For any “Hawaii Five-O” fan who cherishes the episodes that bring out the island feeling of “ohana” (family) beyond all the chases and gunfire, this week’s January 15 12th episode of Season 6, “Ua ola loko I ke aloha” (Love Gives Life Within), is one for the treasure box. The storyline still has the chase, the shooting, the wee bit silly, and even some sizzling romance, but Aunt Deb’s return to family for her last goodbye could not have been celebrated more beautifully on screen than by Carol Burnett, and the tender final scene alone with the McGarrett family speaks so much of what truly makes family, not numbers, not genetics, but bonds between, that remain forever.
The last time that the McGarrett family hosted Aunt Deb for a stay was for her wedding, which brought out the hyper-suspicious side of Steve, but ultimately, ended in a beautiful and joyful celebration of love, and a reminder that none of humanity is promised a tomorrow, so loving and living must be done while today is here, and that reminder is all the more real now for Steve (Alex O’Loughlin), Mary Ann, portrayed once more by the original, and talented Taryn Manning, and little Joanie. She has not told them how short time is, but they realize than any time with her his precious, and she returns to have her husband, Leonard’s, ashes honored in Hawaiian tradition, at the place where they married, wearing her wedding dress. That ceremony alone is moving enough for tears, but there’s plenty of fun left. Some young men away in a boy’s camp to learn self-confidence in the wild, and through the wisdom of the old island ways, are asked to surrender all their devices of modern technology, and go into the forest to seek the best sample they can find of a unique wood for a spear. What is intended as a memorable time of “roughing it” becomes a struggle for life-and-death when one of the boys, Liani (Thiessen Wright) is shot on his trek. Romance sneaks up on Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Abby (Julie Benz) and they are swept away in a sway of passion and too many Mai Tai’s at their hotel, as per “a gentleman always walks a lady to her room.” They have different stories of how everything happened, but the result is the same.
The camp master frantically ferries the boy by his kayak to be rescued, and his life is spared. The crime scene is a mystery, with not only evidence of the gunshot, but a terrible fall, and unknown tire tracks as well as footprints. Captain Grover (Chi McBride) and Kono (Grace Park) discover an abandoned bunker, once holding ammunition, that presumably became a hideout for Japanese fleeing the thread of internment. It doesn’t take much digging to find some very old bones of a very old man, and an even more odd story of old, unstable bombs stored there. Dr. Bergman (Masi Oka) and Eric (Andrew Lawrence) investigate the scene, and Eric ascertains that the tire tracks are recent, and left by a Nissan vehicle that arrived empty, and left full, with considerable weight. Aunt Deb has her own fun in Steve’s vehicle, in tribute to Leonard, racing it in and out of traffic, full speed, with lights blazing, and making Lt. Commander a lot more than queasy, gives everyone else riding along the giggles! Ever the conspiracy sleuth, Jerry (Jorge Garcia) makes some contacts regarding a 1944 Intel plot, Operation Fugo, in which incendiary devices were placed in a type of paper balloon, meant as a response to Pearl Harbor. Steve and the rest of the team become concerned about mass body counts if the old bombs detonate, whether intended or accidental. Deb goes to visit Nicky (Larry Manetti), and has a feast of fried foods and celebrates old times, but has to tell her friend that her time is not long, and that she will not tell Steve and Mary Ann this time. Nicky tells her that he will be there for Steve, and in perfect Carol Burnett kind of timing, she replies “Well, I was gonna ask if you knew someone!” The scene is another priceless gem. A bizarre connection in the case is that the boy and the old man appear to have been shot with the same weapon, some 70 years apart. The dead man is traced to be identified as Hiroda, a spy, who was then given a new identity. Steve sets out to find the tracks of these men involved, and Abby reminds him that the embassy won’t just hand over information. “I’m not gonna ask,” he responds. In a “to-go” food container, he offers a microfilm tape reel and a flash drive to “his guy,” and returns with the needed information, except that microfilm projectors aren’t used anymore. He reminds Kono that he will get Adam “anything he needs.” Jerry puts a guilt trip on the librarian for behaving in an “un-American” fashion, considering the circumstances, never mind his fines and missing books– but he does get the projector.
When the Nissan vehicle is spotted, Steve orders that they “stand down,” fearing at accidental disaster. As it turns out, when the perpetrator is cornered, he flees from the vehicle, with weapons still inside. The bomb squad comes on scene, doing their surgery, injecting the bomb, and lo and behold, the rest of the remains of the old man are found. Two others involved in the plot are identified, one being Musaka. Meanwhile, Aunt Deb takes the girls on an elaborate shopping spree, pure delight and fun, but while Mary Ann goes to get the car, Deb makes her way into the bank for “an asset transfer.” Eric finds new print on the bullets from the scene, along with evidence that a co-conspirator on the scene was held in a prisoner of war camp, later became a businessman, and just died the week before at age 100. He was very close to a grandson, Kyle (Michael Ng), whose phone number pings him to be in “H5O” headquarters! He’s confiscated, and explains that everything that happened by the bunker was a mistake. He got scared and was only covering for his grandfather’s honor, saying that in those days, it was “kill or be killed.” He asked about the boy, and Steve tells him he will survive, but with “a long road ahead.” Jerry uncovers evidence that Hiroda stayed on the island because he met the love of his life, love that would make him going to do anything– anything for love.
Morning pancakes are in the process at the McGarrett home, and Steve knocks to wake Aunt Deb, going to her bedside just long enough for her to smile, and wave a gentle goodbye. She hands him her “bucket list,” in which the last item, “Climb a really tall mountain,” is uncrossed. The final, powerful scene, has Steve carrying little Joanie on his back, with Mary Ann beside him, as they summit a beautiful peak, as this “Hawaii Five-O” tribute to love fades to the credits. Aloha, Aunt Deb..