The idea that everyone has a superpower is one that comes from legend and popular culture — every man is super and every woman is wonderful depending on your point of view. Some believe that helping others or saving lives is a kind of superpower, and those who constantly put themselves on the line for others are often considered to be modern superheroes.
In this week’s “Hawaii Five-0” the team searches to find who killed Gene Wahele (Kalae Chung), who was better known as The Night Sentinel, a well-known vigilante who helped clean up his neighborhood of crime and drug dealers. When Five-0 begins to look into Wahele’s murder, they find a bigger conspiracy lurking behind what seemed to be a simple revenge killing.
The episode is titled, “Mai ka po mai ka ‘oia‘i‘o” which is Hawaiian for “truth comes from the night.” The phrase is a ‘olelo no‘eau, or Hawaiian proverb and poetical saying, which Hawaiians believed meant the “truth is revealed by the gods” — something much deeper than just the basic idea of night as a time of day. It could mean poetically that finding out a truth often reveals things we want to stay hidden and in the dark. But Hawaiians believed that “po” not only meant “night and darkness” but was also “the realm of the gods” and pertained “to or of the gods.”
SUPERHEROES VS. SUPER-COMPLEX PLOT
Written by Christos Gage and Ruth Fletcher Gage, and directed by Brad Tanenbaum, the episode took McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and the Five-0 team into the world of vigilante justice and into the subculture of comic book heroes in the era of social media fame and fortune. While many kids still have heroes, more want to grow up and be Batman or Batgirl — superheroes who made or created their superpowers. Less and less are kids dreaming that one day they will realize they are metahuman, meaning superhuman to non-comic book fans, and have powers like Superman or Supergirl.
The concept of the story was grounded in pop-culture reality by using the competitive world of YouTube financing and earning potential via social media as part of the storyline — it unfortunately went off into a super-complex plot that was superfluous at best. The overdone storyline created a want to fast-forward to the ending — or at least to the scenes that allowed the team to shine.
The best parts were watching the team work together on a case that was a little out of their realm — and firmly in Jerry’s (Jorge Garcia) court. Still, if one does not share Jerry’s strength of “nerd-fu,” or understand the world of comic book heroes, villains and fantastic beings, the idea of a superhero come to life did help keep the storyline interesting — until it went off the rails. The best parts were when the team looked into the real life of The Night Sentinel and helped release his comic book based on his investigation into the suspicious deaths of his parents. Filming in the real Hawaii comic book store Other Realms gave it an authentic look and added a entertaining layer of relevance and plausibility.
THE MYSTERIOUS NIGHT SENTINEL
In the episode, the murder of The Night Sentinel happened while he was trying to stop a drug dealer from selling his wares. Wahele, who dressed as a hooded crusader and recorded his vigilante efforts for his social media followers, is seen fighting with a gun-toting drug dealer. The Night Sentinel disarms him and the dealer runs off leaving his backpack full of illegal drugs and money behind. As Wahele shows the camera what he recovered, a car hits him and the driver gets out and shoots him.
The next morning at the crime scene, Duke (Dennis Chun) fills in the team about the crime, and while Lou (Chi McBride) and Danno (Scott Caan) think the drug dealer or perhaps a partner killed Wahele, Duke disagrees as he found the dealer’s backpack with more than five grand in cash and the drugs still in it. He thinks if the dealer killed Wahele — he would have taken his earnings with him. So the three theorize that the murder is not connected to the incident with the drug dealer.
Duke plays the voice of reason in this scene — pretty much summarizing what many people think about vigilante justice. “Guys like this try to be heroes. They jump into situations they’re not trained for. They put themselves and the public at risk. They should just leave law enforcement to professionals,” he says to Lou and Danno, who both agree with him. Danno says that just because someone sees a couple of “Batman” movies doesn’t make you a superhero, nor does it make you a cop.
But when the two meet up with Jerry, who is placing a “Ninja-K” comic book (written by episode writer Christos Gage) at the impromptu memorial site for The Night Sentinel, they hear a different side to the vigilante story. Jerry tells them how much he admired Wahele, who was fearless and only wanted to make his community safe for everyone.
JERRY’S ‘NERD-FU’ ALWAYS WELCOME
As the team looks up Wahele’s YouTube channel and investigate how many citizen’s arrests he made, they find he had many haters — some of them known drug dealers and gang members who threatened his life via emoji codes and under the supposed veil of anonymity of social media. Once Tani (Meaghan Rath) uses her millennial superpowers to translate the emoji threats — the team begins to pull in suspects and find evidence that will hopefully lead them to Wahele’s killer.
