Episode Title: 'Ha'alele' ('Abandoned')
Writer: Elwood Reid
Director: Jerry Levine
With McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) in Tokyo attempting to track down "Shellburn," Danny (Scott Caan) and Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) take the lead on the case of a young girl who was kidnapped and brutally murdered. Meanwhile, Kamekona (Taylor Wily) leans on the 5-0 team to help find his stolen shrimp truck.
At the crime scene, Dr. Max Bergman (Masi Oka) seems distracted as he reports his findings to the team. Kono (Grace Park) uses the victim's car to ID her as Angela O'Hara. A razor blade in the car's tire and a GPS device under the body suggest O'Hara was specifically targeted. Using the IP address from the tracker, Danny and Chin Ho determine that it belonged to one of O'Hara's co-workers. The man, who was dating O'Hara and suspected she was cheating on him, admits to placing the tracker but was at work when the murder took place.
Max informs the team that the victim was bound with a rope and smothered by her killer, a signature of an imprisoned serial killer known as "The Trashman." However, Max feels the real "Trashman" is still at large.
Max arranges a meeting with Richard Branch, the man now serving life for the Trashman murders. Branch (Pruitt Taylor Vince) explains that he was picked up for the murder when he was seen digging through the garbage where one of the victims was found. Branch claimed he was high on narcotics at the time and that the police pressured him into signing a confession.
Chin Ho reaches out to one of the original detectives on the case who admits to having doubts about Branch's guilt, especially considering Branch was in rehab at the time of one of the murders.
Max suggests that the Trashman's first victim, Jennifer Ravich, might have been close to the killer. Her body was found on the steps of St. Martin's church, the same place where Max's birth mother left him before he was adopted. He reveals to the team that his mother was the Trashman's second victim, which explains his relationship with Branch.
5-0 learns that O'Hara and three other victims gave up their children to St. Martins. Danny and Chin Ho speak with Deacon MacKenna (James Michael Connor) who tells them that the church's caretaker, Frank Pollard took the children in. After spotting rope and razor blades on his desk, the detectives find Pollard (Bill Ogilvie) outside the church and place him under arrest. However, back at the precinct Pollard's alibi about visiting his sick mother at the hospital checks out.
Meanwhile, Max goes to the church to speak with the Deacon. His assistant Sam (Max Perlich) takes Max downstairs where he notices Pollard's arthritis medications, suggesting he wouldn't be able to tie the intricate knots used in the murders. A moment later, Sam is gone and Max is knocked out with a crowbar.
Max awakens to find himself tied to a chair with the deacon standing before him. He says that like Max, he too was "thrown away" by his mother, who Max realizes was Jennifer Ravich. The deacon reveals that Max's mother came back to check on him a few years later, which is when he killed her. Outside the church, Kono and Chin Ho spot Max's car and race in after him. Meanwhile, Max is able to free himself from the ropes while the deacon is distracted. When he goes to hit him with the crowbar, Max stabs him, just as Chin Ho arrives.
Later that day, Danny tells Chin Ho that McGarrett is not taking his calls. Just then, Kono pulls up with Kamekona's truck, which was impounded for an expired vendor's license. Outside the prison, Max picks up Richard Branch, whos has been exonerated. In Tokyo, McGarrett gets a call from Danny and ignores it before boarding a plane.
What's "Hawaii Five-0" without McGarrett? We found out last night in the (mostly) Alex O'Loughlin-less "Ha'alele," which means "abandoned." It was an appropriate title for the episode, which brought up medical examiner, Dr. Max Bergman's abandonment as a baby on a church's front steps and the 5-0 team's possible future now that McGarrett appears to have left them behind in pursuit of the naggingly mysterious "Shellburn."
While it's never good news to learn that the star of a hit show has to bow out for rehab, O'Loughlin's absence has given 5-0's writers some room to play with its supporting cast. We learned a serious truth about Masi Oka's Bergman, a utility character whose main function up to this point has been comedic relief. And Kono, Chin Ho and even Kamekona got in some extracurricular activity in this episode.
Still, Danny and Chin Ho's bickering over local customs didn't have the same spark Danno and McGarrett are able to capture through their epic bromance. And while Chin Ho is a badass in his own right, there's something missing without McGarrett busting down doors and racking up traffic infractions all over the island while racing down baddies in Danny's Camaro.
The excuse for McGarrett's abrupt departure, his ongoing obsession with the events surrounding his father's murder, took that storyline off the back burner and I'm grateful for it, as someone who enjoys "H50's" over-arcing storylines.
And the case of the "Trashman" serial killer was a fun, if somewhat hokey departure from the sexier smuggling capers and crimes of passion the show tends to feature. But until McGarrett is back on Hawaiian soil, 5-0 won't feel the same without him.