Usually, after someone has experienced the death of a loved one, people tend to go through the proverbial stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They may skip a step, linger on one for a long time, and sometimes add a few extra stages of their own. More often than not, anger tends to stick around the longest and sometimes it is what fuels the rest of the steps into action. In this week’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0,” McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) is dealing with the loss of his father figure Joe White (Terry O’Quinn) and going through his own version of the stages of grief.
Written by Matt Wheeler and David Wolkove, this week’s episode was a wrap-up of the fall finale, “Pio ke Kukui, Po‘ele ka Hale” (“When the Light Goes Out, the House Is Dark”), in which Joe and four other members of their former SEAL team, were targeted and killed. The episode starts with Danny (Scott Caan) traveling to Montana where McGarrett has been holed up for a month with Catherine (Michelle Borth), who has come to help him devise a plan to avenge Joe’s death. Directed by the legendary Carl Weathers, who also guest-starred on “Magnum P.I.” in the second episode of the show’s freshman season, a very angry McGarrett basically tosses out the other stages of grief and has added one of his own — retribution. Perhaps seeking to avenge the death of Joe and his SEAL brothers can be seen as a type of acceptance, which is supposed to be the last stage of the grieving process.
The title of this episode, “Hala i ka ala hoʻi ʻole mai” (the Hawaiian phrase is misspelled in the CBS press release), means, “gone on the road from which there is no returning.” It is a olelo noeau, or Hawaiian proverb and poetical saying, and to Hawaiians, the saying is a metaphor that simply means, “death.” In both the main plotline (McGarrett’s plan to avenge Joe) and in the case of the week (a silly story about bones being found in a public storage space) every guilty party faces that road. For “Hawaii Five-0” the title also seems to imply the idea that once a person heads down a certain path — like murder or vengeance for instance — there is no turning back.
JAMES BOND, A GENTLEMAN AND AN OLD FLAME
Once Danny arrives in Montana and finds McGarrett a bit hardened and in combat mode, he inquires how his friend has been doing since Joe died. When McGarrett says he didn’t have to come, Danny tells him that is what family does — they are there for each other. When he sees Catherine, he seems happy that she seems to be helping McGarrett through his grieving process.
But McGarrett tells him that it is not what Danny thinks, it’s not what any of us thought really. They are not playing house. They have been busy forcibly extracting information from Omar Hassan’s (Ben Youcef) lawyer, Gregers Thomsen (Andrew Grant), who set up the hit squad who came for Joe and McGarrett. Catherine might be McGarrett’s old flame, but she certainly has used her CIA ties to help him. She seems to be able to stomach the force McGarrett has to use to persuade Gregers to give up Hassan’s location. It’s bloody and brutal, and a bit out of the ordinary for Five-0.
But this is not a Five-0 op as McGarrett makes it clear to Danny, and they are not going to be alone. Perhaps he knows this will be more brutal, more dangerous than anything they have done before. He seems to want to protect Danny — not because Danny can’t hold his own in this fight — but because McGarrett has already lost so much, and to lose Danny would probably push him over the edge.
So it makes sense that McGarrett called in other backup. Sure, he knows Danny will come and support him like his SEAL brothers, Junior (Beulah Koale) and Wade Gutches, played by recurring cast member David Keith of “The Officer and Gentleman” fame. But maybe in the back of McGarrett’s mind, he doesn’t want to take that chance. He just lost a father — he doesn’t want to lose a brother.
Junior and Gutch join McGarrett, Catherine and Danny in Montana and they take off with Lucia Bama (Kristen Dalton), daughter of Frank Bama, for Vientiane, Laos, where Omar is hiding. They meet up with their former British intelligence friend Harry Langford (played by recurring cast member Chris Vance), who does some excellent reconnaissance for the team. Before we can say “007,” McGarrett is in a tux, Catherine in an evening gown, and armed with matching wedding bands as their cover, they are headed for a baccarat table. They are tasked to get Omar’s money launderer Dimitri (Theo Coumbis) to drink some sort of radioactive concoction so they can follow him from the Vientiane casino undetected. They know he will take the laundered money back to Omar and the team can then execute the rest of their plan.
RETRIBUTION OR REVENGE
This week’s episode really is a part two, as similar themes spillover from the fall finale. The hit men who came for McGarrett and Joe’s SEAL team were sent to avenge the death of Omar’s father, a high-value target the team killed in Morocco in 2002. Omar as a young boy confronted the SEAL team before their extraction and Joe disarmed him and basically saved his life. But Omar grew up and used his wealth and power to exact revenge on the team for his father’s death.
In a sense, McGarrett is doing the same thing — only he does’t want to kill Omar, he wants to actually find former CIA agent Greer (Rochelle Aytes), who sold their names and locations to Omar. Besides himself, Greer is really who he blames for Joe’s death. McGarrett and Omar may want the same thing — retribution, revenge, whatever you want to call it — but McGarrett wants it in answers rather than dead bodies. He wants to know why Greer betrayed her country and then turned on her former lover, McGarrett, and sought to torture him, kill his friends, his mentor and then end his life.
Yes, it does seem as if they are planning to assassinate Omar for killing Joe. McGarrett even asks Gutch if he’s going to be alright with basically running a rogue mission. Gutch says it’s worth it if they can put the man who killed Joe in the ground. And they do find Omar, raid his luxury digs and confront him. McGarrett tells him his revenge plan failed — as he killed everyone on the team except the one who actually shot his father. McGarrett was the shooter, and Omar tells McGarrett to shoot him because he will not stop until McGarrett is dead. But McGarrett won’t kill him in front of his son and let the boy “relive the same cycle all over again.”
Instead, he wants to know where Greer is. It is really all he wanted in the first place. They find her hiding out in China, and when McGarrett and Catherine confront her — he asks Greer what amount of money would make selling out human lives worth it. She says there were other factors, and the look in her face makes us think that perhaps it is because she could not have McGarrett that made her turn.
All during Greer’s storyline, we saw little flashbacks to when she and McGarrett first met. She was the girl before Catherine, but after Morocco, and after McGarrett almost died in Afghanistan, he decided it was Catherine he wanted to start a relationship with — not Greer. It seemed that Greer took that personally, and when McGarrett remembered a pillow-talk conversation they had before the mission to assassinate Hassan went down in Morocco, they had made plans to be near each other and perhaps continue their relationship. But once the Morocco mission went sour, that plan never came to fruition.
Perhaps Greer pined away for McGarrett, and when she learned he was seeing Catherine, she decided there was nothing left except her drive for power and money. So it seemed a little ironic that when Greer pulls a gun on McGarrett — it is Catherine who takes her out.
ONE LAST NOD TO JOE
When the team returns to Montana, and they say goodbye to Gutch and Catherine, Gutch — like Joe — tells McGarrett to find a good woman, a boring hobby and retire. McGarrett tells Gutch he is going to think about it, but Gutch tells him he knows he won’t. He also tells McGarrett that Joe would be really proud of him and that he is too. It’s a sweet moment, perhaps there are a few more father figures in McGarrett’s life for him to look up to.
Before McGarrett says aloha to Catherine, she says they both owe Joe a lot. He tells her it is Joe who brought her into his life. It is why he took the plunge and asked her out. It was Joe who told him that Catherine was a keeper and that McGarrett should take the leap. Catherine and McGarrett both seem grateful to their friend for their relationship.
While they are no longer together at least they were brave enough to take that road that led them to each other. And they have one more thing to be grateful to Joe for, even if he has gone on the road from which there is no returning.