As 2014 comes to a close, I am surrounded by best of lists and television specials, so it seems appropriate to do the same for “Hawaii Five-0.”
Fans of the show have already chosen their top five in this blog, so now it’s my turn.
I looked at the last half of season four (episodes 412 to 422) and the first half of season five (episodes 501 to 509) and chose episodes that were the whole package.
The episodes had to:
1. Revolve around the entire team
2. Involve a strong storyline and/or include a great guest star
3. Showcase strong directing and/or writing
I know there were several episodes that were very good last season, but they focused on one cast member or the storyline was just too mundane or forgettable to be chosen. I know there were many episodes I could have picked, but I stuck to my criteria and came up with five I think were really great. All five have stayed with me; if I have to detail a great episode, I revert to many moments from these.
And for the record, I now understand all of your cries of “This is hard!” when I made readers choose their favorites. Consider yourselves vindicated.
The top five below are listed by air date. Like many fans, I couldn’t choose a favorite out of the five.
There were many reasons why this episode made the top five for 2014, but one of the best was the reunion of Kono (Grace Park) and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) as well as the return of Kono to the team. The scene where a teary Kono told Adam that his being on the run was over and they could go home was truly breathtaking.
It was also the episode where we learned more about Grover (Chi McBride) and saw his relationship with McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) blossom into something deeper than just two strong men butting heads and vying for position.
Written by John Dove and directed by Peter Weller, the procedural included an excellent guest star — Karl Makinen as Jack Anderson, a bar owner with a heart of gold who also happened to be on the run from the FBI.
Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sgt. Duke (Dennis Chun) helped McG and Grover investigate the Anderson case, while Danno (Scott Caan) conducted a side investigation into a shooting involving his future girlfriend, Amber Vitale (Lili Simmons). We also got a precious father-daughter moment with Danno and Gracie (Teilor Grubbs). Add the ending scene with the entire crew at McG’s house to welcome Kono and Adam home and you have a pretty perfect episode.
Yes, I know, this episode was definitely a fan favorite. Who didn’t love McG and Danno baring their souls to one another, confirming their bro-love as the team tried to save them from a potentially crushing death?
While Chin, Kono, Grover, Cath (Michelle Borth), and Max (Masi Oka) madly investigated the case that got their brothers-in-arms trapped in the bowels of a collapsed parking structure, we enjoyed the love-hate banter of our two favorite characters.
Written by Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt from a story by David Wolkove and directed by Maja Vrvilo, the episode will definitely be considered one of the best ever of the “Hawaii Five-0” reboot.
This episode made the list for a couple of reasons, one being the ending scene with Danno finally learning the truth about the fate of his brother Matt. The second was the all-out team effort it took to find a hitman gone good.
Perhaps it was because it was another episode directed by Peter Weller and written by executive producer Peter Lenkov and Ken Solarz, who always write strong and compelling episodes for their lead characters. Even stunt coordinator Jeff Cadiente was on top of his game, as the foot chase/shootout on Ward Avenue and the storming of the hitman’s compound for his victims were examples of “Five-0” action at its best.
The emotional message of a bad man having a literal change of heart also made the episode more compelling. The team working together — including not only Sgt. Duke, but also Charlie Fong (Brian Yang) and Officer Pua Kai (Shawn Thomsen), was an episode highlight.
Chin having to swallow a lot of pride to get Danno the money from ex-brother-in-law Gabriel Waincroft (Christopher Sean) to settle Matt’s score with creepy Marco Reyes (Anthony Ruvivar) was another reason why we love when the team rallies around one another.
Yet the final scene when Danno saw his brother in a 55-gallon drum was enough to break your heart. He and McG overtaking Reyes’ men and Danno being faced with making a bad guy decision still leaves me conflicted on how I feel about his pulling the trigger. But that is yet another reason why I choose it as one of the year’s best.
If any episode on this list was a WOW episode, this would be it. Not only was it the fan favorite of this year, it has been the subject of talk since before it aired.
Yes, it was much hyped, but I think it really did live up to expectations.
While the episode focused on McGarrett and his being kidnapped by arch-nemesis Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), it did have the entire team working to find him. On top of that, we got to see an alternate view of what could have been life for the Five-0 team if McGarrett’s life had gone in a different direction.
If perhaps John McGarrett (William Sadler) had not been killed, would McGarrett have come home and joined up with Danno under the direction of Capt. Chin Ho Kelly? We can only guess.
The ending sequence when Danno told McGarrett his father died four years ago was heart-wrenching. Danno’s relief at McG being alive, Chin and Kono’s looking on as McG broke down — those were both reasons why fans love the team.
McG’s reaction to Wo Fat’s death, knowing it was by his own hand, really sealed how amazing O’Loughlin was in this episode. His physicality and emotion were truly believable and compelling. The ending scene reminded me yet again what the team is really all about.
Expertly written by Lenkov and directed by Larry Teng (who also directed the excellent Pearl Harbor episode “Hoʻonani Makua Kāne” (“Honor thy Father”), the 100th episode of “Hawaii Five-0” will join the ranks as one of best episodes of the series.
After the excellent 100th episode, it was hard to consider other episodes to join the best of 2014. But this year’s Thanksgiving episode, where the entire team worked to solve the double-murder of beloved parents along with the impending wedding of McG’s much loved Aunt Deb, was not only a fan favorite, but one of mine as well.
The heartbreaking storyline kept us all guessing and drew viewers in, but what made this episode was very special was guest star Carol Burnett, who reprised her Aunt Deb role from season four.
Burnett also brought along a friend — famous crooner Frankie Valli, who played a fellow cancer fighter and former mob lawyer, Leonard Cassano. Deb and Leonard came to Hawaii to be married in front of family and friends, and Leonard seemed to also want to get a few things off his chest with McGarrett.
Written by Moira Kirland and directed by Jerry Levine, the episode could not have ended any sweeter than with a lovely wedding and an equally “ʻS Wonderful” song.
OVERALL, 2014 was a good year for “Hawaii Five-0.” We’ve seen some major changes, but I think fans who have stuck with the show for five seasons still have enough of what they fell in love with to continue to watch.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
As this is the last Five-0 Redux of 2014, I’d like to thank all of you for reading each week and for sharing and commenting. I hope you all had a great Mele Kalikimaka this week, and until 2015 — Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou!
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.