For Hawaiians the ocean is a very important part of our everyday lives. It feeds and nurtures our families, and it gives us respite from work and societal pressure. But every Hawaiian knows to never turn their back on the ocean. While we love the ocean and all it provides for us, we respect its power and might. We know it can end our lives with its waves or depth.
In this week’s “Hawaii Five-0” the ocean holds all the secrets for the Five-0 team in their case of the week. While this is not an unusual scenario for a show based in our island state, it is strange to have the murder victim have been living, quite literally, at the bottom of the sea. The episode, titled “Ke iho mai nei ko luna” is Hawaiian for “Those above are descending,” which of course refers to the fact that Five-0 has to descend from the surface to the bottom of the ocean in order to solve their case.
The title is based on an olelo noeau, or Hawaiian proverb and poetical saying, which metaphorically means “A fog is beginning to settle.” The phrase is said to be used when “one is beginning to feel the effects of the awa he has drunk.” Awa is the Hawaiian word for kava, “a shrub with green jointed stems and heart-shaped leaves that is native to the Pacific islands.” Its roots are the “source of a narcotic drink of the same name. When drunk to excess it cause(s) drowsiness.” Interestingly, it also is the Hawaiian word for “fog or mist” and figuratively it can mean “tragic misfortune or ordeal.”
While the title gives us what literally and symbolically happens in this week’s episode and the tragic misfortune of death, the story was not as deep, excuse the pun, as the title seems to convey. Based on a story by Johnny Richardson, with teleplay by Rob Hanning and Sean O’Reilly, the episode focuses on a case of the week that was way too convoluted and ridiculous to even be entertaining.
Thankfully, there are a few moments that helps salvage some of the episode, as Karen Gaviola’s direction kept the pace moving and the acting on par with what we expect and love. The main cast did not deviate from their personal character arcs which kept the episode enjoyable enough for fans. Add in the fact that McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) saves the day, and the team works together to solve the case, there were other elements to help make the superfluous main storyline more palatable.
Actually there were a couple of features from the episode that were great. The opening scene was exactly what we needed after last week’s Danno (Scott Caan) drama, where he almost lost his daughter, Grace (Teilor Grubbs), in a near-fatal car accident. McGarrett arrives at Danno’s house to see Grace as she is recovering. Grace begs him to take Danno as he is “up in my business all day. Checking up on me, bringing me food. So much soup,” Grace says to her Uncle Steve.
While McGarrett commiserates with Grace, he does explain to her that her father was upset and felt helpless after her accident, so “now that he’s got you back home, he wants to take care of you. And he’s gonna do everything he can to get you back on your feet,” Uncle Steve explains. Grace understands and tells him how much she loves her father for taking care of her — but she needs to breathe a little, if not for just a few hours. Her hungry uncle agrees to help her, if she gives him one of her pancakes.
It’s a darling scene between McGarrett and no-longer-little Grace. Grubbs has beautifully matured from the sweet little girl we met in the first season, who Danno still affectionately calls “Monkey,” to a lovely young lady with a good head on her shoulders. In the last few seasons she was made to be a bit of a brat, but this time around her character is more mature and finally grasps that Danno’s overprotective nature has more to do with love, than the desire to control her life.
Grubbs handles her father’s neurotic, but understandable, reaction to her almost dying with charm and grace — a trait we have always loved about both the character and the actress. It’s nice to see her being allowed to play Grace as more adult than contentious teen. It would be even better to see more of Grubbs in the show as an active part of the overall storyline than just a recurring character. Now that she is more of an adult, perhaps she can be less in the sidelines as just a part of Danno’s character arc.
A WATERY MYSTERY
As McGarrett is about to eat his pancake reward from Grace, his phone rings, and he has the perfect opportunity to drag Danno out of the house and give Grace the break she needs from soup and Danno’s vigilant watch. Noelani (Kimee Balmilero) has called McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danny (Scott Caan) to a crime scene at Makapuu Beach, where their victim, Professor Jason Kamaka (Ken DuBois) is found with his throat cut. McGarrett also notices his body shows signs of massive decompression.
Noelani agrees with his assessment of how Kamaka was killed and explains that he died before he hit the water and when he surfaced his body basically got the bends. “It’s like when you shake up a bottle of soda and then remove the cap. This guy literally exploded from the inside,” Noelani explains. McGarrett also concludes from the severity of his internal bleeding and the marbling of his skin that Kamaka must have been very deep — more than 150 feet. Danny succinctly surmises — he’s dressed in his best business casual and there is no dive gear to be found.
