2016 has given us many gifts — and taken a few from us as well. But if anyone is paying attention to the ratings of “Hawaii Five-0” — they have had a very strong year. 2016 marked the end of sixth and the start of the seventh season for the reboot, and even if the show has not been renewed for an eighth, I would be surprised if it wasn’t given another season nod. Just this week, CBS named “Hawaii Five-0” one of their top rated shows, as Five-0 ranked 18 out of the top 25 most watched prime time series for the 2016-2017 season based on the Nielsen most current ratings list from Sept. 19 to Dec. 25 of 2016.
Still, fans will be waiting anxiously for an update about a possible season eight, as well as hanging on for the rest of season seven starting Jan. 6. The conclusion to the Christmas cliffhanger will air next Friday, and we all want to know what will happen to Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) in episode 712, “Ka ʻaelike” (“The Deal”). Will the team be able to save Chin from the Mexican cartel who wants revenge on Five-0? And while Chin surrendered himself in order to save his niece, Sara (Londyn Silzer), what is the price he will have to pay?
I know, we only have a few short days to wait, so let’s take a look back at the episodes I thought were “the best of 2016.” Usually I have a list of markers I look for that would deem the episode the best — but this year, I took the five episodes — and one bonus — that I thought really showed off the best of the team, explained or included the personal stories of our main characters, and had the complete package of action, drama, and ʻohana that has continued to make “Hawaii Five-0” one of the top shows on CBS.
The list below is in chronological order, starting with those airing from Jan. 8 to Dec. 16, 2016. Believe me, there were several that should be on this list, so think of this as the best of the best. This is of course, my humble opinion, and if you like different episodes, feel free to post your own list or alternate choices for me. I guarantee I’ll probably agree — I just can only write so much before the list just becomes a breakdown of the 15 episodes from season six and the 11 from season seven that aired during 2016.
Episode 141: “Pilina Koko” (“Blood Ties”)
Episode 23 from season six; directed by Maja Vrvilo and written by Eric Guggenheim.
“Pilina Koko” which aired May 6, was the episode that introduced us to Chin’s sweet niece Sara Malia Diaz, the daughter of Five-0 nemesis — and Chin’s brother-in-law — Gabriel Waincroft (brilliantly played by Christopher Sean). At this point in season six, Chin had no idea his late wife, Malia, had any other blood relatives, besides her maniacal brother. As the team starts to investigate the apparent execution of a wealthy single mother, Vanessa Diaz, they start to see that Vanessa’s murder is more than just a robbery gone wrong when all paths lead back to Gabriel. When Sgt. Lukela (Dennis Chun) calls Chin to tell him that Sara is asking for her “Uncle Chin” — everyone is a little surprised when she admits to Chin that she is named after her Daddy’s sister, her Aunt Malia.
Besides the introduction of Sara, and the team coming together to not only try and solve Vanessa’s murder, but to also rescue Sara when she is taken as leverage by the Yakuza to catch Gabriel, the episode had two really terrific guest stars — Willie Garson and Elliot Gould. Garson as former art dealer, turned crime scene cleaner, Gerard Hirsch, is terrific. I love that he has a massive crush on Kono (Grace Park), and that he has a sweet relationship with his still-sharp father, Leo, played by the amazing Gould.
I hope, like many other Five-0 favorites, they bring Garson back again and again. He adds a definite spark, and a bit of humor and sweetness, that helps to complete the show.
Episode 142: “Paʻa ka ʻīpuka i ka ʻupena nananana” (“The Entrance is Stopped with a Spider’s Web” and episode 143: “ʻO ke aliʻi wale no kaʻu makemake” (“My Desire Is Only For The Chief”)
Episode 24 and 25 from season six; 24 was directed by Stephen Herek and written by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt; and 25 was directed by Bryan Spicer and written by Peter M. Lenkov and Matt Wheeler
While both episodes were separate entities, “Paʻa ka ʻīpuka i ka ʻupena nananana” and “ʻO ke aliʻi wale no kaʻu makemake” aired back to back on May 13 as the season six finale. The first episode wrapped up the Gabriel storyline with an explosive and rather abrupt ending. While I was not a fan of how they sent Gabriel out into the sunset, I did like that we had a bit of a reconciliation between Gabriel and Chin — all because of their mutual love for both Malia and for Gabriel’s little girl, Sara.
I also appreciated Gabriel’s death bed confession — that he was sorry for killing Chin’s father, Kam Tong, and that he wanted Chin to take care of Sara. Between the action and epic stunts — the team jumps between two buildings and uses a Honolulu City Bus as both a shield during a gunfight, as well as a getaway car — and all the sarcastic banter between McG (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan), I thought the first hour of the finale was definitely a strong lead in for the second hour.
