One element about “Hawaii Five-0” that makes fans return week after week, season after season, has a lot to do with their ability to present a strong opening and have expert control in executing their endgame. This week’s episode “Hū ʻaʻe ke ahi lanakila a Kāmaile” (“The fire of Kāmaile rises in triumph”), written by Peter M. Lenkov and Cyrus Nowrasteh, and directed by Bronwen Hughes, was an excellent representation of the type of show that has helped to prove Five-0’s popularity as a series.
This week’s offering was a continuation of last week’s episode “He Moho Hou” (“New Player”), also written by Lenkov and Nowrasteh, which delved back into the hunt for the Chess-Piece killer that started in the opening of the seventh season. We left off last week with McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and former FBI serial killer profiler Alicia Brown (Claire Forlani) meeting HPD shrink Dr. Madison Gray (Elisabeth Röhm).
Both McGarrett and Brown immediately suspect that something is up with Dr. Gray when they see a book in her office called “History of Medieval Chess.” Each of the Chess-Piece killer’s victims had a pawn from a medieval chess set stuffed in their mouths — the first clue that lead Five-0 to ask Alicia to help them, as well as the consistent clue that kept the team baffled.
The title of this week’s episode, really tied me into knots — but in an interesting way. The English translation of the episode, “the fire of Kāmaile rises in triumph,” is actually the translation of “ʻŌʻili pulelo ke ahi o Kāmaile,” an ʻōlelo noʻeau, or Hawaiian proverb, collected and translated by the Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui. The actual meaning being the phrase is that it “is said of one who is victorious over obstacles.”
Which perfectly describes what McGarrett and Alicia go through in this episode. If we break down the different Hawaiian words of the episode title, it basically translates the same way as the ʻōlelo noʻeau, yet it makes more of an impact than the original phrase.
The first word in the title, “hū” means “to rise or swell” and “to surge or rise to the surface” — yet this word is typically used to mean an emotional surge, or “to gush forth; a rising swelling outburst.” At first I thought the Hawaiian was referencing the fact that McGarrett and Alicia are ambushed, kept hostage, and then tossed to their death into Hālona Blowhole. So the “gush” or “rising swell” was a combination of their actions as well as the rising tide of the water. But the Hawaiian implies more of an emotional response to what is going on with McG and the danger he is facing with Alicia.
We also saw a huge “rising swelling outburst” when we are shown Alicia’s backstory about her daughter, Sienna Brown (Ashleigh Domangue), who followed in Mommy’s footsteps and became an FBI profiler. Sienna was murdered by serial killer, Ed Sears (Ryan Locke), and when Alicia visits him in prison to find out what he did with her daughter, she tries to attack him through solid plexiglass threatening to kill him for what he did to her girl.
The next word in the title, “ʻaʻe” (there are two ʻokina in this word — not one, as used in the press release), means “to step over, get on top of, tread upon, trespass; to raise.” This could mean several things — the fact that Dr. Gray got on top of McG and Alicia to kidnap them, or the idea of treading on and trespassing on McG and Alicia’s persons, or even how McG and Alicia have to rise up to get out of the blowhole. I suppose I could wax poetic for another paragraph or two, but I think you get the point here.
“Ahi” means “fire, match, lighting; to burn in a fire, destroy by fire. And “lanakila” means “victory, triumph, win, overcome, beat, prevail, outwit, conquer.” There was only one scene of literal fire, and that was when Dr. Gray lights McG’s truck on fire. I’m not sure why she did it — was it to burn up evidence? Or was it so Chevy could show off a newer version of their Silverado? But perhaps it just could relate to the fact that McGarrett and Alicia must basically go through fire in order to overcome not only the Chess-Piece serial killer, Dr. Gray, but also when they are handed over to another pair of serial killers — Donald (Danny Michael Mann) and Mallory Witten (Lauren Letherer).
