“I should have been straight with you from the start. Trust, it… well, it’s a mighty big word.”
~Governor Denning, Hawaii Five-0, Season 3, episode 14, “Hana I WaʻIa” (Scandal)
When we talk about trust we talk about giving it. Giving our trust to others assumes that we have control over who we trust and when and why. Thankfully, in most life situations, we do have that control. But sometimes we have no choice in the matter. This is a story about one of those times.
This episode is a hostage crisis. A hostage is taken held and put in a place where their choices are extremely limited. In regards to the emotions of the Five-0s, “Ho’apono” (or, “Accept”) puts Danny in this difficult position. McG is willingly walking (swimming) into danger and yet Danny is the one who is trapped. Danny can’t have McG’s back, or know that at least someone else does. This is kind of a first for the new partnership and to say Danny is unhappy about it is something of an understatement.
This episode shows Danny dealing with a difficult situation and we don’t know how we will react. McG is cast in the role of noble hero – at every turn doing what we expect he would do – what we ourselves would hope we would do – in the same situation. This is not a criticism in fact this is the highest praise (not leaving a brother-in-arms behind, etc.). But this dynamic means that while this episode is viewed from McG’s point of view, and we learn a great deal of facts about Steven J. McGarrett, we learn more about Danny’s character.
So what do we learn about Danny? First off, that like many cops, Danny employs heuristics when he explains to McG that what will most likely occur when he investigates Noreen’s murder is that he will discover that Graham is in fact guilty. Heuristics are mental tools that we all use every day to solve problems and decide how to act in given situations, based on what we think is most likely to occur because of what has happened in the past. Most times when a married woman is found murdered, her husband is guilty. At their best, heuristics help police officers focus in on who was most likely to commit a given crime – at their worst, they’re the thought processes behind racial profiling and “Stop and Frisk” laws.
This is basically what Danny is saying to McG when McG says “I’ve done this sort of thing before,” and Danny says, “you’ve snuck on to a floating museum to rescue a bunch of tourists who are being held captive by a man who is accused of killing his wife?” Because obviously not. Whereas Danny Williams has solved nearly 90 homicides; he knows the husband killed the wife. And to Danny’s credit, he’s right about this in the end (he just doesn’t know who the husband really is).
We love it when doctors use heuristics to help us — you go to an emergency room complaining of pain in your lower right abdomen, you’ll get rushed into surgery to get your appendix taken out with minimal time wasted on unnecessary testing. We hate it when our doctors use heuristics and what works for most people isn’t working for us, resulting in a lot of time spent on useless medications, expensive procedures and in additional discomfort. Heuristics help us work smarter but not necessarily harder. McG needed Danny to commit to working harder to solve this case.
“Ho’apono” is a fun, action packed episode that blends humor with a serious story. Select facts about mental illness and PTSD educate the audience about a critical problem with our returning military veterans, alongside a few true belly-laugh moments.
The scenes with Rookie Kono treating the young girl Lily to some shave ice and color-crayon therapy is very sweet, showing Kono’s silly humor and ability to connect with victims.
Chin and Danny do the majority of the investigative leg-work and expository speech, but it’s interspersed with humor and McG’s more action-oriented scenes on board the Missouri.
And while on board the Missouri, the conversations between the second Steve McGarrett (aka, The Backup) and Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class, Ed McKay, US Navy, Retired, were instant H50 classics, delivering humor, pride, and patriotic nostalgia in a neat mix. The story-telling of this episode is really well done.
And “Ho’apono” is an important episode, too, introducing us to two new characters. First, Laura Hills.
This first time we met Laura Hills, I clearly remember thinking “aw, well I guess the Governor can’t realistically be in every episode.” And while Laura wasn’t either, she was a solid supporting character and familiar face throughout Season 1. Laura introduces herself to McG and Danny as the Governor’s public safety liaison and in her first episode shows herself to be both capable of following McG’s directives and also making her own informed decisions.
One of these days, I hope a talented author will rewrite Hawaii Five-0 Season 1 from the point of view of Laura Hills. I’ll bet it’ll be a fascinating and thrilling read (with a somewhat sudden end).
The second recurring character we meet in this episode is Joe White.
Now it’s impossible to say for sure that the writers had Joe White, the Season 2 Joe White we know, in mind when they wrote this scene, so I’m going to fabricate the following timeline and invite your thoughts: Joe White joins the Navy as a young man, enlists during Vietnam. He spends most of his career in the enlisted ranks, eventually becoming a SEAL and attaining the rank of Master Chief, training other SEAL candidates. Sometime after Steve McGarrett, the son of his old friend John, has passed BUD/s, Joe applies for officer, and from that point his career advances rather rapidly, eventually gaining the rank of Lieutenant.
