There are times in life when you’re lucky enough to meet some really great people. Being part of the Hawaii Five-0 fandom has given me the opportunity to meet many wonderful people. Of course, a vast majority I’ll never meet in person, but I have come to consider many as friends, through a common love for a TV show.
Sometimes you get lucky and you get to meet someone in person who really makes an impression on you. One of those people for me is Dennis Chun, Duke Lukela on H50. I had the privilege, through mutual friends in Hawaii, to meet Dennis and his lovely lady Laura for dinner the very first time I ever visited Oahu and again later when I attended Sunset on the Beach. Dennis is one of the most genuine people you will ever meet. He’s open and honest and charming. He’s not the Ambassador of Aloha for nothing.
You meet Dennis and in five minutes he has you feeling like you’ve known him forever because he makes you so comfortable. He always makes time to greet fans and always has a kind word for everyone. He’s so easy to talk to but even more so, he’s a great person to just listen to. The stories he tells, about Hawaii and her people and culture, and the stories of his father (Kam Fong Chun, the original Chin Ho Kelly) and his incredible life are simply fascinating. You can’t meet Dennis and not see him for exactly what he is. A real, true gentleman.
Which is why I was thrilled when I first heard Dennis was going to get a Duke centric episode this season. Duke has been a mainstay on the show since the very beginning. A rock Five-0 has always been able to count on. He is deeply entrenched in story canon. He served as a young officer under John McGarrett, for instance. He’s always been a fantastic cop and, most of all, he is Ohana. That makes him special and this episode was a fantastic showcase for Duke.
This episode was particular enjoyable because it highlighted three characters who wouldn’t usually be front and center and did it extremely well. Writers Rob Hanning and Rachael Paradis did a fantastic job giving compelling stories to not only Duke but to Jerry and Koa Rey as well. Because they are all Ohana and, as always with this show, the theme of family always run very, very deep. Besides, both Duke and Jerry are main characters so it’s especially nice that they each got a chance to really shine in stories all their own.
But, let’s start with Koa. Yes, technically this episode was another three-story offering and, as you know, I usually don’t care for three-story episodes. But, this one didn’t bother me at all, because the writers were able to transition from one story to another so seamlessly that it didn’t feel jarring at all. And the story for Koa was very short, actually, only two scenes. Oh, but what powerful scenes they were.
It was all the way back in Episode 8.14 (Na Keiki A Kalaihaohia – The Children of Kalaihaohia) when, if not for the quick actions of Adam and Noelani, Koa would have died from an overdose. Tani was as good as her word at the end of that episode. She sent Koa to rehab. And wow…. has rehab done its job! Of course, Koa is the one who put in all the hard work and it sure paid off. So much so that the center offered him a job as a counselor. Koa is so excited for the opportunity to use his horrible experience in an effort to help others.
I know nothing about how rehab centers work so it might not be as unusual as it looks for a center to offer a job to a recently recovered addict, but I suppose it’s possible. But, this is TV so that makes it possible even if it’s not something that might happen in real life. But I liked this turn in the story.
Koa’s well being has always been a huge weight on Tani. Not only does she love her brother more than anything, she has that promise she made to their father to look out for him, something she, obviously, takes extremely to heart. Standing by and simply watching Koa in a downward spiral is not something Tani could ever do.
See him walking toward her, clean, healthy and brilliantly smiling, Tani was so incredibly proud of Koa. He worked so hard in the recovery he’s made, it looks like he’s finally found a place in his life to fit in and be productive. Tani’s emotions ran from extreme pleasure at seeing him and seeing him looking so well, to disbelief and then pride when he told her he wasn’t leaving but staying on to work with other addicts. The love and admiration she felt for him leaped off the screen and I’m not ashamed to admit, they both got me a bit weepy. I was so happy for them both.
The only other scene was at the very end with Koa conducting one of his first meetings with other residents. I loved the little speeches both he and Tani gave to the others assembled for the meeting. Koa giving credit to Tani for helping him on his road to recovery by always believing in him and being there to support him. And Tani telling them how, no matter what, they have people in their lives to be on their side, people there to help them and look out for them. And now Koa is there for them too. It was wonderful to see this part of Tani’s life gain some stability and even more important, to see Koa on an open road to a good life. It could have so easily have gone the other way.
Tani and Koa, of course are family and family is always the most important thing in the world. We’ve been watching this show for eight years now, so the theme of family is something we’ve become accustomed to see woven throughout a large portion of the episodes. Especially the concept that family…. Ohana…. isn’t just confined to blood relations. Over the years, the Ohana that’s grown up around Steve McGarrett has become large and, as always, committed to each other.