Gray doesn’t really try to kill them — but she does give new meaning to being stabbed in the back by someone who is supposed to be on their side — remember she is an HPD shrink. She also knocks McGarrett in the head with a tenderizing mallet, and then hands over our heroes to the Donald and Mallory who seemed to have walked straight out of the Jeffrey Dahmer/Aileen Wuornos school of serial killing. The couple are set to avenge their capture by dumping Alicia into the blowhole because she has a fear of drowning. They also taunt her by telling her that they had wanted to kill her daughter, but another killer beat them to it.
Still “lanakila” is also in reference to McGarrett saving Alicia, who gives into her anxiety and almost drowns, as well as how he climbs out of the cavern alive, and then helps Alicia out of the water. It also represents how the team — Kono (Grace Park), Chin (Daniel Dae Kim), Lou (Chi McBride) and Jerry (Jorge Garcia) — outwits Grey and her servant killers to help McG and Alicia.
Really, Kono and Chin save the day with their big guns and shooting skills in order to take out the Wittens — but Grey is in the wind. She has seemingly made her way off the island in order to kill random men she meets on blind dates, who like the fact that she enjoys Jack the Ripper fairytales — because that is not overtly creepy at all.
I really did enjoy the episode, the suspense of how McG was going to get them out of really two situations — being stabbed and duct taped, as well as getting out of the underwater cavern. I also appreciated the explanation of Alicia’s backstory, and the believability and subtle way Forlani played a character that could have been overdone and made to have been unrealistically melodramatic. And I also love seeing McG use his brains and his brawn to get out of extra sticky — or in this case, very wet — situations.
But I was not impressed by the very lackluster Elisabeth Röhm as the villain, Dr. Madison Gray. This is not the first time I’ve been underwhelmed by a villain. The first one that failed on many levels was when they cast Nick Jonas as computer hacker and pretend slacker, Ian Wright. I also really did not find Michelle Shioma, the Yakuza “Boss” from the sixth season ender, played by Michelle Krusiec, very believable either. The problem I had with both Jonas and Krusiec was that both were so stereotypical that they came off as flat and two-dimensional.
Röhm’s portrayal was completely boring. I wasn’t even scared of her. I was more creeped out by Donald and Mallory who at least came off as a deadly and sadistic couple dressed like a couple of nerdy parents. Sometimes I just long for the days of Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos) and Gabriel (Christopher Sean). They were brutal and vicious, but at least they were interesting.
Let’s just hope that if they bring Gray back to wreck havoc on McGarrett and the crew, they at least give her some kind of personality injection. And that means more than sticking a wig on her head and letting her laugh at a lame joke. I would be fine if they leave Gray in the wind, but bring Alicia back. She’s great, and I like the bit of relationship that she has built with McG.
I know, even in a chess game, someone has to capture the king — my only hope is that the queen is there to help keep him out of check.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
There was a lot of great Uncle Chin and Sara (Londyn Silzer) moments this week. When Chin is stand-up paddling the little girl around the lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, they share a few lines from “The King and I” — which Daniel Dae Kim starred in this summer during the Five-0 hiatus. I also loved the fact that there were more hints that Uncle Chin may end up keeping sweet Sara Malia after all. If you want to see how Chin became an uncle and met little Sara, the season six episode, “Pilina Koko” (“Blood Ties”), replays Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:00pm on CBS.
I also thought the short scene with Lou and NFL great and former Chicago Bear, Otis Wilson, at Kamekona’s Shrimp Truck, was perfect as Lou is a former Chicago cop. But it was also perfect as Chi McBride, who plays Grover, was born in Chicago. His name “Chi” (pronounced “Shy”) which he uses professionally, comes from his birth city.
And I have to add a quick cheer, as Kono revealed that Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) is scheduled to get out of prison “in a few days.” Dale is listed to appear in the Oct. 21 episode, “Ke Kū Ana” (“The Stand”), so I am very excited to finally get to see our favorite couple reunited.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.