Thanksgiving is often a time when families come together to share a meal and be grateful for the many blessings they have in life. It can also be a time when they reminisce about the past and renew relationships troubled by distance and misunderstanding. This week’s “Hawaii Five-0” was the dramatic vision of a typical Thanksgiving — full of moments of love and tenderness, as well as those strained instances of conflict and rivalry. We could not have watched this episode without recalling our own family gatherings during the holiday season.
The episode, titled “Lele pu na manu like” which is Hawaiian for “Birds of a feather,” focused on Lou Grover’s (Chi McBride) ohana and their preparation for Thanksgiving. Written by McBride, and directed by Carlos Bernard — the episode is an actor’s study, heavy on character and the performances of talented actors, but a bit light on plot. Yet the story is relatable and celebrates family and friendship — both major “Hawaii Five-0” themes.
The story centers on Grover as he celebrates the holiday with his parents — Miss Ella (Gladys Knight) and Percy Sr. (Louis Gossett Jr.), along with his older brother, Percy Lee Jr. (Clifton Powell). The Grovers are originally from Chicago, and Lou’s family has traveled to Hawaii to be with him, his wife, Renee (Michelle Hurd), and their son, Will (Chosen Jacobs). Their daughter, Samantha (Paige Hurd), is away at college at Northwestern University. The family is made up of strong personalities as well as tight bonds of love and trust. It was a treat to watch them tease and bicker, as well as love on one another.
While the Grovers prepare for their turkey feast, McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and the rest of the Five-0 crew — sans Danno (Scott Caan) who has gone back to New Jersey to spend Thanksgiving with his family — get together for the annual Turkey Bowl, a flag football game played at Kapiolani Park. The game is all tied up and they are headed into overtime until Duke (Dennis Chun) calls them to a very strange crime scene.
FLAG FOOTBALL RULES
While it seems that the game is a yearly event, we have not seen one since the fourth season, in the first Thanksgiving episode, “Hauʻoli La Hoʻomaikaʻi,” which in Hawaiian aptly means “Happy Thanksgiving.”
This time, the teams have changed a bit. Since Danno is absent, his team is headed by a highly competitive Tani Rey (Meaghan Rath), who has recruited her brother Koa (Kunal Sharma) to join her, along with Junior (Beulah Koale) and the Great Wall of Waikiki — Kamekona (Taylor Wily) and Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett). McGarrett quarterbacks his own team, with young Nahele (Kekoa Kekumano) as running back, along with Noelani (Kimee Balmilero), Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) and Jerry (Jorge Garcia). Mamo Kahike (Al Harrington) joins them as a fair and impartial referee.
The game is quite entertaining, as Tani is more than a little on edge wanting to beat McGarrett. She tells Flippa he missed his blocking assignment, leaving her blindside open to which he perfectly replies, “What assignment? I thought we just stand there and be big?” Junior assesses Tani nicely, asking Koa, “Was she always this competitive when she was a kid?” Koa’s response that she was only like this until she was 8 and then no one would play with her anymore, gives us enough laughter to start off the episode. The trophy full of a fake turkey makes for a nice Thanksgiving touch.
THE CASE OF THE MASHED THIEF
Once they get to the crime scene, Duke fills them in when they arrive, and McGarrett looks at what is at Duke’s feet, he sees what kept the sergeant from their pre-Thanksgiving feast workout. A robbery suspect is dead in a pool of blood with the safe he was trying to steal lying on top of his squashed body.
The team deduces the thief tried to open the safe, but when he failed, he used a blanket to try to pull it down the stairs, when gravity took over and ended his criminal career. But Duke shows them evidence the safe was actually cracked after it landed on him, as the metal shavings from the drill are on top of the corpse. There seems to have been a second thief and he made away with whatever was in the safe.
Jerry contacts the homeowner, John Henman, played by Eli K.M. Foster. Fans might recognize as Foster as Deputy Knox, the U.S. marshal who arrested Danno for murder in “Pono Kaulike” (“Justice for All”). Henman tells Jerry the only thing missing from his safe is a 1948 Stan Musial baseball card, which he had insured for $60,000.
THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL
For those of you who don’t know who Stan “The Man” Musial is — he played 22 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941 to 1944 and from 1946 to 1963. He took a break during World War II to join the U.S. Navy where he served at Pearl Harbor for part of his military service. The card Henman owns is a 1948 Leaf Stan Musial No. 4 rookie card. (In February 2018, Heritage Auctions had one priced at $312,000, according to Professional Sports Authenticator.)
Jerry and Adam go in search of the card and Jerry wants to go deep undercover and pose in a Magnum mustache as Bill Bachman the Third, “southern gentleman, an avid collector of baseball memorabilia.” Adam gets him to relax a little and they go with the easier plan of Jerry posing as a guy who wants to help his rich Japanese friend buy some American baseball cards. Before Adam can squeeze out a “Konnichiwa,” the shop owner (Kevin Keaveney) is on the run. Adam does a perfect McGarrett chasing-a-perp impression by climbing a chain-link fence, running across a rooftop, jumping down the side of a building to catch him, and they get the card back.
When Tani and Junior return the card to Henman, he identifies the baseball card thief as Patrick Hale (John Lavelle). Henman donated funds to his homeless shelter, Oahu Helps, and once told him about owning the Musial card. When Tani and Junior arrive to arrest Patrick he tells them why he stole the card from Henman.
Henman had been funding the shelter’s Thanksgiving dinner until he found a better tax dodge. Patrick knew about the card and stole it to pay for the annual dinner. Tani and Junior feel for the guy, but they have to arrest him for robbery — and probably for not reporting a dead body. They stay to help him finish serving the holiday meal, telling Patrick that even though what he did was wrong, he did it for a good cause.
While the team tracks down the Musial card and helps feed the homeless, Lou is dealing with his family, especially his older brother Percy. It seems as if Lou and Percy have slipped back to middle school, name-calling and pulling pranks like 13-year-old boys. Mama Ella tries to keep all her boys in check — including their father Percy Sr. who refuses to wear his much-needed glasses.
The two brothers continue to harp on each other, to the point that they go from having a food fight over who will make breakfast to making a bet over Thanksgiving dinner. After Mama Ella decides that both brothers should cook the dinner together, in an effort to have them mend their relationship, they decide they will each cook a turkey and the winner will get what they most desire. If the family prefers Percy’s turkey, Lou will cosign a loan so Percy can open a bakery. If the family likes Lou’s turkey, Percy won’t come to Thanksgiving for two years.
Renee scolds him for making the bet — angry that he doesn’t want his brother to come around for a holiday that is all about family. She will have no part in the bet. Lou is jealous Percy is a very good baker, making kouign-amann, a buttery pastry — which the family salivates over far more than Lou’s signature omelets. The two men devolve into a fistfight after Lou’s turkey burns up after the oven is turned to 400 degrees, and Lou blames his brother for trying to sabotage his meal. While they fight outside — the kitchen catches on fire.
After the fire, Percy Sr. admits he was the one who turned up the stove and burned Lou’s turkey — and the two brothers apologize sincerely to each other. Percy tells Lou he is so proud of all he has accomplished, and Lou tells his big brother that he was the reason he became a cop — because he wanted to protect people as Percy did for him while they were growing up.
Two of the highlights of the Grover Thanksgiving story was the sincerity of the acting. While the storyline was a little too perfect, it was done so well, there probably wasn’t a dry eye watching this episode. And seeing Gladys Knight cast as Miss Ella and Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. as Lou Grover’s dad was perfect.
Knight is so beautiful and played both a strong woman and a loving mother. The scenes with Will and his grandparents were natural and believable — grandparents instilling wisdom on their grandchild, and telling him stories about his father’s childhood were the best parts of the episode. The scene when Percy Sr. tells Will why he is scared of his wife — not because he is actually afraid of her, but because he is scared of not measuring up and being worthy of her — was so well done. It was a beautiful testament to how a man loves his strong wife and how much he is grateful for her.
Overall, the episode has all the right parts for a Thanksgiving episode: heartwarming family scenes with laughter and interesting drama, as well as a case of the week that went from a strange death to a clever mystery. Add in a heartwarming conclusion to the case and the episode wraps up nicely. When the entire Five-0 ohana, along with the Grovers, meet up at Steve’s restaurant — now owned completely by Kamekona — for a Thanksgiving meal, we see how much they are thankful for each other.