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The Ko’olauloa Review: The Possibilities of Defeat (Do Not Exist)

Kalâkaua is the name
A flower that wilts not in the sun.

Blooming on the summit
Of the mountain, Mauna Kea.

Burning there at Kilauea,
The light of the sacred woman.

~From the Name song for Kalâkaua (Traditional)

Kono, at home on the water.

It took me a long time to figure out how I was going to do this review. As I’m writing, we’re in the hiatus between Seasons 2 & 3. In the penultimate episode of Season 2, “Ua Hopu” it is revealed that Kono has been involved in a secret romance with Adam Noshimuri, a man with close family ties to the Japanese mafia organization the Yakuza (though he is supposedly not involved in any criminal activity himself). However, through a series of events, Kono discovers Adam’s intent to engage in illegal activity and she confronts him, intending to stop him. He pulls a gun on her, evidently distraught. Then, off-camera, he binds and gags her, leaving her in an empty house while he goes off to commit the crime. Chin Ho discovers Kono and releases her. Together, they arrive in time to prevent the crime from occurring.

In the final episode of Season 2, “Ua Hala,” Adam and Kono appear to be reconciled, the episode ending with her final on-camera line being a cell phone conversation with Adam, laughingly referencing the events of the previous episode as bad boyfriend behavior. Kono is then captured (again, off-camera) by a man working for Kono’s nemesis, ex-cop and current criminal, Frank Delano. The episode ends with Kono, again bound & gagged, being pushed overboard a boat, apparently left to drown.

My point in referencing these incidents is not to re-hash the debate over Kono and Adam’s relationship, but to reference my frame of mind as to why it took me so long to figure out how to do this review. Because “Ko’olauloa” (The North Shore of Oahu) is all about Kono. And I’m not sure how or what to think about Kono right now.

Kono’s father-figure is killed.

Kono is an amazing character. She’s easily overlooked due to her limited onscreen minutes, but the show wouldn’t be the same without her. I’ve reviewed five Season 1 episodes of Hawaii Five-0 so far and Kono has shone in each and every one of them, being tough and clever and adaptable — even as she’s shown her naivete and frustrations. We enthused with her. We shared her apprehensions. And she’s more important than I ever realized.

Kono is determined to work, even when overcome with grief.

Most scripted television is watched by women & for the sake of my argument I’m assuming Hawaii Five-0 is no different. This means for the majority of viewers, Kono is the most relatable character, even if only subconsciously. She’s alluring, but less enigmatic than Chin Ho. She’s emotional but less prone to outburst than Danny. She tough but…. well, everybody’s less of a BAMF than McG, it’s only a matter of degree. Kono being on the team makes us feel like we could be part of the team.

Kono is told to sit it out.

In Season 1, the show will go out of its way to let us know that Kono’s problems aren’t because she’s a woman, but because she’s a rookie. It doesn’t change the fact that she’s still both. It doesn’t change the fact that Kono gets told to “take the day” by her boss, co-workers and cousin – in comparison to “Malama Ka ‘Aina” when Danny suggests to McG that he take Chin off the case for similar reasons, McG instead opts for “tough love.” So what is it Kono gets here? I’m not saying this to debate the specifics of Chin Ho vs Kono’s situations early in Season 1. I’m just saying it.

Kono has been taken off the case.
Danny tells her she can’t blame herself. She says, “ok.”
(FYI: she is not really ok with it)

Kono comes by her stiff upper lip honestly. Kono is royalty. Kalakaua was the family name of the Hawaiian kings and queens before their kingdom was disbanded and the Island rule changed hands. The show will often refer to “Kalakaua Avenue” as it is one of the main drags of Honolulu, but the pronunciation is closer to “kal-a-kav-a” than how they say Kono’s name, “Kal-a-cow-a.” And this may be intentionally done so (non-Hawaiian) viewers aren’t distracted by the connection. Of course, Kono got her name directly from her Original Five-O Predecessor – the name was not especially picked for her by the current show’s creators. But it doesn’t change the fact that her name means she’s a princess. A Queen.

Kono reunites with old friend.