So that’s kind of a stretch, but this isn’t the kind of coincidence Show has “just happen.” This is the kind of coincidence Show makes happen. In 2.1 it’s established that Joe was one of McG’s SEAL instructors. How many COs named “White” could he possibly have had?
So this bring us to….. My Favorite Scene of the Episode! Which I have titled:
McG & Danny’s Second Discussion of the Case
At the Point When Things are Really Bad!
Trips right off the tongue, doesn’t it?
So McG has been barricaded in the head (aka locked in the bathroom) by Graham, who has moved his hostages out of the galley and into the wheelhouse. McG gives Danny a call and they get each other caught up on the latest developments of the case. Which are: The Five-0 team has found nothing to prove Graham’s innocence and McG’s attempt to rescue the hostages, either by peaceful means or by force, has failed.
Once McG had seen and talked to Graham his instinct told him the man was innocent of his wife’s murder. However, he had to balance his feeling that Graham was innocent with the fact that his fellow SEAL was currently holding a gun in the faces of innocent people and even though he held multiple hostages, he refused to release a sick woman from his custody. Graham was not completely innocent and the situation needed to be dealt with.
So Plan A did not… go according to plan. Plan B time, right? So Danny says he’s going to call in SWAT. McG says “no.” And Danny puts the phone down. Really, it’s the most amazing moment in this new partnership.
So Danny could have called in SWAT right then and there. Sure, McG would have been mad, but neither he nor Danny knew Boats would very soon let McG out of the toilets and what were they supposed to do in the meantime?
Danny put the phone down; that was a choice he made. He didn’t like it, but he did it anyway. This isn’t a simple question of obedience or following orders because I don’t believe Danny operates that way. This was about trusting Steve, and taking a chance on that trust, full stop.
What we learn about Danny in this episode is that he doesn’t get angry or petty when he discovers he’s wrong. When presented with the evidence showing his heuristics are incorrect, he refocuses on the facts of the case and maintains situational awareness – even if Graham didn’t kill Noreen, the SEAL is an emotionally unstable and armed hostage taker. McG still needs to be careful.
Now trust has become a big theme in the show since this point, bigger, than I think we could have imagined back here in the Autumn of 2010 when this episode first aired. Since the moment when Danny hangs up the phone we’ve had a whole host of characters (including but not limited to: Chin, Governor Jameson, Jenna, Kono, Joe and Doris) engage Steve directly concerning their trust in his judgement, his competence, his capacity for dealing with difficult emotions or even the basic facts of the past.
When Danny hangs up the phone the world changes. What I like about their exchange is that it works because Steve is still calm and rational though someone in his position (trapped in the toilets) should be frustrated and upset. Not Steve. He projects an aura of competence and gentle authority. He asks “why” and looks for the answers, makes Danny look for the answers. To ask someone to “dig deeper” is never irrational or bad. Asking why brings clarity, asking why makes things clear. Asking why leads you to the root cause of all things. Sound pretty zen? Fair enough — Zen McG is wise, y’all!
Contrasted with the violence which kicks off this episode, it ends relatively bloodlessly. Sure, Boats is shot, but it’s a flesh wound. The Russian banker/murderer surrenders without a fuss. The errant SEAL will get his much needed medical care. All this is the result of Steve’s intuition, made possible through the Team, working as his eyes and hands and feet. This is also trust, turning over to others the deeds you know need done but can’t do yourself, believing that they will be completed fully and truly.
Well, I’m not sure I convinced any of you that this episode was really a good character episode for Danny. We followed McG throughout the narrow halls of the Battleship Missouri and I’m not sure I did a good job telling just how heroic McG was, either, though I sure tried. McG’s heroism is revealed in his open trusting heart and willingness to throw himself between a sick man and automatic weapons fire. He trusted Danny to be fair and open minded and conduct the case as he would if Steve were there beside him. Both men achieved their objectives and the results were positive for all the innocents involved. But this is the way it always happens, and we’ve discussed it all before…
So my score for this episode based on Steph’s Super Hard/Super Secret Grading Criteria is a fantastic 3.3/5 making it my 4th favorite out of the first 7 episodes of Season one!
Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for next time, when I review “Mana’o” or “Belief,” an episode of television about the murder of Danny’s old HPD partner …but is actually all about Steve.
And after a quick read through I think this review did not include enough Chin Ho Kelly. So here we are.
Some pics here included from bookemdanno.net, linked back for your viewing convenience.