Hawaii Five-0 is usually the action-adventure junkie’s dream, but in Friday’s episode, in which McGarrett and Co. work a cold case from the years just after Pearl Harbor, you won’t see quite the same type of action.
Executive producer Peter Lenkov said he and fellow writer on the episode Ken Solarz wanted to do something a little more intimate and dial back the present-day action in favor of a more “intimate” setting — the large part of the episode takes place in a single room, where a Korean War veteran recounts to McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) the story of his father’s death in a World War II Japanese internment camp and seeks his help in solving the cold case. “We’re an action-adventure series,” says Lenvok, “so it was very different for us but, as writers, we wanted to be very selfish and able to write from the heart and not have be about McGarrett leading the charge into a room with a machine gun.”
The chance to do something out-of-the norm for this special appealed to Lenkov, who had been researching the subject of internment camps since the pilot episode of the show. “Originally, in the pilot, I had McGarett go to the Arizona Memorial, see his grandfather’s name, put his hand up, and touch the etching. That was a scene I ended up having to cut out of the pilot but doing research for that, I found out about the internment camps and that stuff. It was always just something we put in the bible of the show to get to one day — to do a story about it, with no idea of what the story was,” he says.
The idea stayed in the back halls of his mind until he went to see a one-act play about internment camps produced by series star Daniel Dae Kim. “It was so well done and so beautiful,” Lenkov says, “It reminded me of the research I had done and thought this is the time to do that story…So we built it from part of our love of history and part wanting to tell a great story and connecting it to the mythology of our show.”
“It was really a story that hadn’t been told,” adds Solarz.
But the episode is not without the hallmarks of every episode of Five-0. They recreate Pearl Harbor in one scene (see in the clip below) and there’s a compelling mystery at the center. “It’s a little bit of a magic trick — it’s a history lesson, it’s us taking advantage of the fact that we could write a different kind of story, and it’s us also letting the fans watch another exciting episode of Five-0,” Solarz says.