Thanksgiving has always been a holiday that “Hawaii Five-0” has celebrated with an uplifting and heartfelt episode, which usually focuses on being thankful for family and friends. This year, the Thanksgiving episode, titled “Ka lā‘au kumu ‘ole o Kahilikolo,” which is Hawaiian for “The Trunkless Tree of Kahilikolo,” was a bit more subdued as McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) is still dealing with the recent death of his mother, as well as the loss of his mentor and father-figure Joe White. Still, the storyline deals heavily with the theme of family and forgiveness and brings the entire Five-0 ‘ohana together to celebrate the holiday.
The title of this week’s episode is a traditional ʻōlelo noʻeau, or Hawaiian proverb or poetical saying, which is “said of one who lacks a family background.” The title most resonates with the parallel storyline which has Junior (Beulah Koale) searching his hānai, or foster, brother Owen (Damien Diaz). Junior’s family took in Owen when he was a young boy after his addict mother was sent to jail. When Junior’s mother, Lana (Cassandra Hepburn) calls him at Five-0 headquarters to tell them their house was robbed, he suspects Owen’s addiction has turned him against the people who still love him like a brother and son.
The phrase is also significant as it refers to a koa tree — which is a major clue for the Five-0 team to solve the case of the week — and also symbolizes a family that has no foundation, which metaphorically describes the family involved in the case. “The trunkless koa tree of Kahilikolo … does not grow upright but spreads over the ground. To say that one has found the trunk of Kahilikolo is to say that he has found nothing.”
Directed by Ron Underwood and written by Paul Grellong and Noah Evslinike, the episode weaves the idea of an ohana as a tree into its storyline and subplots with great finesse. The metaphoric meaning that if a family is “trunkless” or without a foundation or base, helps to not only make the case interesting but gives the entire episode a deeper meaning. While we always enjoy watching the Five-0 ‘ohana play flag football and roast each other and a turkey — this episode was one that reminded us that family can mean much more than just sharing a name or a roof.
JUNIOR MENDS A FRIEND AND HIS FATHER
After Junior’s mother tells him their house has been robbed, McGarrett sends Junior and Tani (Meaghan Rath) to investigate. Junior realizes the stolen items were taken from their family hiding spot, where his father hid his Purple Heart and his mother kept her important jewelry. The only other person who knows about the stash spot is Owen, so Junior and Tani go looking for him. When they find him, he tearfully confesses, telling Junior that he was hurting and desperate and remembered where Junior’s parents hid their valuables.
Junior has been trying for years to help Owen get clean and back on track, so he gives Owen an ultimatum — he either lets Junior arrest him for robbery, or he goes to rehab. Tani’s brother Koa has a spot for him at the rehab center he works at, and all Owen has to do is say “yes.” While Junior is angry that Owen took advantage of his family, he wants to give him a chance to live and be clean. Thankfully, Owen agrees.
When Junior gets back the cigar box where his dad Natano (Eric Scanlan) kept his medal, Junior finds letters sent from his CO when he was fighting in Afganistan stashed in the box. He realizes that his father really does care about what happens to him. As his dad is reinstalling their broken doors from the robbery, Junior tells him how much seeing those letters meant to him, and he knows they have a shot at making up. Both Koale and Scanlan are so good in the short scene, which is full of remorse and forgiveness — and love. It’s definitely a perfect storyline for a Thanksgiving episode.
A FAMILY WITHOUT A TRUNK
While Junior and Tani are investigating the robbery at the Reigns’ home, McGarrett, Danny (Scott Caan), Lou (Chi McBride), Quinn (Katrina Law), and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) are busy working the case of the week — which is also a robbery tied to a murder.
The team finds a wealthy philanthropist, George Parks (Hawaii actor David C. Farmer), murdered on his estate, as well as the remains of a stolen koa tree. Koa wood is endemic to Hawaii and it is also very rare, so the theft is major.
Like the title suggests, cutting down of the koa tree as well as the patriarch of the Parks family, leaves his children without a trunk, as well as without the skull of the girl they killed when they were teenagers. Once Five-0 finds the tree and begins to put the pieces together about the murder, the siblings’ story unravels. While not really a heartwarming Thanksgiving story, the case of the week does speak to the idea that when a family’s foundation is taken away, they are sometimes left with nothing.
A FIVE-0 THANKSGIVING
Really the best part of the entire episode had to be the ending when the entire team, along with Junior’s parents, all gather at McGarrett’s for Thanksgiving dinner. Flippa’s (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) mother, Princess (Lori Pelenise Tuisano) has cooked for the entire Five-0 team, as well as Kamekona (Taylor Wily), Duke (Dennis Chun) and Nalani Lukela (Laura Mellow) and Noelani (Kimee Balmilero).
As they all gather on McGarrett’s lawn, Lou and McGarrett talk about Danno’s supposed “mold” problem which forced him to move into McGarrett’s place on Thanksgiving Day. McGarrett tells Lou, “It’s been an interesting year for me, between Joe and Mom. He’s worried about me. He wants to keep an eye on me, I get it.” But he does admit that it’s nice to have people who actually care about him.
And they do care, and love, McGarrett — and each other. No matter what issues they have, or pain they have to endure, in the end, their ‘ohana is on a solid foundation.