The focus on Kono’s Season 2 character arc played out in the first five episodes as she did undercover work for Chief Fryer, to bring Frank Delano and his crew to justice. Instead of the understanding and patient Kono we had come to know in Season 1, now we were given a Kono with attitude and bitterness and intentional deceit. Although much of the attitude was an act, these rough edges never really left Kono all season. She was more serious, stoic, strong & silent than ever before. Seeing Kono with Adam in “Ua Hopu” was the first time all season we’d seen her sweet, emotionally vulnerable, tender and playful. It was more like Season 1 Kono, more innocent Kono.

But we know what happened to her.

For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
King Richard II: III, ii
.

Kono’s father figure being killed right in front of her draws parallels between McG’s father being killed over the phone from him. As Kono stands up from kneeling at the side of her dead mentor’s body, it’s McG who she locks eyes with as the walks towards her team. He is the one who should understand what she is going through. And though he certainly does, it’s not shown at all. He doesn’t say anything to her about it. And we don’t see Chin Ho consoling her either. Oddly enough, it’s Danny who counsels Kono about handling cases that hit close to home as McG & Chin Ho investigate the shooter (and at this point in the season he’s the only one without a personal investment in any of the cases Five-0 has solved). It seems like a missed opportunity.

Kono smiles.

This is a beautiful episode. McG, Danno, Chin Ho, the guest cast — they all look great. McG’s working some laid-back smirks (when he’s not busy flaring his nostrils at Kawika) and Danny’s got this great eye/shirt/tongue combo (all in blue) that’s really working for him. There’s some lovely banter (“It’s a strategic op“) & some classic H50 one liners, like “I’m not scared, I’m rationally concerned” and “When I say ‘book ’em danno,’ it’s a term of endearment.” Great stuff. Don’t want to discount any of it because it all factors in to my giving this ep a 7.2/10 score — making it 3rd out of the 6 eps we’ve seen so far (second only to”The Pilot” &”Malama Ka ‘Aina”). It’s also double the most screen time we’ve ever seen for Kono — up to 3 times as much as she’s been on screen for many of the previous episodes. This episode was focused on Kono and is one of the best episodes of the show we’ve seen so far. Just. Sayin.

Kono wonders if Ben could be guilty.

In my favorite scene of the episode, Kono has called Ben Bass into her office to inform him he is a suspect in Ian Adams’ murder and that he needs to surrender his rifle. It’s hard for her, you can see that. Her voice wavers. Her eyes get glassy and she grits her teeth. But she powers through. She does not let her feelings of nostalgia get in the way. She does not allow her personal relationship with Ben to cloud her judgement. She doesn’t let what she wishes to be true guide her actions. She does what needs to be done. She does the right thing, no matter how it will damage her closeness with Ben. He asks her if he needs a lawyer and she doesn’t hesitate and she tells him, “Yes.” Kono owns everything about this moment. Kono is my hero.

Kono tells Ben “Yes.”

Though we’re only a few weeks into hiatus, there have been a number of prominent blog headlines asking “Is Kono Dead?” or similar questions. And anything is possible. MAJOR SPOILER for Original Hawaii Five-O: Chin Ho is murdered, his body dumped on the steps of Five-O headquarters. (highlight to read) So it’s not out of the question for this show to take a shocking turn. If Kono is in fact killed, it has been stated by the show’s executive producer that this has been done in order to further Chin Ho’s character development. (Right here I cut out an epic-length rant about how women on this Show are expendable and used to provide the male characters with opportunities to act & emote… Yeah.)

If Kono dies, she didn’t die as she spent the last two years living.

Kono doesn’t want to believe Ben is guilty.

That being said, I don’t believe they’re going to kill her off.

Kono never needed to be truly rescued before. Even in “Ohana” when she was captured by the Serbian mobsters, she had freed her hands & was planning her next move when McGarrett, Danny & Chin Ho arrived. My hope is that in the Season 3 premier we’ll see Kono save herself – as she did in the Season 2 premier, when she high-kicked her way out of the trunk of a car and disarmed a man with her hands still bound. But what I think will happen is that Kono will be “white knighted.” Her final conversation with Adam Noshimuri – requesting he make a grand gesture with wine & flowers to apologize for his bad behavior – will be answered when he pulls her from the water, symbolically bringing her back to life, the water washing clean his transgressions towards her. Although I’ll be happy to see Kono survive this ordeal, if it happens the way I predict, I’ll be disappointed.

Kono stares down her mentor’s murderer.

