If there is one element “Hawaii Five-0” does not shy away from, it is revisiting the past — and this week — the trip was quite revealing. It was also a little heartbreaking. Add in a big helping of suspense and a whole lot of action — and you have all the makings of a great episode.
I won’t lie — I was glad when I saw that executive producer and showrunner, Peter Lenkov, was listed as one of the episode writers. While Lenkov wrote this week’s episode “He Moho Hou” with writer Cyrus Nowrasteh — the episode had many of the elements that fans love and want to see week after week.
Fans want to see McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) piloting the investigation. They want a bit of comic relief from Kamekona (Taylor Wily) and Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) as well as from Five-0 consultant, Jerry Ortega (Jorge Garcia). They want cousins Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Kono (Grace Park) to have a supportive tête-à-tête about a family or personal matter. They want Lou (Chi McBride) to drop in with his clever one-liners and to show up with his really big gun.
And we definitely want all of the elements we love to be wrapped around some cool action scenes, maybe a great gun fight, and an epic car chase. Well — a chase with cars, not necessarily a literal car chase. Which is what we got this week as we watched McG chase on foot a car down a parking structure. Thankfully, Danno kept his head and caught the car after calmly riding down a few floors in the parking structure’s elevator. Because sometimes using the elevator is quicker than taking the stairs and/or running down the spiral exit in order to catch a bad guy. Right?
Regardless, whenever Lenkov has a hand at crafting any Five-0 script, the episode tends to be much tighter and always gives us a little more than just a typical procedural. This week’s episode, directed by co-executive producer Bryan Spicer, was much closer to the type of show that fans tend to want to see week after week.
I’m not sure if I am alone in this mode of thinking, but sometimes I really feel they could leave out the case of the week. “He Moho Hou” was no exception to that train of thought. The case involved the death of a DEA agent who is shot and then dumped out of a plane, falling on a the house of a local man named Akamu (played by Hawaiian storyteller and legend expert, Lopaka Kapanui).
The killer then shoots the pilot and parachutes out of the plane, landing in Akamu’s yard and killing him as well. The killer — Hector Frontera (Manuel D. Baez, Jr.) — is the Cali Cartel’s Far East player who had been working to set up a drug pipeline across Europe with Frontera’s US counterpart, Sanchez (played by Hawaiʻi actor Tony Stephanov). Frontera seemed to have known that the DEA was ready to close in on him, so he was planning his escape with $10 million of the cartel’s money.
The DEA is eager to help Five-0 solve this case and they send their agent Ben Halanu (Jon Abrahams) to help the team find Frontera. Halanu’s information leads McG and Danno to the parking structure to literally chase Sanchez as he both runs and drives away from McG and Danno for the aforementioned literal car chase.
After that, the case goes right into chase mode. There is a few funny moments where Danno scares the snot out of Sanchez, by making him believe that the drain under the interrogation chair is for more than the river of tears he’ll shed if Danno’s “impatient” partner gets his way. Once Sanchez cracks, the team heads to another DEA agent’s home, where Frontera is hiding out with his big ole bag of money. Unfortunately the team loses him, but in his effort to get away from McG — or perhaps from the random black SUV’s that also seem to be chasing him — the Five-0 team recover his get-away cash.
When the team finally catches up to Frontera — they lose him to the cartel — who probably want to kill him for messing up a simple meeting in order to start dealing drugs all over Europe. Really, what is the world coming to when you can’t find really good drug cartel help any more.
In a really strange twist, the cartel calls McG and says that they will trade Frontera for the $10 million. McGarrett and Danno agree to the trade and head to meet Juan Diego (played by former professional boxer Victor Ortiz) and his crew. McG drops the big bag of green near Diego’s feet, and before you can say Carmen San — Diego opens the bag and out pops sharpshooter Kono who takes out all the bad guys with five well timed shots.
I guess I was right to think that I heard the strains of the “Wonder Woman” theme song in the background just as she said “I’m on my way!” when McG called her to help with getting Frontera back from the cartel.
