I know….last night’s H50 was not a new episode and not even a Season 5 episode but this episode was so special, was such a monumental achievement for everyone involved in bringing it to our screens I felt I should write the review I didn’t get the chance to write over a year ago.
In May of 2013 my husband and I traveled to Oahu for a much anticipated Hawaiian vacation. It was a fantastic trip…everything I had always dreamed it would be. There were several highlights from that week. I was lucky enough to meet up with several online friends I have come to consider, over the years of Five-0, to be Ohana; and, even though it was May and filming for Season 3 had ended, I even had the happy opportunity to meet a wonderful member of the cast!
But the biggest thrill was just being in Hawaii. All the places I’d seen and learned about from the show and from my online Ohana were right outside my window. Places I never thought I’d ever get to actually see in person. While every single place we visited in Oahu was wonderful the most memorable day for us was the day we took the “Stars and Stripes” Tour which included The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (which we have come to know as “Punchbowl”) and, of course, Pearl Harbor.
I can’t explain the feeling of being on “Battleship Row”, of looking down and seeing the majestic Arizona, the oil still rising from her tanks, and to gaze upon the names of all those who lost their lives on December 7th 1941. To walk the decks of the Missouri and stand in the very spot where peace was finally reached. It took my breath away. The only time I have ever felt anything close was when I visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC.
We all grew up learning about Pearl Harbor in history classes and, if you’re of my generation, listening to our parent’s recall where they were and what they were doing on that Sunday in 1941. When my father used to tell me the story, he could still remember the smell of the rug he was lying on while listing as President Roosevelt gave his famous speech. But there was one part of history I never learned about in class, a part of the story my parents never told me. Perhaps they didn’t know either. The story of what happened to the American citizens of Japanese descent in the weeks that followed the attack.
The fact that a TV show would even attempt to tell a story about the attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the subsequent treatment of Japanese Americans was ambitious enough but considering Five-0 decided to tackle it in both the past and the present was truly mind-boggling.
Looking back and remembering the first time I watched it, and, including last night, the numerous times I’ve re-watched it since, I can still say this episode was really, truly amazing. I mean, where do you start with an episode like this? How many emotions can one episode bring to the surface? How can you describe sitting on your sofa and alternating between chills, outrage, sadness, amazement, warmth and tears? This episode did all that and more. A truly memorable experience whether you are a long time Five-0 viewer or just decided to give this one episode a try.
Right off the bat, you’re back on the beautiful island of Oahu, on a warm and sunny Sunday in December of 1941 and just like the people who lived through it, you’re instantaneously jolted from warmth and peace to explosions, chaos and fear. Over a year later I still can’t figure out how Five-0 was able to make it all look so damn realistic. Watching Ford Island explode before my eyes had me thinking back to the day I stood over the Arizona. I’ve seen news reels from those days, of course, but this, in living color, was just so incredibly real it’s still hard to believe they pulled it off. Of course with Peter Lenkov and Ken Solarz doing the writing and in the brilliant hands of director Larry Teng it’s no surprise this episode was extraordinary from start to finish.
The story of David Toriyama, told in both the past and the present, was extremely well done. I don’t see how the character could have been written nor acted any better. The emotions portrayed by both actors were palatable. Luke Hagi, as the young David….. so happy and full of life, growing up with a loving, happy family. Then his fear and humiliation at being herded into trucks like animals and interred at Honouliuli Internment Camp. James Saito, as the adult David, telling of his lifelong, deep seated rage over what happened to his father as well as all the Japanese who were interred. And finally his happiness at the resolution to his father’s murder, the return of his family heirloom AND his contrition to the man he wrongfully accused. Sheer perfection from beginning to end.
There was one scene in particular that really struck a nerve with me. When David was describing his neighborhood growing up and we see him and his brother walking home from school, they wave to “Mrs. Kennedy” across the street. She smiles and calls out to them “Aloha boys” and waves back. But later as the family is being herded into the truck that same Mrs. Kennedy is looking at them with total disdain, mistrust and hatred as she clutches her daughter to her as if she needs to protect her. She’s acting as if these are people she hasn’t known and lived beside for years. Really gave me chills to see how quickly she forgot who these people were and how they had all lived in happiness and peace. How one day could change all of that forever.
And like the reenactment of the Pearl Harbor attack the attention to detail in the recreation of the Honouliuli Internment Camp was amazing. It must have taken hours and hours of painstaking research to get the details so perfect. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be tossed into one of those camps, treated like criminals and traitors by your own country through no fault of your own. To lose everything in the blink of an eye because a country, as foreign to you as to the white neighbors you once called friends, attacked your country. Definitely not our finest hour.
I will admit that the plot point of having David’s family tied to the McGarrett’s by virtue of David’s father tutoring Steve’s grandfather for an officer’s aptitude test was a bit contrived and convenient. But it added a wonderful layer of personal connection between Steve and David. Almost as if Steve could feel closer to the grandfather he never knew, could get to know him through David’s memories of a sailor with a good and kind heart. From the moment Steve found his grandfather’s picture in the Toriyama family album he seemed to look to David as a grandfather figure. And the moment when Steve returned the stolen Katana to David “on behalf of the U.S. Government and a grateful nation” I almost felt as if Steve was thanking his own grandfather for the sacrifice he made so long ago as well.
The ending between Steve and David, with the baseball glove and David telling Steve he finally recognized why the McGarrett name was so familiar to him (because Steve has the same good heart as his grandfather) is a bit melodramatic, I admit, but I happen to like melodramatic. Over a year later and after numerous viewings, this scene still gets to me. When Steve chokes up and fights his own tears I’m reduced to a bawling mess.