Which is why everyone is totally staggered that Duke, their unflappable rock, would do anything that would break the law. They know Duke. They know he’s the most honest and steadfast leader at HPD. But, even more importantly, he is Ohana.
It’s what Lou tells Tani when she questions him on how Steve could be so sure of Duke after what he’d done. “That’s McGarrett! He’ll never turn his back on family.” And, of course, Tani is very familiar with that concept. After all, she pulled Koa out of a drug house right before it was raided. She asked Adam to help Koa find a job, which they did. She was tough but unwavering in her support to get him into rehab and through it. Yup… there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for family.
Dennis Chun did a fantastic job in this episode. He had me on edge the entire time because everything Duke did was so out of character for him. It was a really great performance on Dennis’s part. You could literally feel Duke’s conflicted emotions. The terror for his grand-daughter. The resolve to do what he had to do to save her, battling with his revulsion to do those very things. You could see it as he entered the HPD evidence room. His facial expressions went from friendly greetings, to regret for what he knew he was about to do, to steely determination that this is necessary.
I also really loved how we got to meet Duke’s family, even though the circumstances were horrendous. The actress playing Duke’s daughter Carrie and the little girl playing Akela, his grand-daughter were perfect.
The scene in HQ as Steve and the others try to get Carrie to tell them what’s going on was brilliant. Her resolve to say nothing and do what her father told her to do, to protect her little girl, battling with the equal resolve of Steve and the team to hear the truth because there is no way in hell Duke would assault a fellow officer and steal evidence without a damn good reason. It painted a fascinating picture of faith and trust on both sides. Carrie trusting that her father knew what he was doing vs the faith Steve and the team have in Duke as the good man that he is.
I loved the gentle, yet firm way Steve was with Carrie. He noticed every nuance of her voice, her body language, the bruising on her wrists and how he was able to coax the truth out of her. He’s so incredibly good at things like this. Finally, Carrie tells them what they need to know; what they really already knew. Duke has not gone bad, duh!
And, as Danny pointed out, there is no way they are going to let him fight this battle alone!
I suppose it would be easy to think, “Why didn’t he just call Steve in the first place?” That’s not an unreasonable question. No one knows Five-0 and what they can do better than Duke, so it’s easy to say he should have just called them in the first place. But can you honestly say, if it were your child, that you wouldn’t do exactly what you were being told regardless that you knew you should ask for help? I’m pretty sure I would. I think I’d do exactly as I was told because I couldn’t bear the thought that even the slightest chance something I did wrong, could cause harm to my child.
I absolutely adored the scene when Junior managed some technical wizardry to track Duke’s burner phone. Not only was Danny’s line about not understanding how he did it really funny, but the looks on both his and Steve’s faces as Junior effortlessly rattles off all the techno babble was hysterical.
And thanks to Junior, Steve and Danny are able to get to Duke, tied up and gagged in the trunk of his own car.
Because Duke did do something he wasn’t supposed to. He spoke to the guy who had the key in the first place, a drug dealer who had been arrested a few days earlier. It turned out the drug dealer had nothing to do with Akela being taken but by speaking to him Duke alerted him that someone was after his money. He had his crew keep an eye on that locker and take out whoever showed up to take the money. Unfortunately, that was Duke and the money to rescue his grand-daughter was then long gone. The look on Duke’s face was devastating.
A relatively simple matter of checking phone records at Halawa and Lou and Tani have the pleasure of interrogating the drug dealer’s lawyer in the blue room, and through some “gentle” persuasion from Lou, and a threat that the lawyer will be charged as an accessory in anything that might happen to Akela, they are able to track down the missing money.
With that, the team heads out, as back up, with Duke to make the drop. Once again, Dennis rocked this scene. When little Akela isn’t immediately visible, Duke demands to see her before he hands over the money. Dennis floored me with his performance because we’re just not used to seeing Duke this unrestrained. He’s always the one who keeps his head about him in a crisis. But not this time. He’s so angry and forceful, he makes an ill advised move toward all those guns and ….. bam!
I really hate it that Duke got shot. This is the second time we’ve had Duke shot (the first time in S3E15 – Hookman) and it’s been heart stopping both times. But, of course, with Junior there to take the shooter out with precision and the team there as backup to take care of everyone else, Duke, Carrie and little Akela are all reunited.
We are left to wonder, however, what happens with Duke now? He attacked a fellow officer and removed evidence from HPD. That’s a big deal. When Chin was accused of taking money (also evidence) from the forfeiture locker, he was forced to resign. I hope that’s not the case with Duke. I can’t imagine him not being HPD any longer. The entire team is concerned about this as well.
