If you have ever served or had a family member in the military, you understand that along with the commitment you and your family uphold and respect — there is always the knowledge that one day, death may come. It is the one thing the military does not downplay or sugarcoat. Every service member knows they may die doing their job, regardless of how much they love their country or family. Death is an equalizer. Like justice, it is blind — no one outranks it and everyone is susceptible.
This point was definitely brought home in this week’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0.” The episode, “ʻAʻohe kio pohaku nalo i ke alo pali,” which is Hawaiian for “On the slope of the cliff, not one jutting rock is hidden from sight,” was written by Talia Gonzalez and Bisanne Masoud and directed by Ron Underwood. It focused on Junior (Beulah Koale) who is tasked to bring home a Hawaiian airman who was killed in Afghanistan. Jerry (Jorge Garcia) accompanies him on the journey and reveals a painful truth from his past.
The title is a ʻolelo noʻeau, or Hawaiian proverb and poetical saying, which means “All is distinctly seen or known; there isn’t any use in being secretive or finding a place to hide.”
It’s a perfect metaphor for the case of the week, as well as for the two subplots which continued to develop the existing character arcs of the series regulars. While one storyline focused on Junior and Jerry as they escort the casket of Staff Sgt. Christopher Kaliko (Kainalu Moya) back to his family, the other dealt with the resolution of Sgt. Duke Lukela’s (Dennis Chun) troubles with the police department. Last season, Duke broke into the HPD evidence locker, after his granddaughter Akela (Cidni Romias) was kidnapped, in order to pay her ransom.
JUNIOR AND JERRY PAY THEIR RESPECTS
The episode starts with Junior and Jerry in Dover, Del., in order for Junior to act as a military escort for the dignified transfer of Kaliko’s remains to his parents. Jerry is with him as his colleague from the Five-0 task force. Neither man knew Kaliko, so Junior asks Lt. Col. Bailey (Jennifer Marshall), the mortuary affairs officer, why he asked for Junior to take him home. Bailey says she does not know but perhaps it was because they were from the same hometown.
As the airmen arrive to load the casket into the military cargo plane, they render honors in a simple ceremony. One of the many things “Hawaii Five-0” does well is honoring the military. Even in this quiet depiction of how the armed forces transfer remains, it is entirely respectful. It’s something that fans appreciate about the show.
While Jerry and Junior fly home with Kaliko’s American flag-draped casket, the two friends talk about why they are there. Junior shares with Jerry about choosing his cousin, who is a Marine, to escort his body home. Junior later admits he first asked his father to bring him home, but was turned down. His father was completely against him enlisting and even told Junior that if he was ever killed while serving, he wouldn’t even attend his funeral.
Jerry tries to comfort him by telling him that sometimes people say hurtful things when they are upset and perhaps his dad was just scared of losing him. Like Tani (Meaghan Rath) has done in the past, Jerry encourages Junior to make things right with his dad. It’s another element of Junior’s character that we still need to see explored.
After Junior’s reveal, Jerry shares with him that he wanted to join Junior to honor his friend Mika who died in combat. Mika was Jerry’s high school friend who he convinced to enlist with him after Sept. 11, 2001. Jerry’s anxiety kept him from serving. And when Mika was killed, Jerry blamed himself, and could not even attend Mika’s funeral. Escorting Kaliko home was his way to make up for not having what it took to enlist and in a way to finally be able to honor his friend’s memory.
Once they arrive at the cemetery to meet Kaliko’s family, Junior finally remembers how he knows the airman. They met when Junior gave a recruiting speech at Kukui High School when Kaliko was still a student. Kaliko’s mother gives Junior a letter her son wrote to him, which reveals that Junior was Kaliko’s inspiration for joining the military. And even though Kaliko knows if Junior is reading the letter that he is dead, he still feels that serving his country was the greatest privilege of his life.
It’s a beautiful and touching moment, and like other times when “Hawaii Five-0” has depicted military funerals, it reminds us not only about the fragility of life but the sacrifice that is made by our military members. It is also a stark reminder about the effect of war on families and friends when young people are sent to fight — and sometimes do not return.
MCGARRETT AND DANNO PLAY IN THE SAND
While Jerry and Junior are busy escorting Kaliko’s remains back to Hawaii, McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), Danny (Scott Caan), Lou (Chi McBride) and Tani are busy working the case of the week. The case was basically a murder for hire gone wrong. But it was woven into a far more complicated affair depicting the underworld of black market sand mining from beaches to make concrete.
The sand-mining storyline was not that exciting, but it was a clever way to expose the murder of Kaimi Alana and Kaimi Alana — two victims with the same name. A truck with no plates filled with sand takes HPD on the shortest police chase in history by dumping its contents on the road to get away. Within the sand is a body with no feet, and its face and hands destroyed by water and ocean life. The team surmises that the body had been anchored in the ocean and then dredged up by illegal sand miners. While Lou thinks McGarrett is pulling his leg about black market sand, McGarrett reveals that sand mining is big business as the world has a shortage of sand available to make concrete.
