Fans of the “Hawaii Five-0” seem to be thinking a lot about the best parts of their favorite show during this summer hiatus. Especially after Friday’s shocking news of the departure of series regulars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. While fans around the world grieve the loss of two of their favorites– both actors Kim and Park, as well as their beloved characters– they also voiced their strong opinions about what episodes they thought are the very best of seven seasons of Five-0.
While I posed a simple question to fans on the Five-0 Redux Facebook page and Twitter feed– the response has been constant and strong. The shows that fans chose were mostly ones I expected them to pick, and it was interesting to read their responses. Most fans found choosing ONE episode out of 168 was rather daunting. Kristine K. Takemoto of Honolulu wrote on the Facebook post, “this is a challenging request! There have been several outstanding episodes for many different reasons through the lifetime of the series so far! Pick just one? Not sure I can!”
Takemoto was not alone, and I counted each episode fans sent me. For the sake of space, this will cover only the top three episodes, with more to come next week. Munich fan Angela Gerstner, who runs her own Alex O’Loughlin webpage as well as the Alex O’Loughlin Fans for Organ Donation Facebook page, was kind enough to help me count the votes and the results were very interesting. Fans who responded came from all over the world, and their written responses show how much Five-0 viewers appreciate the episodes that focus more on the team, than the police procedural. Characters tell the story, not the plot– and the choices for best episodes of the series prove that idea over and over again.
The episodes are listed in order of most votes, with their episode numbers indicating their season and order number.
“Inā Paha” (“If Perhaps”)
Most famous for being the celebrated 100th episode of the series, it originally aired on Nov. 7, 2014, and was written by Peter Lenkov and directed by Larry Teng. The episode cleverly showed us an alternate version of Steve McGarrett’s (Alex O’Loughlin) life, as if his father had not been murdered in the Pilot episode. The episode was also a showdown between McGarrett and his arch nemesis Wo Fat, with McGarrett defeating Wo Fat for the last time. While fans mourned the loss of series villain, played by the popular and fan-beloved Mark Dacascos, they loved how the episode brought the entire team together in order to save McGarrett.
Fans around the world said much of the same thing– Alex O’Loughlin and his acting performance is what made the episode. Fiona Sutton of Geelong, Australia, wrote via Facebook, “the acting from O’Loughlin is just outstanding, and evokes all emotions of the viewer.” Additionally, Rebecca Bacherle of Lüneburg, Germany, wrote, “I like the great emotional range of this episode and the awe-inspiring performance of O’Loughlin and Dacascos.”
Helma Gerth-Koelman from Holland wrote via Twitter, that the episode was really intense. “With Steve killing Wo Fat, and at the end when [McGarrett] was exhausted and drugged and asked about his father, and the team [was] there for him, supporting [him] like a real ohana.” Gerstner also wrote how she didn’t “have to think long” about which episode was her favorite. “Steve’s final battle against Wo Fat was awesome. And his emotions at the end– asking about his dad [was] so well acted.”
Amy Rackley of Lawton, Oklahoma, wrote via Facebook, “I really loved how in the “alternate universe,” Danny (Scott Caan) was like Steve and Steve was like Danny. But my favorite part was when they rescued Steve, especially the emotion in Danny’s voice as he said Steve’s name when he entered the room. It shows how those two really care for each other.” Dete Iboud of Grenoble, France, wrote, “It’s an episode of great originality, Alex and Mark [did] an extraordinary job, the script and the action: brilliant. We [have] all wondered at least once in our lives– if perhaps.”
And Kristen Crandall, who wrote via Twitter, encapsulated how many fans felt about the episode. How the episode was “heart wrenchingly painful and beautiful at the same time. So well acted and written.” Other fans wrote about how the episode was “brilliant” and how they were “sad to see Wo Fat go.” Overall, it was obvious how much fans loved the episode and how it claimed the most votes.
The second favorite episode was the very first, the Pilot episode. Originally aired on Sept. 20, 2010, I think every fan can tell you their initial reaction to the episode. Directed by Len Wiseman and based on a story by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Peter Lenkov, with Lenkov writing the teleplay– the Pilot episode is the one that set it all up for us.
UK fan Betsy Jane Craig wrote via Twitter, that it was “the start of this fab show. [It] had me hooked from [the start, and I] also went to Hawaii because of it.” Craig is not alone, as many fans wrote about how this episode– which introduced us all to McG, Danno, Chin, and Kono, but to Hawaiʻi as well.
