2017 was an interesting year for “Hawaii Five-0” — complete with the kind of changes that made even the most dedicated fan doubt the future of the popular series. Yet it seems as if with the new changes that helped launch the eighth season of the action drama, fans had little to worry about. Ratings are up, reviews have been positive, and fans seem to really enjoy the new characters and storylines.
So when fans were asked via social media to name the best episodes of 2017, they were hard-pressed to pick a favorite. Since 2017 spans the end of season seven and the start of season eight, fans were asked to look at 26 episodes — from “Ka ʻAelike” (“The Deal”) that aired on Jan. 6 through the last episode of the year “ʻOni kalalea ke kū a ka lā’au loa” (“A Tall Tree Stands Above the Others”), which was the second of two episodes that aired on Dec. 15.
The resounding response from many fans was the difficulty in picking just one episode that they could deem the “best” of the year. Many fans posted a list of favorites, which showed how much they have enjoyed the changes the series has made after the exit of popular actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. “Hawaii Five-0” made the smart choice to not “kill off” their characters Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalākaua — partially because of the popularity of both the actors, as well as the legacy of the characters. Both Chin Ho, originally played by actor Kam Fong; and Kono, originally played by Gilbert Lani Kauhi who was better known by his stage name, Zulu, are characters that started in the classic version of “Hawaii Five-O.”
The changes this season have mainly been based on two new characters: Tani Rey, played by Meaghan Rath, and Junior Reigns played by Beulah Koale. The addition of Rath and Koale have created new storylines and taken the Five-0 team into a different direction. The addition of recurring cast members Ian Anthony Dale, Dennis Chun, Taylor Wily, and Kimee Balmilero to the main cast has also opened up other new storylines. Overall, fans have loved the new additions and changes, and it seems to have paid off. The cast seems tighter and the storylines have been more focused.
While fans have always loved McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) — they have embraced the new characters and seemed to not be too upset by the exit of Kim and Park. While the Chin and Kono have been mentioned several times during season eight — in order to explain their absence, as well as to offer a rationale for Adam’s presence in the storyline — the new episodes have been well-received by fans.
While fans have chosen best episodes from season seven, the predominance of their favorites have come from season eight. Many fans voiced that there were too many “best episodes” to actually choose one as the best of 2017. Virginie Dubosc wrote via Facebook: “It’s really difficult to choose one. [Season eight] is really interesting as well as [season] seven. Both [are] so emotional, so intense. It’s like doing [a] ‘Sophie’s Choice.’” Cheryl Moreland from Honolulu sent in her thoughts via Twitter that the best of 2017 was “every single episode [because it’s] the most awesome show, cast, production, and [behind the scenes] crew!”
Many fans had several choices so we’ll break down their choices by season.
Best of Season Seven
Kathy Stainthorp from Edmonton, Alberta choose episode 714, “Ka laina ma ke one” (“Line in the Sand”). “I enjoyed this one the most as it showed, not just beautiful scenery, but the beautiful and proud Hawaiian heritage,” said Stainthorp via Facebook.
Helma Gerth-Koelman, of Amersfoort in The Netherlands, sent in three choices via Facebook. “Episode 717, ‘Hahai i nā pilikua nui’ (‘Hunting Monsters’) where Alex O’Loughlin shows his great acting [skills] towards Elisabeth Rohm who played Dr. Madison Gray and is supposed to have lost her memory. [I also liked all of] the wonderful shots at the end when they find Alicia Brown’s (Claire Forlani) lost daughter. Episode 723, ‘Weheʻana’ (‘Prelude’) which told us the background of Danny (Scott Caan) before [he became] part of the Five-0 ʻohana, and episode 724, ‘He keʻu na ka ʻalae a Hina’ (‘A croaking by Hina’s mudhen’), when Steve shows his human side to a prisoner, [which was] so well played.”
Eileen Williams from Illinois wrote via Facebook that her choice was episode 718 “E mālama pono” (“Handle with Care”). “[This episode was when Steve and Danny’s] restaurant was first being discussed, and then the uranium issue [which gave Steve radiation poisoning]. I feel this episode was pivotal for creating season eight.”
Angela Gerstner from Munich, Germany, also liked episode 718. She added “episode 721 ‘Ua Maloʻo Ka Wai’ (‘The Water is Dried Up’) when Duke (Dennis Chun) rescues the team; and episode 725 ‘Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono’ (‘The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness’) when Steve and his team save the kidnapped girls. The truth is that I love them all because each and every one of them had something special and very enjoyable about it.”
Best of Season Eight
Gerstner also had several choices from season eight. “The episodes introducing the new characters were great because they proved right away how well the new additions fit into the ohana. I’ve particularly enjoyed every episode that has focused on the extended Five-0 ohana and has shown how its members are always there for each other. I don’t know how the cast and crew do it but, even after all those years, they manage to make the show even better than before – which makes it extremely hard to pick one favorite episode out of so many great ones.
