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Hawaii Five-0 - I Ka Wa Ma Mua, I Ka Wa Ma Hope - Double Review: "The Ghost of Christmas Future"

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Christmas episodes have always allowed more traditional shows to indulge in flights of fancy. Although the first episode of tonight’s double feature, “I Ka Wa Mua, I Ka Wa Ma Hope” is not exactly a Christmas episode, it does have a Christmas-like gimmick.

It’s not quite It’s a Wonderful Life or a visit by three ghosts, but it’s close. The “previously on” gives its audience a clue that the epidemic plotline isn’t over. When we last left our fearless team, they were waiting out quarantine at King’s Medical Center. Suddenly, we’re at Steve and Danny’s Italian restaurant. The blurry focus should be the first clue that this isn’t some strange time jump. The fact that Danny and Steve aren’t bickering should be your second clue.

Everything I know about running a restaurant I picked up from the Restaurant Wars episodes of Top Chef, so I know that Steve is the front of the house. Pictures of team members past and present line the walls of their restaurant. In the back, Danny is working with their chef on a recipe that would make Grandma Williams proud. However, reality starts bleeding into the fantasy. Danny sees a news report about a cop shot dead at King’s Medical Center. The wound blossoming on his chest tells him the truth. It’s him. The restaurant is all a hallucination, and Danny is dying.

We cut back several hours to the team going crazy back in quarantine. Chess matches have devolved into boring games of go fish, and Steve’s so stir-crazy he’s giving himself a haircut. This boredom changes in a second when an unknown assailant in a hazmat suit enters the room and takes the team hostage.

The team comply, but do take the opportunity to warn our masked gunman how stupid he is to break into a quarantined unit. The gunman doesn’t care. He even takes off his hazmat mask to make sure Danny gets a good look at his face. However, Danny has no idea who he is, and the gunman doesn’t particularly like that answer. He shoots Danny in the lung. He also rigs the door to explode. Then, he kills himself.

The team now has two tasks. They need to save Danny’s life and break out of quarantine without triggering the bomb. Steve and Junior go to work stabilizing Danny while Tani indulges in some creative thinking to break them out. Well, first she just throws a chair at the window. She had to try. Then, she floods the bathroom to signal maintenance that something is wrong.

Danny is past the point where simple first aid is going to do much good, and Steve is forced to resort to techniques he’s just seen other people use in the field. They manage to stabilize Danny using an oxygen tank, but Steve warns the others that it’s only a temporary fix.

When a nurse finally comes up to check on why the ceiling is suddenly raining, she alerts the hospital, the bomb squad, and the rest of the team. Everyone jumps into action. A cardiothoracic surgeon starts talking Steve through some amateur surgery. The bomb squad expert, Bullock, examines the bomb with Tani’s help and tells her that no, it probably wasn’t a good idea to throw a chair at it (“It’s my first bomb” Tani admits). Jerry is even thoughtful enough to run down to the crime lab and tell Russo that his uncle is in dire condition.

While the team works to save Danny’s life, Danny is having flash-forwards to the future. He imagines giving away Grace at her wedding to Will.

He sees Charlie graduate from the police academy.

Everyone’s using weird futuristic phones. It’s not an important aspect of the episode, but a nice touch on the part of the crew.

Kamekona is now a mogul, and Tani is the head of 5-0. Adam and Kono start a family. Junior grows his hair out. Danny (in horrible old age makeup) imagines himself as an old man looking back on his life and admits that he wouldn’t change a thing.

Back in the real world, Lou just wants that door open.

When he asks Bullock to find a way to do so, he qualifies that it’s not because he thinks that the team won’t have a plan. He just knows that Steve’s plan is going to be several degrees more insane than anything the bomb squad can dream up, and Lou would rather go with a more practical plan before Steve does something like strap a car battery to his chest and try to disable the bomb himself.

Unfortunately for Lou, Bullock comes up a plan that would even make Steve take a step back. The only way to get into the room without setting off the bomb is to just blow another hole in the wall with a different bomb. Lou isn’t too happy about this.

Meanwhile, the surgeon is literally talking Steve through cutting Danny’s chest open. The second he’s stable, Lou warns them that the walls are coming down. Although Lou wasn’t too happy about the detonation idea to begin with, he’s even angrier when it only blows a very small hole in the wall. Lou is done waiting for Bullock’s other bright ideas, and he goes after the wall with a sledgehammer. It’s a far cry from the mellow, happy Lou Danny’s hallucinating.

