Since the first episode of “Hawaii Five-0” last September, we were told that Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) had been falsely accused of taking money while a cop in the Honolulu Police Department. He’d been fired, and it was only through joining the “Five-0” team that he began to rehabilitate his image even amongst family members. So why, in this week’s episode, did he tell the Internal Affairs Department that he was actually guilty?
In previous episodes, we’d learned that the money had been confiscated from a drug bust and kept at one of the department’s holding facilities. His wife left him, and his cousin Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) never forgave her for it. But when Chin Ho bumped into his ex in the hospital, she seemed to still long for him. It turned out that she’d supported him, and it was his idea that they split. Huh?!
A few weeks ago, we were introduced to Chin Ho’s Uncle Keako, a 25-year veteran of the police force played by Sab Shimono. Keako’s wife Mele (Elizabeth Sung) had needed a kidney but there was a long waiting list, so he stole the money to get a kidney from the Chinese black market. As Aunty Mele lay dying, she related how Chin and his uncle used to be close, but after she had the transplant — not knowing why — they drifted apart.
After his wife died, Keako was going to admit to the force that he took the money, not Chin Ho. The latter was against it, wanting to take the fall for him. Kono continually argued against lying, but this week, her cousin reasoned that if his uncle was found guilty, all of the cases he’d solved could be in jeopardy, so he was willing to take the blame. After Uncle Keako admitted to his crime, Chin Ho went before IA and asserted his uncle was lying; he was the one who’d taken the money. The board found his story hard to believe; they’d tracked his bank movements and he’d never deposited large sums of money into any account. “Well, that’s because I never spent it,” Chin Ho continued to lie. So they gave him until the next day to cough up $200,000.
At the end of the episode, Chin Ho returned to a bookie who’d lent one of his friends a large sum of money and asked for the $200,000, offering the deed to his home as collateral. So our hero got in deeper.
It seems to me that the writers originally had no idea how they were going to explain who really took the money and why because Chin Ho’s early bitterness about being accused of something he didn’t do doesn’t jibe against the revelation that he allowed himself to look suspicious to protect his uncle, and now, he was outright admitting to being crooked. Since Steve MacGarrett is answerable only to the governor, she probably could’ve pardoned his uncle and saved Chin Ho from getting deeper into this mess.
There was one pleasant development in this week’s show: Kono got help from Charlie Fong (Brian Yang), a good-looking lab guy who knew her from before. She didn’t recognize him, but Charlie wouldn’t just come out and reveal their connection, seeming game to keep her guessing throughout the episode. Despite the pair having to check out fuel at all 12 of the Lex Brodie gas stations on the island (another nice touch courtesy of screenwriter Kyle Harimoto as Brodie was famous for his ever-present local television commercials from the 1960s on and, I’m shocked to learn, is still alive at the age of 96), Kono wore that cute smile on her face, signaling that she liked hanging out with this mystery man.
At the end of the episode, we learned that Kono was at a friend’s 10th birthday party. While the adults were upstairs, the kids played “spin the bottle” downstairs and Kono had to kiss Charlie. Finally, the light bulb went off in her head. Charlie said she was the first girl he ever kissed, but his braces cut her lip. Kono didn’t remember that part but did recall he was a “pretty good kisser.” “Still am!” he responded. Oooh! Looks like we’ve got a love interest for one of our regulars and for once, it’s a fellow Asian American.
This columnist approves! Remember, months ago, Daniel Dae Kim told a crowd in San Diego that he and the writers of the show couldn’t decide what the race of his love interest (the aforementioned ex-wife) should be: white, Asian, or non-Asian minority as the choice would have repercussions. But, I complained, no one ever seemed to think twice about always giving an Asian woman a white boyfriend.
In the end, Chin Ho’s ex was played by “24’s” Reiko Aylesworth, who’s a quarter Japanese and also part black. In the Hawaii backdrop, she looked hapa, which was interesting, and a “novel” way of addressing the race “problem” by making her ethnicity ambiguous and — if you had to break it down — a little of everything. Hey, the main thing is that she was attractive.
Charlie Fong didn’t have a discernible Hawaiian accent, which would be welcomed from more characters on this show. The obese, pidgin-speaking Hawaiian Kemekona (Taylor Wiley) pops up once in a while as comic relief, but because so few of the actors speak as most locals do, the implication is that those who speak pidgin English are not to be taken seriously. If the producers worry too many of them would be hard for a “haole” audience to understand, I scoff: “Five-0”’s two white stars, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, mumble with such regularity and Grace Park speaks so fast I often have to rewind the disc to understand what they just said. Couldn’t get any worse…
You Never Know Who You’re Going to Bump Into Department: It was nice attending East West Players’ 45th anniversary awards dinner this past Monday night. During a break in the program, I tried tracking down a Fox executive and found the network’s table but couldn’t find my “target.” So I asked someone, whose back was turned to me, if there was another table sponsored by the network. There wasn’t, and I quickly realized I was talking to one of the night’s honorees, Harry Shum Jr., who plays Mike Chang on “Glee.”
I complimented him for being such a fun dancer to watch and mentioned that, as part of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, I’d pushed Fox to give him more to say on the show. He appreciated it. When I expressed pleasant surprise that his coupling with fellow Asian American Jenna Ushkowitz had lasted longer than I’d expected (I thought she’d soon run back to Arnie, the wheelchair guy, but long ago, the show dropped any signs they still longed for each other as Arnie’s now in a relationship with Britney, the dumb blonde), he told me that he was proud of the fact that Mike and Tina had the longest-running relationship on the show.
This week, Britney began running a regular video show focused on gossip. Tina offered, “I want to talk about the rumor about Asian men? (shaking her fingers and smiling) Not true!” The fact that she didn’t have to explain it for the audience to get it is sad, but hey, I appreciated the “defense”!
It Hits the Fan Department: Last week on “The Good Wife,” Alicia Florick (Juliana Margulies) finally learned that her best friend Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) had slept with her husband Peter and that he hadn’t only cheated on her with prostitutes. Although the one-time-only event happened before the two women knew each other, it didn’t matter to Alicia.
This Tuesday, she packed his things and moved him into a separate apartment later, saying there was nothing he could say to win her back. In previews, we saw that next week, she’ll confront Kalinda, going as far as saying that if Kalinda didn’t leave right then and there she was going to scream.
Shameless Plug: A reminder that if you continue to follow “American Idol,” check out my twice-a-week analysis of the performances and results shows at http://theonlyrealcritic.blogspot.com.
Til next time, keep your eyes and ears open.
Guy Aoki, co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, writes from Glendale. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.