Because if you’re going to have a finale, why not shoot and almost kill our main character and hero of the show? Talk about pushing the envelope for a finale. I know, McG always faces something major in the last episode of the season — how else do we get folks to come back in the fall? But almost killing McGarrett was pretty severe. And not only did the writer’s almost kill him, they also effectively made him lose an organ.
Thankfully, our hero Danno, who donates part of his liver — saves McGarrett. What would have happened to McG if Danno hadn’t said he was a match? I think this was the part of the episode I loved the most. Not that McG was so injured he almost died — I loved all of scenes when the team talks about all the reasons why they love McGarrett. It was the perfect way to end a sixth season — by reminding us all why we love all the members of the team — not just their seemingly indestructible leader.
One thing I particularly liked about the episode was the fact that the topic of organ donation was used in the storyline, as that is one of Alex O’Loughlin’s personal causes. The actor is a spokesperson for the Taylor’s Gift Foundation and an ambassador for Donate Life.
I also liked that Danno really seemed to have learned some restraint in his consistent promise to hurt anyone who harms his family. He could have killed the guy who shot up McGarrett and caused him to lose his liver, but he held back. He was still angry and looking for revenge, but he really has come a long way from the guy who shot Marco Reyes in season five.
Episode 146: “He Moho Hou” (“New Player”) and Episode 147:“Hū ʻaʻe ke ahi lanakila a Kāmaile” (“The Fire of Kamile Rises in Triumph”)
Episode 3 and episode 4 from season seven; 3 was directed by Bryan Spicer and written by Peter M. Lenkov and Cyrus Nowrasteh; and 4 was directed by Bronwen Hughes and written by Peter M. Lenkov and Cyrus Nowrasteh
“He Moho Hou” aired Oct. 7 and “Hū ʻaʻe ke ahi lanakila a Kāmaile” aired Oct. 14 and focused on the Chess Piece Killer who the team had been looking for since the season seven opener, “Mākaukau ʻoe e Pāʻani” (“Ready to Play?). The episodes also focuses on McGarrett’s budding relationship with Dr. Alicia Brown, played by the amazing Claire Forlani. While both episodes were again separate entities, I was happy they followed each other and wrapped up the serial killer mystery quickly. It was a great way to focus on a special guest star, and to create an interesting and intricate mystery that made me think.
While I wasn’t a fan of the acting of Elisabeth Rōhm, who played the villain Dr. Madison Gray — I did like how Forlani’s Dr. Brown reacted to her epic level of crazy. And the way that Brown and McGarrett helped save each other — made for another exciting and emotional climax to the case. I know that Dr. Gray is in the wind, but we can always have Dr. Brown come back to help McGarrett beat her again.
I also very much appreciated how they used and interpreted the Hawaiian titles, as I felt the poetic titles really captured what occurred in each episode. As Hawaiian language is often more figurative in its translation than literal — the titles often help round out the themes and symbolism within each episode. These two were particularly apt in the writer’s choice of titles.
Episode 154 “Kāʻili aku” (“Snatchback”)
Episode 11 from season seven; directed by Jennifer Lynch and written by Matt Wheeler
I had to include the most recent episode in my list, which aired Dec. 16, because of its tie-in to the season six bests about Chin and Sara’s relationship and familial connection. I also appreciated the other tie-in to another “best” episode, “He Moho Hou” (“New Player”).
In the episode, Kono pops out of a huge duffle bag that is supposed to be filled with money and kills all the drug dealers — including, Juan Diego, the brother to the head of the Diego Cartel, Carlos, who now wants to avenge his brother’s death. He wants the team to pay for killing his brother, and has moved on his revenge plan by kidnapping Chin’s niece, Sara, who lives in Juarez, Mexico with her adoptive parents, Jorge and Maria Morales.
The team thinks at first that Sara has been kidnapped for money — as Jorge’s law firm defends and works for a few unsavory clients. But Jorge and Maria, while seemingly comfortable and more than middle class, they do not have a million dollars hanging out in their hacienda. The team has to go through several layers of corruption from drug dealers to crooked cops, in order to find out that their assumptions about Sara’s kidnapping are all wrong.
I love how the team just rallies around Chin. Everyone comes to his aid — not just McGarrett. Lou (Chi McBride) and Danno have to swallow their pride and their gag reflex in order to find a tattoo on a severely burnt body in the morgue. The tattoo is what leads them to the Diego Cartel, and the revenge-not-kidnapping plot.
And while the team’s day could not get any worse, Chin realizes what he must do before the team does, and goes rogue in order to save Sara. And he does, but not without sacrificing himself for the little girl.
Yet — isn’t that what we love about “Hawaii Five-0”? The sheer fact that they would sacrifice themselves for any of their teammates, at any time, no questions asked. Doesn’t that make them the kind of team we know will save the kid, the damsel, the friend, the loved one, the member of their ʻohana?
Really, if there’s any kind of criteria for “the best” list — it would be that — the fact that the episode shows us how much they love each other and want to keep their Five-0 family intact at any and all costs.