The choice [of the best] has never been as difficult as it’s been this year because season eight has brought us many excellent episodes. I still can’t decide which episodes I loved best. I loved episode 810 ‘I ka wā mamua, I ka wā mahope’ (‘The Future is in the Past’) [because] the restaurant scene was a pure pleasure to watch, and episode 804 ‘E uhi wale no ʻaʻole e nalo, he imu puhi’ (‘No Matter How Much One Covers a Steaming Imu, The Smoke Will Rise’) when Steve (O’Loughlin) saves Kamekona (Wily) and Nahele (Kekoa Kekumano). I also loved episode 807 ‘Kau ka ʻōnohi aliʻi i luna’ (‘The Royal Eyes Rest Above’), when Adam (Dale) and Junior (Koale) team up with Steve to solve a bank heist; episode 806 ‘He Kaha Luʻu Ke Ala, Mai Hoʻokolo Aku’ (‘The trail leads to a diving place; do not follow after’) when Steve poses as a racing pilot to solve a murder; and episode 802 ‘Kāu pahi, koʻu kua. Kāu pū, koʻu poʻo’ (‘Your Knife, My Back. My Gun, Your Head’) when Eddie the dog is introduced as a recurring character.”
Fan Joanne Kershaw chose one episode from season eight, episode 810, “I ka wā mamua, I ka wā mahope” (“The Future is in the Past”). She wrote via Facebook, “this episode absolutely encapsulated everything that is ‘Hawaii Five-0’ for me. The new team’s relationships — I particularly loved the knowing looks of Steve (O’Loughlin) and Danny (Caan) when Tani (Rath) and Junior (Koale) were flirting— to the action and suspense of the plot line. The focus on ʻohana remained strong throughout, and Danny’s vision of the future was woven well throughout the storyline, which was also very telling. His entire focus was on family — Grace, Charlie, and Steve. Peter Weller did a great job with direction and I was just reminded why I am so much in love with this series and these characters. It felt like traditional [episode], but fresher with new characters. Overall, [it was] probably in my top three episodes ever!”
Marie Glen Devon from Paris, France agreed with Kershaw. She wrote via Facebook, “I just watched this episode (for the third time) and it is excellent! The way the characters’ back-stories are woven into the future is simply wonderful!”
Helma Gerth-Koelman had one season eight episode she loved, episode 802, ‘Kāu pahi, koʻu kua. Kāu pū, koʻu poʻo’ (‘Your Knife, My Back. My Gun, Your Head’), and agreed with Gerstner about the introduction of Eddie the dog. She wrote via Facebook, “you can feel the chemistry between this dog and Steve. You can tell that Alex in real life is a dog loving person.
There are lots of other ʻohana moments I like, and the new characters are a good addition to this show. [I am] curious how the rest of this season is going to be, and looking forward to more action and ʻohana [moments]. And perhaps a season nine.”
Susan Morrell of Park City, Utah, wrote in via Facebook how she thought the 175th episode, 807, “Kau ka ʻōnohi aliʻi i luna” (“The Royal Eyes Rest Above”) was the best of 2017. “I like this one best for three reasons. (1) The bonding between Alex (OʻLoughlin) and Adam (Dale) and the promise of more of that mature friendship as it develops. (2) Adam and Junior (Koale) helping Steve by following him into the bank and chasing the “bad guys” around town. (3) Last but definitely not least, Alex’s acting when he thinks he’s killed a fellow police officer. His facial expressions and body language say so much more than words, which is a tribute to his incredibly underrated acting ability. I’m loving season eight and the positive energy that the new characters/actors bring to the show, including the four-legged member of the team!”
Karen Downton also agreed with Morrell about how much she is “loving season eight” She wrote in via Facebook, “I can’t believe I’m really not missing Chin and Kono. The writers have done such an amazing job [by making it] a smooth transition to Tani (Rath) and Junior (Koale). I’m looking forward to seeing how they grow.”
Many other fans also chimed in about how much they are enjoying the two newest characters and are excited to see where the writers take their characters. They are also eager to see if there will be another season of “Hawaii Five-0” and how far the show will continue to grow and prosper. For many Five-0 fans — the best of all could still be yet to come.
REDUX SIDE NOTE:
There have been several comments posted via social media about how the “Five-0 Redux” spells “Hawaii Five-0” using the number “0” instead of the letter “O.” The very first press release sent out by CBS when the show was rebooted in 2010 was to set-up a clear distinction between the new version of the show and the classic version of “Hawaii Five-O” starring the late Jack Lord. The press release, called “The Shortest Press Release in CBS History” states “EDITORS NOTE: The “0” in HAWAII FIVE-0 is a zero, not a capital O.”
Which is why when writing about the new series it is correct to use the “zero.” When writing about the classic version that aired from 1968-1980, it is correct to spell it with the letter “O.” We hope that clears up any spelling confusion.