After eight seasons of “Hawaii Five-0,” it is always a treat when one of their own directs an episode. Fans tend to have a stronger connection to an episode when cast members sit in the director’s chair. When Daniel Dae Kim directed the season five episode “Kū kaʻawale” (“Stakeout”), fans loved how Kim seemed to have a deeper understanding of the characters and how they functioned within the Five-0 universe. There seems to be a familiar comfort level between the characters when a director understands the many layers that have built this series over the years.
This week’s episode, “E hoʻokō kuleana” which means “To do one’s duty” in Hawaiian, is a very special one for Five-0 fans, as it was directed by series star, Alex O’Loughlin. Fans have anticipated this particular episode because of their love for O’Loughlin and their eagerness to see how he used his many years of television and film experience to craft an episode of his own show. Written by David Wolkove and Matt Wheeler, the storylines were respectful of each individual character, and helped to answer a few questions that have stumped viewers this season. It also gave us better insight into several characters, and increased the drama surrounding the new organized crime division of Five-0.
The case of the week was handled by McGarrett (O’Loughlin) and Lou (Chi McBride), and involved Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) being charged with the murder of Hideki Tashiro. But the stronger concurring storyline focused on Danny (Scott Caan) and the revelation of the identity of the man who shot him in “I ka wā mamua, I ka wā mahope” (“The Future is in the Past”).
O’Loughlin’s handling of the two concurring plots, along with a humorous subplot dealing with the new kids on the Five-0 block, Tani (Meaghan Rath) and Junior (Beulah Koale), was smart and effective. Even though there were three stories threading throughout the episode– including several flashback scenes in Danny’s plotline– the episode didn’t seem rushed or crammed with plot twists and inconsequential scenes. The action was fun and purposeful, and viewers were allowed to see the drama unfold almost organically. Considering how many dramatic moments happened in the episode, it was great to be able to watch the characters be present in each scene.
It was interesting to watch O’Loughlin as McGarrett in this episode. While he directed the episode, his role as head of the Five-0 task force was not marginalized or cut down in any way. It made the episode stronger as he still worked the case of the week and was center stage in both big action scenes. O’Loughlin has played this role for going on eight years, and he obviously knows his character, and he also deeply understands all of the other characters within Five-0. While this is not surprising, it is very refreshing– as well as exciting to watch.
Under O’Loughlin’s thoughtful direction, Danny’s storyline was both an interesting glimpse into his past. It also dramatically highlighted the issue of domestic violence– which sadly effects not only women and families, but is the most dangerous problem police officers deal with on a daily basis. Scott Caan played Danny as a younger police officer in flashbacks to 1998 when he was a uniformed New Jersey police officer. He and his veteran partner, Officer Pete Evans (David Stanley), answer a domestic violence call where Danny meets Brooke Gardner (Joanna Christie) and her abusive husband Ray Gardner (Daniel Kaemon). We learn that Ray never forgot Danny and even after twenty years, blamed Danny for ruining his life.
Brooke has come to Hawaiʻi to identify Ray’s body and once Danny sees her, he plays back how they met and recalls why Ray wanted him dead. Danny is the one who reached out to Brooke, finding her a place in a womenʻs shelter, and helping her find strength and resolve to leave Ray. The two develop feelings for each other, and Ray beats Brooke one last time in order to find out who she is seeing. In order to save Brooke and put Ray in jail once and for all, Danny tells Ray that he is Brookeʻs lover. In a rage, Ray beats Danny as the police show up, which puts Ray away and saves Brooke’s life. Danny’s actions also cause Ray to seek revenge twenty years later.
Danny really is that classic knight in shining armor, always one to save the damsel in distress, to befriend the underdog, and to sacrifice himself for another. Caan plays that character well. Historically, he has always hidden his true heroism, never really taking full credit for what he gives to others. Like with Brooke, he doesn’t tell her– even twenty years later– that he provoked Ray to hit him so that he would go to prison for beating a police officer, rather than subject Brooke to going to trial as a battered wife. He also doesn’t seem to admit his obvious feelings for her, perhaps because their lives have moved on, or maybe because Rachel (Claire van der Boom) is still in his life.
The fact that the flashbacks to how he met Brooke, also showed how he met his now ex-wife Rachel, was interesting. We already knew that she had re-ended him with her car and that’s how they started dating, but knowing that they met just after Brooke tells him she is going to move away from New Jersey was a new window into his past. Caan really plays the tough-guy-fixer as well as the suffer-in-silence hero so very well. Watching his face with Brooke told us so much. And knowing that he had almost died because of meeting her, made the wrap-up of this storyline completely satisfying.
Along with Danny’s storyline, the case of the week revealed a lot of about Adam and his C.I. Jessie Nomura (Christine Ko). Lou backs up McG while Danny deals with Brooke and identifying Ray’s body. Lou and McG really work a case well together, playing off each other while they interrogate Jessie, but Lou does get a taste of what Danny has to go through when McG has the keys to someone else’s vehicle.
Adam also has an interesting episode. He is being held by the FBI for murder and he learns that the person who may have tried to frame him– is his half-sister. It seems that whoever really killed Hideki, left their DNA on the body, and when it was analyzed by the crime lab, Adam shared too many markers with the sample to deny a family connection. Whatever happens to Adam and his investigation into the Yakuza, we only hope that he can come out alive. Adam has had way too many bad days this season, and too many people seem to want dead. I suppose if you’re running an organized crime investigation if no one wants you dead, you’re really not doing your job.
Thankfully, there were some lighter moments in the episode. The really fun parts had to do with Tani and Junior walking a beat for the day. Special guest star Jimmy Buffett, who plays the recurring character Frank Bama, meets the two new kids and comments that they have “bright optimistic eyes.” And it’s true– Tani and Junior give Five-0 fresh energy and give the team a way to look at things with new eyes.
When McGarrett tells them that they have to “do the honorable work and see things from a cop’s point of view,” they really do see another side of police work– that it isn’t always about carrying a big gun and shooting the bad guys. During one shift the two do a lot for people, without every once drawing their weapons or using their handcuffs.
First, the pair save a young couple’s relationship– via couple negotiations and a touch of mansplaining. Then, they allow a young tagger (Wyatt Kaneshiro) to paint over graffiti and teaching him a better lesson. The best is when they help a sweet boy, Kawika (Ieremia Michael Lafi) and his grieving father (Wesley Cortez) get some help because he cannot deal with his wife’s death. Tani is impressed that Junior allows the father to walk to the police cruiser without cuffing him, and Junior tells her: “I can’t remember all the times my dad got arrested, but I do remember the first time I saw him in cuffs.”
I did enjoy watching the two rookies bond over musubis and bicker over who should be driving à la McG and Danno, but the funniest part of the entire evening was when Junior tries to help an older woman and she promptly maces him in the face. And then blows her emergency whistle and calls for help– all while Tani is parked directly in front of the woman. If you’re still laughing thinking about that scene, you are probably not alone.
Really, this episode had so much going on, and while the hour (42 minutes without commercials if we need to be specific) seemed to sail by, it was still very well-done. It says a lot about O’Loughlin’s directing, but also about the strength of the cast. The episode is about doing one’s duty, and each character showed us how they do this no matter how much they have to sacrifice. In the same way, the actors, as well as this week’s director, did a lot more than just their duty.