As the two investigate what Kamaka had been involved in, they find he had left his position at Oahu State where he was a professor of oceanography until three months before, when he took a leave of absence to work in a deep-sea research lab called the Neptune One. Kamaka and three others were studying the effects of Kilauea Volcano’s lava flow on marine ecosystems and was being funded by wealthy entrepreneur, Claude Nostromo (Reed Diamond).
The team deduce that their crime scene and their suspect has to be on Neptune One. The crew of the Neptune One is made up of Kamaka, Jim Walker (Jeff Galfer), Linda Brady (Angela Lin), Marcus Nash (played by Hawaii actor Moronai Kanekoa) and Nina Kane (played by Katie O’Donovan, who has also been Meaghan Rath’s stunt double). They are a “dream team of oceanographers and scientists, and one of them is a murderer.”
McGarrett decides that he and Danno are going to run point from Five-0 headquarters and Junior (Beulah Koale) is going to take lead on the underwater mission and take Tani (Meaghan Rath) and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) with him to Neptune One.
JUNIOR ON POINT
As Junior takes point on the mission, we also got a little more of his backstory in the episode, which was another positive element in the storyline. Before getting a call from Five-0 about their new case, Junior goes to see his parents at their family home and has an unpleasant run-in with his dad, Natano Reigns (Eric Scanlan).
Junior is helping to fix their deck and dad appears as he is working only to criticize Junior’s work — using the wrong wood, never sticking around to finish anything, always having an excuse and being too busy to stay. It seems like an old argument, one Junior cannot win, and one dad is unwilling to let go. Junior leaves, telling his father he doesn’t need to make up an excuse, “You’re enough,” he says as he dumps his tool belt into his father’s hands.
The scene is painful, and it seems as if old wounds cannot be healed. Both Koale and Scanlan handle the scene well — never letting it get overly melodramatic. They allow the pain shared between the father and son to seep into the scene. At the end of the episode, Junior returns to his parents home and without words, he takes the hammer his father offers him and together they return to work on the deck. It’s a beautiful gesture that perhaps Dad and Junior will make amends and work to repair their obviously damaged relationship.
MCGARRETT AND DANNO DIVE IN
Between the scene with McGarrett, Danno and Grace; and Junior and his dad — the episode was only mildly interesting until Junior, Tani and Adam get to Neptune One and start to lose oxygen. The trio figure out the murder happened because Kamaka realized that the research lab was really looking for a rare earth element called yttrium, which is a key component for microprocessors, microchips and mobile chipsets — all things made by Nostromo’s company. Kamaka was going to expose the truth of their “research” and was murdered to keep it quiet.
Yet as Junior, Tani and Adam solve the case, there is one member of the staff who is not actually working for Nostromo, but herself — Nina Kane. And it seems she wants to sell the location of all that yttrium to the highest bidder. Kane takes off with Five-0’s submersible, their comms and the only way back to the surface. She also tampers with the oxygen levels, and Five-0 and the other scientists are all in trouble, with no way to message McGarrett.
Junior figures out a way to send a message to the surface using a transmission buoy, but he calls it a hail mary at best. Grover (Chi McBride) realizes they are in trouble when he finds their comms down, and alerts McGarrett and Danno. They immediately head out to the coordinates of where the Neptune is located and get Grover to contact the Coast Guard evacuation vessel. They get Junior’s message and realize they have very little air left and McGarrett decides to free dive two oxygen tanks to them so they can last a little longer until the Coast Guard can reach them.
Danno, of course, thinks this is a horrible idea and promptly asks his best friend how he’s going to hold his breath to get down there and not going to explode coming back up out of that depth. McGarrett explains he is going to exhale all of his oxygen on the way back up. It’s a risky dive, but one McGarrett accomplishes in order to save his friends and the other members of the Neptune One team.
While we know that McGarrett is going to save the day, Danno doesn’t look too sure. When McG resurfaces Danno is beyond relieved. And so are we — the dive was the coolest part of the episode, and certainly helped to make this off-base storyline a bit more likeable. We always love when McGarrett and Danno dive in to save the day — and this time they “descended from above” to save their friends. It’s all we can really hope for — friends who will swim out to save us, even in the roughest of seas.