The camera sweeps away from Steve and David and over to the beautiful pure white Arizona Memorial with her flag permanently flying as half-staff. The music, which was stellar throughout, was so stirring in the last few minutes it made my heart swell.
Even now, over a year after it first aired, this episode remains an incredible achievement from top to bottom for everyone involved in bringing it to our screens!
NOTE: Photos of Pearl Harbor, the Arizona, the Missouri and Punchbowl were taken by me in May 2013. Almost all the screen caps used above are also my own. For those that are not mine, I have kept all the original watermarks in place. Any screen cap not mine that does not have a watermark are promo shots courtesy of CBS. Mahalo!
11 thoughts on “#H50 Review – 4.10 Ho’onani Makuakane (Honor Thy Father – Pearl Harbor episode)”
Well written and well deserved…
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I agree Mike! A truly awesome episode!
Linda, your review did this episode justice! It was well written and I have to agree with every point you made! Everyone involved with this episode should be very proud of having been a part of it!
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Thanks Wanda! I’ve watched this episode so many time and yet it always moves me so. I just felt I really wanted to write about it even though it’s not a Season 5 episode. Thanks for always reading and commenting sistah!
What a great review Linda and I agree with almost everything. I don’t think anything, at least for me was contrived or convenient but necessary to tie the story together. To say that Alex O’Loughlin was the perfect choice to play Steve McGarrett in the reboot has been proven time and time again. The emotion Alex puts into the character McGarrett in elevated to the highest level by his ability to speak not only the great words written by Mr. Lenkov but by the facial expressions, and his eyes alone tell a story. The interaction between Steve and David really from the first meeting when Steve disarmed him until the ending when David gave him the baseball glove was like painting a great picture. Every scene in this episode was like another stroke on canvas with the finished painting being a “Masterpiece”.
What the writers, directors and actors were able to do in the 40+ minutes of this episode was something truly amazing, more than a procedural more than an action show, more than the beautiful island, it was a history lesson for the ages. We have a lot to be proud of watching and learning about Pearl Harbor, was it all pretty, no, was it painful, yes. Did we do everything right, NO. The suffering the Japanese-Americans suffered was horrific but that too is part of history, that some of these young men became part of the most decorated unit in the Army is a testament to their love of their county and thank God the U.S.A gave them the right to fight for their country. This is a part of history we may not have known about but thanks to “Honor Thy Father” we now do and for that all I can do is give a heartfelt “Thank You” for having the courage and telling the story in such a way that it will remain in my heart forever.
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Oh Wanda…I am so happy you were able to post this time because I agree with you. Just thinking about it boggles my mind. You’re a young man, arrested and thrown into what is essentially prison by your own country, have your life basically taken from you through no fault of your own, yet you enlist to serve the very country that took your life away. Those men were true heroes for doing what the did and doing it so well to be the most decorated unit in the Army. Incredible.
And I could not agree with you more when you say how incredible Alex is in all those scenes. I have said it a million times but that man can project an entire page of dialog with only his facial expressions and his eyes. I’d like to find the critics from Season 1 who said Alex’s acting was “wooden” and hit them over the head with the largest piece of wood I can lift!
Thanks again for taking the time to read my review and leave a comment. I always appreciate your honesty. Mahalo babe!
Again Linda I have to thank you for your review and tell you I will gladly help you lift the log to hit the person over the head who called Alex’s acting “wooden”. Thank you for giving me a place to express my feelings on each episode. 🙂
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I wasn’t home last night to watch Ho’onani Makuakane live so I watched it this morning. I was overwhelmed with the story all over again, and was even more amazed by the skill with which the episode was crafted. I just can’t commend the producers, writers, actors and production crew enough for fashioning an important piece of American history into a beautiful tribute as well as a modern story.
Like you, Linda, I have stood in the spot where Steve stood at attention overlooking the Arizona Memorial. I have most of the same pictures you have. I’ve been to the Memorial on three different occasions with people viewing it for the first time, and the reaction is always the same. Emotional, reverent, grateful.
The story of the ruined lives, the concentration camp, the enlistment of the young Japanese Americans into the army to serve the country that ripped their lives aways from them – all the indignities thrust upon honest Japanese citizens by a shocked and fearful American populace – was profound. Over the course of time, wounds are healed and hindsight shows just how obscene were the actions taken because of a nation’s war mentality. As the old Pearl Harbor veteran sums it up so well – “We were at war!” But our collective knowledge, as a nation, must include all history, not just the glorified and sugar coated parts of it. America is comprised of human beings with decidedly human faults – ignorance, fears, lusts and greed – as well as our compassion, sense of honor, and forgiveness.
This episode, unparalleled in the recent annals of broadcast network television, was asked by the National Park Service to be included in the museum display at the USS Missouri for an entire year. What a tribute to everyone involved in creating this masterpiece.
Agreed. Alex was near perfection in this episode. Who am I kidding…he was perfect! 😍
Thanks, Linda! No rest for the weary, new episode next week, you know!
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Wow Lynnette…if the episode didn’t bring me to tears your comment sure did. For once, there isn’t a thing I can add. Well said sistah…very well said! ♥♥
Great review Linda. I’ve watched this episode many times over the last year or so and its one of my favorites in the series. (I know … one without Grace Park …go figure.) I watched it again last night, and like always, when David was in the camp as a grown-up and speaks of his mother: “can you hear her cry? I still can,.” I still get a lump in my throat.
One of the best episode. Love your review.