If you’ve ever driven through Kakaako, you know that the area now looks more like a public art show, as many of the buildings in the area are covered with professional street art and murals. “Hawaii Five-0” often shoots in the commercial business area, most likely because the scenery is always colorful and changes each year thanks to Pow! Wow! Hawaii’s annual art and music festival.
This week’s episode, titled “Pupuhi ka heʻe o kai uli” is Hawaiian for “The octopus of the deep spews its ink.” The ʻolelo noʻeau, or Hawaiian proverb and poetical saying, actually translates to “the octopus of the deep spews its ink into the water,” which is a deeper metaphor for someone who “goes off in secret or on an errand that rouses unsatisfied curiosity in others.” The idea behind the saying is that the octopus, or heʻe, “escapes from its foes by spewing its ink and darkening the water.”
Written by Christos Gage and Ruth Fletcher Gage, and directed by Maja Vrvilo, the title takes us into the world of street artists who spew spray paint instead of ink — and who historically have remained anonymous in order to protect their work and to stay out of jail for committing vandalism. Today, their talents are celebrated, yet a few continue to remain anonymous to maintain their artistic personas.
THE ARTIST RETURNS
The case of the week has the Five-0 team investigating the murder of a window washer, who fell to his death after his rig lines were cut, according to Sgt. Duke (Dennis Chun) who tells the story to Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), Lou Grover (Chi McBride), and Junior (Beulah Koale). The team identifies the victim as James Cooper and when Tani (Meaghan Rath) and Jerry (Jorge Garcia) find evidence on the roof that Cooper was attacked by two gunmen, the mystery around the window washer’s murder deepens.
Tani reveals that there was a woman on the roof, who got away alive, which further confounds the case. When Tani and Junior find Cooper’s place is really an art studio, the team brings in their friend, former art forger, Gerard Hirsch (Willie Garson). Hirsch reveals that Cooper is actually the famous street artist “Brickz,” who has made a fortune by staying anonymous while posting his art around the world.
Hirsch thinks Brickz’ death may be tied to his art being covered up around the island and uses his forgery skills to create what looks like a legitimate Brickz piece to draw out the defacers. Many may recognize Brickz’ panda street art from similar pieces seen in Kakaako, created by Hawaii street artist, Aaron Woes Martin, a frequent Pow! Wow! contributor.
Finally, the team gets the real reason Brickz was killed. He was working with a street artist from Nicaragua, Teresa Estrada (Patricia Velasquez) known as Phoenix, who had been speaking out against her government through her art. She was the woman with him on the roof when he was killed. The Nicaraguan government was trying to capture her in order to execute her publically for her protest.
Of course, McGarrett and the team intervene and rescue her, but it was interesting to see Five-0’s case turn from a murder investigation into a more humanitarian mission to save a dissident artist. And it was a treat to have Garson return as Hirsch. He is funny and endearing — and his character is always a welcome addition to the Five-0 team.
GROVER THE APPRAISER
While McGarrett and the others work the Brickz mystery, Grover and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) work another murder — this one involving another type of work of art, the vintage Aloha shirt. People from Hawaii describe them as Aloha shirts instead of Hawaiian shirts. The shirts are typically worn as work attire in lieu of a suit, which is too hot for Hawaii’s tropical climate.
The murder victim is found strangled to death, but shirtless. Grover finds a button near the victim’s body, and as he is an avid collector of classic Aloha shirts, he thinks he knows why the killer would steal a shirt. Some vintage shirts are worth thousands of dollars, and they head to the one place that would know classic Aloha wear from mass-produced button-ups — Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts, a real business located on Kapahulu Avenue near Waikiki.
Proprietor Lono (Pomaikaʻi Brown) confirms Grover’s suspicions, and when the shirt arrives at Bailey’s, Grover is there to “appraise it,” and arrest the thief. Turns out the shirt was taken off an already dead victim. Poor guy, he apparently had good taste in Aloha shirts, but not in women since he was killed by his ex-wife’s boyfriend. The shirt was spared with the exception of a missing button.
The best scenes in the episode were between Junior and his father Natano (Eric Scanlan), who are making amends with each other but are carrying some deep sadness about losing Junior’s sister, Maya.
After Junior finds Natano drinking in Maya’s old room, he helps put his father to bed by removing his prosthetic leg — which was a surprise — and holding him as he weeps. We have only seen a part of Junior’s overall story, but as each nugget is revealed, it helps to continue our love for Koale’s character and talents as an actor. It also helped to deliver a touching conclusion to an interesting and complex episode.