If you were lucky enough to grow up in Hawaii, it’s a good bet you spent at least one weekend at Camp Erdman before you hit your preteen years. And like every kid who ever experienced summer camp, you heard your fair share of spooky ghost stories around the campfire. In Hawaii, our campfire stories often sounded like the one being told in the opening of this week’s “Hawaii Five-0.” As in years past, the show’s writers used local folklore and superstition to help craft their annual Halloween episode.
This year’s episode, “ʻAʻohe mea ʻimi a ka maka,” which is Hawaiian for “Nothing More for the Eyes to Search For,” focuses on two storylines filled with everything a spooky campfire story needs. Jerry (Jorge Garcia), along with Eric (Andrew Lawrence), Noelani (Kimee Balmilero) and his childhood friends Crystal (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Ano (Derek Basco), have come back to Camp Hina on Halloween. Not to relive their 12-year-old glory days of s’mores and Donkey Kong, but to search for the body of Susanna Tumuro, a teenage runaway who disappeared around the same time the friends attended Camp Hina. At the time, Jerry swore he saw a man with a bloody ax burying a body. No one believed him of course, but as a true conspiracy theorist, he spent years investigating and digging to find out what happened to Susanna.
The second storyline was the Five-0 case of the week where McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Lou (Chi McBride), along with the kids — Tani (Meaghan Rath) and Junior (Beulah Koale), investigate a young girl’s strange crayon drawings, which are mirror images of three recent murders. The girl, Katie (Saini Tuimaunei), swears her mysterious new friend Molly (Jaycee Cryan-Cadiente) drew them. Her parents think Molly is an imaginary friend, and when Katie’s mother (Claudia Elmore) recognizes one of the drawings as a recent crime scene she saw on the evening news, she calls Five-0 to see if they can help.
The episode was written by Zoe Robyn and Sean O’Reilly and directed by Liz Allen-Rosenbaum. Robyn and O’Reilly expertly used a very popular urban legend that has been part of Hawaii folklore for more than 60 years. We all grew up knowing the horrors a young couple once faced at Morgan’s Corner. As teenagers we drove in flocks down Old Pali Road or Nuuanu Pali Drive — depending on whose story you believed — to check out the tree where the boyfriend once hung upside down as his girlfriend slept below him in his car. We disputed whether or not it was the scraping of his nails, or the dripping of his blood, that woke her. We parked under one of the big trees at the end of Old Pali Road, or near the hairpin turn at Nuuanu Pali Drive, and giggled and screamed as the wind whipped around our cars, scaring us to hurriedly drive away, as we swore to each other we saw something moving in the trees, the killer just about to end our young lives.
THE LEGEND OF MORGAN’S CORNER
The story of Morgan’s Corner is based on an urban legend meant to keep young people from parking. The story we grew up hearing in Hawaii was always about a couple from — insert your own high school here — who experienced exactly what happened to the teens in Jerry’s campfire story. The legend is based on the real-life murder of Therese Wilder, a wealthy widow who was kidnapped by two escapees from an Oahu prison in 1948. Wilder lived on Nuuanu Pali Road across from the home of Dr. James Morgan, which is how the story got its legendary name.
As adults we realized these campfire stories were just local superstition mixed with Hawaiian folklore. Or they were urban legends added to true crime stories to make it seem real to our teenage imaginations. Still, before the internet we somehow all knew the same story — and all made it our mission to scare each other with it at every sleepover and campfire circle where we told the tale over shivers and screams of delighted fear. It seems as if Jerry and Noelani want to relive those days of youth and adventure, but for Jerry it is a quest to find out if what he remembers was real. Did he actually see the reclusive Bo Bradley (Pat Gilbert), who lived near Camp Hina, burying a body? Or did his overactive imagination take over and convince him for 30 years that he witnessed a murder?
It was quite satisfying when Jerry does find human remains and vindicates himself as having actually seen the killer burying Susanna. He also clears the elusive Bo Bradley who actually saves Jerry and his friends when their former camp counselor, Blaine Morgan (Noah Moore), tries to kill them. It made the episode quite perfect with all the spooks and scares of a true Halloween fright night.
THE CASE OF MOLLY, THE IMAGINARY FRIEND
The case of the week was an interesting mix of real-life murder and the potential for the supernatural. While McGarrett and the team try and figure out how a little girl could possibly draw images of murder — and know such specific details — they also want to find out who is killing women with red hair and blue eyes. The parents of little Katie think the imaginary friend Molly is making Katie draw the pictures, but Tani proves through fingerprint analysis that someone else is drawing the pictures.
McGarrett is correct when he says there is a real-life explanation — they just have to figure out what it is. He does not believe Molly is a ghost or imaginary — or that Katie has second sight. When Katie’s parents hear her talking to Molly — and see a strange girl in the video monitor — they realize Molly is no figment of anyone’s imagination.
Cryan-Cadiente was perfect as little Molly. When she shows up in the video monitor, it is more frightening than Jerry’s ax murderer in the woods. It turns out Molly has been drawing what she sees her father doing, as he tries to kill the memory of Molly’s mother. She is scared and vulnerable, but she did not know how to get help. Sneaking into Katie’s room and drawing the pictures was her cry for help.
Of course, McGarrett and the team find Molly after testing the DNA off of a piece of jewelry found on one of her father’s victims. After storming his house, and after Lou knocks the father out proclaiming, “Shh! He’s sleeping,” Tani scoops Molly up and tells her she’s going to be safe. We certainly love when the team saves the right victim.
Afterward, the scene where she sits with McGarrett and draws a picture of going surfing with Tani was darling. It was a sweet touch to show us she was not at all frightening, but just a scared little girl.
The Halloween episode was just right: A great mystery with enough scary parts to be fun and entertaining. The addition of the local legend helped to make it relatable and not overly cheesy. Anytime Jerry can be a hero is always a good day — especially when it’s on his favorite holiday.