Speaking of Kono — she was pretty amazing in this episode — not just with the whole popping out of the bag and capping the baddies routine. The secondary storyline of Kono helping former surfing rival, Rosey Valera (played by model and actress, Kanya Sesser, who was born without legs), was really touching and another example of how connected Kono is to surfing and the ocean. We remember Kono’s backstory about how she learned to surf from season five — so it made sense when she uses it to start to heal Rosey — who after 9/11 left the pro surfing tour, joined the army, and lost her legs in Iraq.
Kono and Rosey reconnect when Duke (Dennis Chun) calls Kono after Rosey is arrested for being drunk and disorderly and asks for Kono’s number when she gets her one phone call. Duke asks Kono how they know each other, and Kono tells him about Rosey being one of the best surfers on the tour with her. So when Kono sees her in the jail cell in a wheelchair, she is a little shocked. As the two had not seen each other for the last 12 years — Kono keeps her shock under wraps. The once-rivals get to know each other again, and Kono soon realizes that Rosey having no legs is only the start of her issues. I love that Kono doesn’t try to judge or force Rosey into getting help or making amends. She just convinces her to try and get back on her board — to use a familiar comparison.
Kono’s trip into the past was both sweet and bittersweet and that really helped to balance out the journey that Dr. Alicia Brown (special guest star Claire Forlani) is having chasing the Chess-Piece Killer with McGarrett.
Brown started out the episode having a really bad morning. I wish it was more of a “no coffee, can’t function” morning — rather than having a dead body in her bed. That seriously gives new meaning to waking up on the really wrong side of the bed. Once acting Medical Examiner Dr. Cunha (Hawaiʻi actress Kimee Balmilero) finds another chess piece inside the victim’s mouth, Alicia realizes that she cannot turn down McGarrett’s request to help find the serial killer.
I think I would have liked it more if the episode had focused on Alicia and McG looking for the serial killer. Still I did love the fact that once she woke up in blood, she was all in. When she started to make McGarrett like moves in order to find more information and clues to help with the case, I started to like her even more. Like when she exhumes an HPD homicide detective’s body by saying the order came from McG and signing his name on the corresponding documents — McG’s look of, “right, I would have done the same” sealed the deal on Dr. Brown.
The body she exhumed was Philip Lau, a homicide detective who had been looking into the same serial killers who have been recently “given” to Five-0 with the medieval chess pieces in their mouths. The translation of this week’s episode title, “He Moho Hou” is “New Player.” Really in Hawaiian, “moho” actually means “candidate or a representative selected to participate in a race or betting contest, a champion.” Which makes far more sense in this case than the word “player.” “Hou” means “new, fresh, recent,” so both make perfect sense in this case.
The Chess-Piece Killer wants a new and fresh candidate for his — or perhaps her — contest. And the game will continue next week as McGarrett and Alicia gave us a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of this episode. After looking at Lau’s body and realizing that his “suicide” was more of a homicide, they are led to a police psychiatrist, Dr. Madison Gray (Elizabeth Röhm) who Lau had been talking to before his death. Interesting enough, Dr. Gray has a book on her bookshelf titled “History of Medieval Chess” on her shelf. Could she be the gamemaker they have been looking for?
It looks like we’ll have to come back for part two of this episode next week. But don’t worry, friends, it looks like the right team will return to solve this case, onscreen and off.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
Lots of guest stars this week, but one that was a little underplayed, was a short cameo by Helen Kuoha-Torco, the “Aunty” cooking Spam at the homeless camp. Kono asks her to help find Rosey. If the name Kuoha-Torco rings any bells, it is because she is the famous Tahitian hips we see in the opening credits of the original “Hawaii Five-O.”
Kuoha-Torco also had a small cameo in the first season of the rebooted Five-0, in “Mālama Ka ʻĀina” (“Respect the Land”), when Danno asks her to take care of Gracie while Danno tries to find a shooter at a Kukui High School football game.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.