Since Disney decided to embrace Hawaiʻi with all its corporate might, everyone now knows that ʻohana means family. Sometimes, “family” can mean more than just blood relations– much like how the term “ʻohana” is used in “Hawaii Five-0.”
The television series has threaded the theme of family and friendship into their action-filled storylines, and McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) has consistently embraced his team and all who support and work closely with them. This includes his partner Danno (Scott Caan), former SWAT Capt. Lou Grover (Chi McBride), the new kids on the block, Tani (Meaghan Rath) and Junior (Beulah Koale), and their investigative theorist, Jerry (Jorge Garcia).
Their ʻohana also includes those who have been loyal to the team from the start– and that includes Kamekona (Taylor Wily) and Sgt. Duke Lukela (Dennis Chun). Lukela is widely featured in this week’s episode, titled “Kōpī wale no i ka iʻa a ʻeu no ka ilo,” which is Hawaiian for “Though the fish is well salted, the maggots crawl.”
The title is based on a ʻōlelo noʻeau, or Hawaiian proverb, which is similar to the saying “there’s a skeleton in every closet.” Written by Rob Hanning and Rachael Paradis and directed by Ruba Nadda, the episode’s case of the week was actually an investigation into Duke when he steals evidence from HPD in order to save the life of his kidnapped granddaughter. The episode also included a parallel storyline with Jerry who is undercover trying to find out if the death of a Kaneohe Psychiatric Hospital patient was an accident or murder.
It was good to see two series regulars, who do not often take the lead in a case or in an episode, get a chance to shine. While the other team members all jumped in to help– it was a treat to learn more about Duke and his family and to see Jerry be a hero.
The case of the week was focused on Duke and his decision to try and keep his family safe without the help of Five-0. While Duke has always been a strong liaison between Five-0 and HPD, and he has often come through for them when they were in a pinch, this time, he does what he needs to do to rescue his granddaughter, Akela (Cidni Romias).
The kidnappers want a locker key from an HPD evidence box. The key opens a Waikīkī Beach locker with a million dollars stashed inside. After his daughter Carrie, (Shi Ne Nielson), calls him and tells him about Akela’s kidnapping, he speaks to the kidnapper (played by Hawaiʻi actor Kamakani De Dely), and is told to get the key and to not get anyone else involved or they will kill the little girl.
Duke tells Carrie to act as if everything is okay, no matter who comes to question her. He returns to HPD and tases Sgt. Bellina (played by real-life HPD sergeant Kendall Prochnow), who is in charge of the HPD evidence room, in order to get the locker key and retrieve the money.
While the team is a little stunned that Duke would hurt one of his own officers, as Duke is known for being a clean cop, one who upholds procedure and proper protocol. While he has always supported McGarrett and his unorthodox ways, Duke knows which cops he can trust– like when he saved the team when they were being held on Lānaʻi by Michelle Shioma and her gang of merry Yakuza– and he knows he can always trust Five-0. But this time, his fear of getting his granddaughter killed is what drives him to pull a McGarrett and go rogue.
Yet, after McGarrett and the team question Carrie, who tells them the truth behind Duke’s actions, Danno tells her that Duke needs to call them, that he doesn’t have to do this by himself. McGarrett agrees, telling her that Duke and her family are ʻohana and “we look out for each other.” When he promises Carrie that they were going to bring Akela back safe, we know his promise is true. He tells Danno to let HPD know that Duke is no longer a person of interest, that he is not to be touched, that it is a “Five-0 matter now.” It’s a way that McGarrett can protect Duke while they keep working the case.
Tani asks Lou how McGarrett could stand by Duke after what he has done– tasing a fellow officer and stealing evidence– and Lou plainly tells her: “That is McGarrett– he will never turn his back on family.” Lou reminds her that she knows what this is like, as she once intervened for her brother Koa (Kunal Sharma) before he was arrested in a drug bust, and supported him when he overdosed and was sent to rehab. Just that morning she went to get a clean and sober Koa out of rehab, she agrees with Lou, who smiles like a teacher whose student just aced a test.
Junior finds Duke by tracking his burner phone, which seems to be an amazing feat of technology. When McGarrett asks how he did this– as most believe the point of a burner phone is that it cannot be traced– Danno tells him, “I don’t understand these things because I’m forty.” Of course, the trace leads them to Duke, because kids always know how to make technology work.
Seems that Duke did his homework about the key before he stole it, and questioned the drug dealer who had been arrested days before with the key in his possession. Duke tells McG that he believed the dealer knew nothing about the kidnapping– but it seems his actions tipped him off that someone was after his money.
Tani and Lou track down the money– and the team back up Duke as he makes the drop to the kidnappers. When he does not see his granddaughter, he demands to see her– and is shot in the exchange. Luckily, Junior is on sharp-shooting duty and while McGarrett and Junior engage the kidnapper– with McGarrett taking him out– Tani finds Akela and brings her out to her mother, while a relieved Duke looks on.
While Duke’s case is wrapped up, Jerry finds his man using chess and chicken salad– and a youtube video on lock picking– to solve his case. Seems as if the patient Ben, who Jerry was trying to figure out if he died in fall or if he was murdered, was killed by an FBI fugitive who is hiding out in the hospital. Jerry befriends a nurse, Mila (Joanna Sotomura), who lets him clean out Ben’s room, for the small cost of half a chicken salad sandwich. Jerry finds a chess clock and learns Ben played chess with fellow patient, Harris Stubman (Devin Ratray).
After talking to Harris, he starts to ask about Ben’s habits, and besides playing chess with Harris– he liked to watch TV. The same shows every day. When Jerry doesn’t find a TV in his room, he goes to the common room and tries to watch the same shows. But another patient tells him to stop changing the channel because he’ll make Kosaki (Michael Hake) mad.
Jerry realizes that Kosaki is bad news, and picks the lock of the records room, and finds that Chris Kosaki is actually deceased, and using his tablet and HPD facial recognition, realizes that Kosaki is actually Dylan Shu, an FBI fugitive. He calls Lou– who is in the thick of the Duke investigation, but he sends Jerry some backup. But Jerry is interrupted by Kosaki’s accomplice, Don (Tongayi Chirisa), an orderly at the hospital.
Don and Kosaki/Shu force Jerry to drive off the grounds before HPD arrives, and in order to save himself– Jerry slams into a Dumpster. He ends up in the hospital and Tani gives him props for “pulling a McGarrett” with the crash in order to distract the bad guys. The team catch him up on the Duke case, and Jerry asks what is going to happen to Duke. The team seems divided– not sure if Duke was going to be fired or if he would be exonerated for his actions because he was trying to save his own family.
As usual, the ending was heartfelt. As Tani shares with a group at Koa’s rehab– about supporting her brother and assuring them that they have people in their lives who love them no matter what– we see Duke in the hospital with his wife, Nalani (Laura Mellow). Carrie and Akela run in to hug him and the family is all smiles and happy to be together.
There was a moment during the episode when Duke was allowed to talk to Akela and confirm that she is alive. She cries to her Papa that she wants to come home. Duke comforts her and calls her “Kuʻulei” which is an endearment for a loved one, especially children. “A beloved child was often carried on the shoulders, with its legs draped down on both sides of the bearer like a lei”– which is where the endearment comes from.
Like any beloved ʻohana, we wear their love and trust around our shoulders. And when we need them the most, they will wrap themselves around us to keep us safe. No matter what the cost. And like McGarrett– we never turn our backs on family, for that is the true meaning of ʻohana.