On Hawaii Five-0 Season 4 Episode 20, it was our worst nightmare come to life: the discovery that our children are being recruited on U.S. soil to be terrorists.
It sounds absurd, for how could that ever happen? These are not kids raised abroad or even trained abroad. They are living in paradise and yet are still being indoctrinated and turned against their own country.
With the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings having just taken place, this all felt a bit close to home. In the real world, the Boston Marathon bombings were by two young men, who were ultimately found to be not politically motivated.
But this episode served to echo that tragedy, which really brought home the reality that anyone can be a terrorist.
So this installment emphasized the same message. A terrorist can be anyone: it can be your next door neighbor, one of the kids at school, a soccer coach, or just one of the guys at the car wash. Anyone can get the supplies and instructions to make a bomb.
It is just terrifying to think that someone would want to and that they would strike at not only our military personnel, but those who would rush to their aid - to want to target first-responders.
The episode began innocuously enough as we watched an ordinary guy, a pool man, be in the wrong place at the wrong time and took two bullets in the chest for it. He had only come to check on a thermostat glitch at what should have been an empty house, while the owners were away.
How was he to know that the young girl, who was house-sitting, was a terrorist in the making and was using the house to cook bomb making materials?
The mystery at first was all about the hundreds of tree air fresheners hanging in the kitchen of the house. But that mystery was soon solved once acetone was found dumped nearby. If only that house had been being used to cook meth.
Yet, instead, it was something much worse. Thanks to the fine teamwork by Five-0, it was also ascertained that the house wifi had been used and it lead straight back to one of the murderers. A rooftop chase ended rather abruptly and shockingly when the perpetrator chose to jump to his death rather than be caught.
(Side note: Kudos on the Hawaii Five-0 crew for the choreography of that rooftop chase and jump scene. It looked brutal and real.)
So what kind of criminal would rather die than go to prison? Not your average drug dealer, that's for sure. In this case, there was something much more alarming and nefarious going on. The young man had made a few trips abroad to the Middle East and he did not go alone.
It was about this time that Steve's internal alarm bells were ringing and he made sure to bring in Lou and his team to assist as the case was shaping up to be bigger and more deadly than anticipated. There were bomb making materials found in the dead guy's apartment.
Worse yet, when they went to talk to his travel companion, they were greeted with machine gun fire. It was tense standoff, which ended with one shot dead, and the other apprehended. There was just a moment of nice levity when Lou wryly told Steve, "Only you would think it was lucky getting shot."
Our hearts did stop for a second when Lou was shot, so we are thankful for bullet-proof vests.
What was found afterwards was even more chilling. This was not just a couple of disillusioned young people thinking about making a bomb, they had bomb making blueprints and materials for at least three large scale bombs.
This was part of a bigger organization to strike at the military base, or somewhere else that would inflict a lot of military and civilian damage and casualties.
But with two of the conspirators dead, and the last remaining one unwilling to turn on the organizers of her cell, that left Five-0 scrambling to figure out who was involved.
In a fantastic display of inter-agency cooperation, Five-0 and the FBI worked together to determine if the bomb materials and evidence found at the house were a match with anything in the FBI database from weapons and intelligence gathered in the Middle East.
It is heart-warming and reassuring to see our law enforcement agencies working together and so efficiently in tracking terrorists through their methods and materials - no matter where in the world it was used.
That data quickly found a match to two refugees who had relocated to Hawaii, who were promptly apprehended, and surprisingly they were more cooperative in turning over their co-conspirators than the poor brain-washed house sitter, Dawn.
(Shout-out to the perfect casting of Sasha Pietrese for this guest role. Having seen her performance as Alison on Pretty Little Liars over the years, she is utterly believable as a sociopath.)
Every conversation Steve had with Dawn was chilling as she was so far gone, reciting the dogma of her terrorist trainers. When she swore that they would never give up and never stop fighting for their cause, Steve firmly said:
"For everyone of you, there's a thousand of me - and just like you, we're willing to die for the cause too. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you come at us, you will never change the way we think and you will never, ever change the way we live."
That is what terrorists never seem to understand: we will fight back for our country and for each other.
So Steve, who stares into the eyes of hardened criminals every day, seemed absolutely baffled how this girl could be so impossible to reach. In the end he simply said, "You wanted to sacrifice your life for the cause, right? Congratulations, you just did."
In that moment, there was glimmer that Dawn finally understood that her sacrifice was not going to be a death in a blaze of glory, but a death rotting in a prison cell for the rest of her life. That was the price of the choice she made. Terrorist actions are not treated lightly.
As the episode came to a close, it was a nice touch seeing Danny and Steve go all the way to San Diego to personally deliver the news to the vet who had been injured by the bombing in Afghanistan to let him know that those responsible for the convoy bombing had been finally caught. Perhaps it will give him a moment of peace.
Then the final cap on the night was seeing the Five-0 team able to sit calmly down and enjoy a fine dinner together after all their hard work. That is after all what we fight for, the right to live peacefully and happily in our own country -- everyone safe and sound, and enjoying life again.
Our freedom is precious and we fight for it.
Do you think Dawn will one day wake up and realize how very wrong she was?