Saying aloha oe to a friend or loved one is always so hard. No matter how many years they have been in your life, the act of saying goodbye, the final parting of ways, is always difficult. Usually, “Hawaii Five-0” is just an entertaining way to spend an hour of television time. For the most part, McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and the Five-0 team quickly resolve the case of the week, and if there is any lingering drama, it’s character driven and will return in another storyline.
But this week’s episode, “Pio ke Kukui, Po‘ele ka Hale,” which is Hawaiian for “When the Light Goes Out, the House Is Dark,” was more of a fond farewell to a very good friend. The phrase is a olelo noeau, or Hawaiian proverb and poetical saying, which has a dual meaning and aptly comes into play within the episode. Hawaiians believed that this phrase was said of “one whose sight is gone — he dwells in darkness. (It is) also said when life goes and the darkness of death possesses.”
Some may not know that Hawaiian language is often more poetic than literal. This olelo noeau can be taken both ways. It could mean actual blindness — or metaphorical blindness, meaning the person is ignorant of what is right in front of them. It’s the idea that when someone you love dies, the light of your life goes out, creating darkness and sadness in your world.
Written by co-executive producer Paul Grellong and directed by Gabriel Beristain, who was the director of photography for the series premiere of “Hawaii Five-0” and is a director on “MacGyver,” the episode kept a fast, even pace that drew out the tension and gave us a cathartic, emotional ending. Beristain expertly kept us in step with McGarrett and Joe White (recurring cast member Terry O’Quinn), as they tried to outrun and outgun a group of hired hit men intent on assassinating the members of their former SEAL team.
The team, along with Joe, had been dispatched to execute a mission in Rabat, Morocco, in 2002, which have now put a target on their heads. Their CIA handler was none other than Agent Greer (Rochelle Aytes) who double-crossed them in this year’s season opener, “Ka ʻowili ʻokaʻi” (“Cocoon”).
AN EYE FOR AN EYE
The episode starts with the murder of Mark Howard (Joel Steingold), one of McGarrett’s former SEAL team buddies, just as he gets a call from Joe White. Joe is on the move and tells Mark to get his family to safety, just as he is shot by an intruder. The tension does not stop there: In the next scene, McGarrett gets blindsided by an assassin just as he notices several missed calls from Joe.
McGarrett grapples with the hit man, knocking the gun out of his hand and then engaging in a very bloody kitchen-knife fight. Both are badly injured but McGarrett wins the upper hand and gets to his gun first. The assassin takes off and McGarrett finally connects with Joe — even though he has pretty much figured out why his friend had been so urgently calling him.
Joe tells him “someone is trying to take out the Morocco team and they’re using professional hitters to do it.” Three of their team, including Mark, are already dead, leaving McG, Joe and their friend Tim Cole (Brad Beyer) on the run. Joe tells him he’s getting on a plane and heading to McG so they can figure out a plan. But McGarrett’s wheels are turning and it seems he’s one step ahead of Joe.
He calls the Five-0 team to his house. As Junior (Beulah Koale) is patching him up, he briefs Lou (Chi McBride), Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) and Tani (Meaghan Rath) and asks them to help — but off the books. He wants to appear vulnerable in order to draw out whoever wants to kill him. Lou adamantly tells McGarrett to stop talking to them like they are strangers— they are friends and are there to help.
Tani takes the assassin’s gun to Noelani (Kimee Balmilero) to test for ballistics, Adam gathers evidence from the kitchen, and McGarrett tells an angry Junior to stand down. He tells the young SEAL it’s just going to be him and Joe on this operation. Junior reluctantly agrees, but asks McGarrett who could have leaked their names, and McGarrett gives him a knowing look stating he thinks he knows who gave them up.
McGarrett, Adam and Joe head to Victorville, Calif., to visit Greer, who is being housed in the special wing at the federal penitentiary. While McGarrett questions her about why she thinks he’s a dead man — which is how she greets him when he enters the interrogation room.
While Greer is still all bad, it’s unfortunate Aytes takes such a good role and phones in another “villainous” performance. “Hawaii Five-0” is still looking for a good villain to shake them up. Every bad guy or lady they have brought out since the deaths of Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) and Gabriel Waincroft (Christopher Sean) have been well-crafted but have delivered one-dimensional performances at best. We’re never afraid of them and know McGarrett and the team will easily finish them off in the end. The team needs a bigger challenge — or the show just needs to cast a better actor to play their next nemesis.
The better villain in the episode was the former yakuza associate of Adam’s father, Gakuto Kojima (Alvin Ing), who has served almost 30 years at the prison. Adam hopes to find out some jailhouse intel that can help them find out who is funding the hit on McGarrett and his team. While Kojima is an old man, and a bit reluctant to help Adam, who now works for Five-0 — he does tell Adam who Greer has been using as her back channel. He was far more interesting — calculating and sharp, even in his old age with the shadow of his yakuza tattoos on his arms — in the short scene with Adam.