Just to be clear — it is completely illegal to take sand from Hawaii. According to an article in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in 2017, the “Hawaii Revised Statutes section 205A-44 prohibits ‘the mining or taking of sand, dead coral, rubble, rocks, soil, or other beach or marine deposits from the shoreline area’ with exceptions including: residual sand on the body, beach towels, slippers, etc.; deposits on collected driftwood, shells, or glass floats; and sand taken during lawfully recognized traditional cultural practices and legally permitted mining.”
Taking sand hastens erosion and the depletion of our beaches, which then costs the state a pretty penny to restock — with sand from the mainland. Tani’s comment that she sees them mining for sand while she is surfing, and McGarrett’s confirmation that while the dredgers are legal, the surplus sand they sell on the black market, is not — does make the case a bit more realistic.
While McGarrett and Danno search for the identity of the murdered man in the sand, they are sent on an interesting journey to a sand quarry where McGarrett chases the suspect all over the quarry plant into the sifter. Danno worries that if McGarrett follows the suspect he will be left with “three dead bodies and no partner.” McGarrett, of course, doesn’t listen and follows. Luckily, Danno knows what buttons to push to keep McGarrett from becoming sand meat and they get their man.
This leads them to find Kaimi Alana — a biological male, who actually is mahu, which is a third gender in Native Hawaiian culture. A mahu is a male who also identifies and lives as a woman. Lou misunderstands and describes Kaimi as transgender, but really it’s more of a spiritual classification.
Mahu members of our society are, for the most part, not ostracized or harassed, unlike in other communities. Kaimi’s friend Malie (Sasha Colby) tells Lou and Tani that she and Kaimi never experienced any hate in Hawaii, which is not far from the truth. Being mahu isn’t a lifestyle, it is just who they are — and in Hawaiian and Polynesian culture they are an accepted part of our lives.
Colby, originally from Waimanalo, is an international performer and entertainer and was Miss Continental 2012. Her emotional portrayal of Malie was honest and heartfelt. I also appreciated how the subject of Hawaiian mahu culture was handled with respect and not sensationalized.
It also helped to explain why the hitman hired by Noa Alana (Rey Valentin) to kill his wife, mistook Malie’s friend for Alana’s wife, Kaimi. It was a sad, but unexpected twist. The case of the week wrapped up rather quickly, once they realized who their victim really was, and they were able to piece together the case of mistaken identity.
DUKE MAKES A DECISION
The best parts of the case of the week had to be the scenes between McGarrett and Danno. Thankfully, they only argued about the restaurant for a few moments, but their back and forth discussion about Duke’s upcoming reinstatement hearing was both endearing and funny. Add in the scene with Kamekona (Taylor Wily) and Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett), the “Scarface of Sand,” helped up the humor in a rather somber episode.
At the start of the episode, McGarrett visits Duke at his home, where he is pushing Akela on an outdoor swing. Nalani (Laura Mellow) tells him McGarrett is there to see him, and after a darling admission by Akela that Grandpa Duke is feeding her malasadas which explains her growth spurt, the two men sit down to talk about the Duke’s hearing.
Duke tells McGarrett he thinks he’s going to skip it — that he knows he is a good cop, and everyone he knows and loves thinks the same, so he’s not going to fight. He’s going to retire and spend time with Akela and his family. McGarrett wants Duke to fight, to clear his name, but Duke says he has what matters: McGarrett’s respect, as well as the cops’ he served with, and the love of his family. It’s a sweet scene between two men who have been through a lot together.
Danno is certainly the one who supports Duke’s decision, even telling McGarrett, “You’re making this about you, and it’s not. It’s about him. He can make his own decisions. Not everybody wants to be fighting crime out of a wheelchair, you know? There’s something to be said for knowing when your time is up and not fighting it anymore.”
While Danno says McGarrett is making Duke’s decision about himself, it seems as if Danno is doing the same. It was one of the reasons Danno wanted to retire and open a restaurant. He understands Duke’s desire to stay close to his family and take care of his granddaughter. Danno felt the same when he realized he was Charlie’s father.
Still, Duke does decide to take McGarrett’s advice and fight to clear his name, saying, “That legacy is gonna be (Akela’s) road map someday when I’m not around.” We know that Duke will succeed with McGarrett on his side, but it was still great to see the resolution of the plight of his character.
It’s always great to see Chun play Duke and learn more about the character’s backstory. It also reminds us of the legacy of “Hawaii Five-0” as it’s hard not to think of Kam Fong when you see his son on screen. Both are different kinds of actors, but they both take their roles seriously and play them as realistic police officers and family men. During the year of the 50th anniversary of the show, it is a respectful nod to the original.
Overall, the episode was full of all the elements we love about “Hawaii Five-0”— an interesting case, deeper insight into the main characters, respect for the military as well as our Hawaiian culture and practices, and scenes of friendship and ohana. It’s what makes the show continue to endure and grow.