They question several suspects based on his videos and the online threats. Junior (Beulah Koale) finds that none of the suspects Wahele helped to arrest have really paid any real debt to society. McGarrett says, “If the guys that Night Sentinel had arrested are getting off light, it doesn’t make any sense that they’d be risking murder charges. Maybe this wasn’t retaliation for a bust after all.” And again, the plot thickens.
Jerry meets Tani and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) at Wahele’s apartment and they realize it’s been searched but nothing except his computer has been taken. Jerry accesses Wahele’s videos through his cloud thinking that perhaps whoever killed him wanted his raw footage. “Maybe he caught something on tape, possibly without realizing it, something that was a threat to someone.”
When the team start looking into his cloud files it becomes one red herring after another. Too many red herrings — to the point that only Jerry’s clever insight into Wahele’s classic superhero origin story or Adam’s admission that he had a beloved comic book hero growing up in Japan, helped keep me engaged.
SUPERMAN OR SUPER MCGARRETT
The best parts of the episode are when McGarrett and Danno chase down another red herring and when they become a part of The Night Sentinel’s comic book. When they confront the supposed vigilante hero The Guardian (Wyatt Nash) after finding him trying to stop a neighborhood armed robbery, they tell him perhaps he shouldn’t cast his same friend as the villain in every video. Danno snidely says to the friend (Moku Durant), “I saw you a month ago, you were about to jump off a bridge, and then, before that, you were getting mugged, and now you’re robbing a liquor store. I mean, the range, I admire your range,” which he takes as a sincere compliment. It was one of the funniest exchanges of the night.
McGarrett hitting the escaping Guardian with a beanbag shotgun was perfect — and Danno’s response of “it’s definitely gonna sting” to the friend’s cry that McG’s actions seemed “super excessive” played right along with the obvious feeling of ridiculousness both armed detectives probably felt trying to catch a costume-wearing fake vigilante. McG asking Danno if Superman could do what he just did was pretty priceless.
COMIC BOOK HERO
In the last scene of the episode, the entire team is at Other Realms to launch Wahele’s comic book, which Jerry ended up finishing for him, as he had not quite concluded his semi-autobiographical comic before his death. It was really a perfect way to end the episode. It seems as if Wahele really was like a true comic book hero. He was the child of investigative reporter Trevor Wahele (played by Honolulu Star-Advertiser Digital News Anchor Ryan Kalei Tsuji) who was investigating possible police corruption, before he and his wife were killed in a home-invasion robbery. While investigating Gene’s death, Five-0 find answers to Trevor’s death as well.
Wahele had continued his father’s investigation and was beginning to see why his father was killed. Jerry, Lou and Junior find a hidden room in Wahele’s apartment with evidence from his father’s case. Trevor thought he had found evidence that the state forensics analyst Frank Willoughby and Captain Ito Ishikawa (Stan Egi) were working together falsifying forensic evidence in a number of criminal cases, which put a lot of innocent people in prison. McGarrett doesn’t believe the captain had anything to do with it, based on how his father spoke about Ishikawa when McGarrett was growing up.
As the team investigates further, they find it was actually Ishikawa’s lawyer Michael Pope (Matthew Arkin), who had been prosecuting attorney on the cases Trevor had been investigating. Pope has been looking to make a big name for himself and didn’t mind padding his conviction rate. When McG and Danno confront him in his downtown office, he is caught, but just as they are about to cuff him, Pope throws his paperweight through a window and the scene turns into the pages of a comic book. It plays out in comic book form as Pope runs to the rooftop, jumps in a helicopter and tries to make a getaway. McGarrett leaps onto the chopper, knocks out Pope, and brings down the helicopter smoothly. He hands Pope over and says, “Book ’em, Danno.”
It played out so well as animated pages of a comic book, and though we have probably seen McGarrett do something like this kind of stunt before, it was much more realistic playing him as a comic book hero. When little Charlie Williams (Zach Sulzbach) asks Daddy Danno, “Does that mean you and Uncle Steve are superheroes?” Danno can honestly say, “That’s exactly what it means.”
REDUX SIDE NOTE
Covering “Hawaii Five-0” I rely on official press releases from CBS to credit actors correctly and to spell character names and episode titles. I often correct the spelling of the Hawaiian titles and fix okina placement when appropriate. But I generally do not correct the spelling of character names. Yet in this week’s episode the character of Gene Wahele was spelled as I used it in this post. Wahele is pronounced in Hawaiian Wah-heh-leh, but in the episode his name was pronounced Wah-hah-lay — which would make the spelling of his name Wahale.
Either the character name was misspelled in the press release or every actor in the show mispronounced it. Since many of the cast members are Hawaiians and know their language, or have lived in Hawaii all their lives or since the start of the show — I think the name is misspelled and not mispronounced.