It’s pretty certain there will be some sort of formal reprimand and, more than likely, a probable suspension but I hope that’s all that happens. After all, the concept of Ohana is something everyone at HPD should understand as well as anyone. The fact that Duke did what he did for his family, should carry a good bit of weight. It doesn’t absolve him of what he did, but the extenuating circumstances, along with his long faithful and spotless service should count for a lot. I hope!
While everyone was absorbed in Duke’s crisis, Jerry was off on a case of his very own. When both Tani and Junior balk at a possibly long term undercover assignment at the Kaneohe Psychiatric Hospital, Jerry volunteers to try to find out the truth behind the murder of one of the patients there.
The idea of Jerry actually working a case, and not just manning the magic table is something I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to see. Because they always play Jerry as not only the computer geek but as comedy relief, I assumed any case they’d come up with for him wouldn’t be a serious one. Boy, was I wrong.
I loved this story and it was perfect for Jerry. After all, Jerry is our resident conspiracy theorist and every good conspiracy is a patchwork of mismatched puzzle pieces, unresolved questions, misleading evidence and a whole lot of imaginative thinking to work up to a possible conclusion. Pretty much what an intricate murder mystery is as well.
It was fun watching Jerry work through those puzzle pieces, using what Steve called the “Ortega charm” to befriend a nurse, Mila, as well as Ben’s (the victim) best friend Harris.
Playing chess with Harris, just like Ben did every day, Jerry learns all about their daily routines, including all the TV shows Ben loved to watch. Mila fills Jerry in on the fact that Ben had to watch TV in the common room after the TV in his room broke.
Jerry, warned by another patient not to change the channels because it would get “Kosaki” angry, Jerry does it anyway, knowing this is his suspect, but what he doesn’t count on is the orderly being in on it.
When the two of them take Jerry at gunpoint Jerry pulled the perfect McGarrett move by crashing the van. Luckily it worked by knocking out the bad guys until HPD could get there. Jerry kept his head and quick thinking to get himself out of a hairy situation. He was awesome.
It was such fun to watch Jerry get to be a hero and solve the case. I especially enjoyed “How to pick a lock” on YouTube!
I only have two small complaints. First…. Jerry, dude! You don’t come right out and tell someone you’re undercover. Rookie mistake I’m sure, if given the chance, he’ll never make again.
And second? Dear writers: You send Jerry under cover at a psychiatric hospital, you don’t give him Hector as a cover name. You make him “Hurley” or at the very least “Hugo”. After all, you already used Mick St. John as a perp’s alias earlier in the year, right?
It was also a really sweet to see Mila and Harris come to the hospital to visit Jerry. Mila even brings him some of that homemade chicken salad he loved so much. It was very touching that Harris now considers Jerry his friend and is ready to resume their chess matches. It was so sweet. And pretty funny when the team figured they needed to head out of there so Mila and Jerry could be alone! So cute. I hope we get to see her again.
Of course, I can’t let this review go without mentioning the most adorable scene we’ve had in this show in a very long time. Steve climbing a tree in Ala Moana Beach Park to retrieve a kite for a group of young boys. For anyone who doesn’t know, the little boy who’s kite Steve rescued is Alex’s real-life step-son, Spike. It was so great that Alex and his wife Malia were willing to let Spike make this appearance in his dad’s show. He handled the scene very well and Alex looked simply delighted to be working with his son. What an absolute treat for them both and for us as well. And, wow….. is that kid adorable!!!
Tani tells those gathered at Koa’s meeting: “No matter what you think. No matter how alone you may feel. There’s someone out there that supports you. That loves you. Somebody who’s on your side. Pulling for you to make it through this. And I know that not all of you have siblings or parents that you can rely on, but you have my brother. He’s pretty special.”
And as we listen to her words, we see the Lukela family, Duke, his wife Nalani (Dennis Chun’s real-life lady, Laura Mellow), Carrie and little Akela happily reunited. Jerry playing chess with one of his new special friends. And Steve and Danny are at their restaurant, working side by side staining tables. All these people are there for each other. Some are blood related. Some have known each other for years, others only a short time. But they are all Ohana. Life goes on…. Life is good.
There you are my friends. So sorry this review is so late this week. Some things came up in my personal life that I wasn’t expecting and had to deal with but like our TV Ohana, I had people there as backup. All is good. 😊😊
Have a wonderful week. Aloha. Malama Pono
All screen caps are mine unless otherwise noted.