In this modern day of instant communication and entertainment on demand — television is often an afterthought. Now people want to stream and binge-watch their shows, without interruption or commercials, and watching network television is no longer the primary way families find their nightly entertainment. For a television show to reach 200 episodes means so much more than just hitting a number — it marks a milestone that pushes them from the ranks of popular entertainment to legendary status.
This week “Hawaii Five-0” hit that mark, airing its 200th episode, “Pua aʻe la ka uwahi o ka moe,” which is Hawaiian for “the smoke seen in the dream now rises.” The episode allowed the audience a glimpse of 1940s Hawaii, and educated modern audiences on the legend of Chang Apana, a real-life Honolulu Police Department detective from the 1910s and ’20s. Some may remember him as the inspiration for the literary character, Charlie Chan, from the mystery novels written by Earl Derr Biggers.
The title for the historic episode is an olelo noeau, or Hawaiian proverb and poetical saying, which means “the trouble of which we were forewarned is here.” The deeper meaning behind the phrase is that the “smoke” or trouble “seen in the dream” comes from the idea most Hawaiians believe that dreams foretell danger, and are usually warnings or messages from our ancestors. It is why Hawaiians take our nightly visions so seriously. It is our kupuna speaking to us — telling us of a potential future or to beware of something or someone. Most of what we dream is our loved ones trying to teach us a lesson that will help us in our lives.
Written by David Wolkove and Matt Wheeler, from a story by Peter Lenkov, the episode is everything fans want in a landmark episode. McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) work a case — albeit as different “characters,” but still work as a unit based on brotherly love and trust; other Five-0 team members are added to the storyline. Directed by “Hawaii Five-0” co-executive producer Bryan Spicer, who has directed every season premiere and season finale since the third year of the series, the episode had a cohesiveness that is sometimes missing. Overall, the 200th episode is definitely one of the strongest of the season, if not in the entire series.
The episode starts us off in the 1940s — Dec. 6, 1941 to be exact. Two derby-hatted detectives are being shot at by two Tommy-gun-toting bad guys, as they chase them through the back roads of a deserted sugar cane field. The detectives look a lot like McGarrett and Danno, but the McGarrett look-alike calls his partner Milton — so we can guess they are not playing the same characters. The soundtrack and even the “Five-0” title sequence music is straight out of the big-band era. It’s a perfect touch to the unique and highly entertaining episode.
MODERN DAY MCGARRETT
The episode flips back to present day with McGarrett and Danno launching their new restaurant, which most fans call “McDanno’s” as it seems to have no name. The soft launch is well-attended and Danno worries about their bottom line. McGarrett sees it as a positive point in their restaurant’s longevity — more fans mean more customers, which will only be fruitful in the long run. As McGarrett makes the rounds, Duke (Dennis Chun) introduces him to former HPD detective, Milton Cooper (Richard Herd), who is was once friends with McGarrett’s grandfather, Steven McGarrett.
Milton is amazed at the resemblance of the younger McGarrett to his namesake, and tells him he not only looks exactly like his grandfather, but that he is also like him in spirit. McGarrett is honored by the compliment, as his grandfather was a true war hero. His grandfather was on board the USS Arizona during the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Ensign Steven McGarrett died after volunteering to flood the ammo shed before the flames hit it and killed more sailors. Many were able to make it off the ship and survive because of his actions.
Both men know this story, so it is a touching scene. When Milton proceeds to tell McGarrett how proud his grandfather would be to know his grandson now wears the badge, young Steve is a bit surprised. He did not know his grandfather wanted to be a cop. Milton explains they were best friends, and that their plan was always to become detectives — until Dec. 7 changed their lives. Milton joined HPD after the war and served all those years to honor McGarrett’s grandfather.
Milton proceeds to give McGarrett an old valise, stamped with both McGarrett’s and his grandfather’s initials. He tells him the case contains a bit of a mystery — the last unsolved case of the legendary HPD detective Chang Apana. “Your grandfather and I were obsessed, we used to get together on the weekends to see if we could crack the case. We thought it would be good practice to become detectives. Now I’m going to leave this with you because maybe you’ll have better luck than we did.”
And like a good detective, McGarrett dives in headfirst. Back home, he begins to analyze all the documents, newspaper clippings and photographs he finds in the valise. He shows Danno a picture of a younger version of his grandfather with the uniformed Chang Apana from 1932 — which helps to explain why the elder McGarrett was obsessed with the case.
Perhaps after meeting Apana — who died in 1933 shortly after retiring from HPD as a detective — McGarrett’s grandfather was inspired to become a detective, only to have the war end his dream. Whatever the reason, the contents in the case helped his ancestor to finally solve the case.
As modern McG is looking over the picture of the beautiful Lila Kekoa, a hula girl who disappeared in 1932 — he begins to put together the pieces of her unsolved disappearance and falls asleep. The storyline has him waking up back in pre-World War II Hawaii — but as his grandfather Steven McGarrett, who in his dream, is actually an HPD detective — not an ensign assigned to the USS Arizona.