Linda Stein from Philadelphia wrote via Facebook about how she “had no idea of the adventure I was beginning. Having not been a big fan of the original, I assumed I’d give this “remake” a try and see where it would go. Here I am 7+ years later and loving every minute of it. Meeting Steve McGarrett, his immediate connection with Danny, the formation of the team I have come to love so much– it’s an episode I have watched more times than I can count and the one that set me on this incredible journey.”
Susan Morrell of Park City, Utah wrote a similar sentiment via Facebook. “If the first episode hadn’t been so good at presenting the characters, the plotline, and the venue, I never would have continued to watch the show. All my other [favorite episodes] are possible because of the bonding that started with the Core Four in the very first show.” she wrote.
Karen Dritto of Staten Island, NY also wrote about being introduced to the characters as one of the main reasons why the Pilot is her choice for the best episode of the series. “I was introduced to stoic Lt. Cmdr. Steven J. McGarrett, witnessed his pain, his heartbreak, his anger over the murder of his father and his resolve to see it through to the bitter end and I fell in love . . . with Alex O’Loughlin. The Ohana came together with Det. Danny Williams, Lt. Chin Ho Kelly and Officer Kono Kalakaua on that Monday night . . . in 2010 and I’ve been hooked ever since,” Dritto wrote.
Hooked. That’s the perfect word to describe our reaction to the Pilot episode. And even though the Five-0 team has changed quite a bit since that episode seven years ago, many of us who started that journey in 2010, are still watching and waiting for yet another season with our favorite ʻohana.
Fans choice for the third best of the series was originally aired on Nov. 21, 2011 and was written by Peter M. Lenkov and Paul Zbyszewski. Directed by Kate Woods, the episode helped to explain the cliffhanger from the season two premiere, when the supposed Five-0 friend Jenna Kaye (Larisa Oleynik) was revealed to be working with Five-0 nemesis, Wo Fat. The episode also introduced us to a true Five-0 friend, pilot Frank Bama, played by musician and restaurateur, Jimmy Buffett. His character in Five-0 is actually named after a down-on-his-luck seaplane pilot, who is also the main character in Buffett’s 1992 novel “Where is Joe Merchant?”
But for the most part, it is also a fan favorite because how the team comes together to travel to North Korea to save McGarrett. Joey Keagy from Pennsylvania wrote via Twitter, “[it] will forever be my favorite. They became ohana in that episode.”
Jan McGee of Rochester, NY wrote via Facebook, “there have been many episodes that demonstrate the Ohana of this team, but this one was the first one and it rises above the others for me. Every one of them was more than willing to sacrifice themselves in order to save Steve, who had disappeared into North Korea along with Jenna Kaye. My absolute favorite part of this episode is when Steve is rescued; my tears start when Danny pulls the canvas aside and sees Steve alive. The look on Steve’s face when he sees it’s Danny, well, if I never understood Ohana before, this sealed it. Then they emerge from the jungle, along with his rescue team of fellow SEALs, Joe White and Chin, partially carrying Steve and head for Tangerine [Bama’s helicopter]. Once on board, the camaraderie feels very real– everyone is safe, they’ve rescued Steve and they’re heading home. When Steve takes a rifle, locks and loads it, you feel his relief, he’s safe, he has some control back. The only time we ever see real fear in Steve is when he has lost control of a situation. When he flashes that mega-watt smile, it all felt so very real. When Tangerine flies off into that sunset, everything was perfect, it felt like a movie ending.”
Lynnette Janssen of Volborg, Montana wrote via Facebook about how this episode was “the set up, really, for what was to come, not just with Steve’s storyline, but with the solidifying of the Ohana for all the future storylines. We had the shock and awe moments where we discovered just how sadistic and purely evil the one truly great McGarrett nemesis, Wo Fat, was. It was also brought home to the viewers that the Five-0 team was way more than just a bunch of work buddies. They were willing to take off half way around the world, forsake their lives and their families by never being heard from again if things went south, to attempt to rescue and bring home their brother — not just their boss. I think we knew by the end of this episode, that Wo Fat was going to be the character we were going to love to hate, as well as ending up with the knowledge that there were some secrets about him we really needed to learn. Also, we realized the relationships between the team members, but especially between Steve and Danny, had started down the road to a true brotherhood. It’s one of those episodes that’s painful to rewatch, because of Jenna Kaye’s death and Steve’s torture, but it is such a game changer of an episode that when a person gets frustrated with later storylines or episodes, go back and rewatch this one – it brings you right back to why we love this show.”
Really, Five-0 fans are quite eloquent about their love for their favorite show and what they think have been the best of episodes of all seven seasons. The task has been to pick just one, and for the most part, fans can name what they think is the very best episode very quickly. But with that said, there is more to come next week with the rest of the best of series list. Many thanks to all the fans, from all over the world, who responded to this challenge.