In the end of “Ko’olauloa,” Kono stands strong, follows her internal moral compass and because she has done so is awarded the pleasure of arresting the man ultimately responsible for Ian Adams’ death. If she had shirked her duty, let Ben off the hook or helped him evade the police, she wouldn’t have deserved the right to do what she is doing now. She earned everyone’s respect.

Kono confronts the man responsible for Adams’ murder.

Whatever happens to Kono, her character arc has been an impressive one. I hope we get many more seasons of television to get to know this fascinating, strong and ambitious woman.

“We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They do not exist.”
~Queen Victoria

Kono arrests the man responsible.

Thanks everyone, for humoring me through this episode review… very unique episode, I think. So now, the reader Ko’olauloa Review Poll! I swear I tried not to make all the responses Danny’s lines, but this ep was certainly one where he had most of the good ones (at least, ones that were applicable to a ratings poll). I promise you, my dream ratings poll is one where all the responses will be lines said by different characters… So! On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being having to pick up the tab for a round of virgin Blue Hawaiis and 5 being sick in the best possible way

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About SJ2

I am good with: Details, Bad Ideas, Hilarity, Sarcasm and Overthinking! I kid because I care!

Discussion

32 thoughts on “The Ko’olauloa Review: The Possibilities of Defeat (Do Not Exist)

  1. I warmed up to Kono (and the way Grace plays her) last, but then I fell hard. And Show goes back and forth between awesome Kono writing and lame Kono writing. It’s frustrating! I haven’t gone back to watch yet, but I think I remember McG giving Kono a look at the beach that I thought was great.

    Posted by rainycali | June 9, 2012, 11:24 pm
    • It’s really funny, I never really sat down & just thought about Kono before doing this & I always would have said, yeah, I like Kono, she’s great! But after a bit of serious thought… My Kono Feelings are now Very Strong!! The crummy Kono writing BUGS ME, to quote McG.

      Yeah, we don’t really get to see *much* of McG’s face because the camera is mostly on Kono as she approaches the guys, but he does give her this sympathetic look and asks her if she’s ok. It’s a very interesting episode to me, viewed from an emotional angle, instead of “watching for the plot” or watching for the pretty. Some fascinating stuff.

      Posted by stephaniejane2 (The Junk Kicker) | June 10, 2012, 8:01 pm
      • I’ve always liked Kono and for me this is the only real Kono centered episode from either season. Yes, she had an interesting story line with being kicked off the foce but honestly that seemed kind of abrupt to me…she’s off the force, no one on the team seems to care (it was all off camera), oh, we caught the bad guys and she’s back. And I have issues with part of this new Adam storyline. This one episode from early in season 1 gave me a better idea of what makes Kono tick and who she is, than these other ‘meatier’ storylines all together.

        And seeing an episode like this makes the crummy Kono writing even more bothersome to me….yeah, it BUGS ME too! I also noticed this seems to be an episode that doesn’t get rerun as frequently as a lot of the other episodes. Maybe TPTB or the network just don’t think it’s a strong episode or don’t think a Kono centered episode is worth showing again?

        Posted by JDD | June 11, 2012, 8:32 pm
        • Yeah, maybe because this ep came first, or maybe more about how the storyline of Season 2 played out, but I felt like I learned more about *Kono* in this ep than say in eps 2.2-2.5. Those eps showed Kono in some tough situations & making some tough choices, but because her actions were being directed by Fryer (and Delano… and McG), she wasn’t a free agent, really, so we didn’t really get to learn about HER so much as we learned about Fryer & Delano, ironically.

          Posted by stephaniejane2 (The Junk Kicker) | June 13, 2012, 10:49 am
  2. Very interesting insight into Kono based on how we’ve seen her grow and the most current controversial events. I actually through the disk in and rewatched, so here are my random thoughts:

    – The guy playing Ian is a baaaaaaad actor. Good thing he only had a few lines.
    – Kevin Zorbo makes me itch. Ick.
    – I never made the connection between Kono seeing Ian (second father) get shot and McG hearing his father get shot. Duh! Considering how many cases involve dead parents, this should have been obvious to me. I fired up the deleted scenes and was particularly interested with the one between Kono and Max in the morgue. SPOILER: Now that we’ve seen what Max went through with his own mother, it makes his reaction to Kono all the more heartbreaking.
    – McG and Chin talking about the morning surf report… #surfnerds
    – Whatever happened to Ben?! I though that we finally had a good bfriend for Kono. He definitely wouldn’t have held her at gunpoint or tied her up.
    – Kavika is hot.
    – Mmmmmmm… Blue Hawaiis. Can’t order those in South Texas without the bartender getting aneurysm face.
    – McG pulled the Pearl Harbor card. That will probably work most of the time.
    – How would those two dudes NOT know Kavika’s big *ss truck?
    – Interesting. Ben lived his whole life thinking that Zorbo was his dad, only to find out that Ian was his real dad. I’m still weaving my conspiracy theory basket that Joe is Steve’s real father and is also a McGarrett, John’s brother, so that Steve can still be a real Mcgarrett.
    – Speaking of deleted scenes… Mary got completely deleted out of this episode. I thought that the champ box scene was so cute, as well as the pawn shop/computer scene. I’m trying to remember if we ever see that computer again, or if we find out what was on that disk. I don’t think we do.
    – Just something I noticed… both women in McG’s life, Mary and Cath, have cut their hair short.

    Posted by spurschick | June 10, 2012, 10:45 am
    • LOL, the guy playing Ian. I was thinking he was hired for being an older gentleman surfer who could also do a stunt backflip off a surfboard… not for his acting ability!

      OMG that deleted scene. Talk about a heart-wrenching scene! Soooo beautiful. if any of you haven’t seen it please look it up on youtube, it’s wonderful.

      Ben, I hear tell, is now Prince Charming on OUAT, I think? Yeah, talk about letting a quality guy slip away! 😆

      UGH if Joe White is really McG’s dad I will …. blarrrrrrghhhh. >_< no no no no no no

      Yeah, the computer disk never did turn up again. "It was all about the key" I guess. But yeah her lugging around that huge old computer with a floppy disk drive was hilarious & a good shout out to the Pilot where McG tells Danny "My dad hated computers."

      Also, playing the My Grandfather Died at Pearl Harbor card – yeah, probably does work most of the time. Mr. JK asked me if I thought native Hawaiians like Kawika actually cared about that, above & beyond being born since 1950, and Americans, since at the time Hawaii wasn't a state, etc. So does having an ancestor buried at Pearl Harbor really mean something on a "protecting the land" level like the Kapu want to do? Or is it on par with respecting any military service? Or is it seen as special to Hawaiians, like McG seemed to indicate?

      Posted by stephaniejane2 (The Junk Kicker) | June 10, 2012, 7:54 pm
      • As much as I hate to say it, the Americans didn’t protect much of anything that day. December 7th was pretty much one of those America-gets-their-butt-kicked days. I’m sure that there was some defense that saved lives, but overall it was not a good day. Trust me… there is absolutely NO H8 when I say this. I do, however, think that McG gets to say that his grandfather died for this country and, since Hawaii is state numero 5-0, I can see where Kavika feels a sense of patriotism, even though he don’t like the haole on the motherland.

        I’m not pro-Joe White = real dad, for reals. It’s just that he has called Steve “son” waaaaaaaaaay too many times for me. I realize that it would be a natural thing for him to call Steve that as he truly has been like a second father to Steve, etc. I just don’t trust Atplenkov to not scramble Steve’s brains as much as possible. HOWEVER, I am totally not cool with Steve not being a McGarrett and not being related to this man entombed in the Arizona. Hence why I would ONLY be okay with Joe White being dad if he is John’s brother. Ya feel me, Atplenkov!

        Posted by spurschick | June 11, 2012, 8:14 am
        • Mr JK and I actually had a very interesting conversation, considering if it was good that the US was there because Japan eventually would have tried to make Hawaii part of their empire, or if it was bad we were there, because that’s the reason the Island was attacked in the manner it was in the first place. *shrug* What you gonna do?

          Agreed, McG has to be named after his *biological* grandfather, please. There’s only so much head-f/ckery you can pile on a guy before he starts to ask what the point of this all is… Although I wouldn’t be sad if McG wanted to join a commune or something. Take up goat farming & cheese making?

          Posted by stephaniejane2 (The Junk Kicker) | June 11, 2012, 9:37 am
          • Joe can’t be his father because, well this isn’t Star Wars and more importantly Steve White just doesn’t sound as cool as McGarrett. 😉

            Posted by Infant_Sardonic | June 23, 2012, 6:18 am
      • Just some McNerding: The role of Ian Adams is played by legendary bodysurfer Mark Cunningham

        Posted by FOYeur | June 13, 2012, 10:23 am
  3. Eek… I meant “threw” the disk in. #badSundaygrammar

    Posted by spurschick | June 10, 2012, 10:46 am
  4. Great review, Steph!