While the timeline is different — McGarrett’s grandfather never became an HPD detective — this is McGarrett’s dream, not a re-enactment of actual history. It’s McG’s brain investigating the case, not reliving his grandfather’s life.
When he wakes up — on his desk there is a photograph of him with a very pregnant woman, who we know is Steven’s wife, who was pregnant with John, present-day Steve’s dad, in 1941. The valise with his initials S.M. lies at his elbow. Steven’s partner is none other than Milton Cooper (Caan), who looks and acts a lot like Danno. In fact, McGarrett meets a lot of familiar faces in 1941 Honolulu. It was clever how all of his friends are in his dream, playing parts quite similar to their modern-day personas.
Milton gives Steven a picture of Lila, which was probably taken right before she disappeared, and they notice she’s wearing a necklace no poor girl whose family worked on a sugar plantation would own. They head out to talk to Lila’s brother and as they exit the police station, they are nearly gunned down by a drive-by Tommy gun shooting. They filmed outside of the original Honolulu Police Station at 842 Bethel St. in Chinatown making the scene really authentic. The iconic station — which still has Honolulu Police Station engraved in the terracotta arch — served as HPD headquarters from 1931 to the early 1960s. This means Chang Apana himself would have worked out of this station, lending an even more authentic feel to the 1940s theme of the episode.
OLD FRIENDS ARE NEW FRIENDS
While Steven and Milton look into what really happened to Lila, they run into several familiar faces. The officer who questions Milton after he and Steven after they are shot at outside the station house is Sgt. Naskiuchi (Dennis Chun), who looks a lot like their own Sgt. Duke Lukela. Chun posted a picture of himself in the 1940s uniform, alongside a picture of his own father, Kam Fong, dressed in the same uniform. Chun’s father, who played Chin Ho Kelly in the original version of “Hawaii Five-0,” was a member of HPD from 1944 to 1960. He was inducted into the HPD Hall of Fame in May 2013.
Another HPD ally who comes to Milton and Steven’s aid is Officer Mike Flanagan (Jorge Garcia), who like McGarrett’s modern friend Jerry Ortega (Garcia), helps him run down clues in order to help put all the pieces together. Flanagan also backs up Milton and Steven when they need an extra gun to question their final suspect, Clarence Whitmour (Mariano Farrar), the father of Lila Kekoa’s one true love — who also buried her body after she and his son were killed by his rival, Earl Blackstone (Ian Anthony Dale).
Blackstone is a known gambling hall/opium den king, and while he might share Adam Noshimuri’s (Dale) good looks, Adam has long left his illegal business dealings in the past. Steven sees Blackstone at a downtown club, owned by “Biggie” Tupa (Taylor Wily) — a dead ringer for Kamekona (Wily). Blackstone is sipping Champagne with a pretty girl, while they enjoy the beautiful songstress, Alexa Alana (Meaghan Rath). Rath actually sang the song she performed with the band in the scene.
While Milton is watching Alexa, and gets blown a few kisses, Steven heads over to Blackstone to give him some heat and drink some of his Champagne, before moving on to question Alexa about her connection to Lila. While Alexa has the beauty and moxie of Tani Rey (Rath), she unfortunately is shot while trying to tell Steven the identity of Lila’s rich boyfriend — who is probably the reason Lila has been missing for the last nine years.
All roads of course, lead back to Whitmour who admits that Lila and his son, James, were killed by Blackstone, but he buried her body to make sure his son looked like the ultimate victim. He also wanted his son to die the fiance of a wealthy diamond heiress, and not the boyfriend of a hula girl.
Another familiar face was Beach Boy Evan Kekoa (Beulah Koale), Lila’s brother, who told Steven and Milton that Lila might have gotten her necklace from plantation owner, William Pettifer (Chris Mulkey). Evan might be teaching surfing lessons, but his resemblance to Junior Reigns (Koale) is striking.
Steven’s Captain, Charles Sumner (Chi McBride), who seemed to have the accent of every police captain from every film noir movie ever made down pat, looked a lot like Lou Grover (McBride). And after Steven is injured chasing down the Tommy-gun-toting bad guys, he is patched up by a beautiful doctor, who could have been an ancestor of Dr. Noelani Cunha (Kimee Balmilero).
LISTENING TO OUR KUPUNA
Hawaiians would believe McGarrett falling asleep as he re-examined his grandfather’s clues was no accident. Sleep would allow his grandfather to show him the truth of the clues and information. His dream fittingly ends as the sirens start to wail and Steven, Milton and Flanagan watch Japanese planes head toward Pearl Harbor. Where his grandfather actually died, McGarrett awakens and realizes he knows how to solve the case.
While he and Danno oversee the excavation of the Whitmour estate — where a pool was supposed to have been dug, but none existed — they find James’ car with Lila’s bones encased inside. Danno congratulates him for solving the case, but he tells his friend he just pushed it over the finish line.
He gives the real kudos to Chang Apana. It was a very nice touch to have McGarrett visit the Honolulu Police Department Museum and place the picture of Lila in front of Apana’s picture. It solidifies his legend for having solved all his cases. Perhaps he had a little help from Granddaddy McGarrett, but it was Apana’s case which gave both McGarretts the means to solve it.