Another interesting villain was McGarrett’s kitchen attacker Kasper Bauer (David Agranov), who Lou and Junior question at Five-0 headquarters. Not only was his fight scene with McGarrett intense, but when Lou tells him he could help him do his prison time in Germany so he can be close to his son, the change in his stoic face and the shake in his voice says everything we need to know about how he feels about his child. (Kasper is from Germany.)
Hit man or not, the man is vulnerable and it is his karmic downfall. It’s what makes a villain a character instead of just a blank-faced baddie we easily forget once they are killed or go to prison.
FRIENDS FOR LIFE
While Five-0 works the bad guys to figure out who wants McG dead — Joe and McGarrett head to Joe’s ranch in Bitterroot Valley, Mont. Joe is adamant that the Five-0 team be kept in the dark so they can’t be heroes. He seems to know this is the end of the line for him. McGarrett tells him to take off and just continue to live under the radar like he has for the last year since he and Junior saved him in Afghanistan.
Joe won’t have it, and tells McGarrett he doesn’t want to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life. Plus he won’t let McG have all the fun. Once they get to Joe’s ranch, Tim Cole surprises them with wisecracks and weaponry. It’s just like a SEAL to make light of hired assassins coming to erase you from the face of the earth.
The banter between the three is light and silly as they bury explosives and set up tripwires. As they set-up the ranch for the showdown and wait for the hit men to arrive, McGarrett finds a picture of Joe with a woman, and asks him about his new lady. Joe reluctantly tells him about his love, and encourages him not to wait as long as he did to find someone.
McGarrett looks a little distressed at the life-changing wisdom Joe is imparting upon him. It is as if Joe knows he is going to die and wants to tell give McGarrett just a little more advice before it is too late. But just as McGarrett tries to question him about this change in his demeanor, the hit team arrives and the men turn back into SEALS.
SAYING ALOHA TO JOE
Regardless of all their ammunition and training, the battle is a tough one. Sadly, they lose Tim early in the gunfight, promising to scatter his ashes in Narragansett Bay near his hometown. The hit men blow up their cars and half of Joe’s house and try to storm in to kill them. One breaks through the traps and shoots Joe before McGarrett takes him out. Joe tells McGarrett he’s seen worse. McGarrett calls Five-0 and they tell him a businessman named Omar Hassan has been financing the assassins. McGarrett confirms Omar is the son of the high-value target they were sent to kill in Morocco.
They flashback to 2002 when McGarrett and the team were exiting the Hassan compound. They encounter a 10-year-old Omar (Christian Rockford) pointing a rifle at the SEALs. Joe speaks calmly to him in Arabic, asking the boy his name and getting him to give up his weapon. He and McGarrett realize allowing the child to live was probably what put the SEAL team in jeopardy. The boy grew up, paid Greer for their names and organized a hit team to take out the men who killed his father. He wasn’t a terrorist — just a man who wanted revenge.
Joe tells McGarrett he would not change what he had done. It is not said, but these are men who do not kill children. After the two men realize the truth, they move to get Joe some much-needed help, getting Junior to arrange a medevac and taking horses to get Joe to a doctor.
As the men ride across the valley, the sun is setting and Joe tells McGarrett to stop. He admits to McGarrett he called off the medevac, that it’s over for him and he just wants to see the lone ponderosa pine tree on his property one last time. McGarrett argues with him telling him, “If you’re not going to fight, I’ll fight for you!” He’s angry Joe is giving up. But Joe is ready to die and apologizes to McGarrett. He wants to see this beautiful spot on his ranch again and asks McGarrett to get him to the tree.
They sit at its base and McGarrett holds him and thanks him for saving his life. When he was 16, Joe got him out of jail because he stole a car soon after his father shipped him off to military school on the mainland. Joe cleared his record so he could join the Navy and become a SEAL, and eventually start Five-0. McGarrett tells him he wouldn’t be who he was if it hadn’t been for Joe.
Joe tells him that McGarrett has thanked him every day by being the man he has become. He tells McGarrett he couldn’t be prouder of him. Joe tells him he has one last question. He asks McGarrett, who he has always called a son, “Have you ever in your life seen a sunset like that?” just as he slips away.
McGarrett tells him he has not, hugging him close and weeping at his death, saying goodbye to his second father who taught him how to be man.
As Joe’s light went out, it seemed as if McGarrett’s darkness crept back in. Perhaps it will pass back into the light for him, but after he has suffered so much loss — we can only hope.