It’s enough to get Danny down to the OR, and everyone is left worrying in the waiting room. Russo tells Adam how much it meant to him for Danny to take an interest in his life. Kamekona tries to add a little levity to the situation by making fun of Steve’s haircut. Luckily, Danny pulls through, but there’s a new mystery for the team to solve. The gunman can’t be identified through CODIS, but he does leave the team a picture of Danny and a creepy message about how much he deserved to die. Who was this guy, and are there others out there who pose the same danger?

After an intense first hour, the rest of the special fall finale is quite a bit lighter. Danny recovers quickly enough to spend Christmas at home with his family. “Uncle Steve” even gets his own stocking on the mantle. After Adam stops by to make sure the chimney is clear for Santa, Danny decides to read Charlie a special Christmas story. He’s a little sick of the Grinch and other traditional stories, so he decides to tell Charlie about a “Christmas miracle.”

The story may be a little inappropriate for small children, considering it begins with thieves dressed as Santa robbing an armored truck and killing the guards. After the show intro, Danny backtracks a little to introduce Charlie to the good guys of the story. He even structured a children’s bedtime story to have a cold open.

The good guys in this case are Junior and other veterans who are spending Christmas volunteering at a shelter. Steve is about to go too, but ends up seeing the fleeing Santas at the Christmas parade. “The crazy man,” as Danny calls him, goes after the thieves without backup. Unfortunately, after they wreck their car, they blend in to the rest of the parade.

When one of the Santas takes a hostage at the parade, Steve’s forced to let him go. The rest of the team hears about the heist and immediately realize that Steve is in pursuit of the thieves. They catch up with him just as he’s tracked the Santas to a mall. Steve doesn’t want to spook them, so he decides the team should go in without badges or guns. Junior and his veteran friends show up just in time to serve as backup.

Oh, and Adam’s there! At this point, I feel like I should add a special section to the review about the way the team just happens to bump into Adam week after week. His life sort of sucks. He can’t go Christmas shopping without running into armed robbers.

The team heads for “that department store,” which is one of the most obvious attempts to not name a real company I’ve seen on television. I really don’t understand the whole “we can’t spook them by showing up with the police” plan when the first thing the group does is clear the store of civilians and draw their guns. Their plan immediately goes sideways when they find discarded Santa costumes and realize that the two thieves have blended in with the rest of the crowd.

The team sets up checkpoints at the mall exits, and the veterans all lend their expertise. Kekoa, the comms expert mans the checkpoint, and Henry the munitions expert examines the aftermath of the armed truck explosion. Josie patches up a civilian as the team medic, and Frank leads Steve through the mall. I find it funny that every other member of the team got a special skill to demonstrate and poor Frank just knows the mall really well.

However, the checkpoint doesn’t work. The discarded Santa costumes were just a ruse. The two are still dressed as Santas and one waltzes his way out of the mall. After a quick commercial break, Lou immediately realizes his mistake and directs Junior to take down the imposter Santa Claus.

Danny is clearly sanitizing the story for Charlie. No one gets shot and the thieves’ car just runs out of gas. The main edit comes when Danny tells Charlie that Steve talked the bad guy to sleep when the cut quickly reveals that he shot him.

After the end, Charlie immediately asks, “Why do people do bad things?” Christmas Eve is not the right time for existential questions, kid. Just enjoy your bedtime story and wait for Santa.

The team celebrates their win with a Christmas party at Steve’s house. Eddie is there, which is obviously the most important part of the episode. Despite the holiday shenanigans, Steve still plays Santa and gives Junior the badge he has so obviously earned at this point.

Maybe he could do the same with Junior’s friends. Although they seemed a little pigeon-holed into their specific skills (here’s the medic, here’s the munitions expert…), they all made an impression. The show often fills its bench with supporting characters they can bring back, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them back in action again.

We’re left with some questions as we go into the winter break. Who was the man who shot Danny? Did Adam ever get his Christmas shopping done? Guess we’ll have to find out on January 5!

What did you think of tonight’s episodes? Let me know in the comments. Happy holidays, and I'll see you all in 2018!

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