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Hawaii Five-0 serves as a window to Hawaii for those not in the Islands. For one writer of the show, it’s also an invitation to return to the Hawaii of his childhood.
Each weekly visit to the Islands is an opportunity to see its beautiful colors: the blues of skies and waves, the vibrant greens of the lush foliage, the multi-spectral rainbows that finds their way into each episode. For this week’s show, writer and local boy Kyle Harimoto adds some subtle clues that helps give an insider’s perspective of Hawaii.
After the Mixed Martial Arts fight scene and opening credits, Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) meets his mentor Joe White (Terry O’Quinn) at a picnic table on Magic Island. McGarrett arrives carrying two boxes, “Loco moco from Rainbow Drive-In?” White asks. Loco moco is a popular Hawaii meal while Rainbow Drive-In ranks as one of the top local favorite places to eat. It’s also a favorite of Kyle Harimoto, who wrote this episode. One of his earlier posts on Twitter included a link to a television story on the eatery’s 50th anniversary: “Congratulations @rainbowdrivein — you’ve been feeding me since I could walk.”
Actress Daniela Ruah guest starred as her NCIS: Los Angeles character, Kensi Blye. It’s a cross-over that could hint to future television show exchanges. “Hope you brought enough for everyone,” she says to McGarrett, who is clearly only holding two boxes. (What is not evident is that two boxes could probably feed four people.) He hands his food to Blye, who takes a bite while White explains that it is “rice, hamburger, a couple of fried eggs and gravy.” The actors weren’t pretending to eat any ‘ole “prop food;” it really was fresh from Rainbow Drive-In, as tweeted when the show aired here: “Did you hear? Steve McGarrett was eating our (award-winning) loco moco on tonight’s “Hawaii Five-0.” YEEEAAAAAH!” and “We supplied DOZENS of those plates for all the takes. Made ‘em fresh right at the beach! #h50.”
McGarret is called away from the beach-side breakfast to a crime scene. A famous chef with a 14-year-old son have been found dead. Harimoto was in Hawaii shortly before the episode aired, and tweeted: “Great HNL day. Skateboarded from Ala Moana to Kapahulu and back on a rad ALVA. Coulda sent this same tweet when i was 10.”
Later, White walks to his apartment carrying a white plastic grocery bag. To Hawaii viewers, it said two things. First, he wasn’t on Maui or Kauai, which have banned plastic bag. Second, the Foodland logo was clearly recognizable. Foodland has been an island favorite since the first store opened in 1948. According to its website, the grocery store was Hawaii’s first modern superete, and “crowds were so large, the doors had to be locked, allowing only a few people at a time.” Nowadays, thirty one Foodland stores can be found all over the state. Unfortunately for White, the walk didn’t end with a home-cooked meal using fresh Foodland ingredients. Instead, it ended with a surprise visit by Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos). Their battle was intense and well-fought with Dacascos doing all of his own stunts. Dacascos was born in Hawaii and is an accomplished martial artist, as well as the Chairman on Iron Chef America.
Later, McGarrett and Danno (Scott Caan) chase a suspect along Honolulu roof tops and into a warehouse holding rows of surfboards. Harimoto had tweeted about buying a custom surfboard earlier and more recently: “Great 12hr #H50 shoot today — hour left of daylight. Hit Haleiwa for some BIG WAVES — lots of adrenaline —awesome day.”
There were other references, some real, like “misoyaki butterfish,” and others made up, like “Kokua Valet” (but still plausible.) Kokua has many meanings related to helping and is a popular business name.
Harimoto watched from California as the episode was broadcasted, responding to some questions via Twitter: “Aloha #H50 Fans, you are the best – thanks for all of the kind words. Everyone in LA and in Honolulu, put a lot of work into this episode.” As the first season ended last spring, he said: “Mahalo for the great Tweets about #H50 S1 — it was an honor to be able to write stories about a place my family has lived for 5 generations.”
Harimoto’s love of Hawaii is evident in the local details. They make the show more authentic for non-islanders and give locals our own Easter eggs (in-joke treats) to enjoy along with the action.
Magic Island & Fight Photo Credit: CBS