deaths–especially that of the child. He found himself drinking too much to ease the pain, he said goodbye to Renee (Michelle Hurd) and held a gun to his heart ready to kill himself. He knows what Brad is going through. He understands the pain of blaming himself for someone’s death.

Brad admits to Lou that his wife, Tracy (Kate Tobia) had dealt with severe depression most of their 10 years of marriage. No one knew, and he tried to keep her safe from herself. On the day she died, she was trying to take his sleeping pills and kill herself. They struggled, which is why her body had defensive bruising and Bradʻs DNA under her nails, and Brad left her in the apartment alone. Once he left, she jumped off the balcony to her death. He blames himself as he thinks he did kill her– he left, tired of the situation, needing to just get away for a bit– and that was when she jumped. Like Lou, who felt like he was the one who killed the child, Brad felt the same way about his wife.

It was so heart wrenching how Lou finds a way to come to terms with his own battle and still finds a way to save Brad’s life. How Lou used his own pain, to help another person– a stranger really– was so powerful. And the fact that Steve and the rest of the team trusted Lou in order to help prove Brad innocent– Junior and Tani find an ATM across the street from Brad’s apartment that shows him leave before the time Tracy’s jumped– just solidified the strength of the team. Even Tani, at first so sure Brad was a wife-beater who almost got away with murder, helps to prove that he did not kill his wife.

Sure there were conflicts along the way– John (J. Downing), Tracy’s father, arrives on the scene intent on killing Brad himself– only to be taken down by Duke when John tries to shoot Brad.  Duke just wings John so that they can arrest him, but as we always see the Five-0 team in action, it was nice to see Duke get to deal with a problem.

Overall, it was great to see Duke really involved in the case. He was right there with the team offering his expertise to Steve and keeping him posted about the snipers and the perimeter. It was great how Tani and Junior beat the street to get clues and evidence rather than rely solely on the magic table. And Danny came in at the right moment to talk down a very angry John, relating to him as a fellow father of a daughter. I did love how Steve answered the phone when Tani and Junior called to tell him that Brad was innocent, and he tells Danny, “It’s the kids.” Because aren’t they a family? Always taking care of each other, even when it’s scary and dangerous and unstable. It’s what keeps them together– and all of us watching.

The episode was so well crafted. Lou ends his story with Brad by telling him how it was Will who saved his life. Just as Lou was about to shoot himself– to end the kind of pain and guilt that Brad is experiencing– Will came home from school and distracted Lou from his purpose. Will being there gave Lou a chance to take a breath and stop himself. The scene when Lou thanks Will in his room is so touching. We know why he’s thanking his now-teenaged son– and Will has no idea of the role he played in saving his father’s life.

The overall message of the episode was a little more serious than most of their other episodes. “Hawaii Five-0” likes to champion a cause each year– last year it was human trafficking. This episode was no different, as directly after the episode actor Chi McBride appears in a PSA for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and available 24/7, it’s free and confidential, and available to everyone in the U.S.

After watching the amazing performances of McBride and Sawa, who played Brad, it was very effective to run the PSA after the episode. With the role the police and military play in “Hawaii Five-0” it was so powerful to have the show support an issue that seems to be one our service members struggle with, as well as our loved ones who also deal with depression and other mental illnesses. While suicide is sadly prevalent in our society, we don’t seem willing to openly talk about it or even deal with it. But after watching two powerful performances by these two actors– it was nice to have a better ending to the story than what typically happens in similar situations. Sometimes facing a truth is far more rewarding than escaping reality.

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

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