    I rewatched the ep and made all these comments that are superficial and asdfghjkjh-esque, and now I feel like they aren’t up to snuff with all the thoughtful things you’ve said about this episode!!

    Kono rocks it this ep. Grace (cause I feel like we’re on a first name basis) does a fantastic job with all the emotions that Kono goes through, showing her strength and vulnerability and the depth of her love for her surf family. I agree that this is a solidly good episode, it shows great character development – not just Kono’s – and gives us some of the classic Steve/Danno lines and banter that are oh so entertaining.

    Randomly:
    – I can’t see Kevin Sorbo as anything other than Hercules. Sorry dude.
    – the entire team do look really good in this episode
    – I love the bit where Danno can’t understand the surf talk guy 🙂
    – McG’s tan cargos are looking a little bunchy in front
    – dirt bikes = boys and their toys
    – Danny talking to Kono in her office is a great moment. Not only does he refer to McG’s constipated look, but he and Kono get a great scene for their characters to bond. Love to hear Kono talking about surfing.
    SIDEBAR: I could listen to someone talk about what they’re passionate about for ages. I don’t care what it is, when someone has a deep, genuine passion about something, like Kono does for surfing, it’s amazing to listen to them talk about it.
    – (notinthe)cargument: swear to god Danny, if you ask me that again I’ll shoot you/ strategic op/ you said that with a straight face/ those guys were from out of town/ you’re a sick person you know that/ in the best possible way though, right/ not a compliment, you understand… Love this!!
    – Blue Hawaiis at the Hilton! Blue tongues!
    – when McG says to Kavika that he “came here out of respect”… askdfdgjkdaldjl!!
    – this show needs more ukulele
    – Kono’s roundhouse kick to the guy on the motorbike = awesome!!
    – chasing the jeep, the Camaro gets really dirty. Who’s job is it to washes the Camaro?
    – McG’s smile after Danny tells him to say book’em Danno every day ’cause he likes it is sighworthy
    – the surf funeral at the end is gorgeous, if a funeral can be gorgeous. I hope that’s a real thing that happens in Hawaii, because it’s just beautiful
    – in the surf funeral circle, is it AOL’s Malia in the red bikini?

    Posted by heymomo | June 10, 2012, 6:00 pm
  5. Dang it…I need to pull the DVD out and re-watch this one. All i can really remember is the gorgeous funeral scene and the McG/Kawika standoff. 2 hot, powerful men bowing up at each other?? Yes, please.

    Posted by ESS @H50BAMF | June 12, 2012, 4:35 am
  6. I think the supporting cast were by far the worst guest actors in the whole of H5-0 so far. All of them from Hercules, Ben, Kawika, the two Kapu baddies (Diego & Levi) and the actual shot (Randall), everybody.
    Either that or the Director really did a bad job with all of them. But at least they all physically fit into their roles and the episode did not end up being too bad after all.
    As much as I love Kawika, his role and his body (that is more visible in later episodes)…he really acts stoic and forced. The scene between him and Steve, is really important, as it shows Steve’s willingness to respect the local people /culture but also that he would not take his friend or his job being insulted…”if they don’t want to co-operate he will lay down the law!!” The scene somehow failed a bit with the forced acting in it.

    This was also the first time that the case really affected one of the core four personally (well, apart from the pilot) and they all came out on top in handling it. Especially Kono, showed that she could put personal feelings aside and do her job.

    Redeeming factors for me in this episode:
    As Steph mentioned, Kono’s length of screen time and personal story.
    More insight into Hawaiian culture and problems (although most of it is fictional).
    All the one liners and action. (Alex with free reign on a powerful dirt bike….which he mentioned in interviews, that he could not believe they allowed him to do)
    It looks like Grace can do the on-screen kissing thing, well enough (Can’t wait for Season 7 when she and Steve will share their first on-screen kiss….sigh! – I think there is at least one fan girl here that will share my delight in that visual….your welcome ESS, until then we’ll enjoy Cath!)

    Posted by FOYeur | June 12, 2012, 10:03 am
  7. Hmmm I thought this episode was boring and skipped it on the plane. #awkward

    Posted by Infant_Sardonic | June 23, 2012, 6:23 am

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