Choosing the “best” episodes of a beloved show is not always an easy task. Fans often have trouble choosing just one — and considering all of the comments and choices sent in for the 2018 “Hawaii Five-0” list — this year was no exception. Fans were asked via social media to choose their favorites from the end of the eighth season to the start of the ninth, which spanned the calendar year of 2018.
The top episodes mostly came from the ninth season and were pretty consistent with the initial reaction shared by fans when it originally aired. Most of the choices were ones that focused on McGarrett, played by series star Alex O’Loughlin. Other top choices were the 200th series episode and O’Loughlin’s directorial debut episode in the eighth season.
The reasons behind the best-of list were definitely in line with the elements that have always made the show a success for nine seasons — ohana, friendship, loyalty and deep aloha. It is what has helped the show, and the series franchise, last for 50 years.
FAN FAVORITE OF 2018
“Pio ke Kukui, Po‘ele ka Hale” (“When the Light Goes Out, the House Is Dark”), which originally aired on Dec. 7, 2018.
This episode, “Pio ke Kukui, Po‘ele ka Hale” (“When the Light Goes Out, the House Is Dark”), while a definite favorite, has been the most emotional one of the year. McGarrett was almost killed and had to flee to Montana with Joe White (Terry O’Quinn) in order to battle against those exacting revenge for a past SEAL mission. In the course of the episode, McGarrett is the only survivor of the six-man SEAL team. Again, he was double-crossed by his former lover, Agent Greer (Rochelle Aytes), who was the one who revealed the identities and whereabouts of the SEAL team to a vengeful son. The most heartbreaking part of the episode was when McGarrett loses the strongest father figure he had in his life — Joe White.
Many fans echoed Kim Harper of El Dorado, Ark., who said the episode, “was awesome all around. Alex and Terry were phenomenal. They both left you feeling heartbroken for the characters. Kudos to them,” said Harper via Twitter.
Karen Rossi of California said the episode “was heart-wrenching, sad, and yet beautiful. It builds on the complexity of who Steve McGarrett is. I am so curious to see how this will affect him moving forward. Certainly, hope that Alex and /or Terry get an Emmy nod for this. They both deserve it!” said Rossi via Facebook.
Cheryl Frick Moreland of Honolulu commented on the depth of emotion shown by O’Loughlin in the episode. “He truly showed anguish, heartbreak, and such sadness. Showing the back story how Joe got Steve out of jail when he was 16 and watched over him his whole life and how he was a second father to him, I cried tears as if I experienced his death. It was well written and to me, it was the best episode these past two seasons,” said Frick via Facebook.
Karen Tucker of Lexington, Ky., shared via Facebook how much she loved the episode because “the emotions were so strong and I’m still crying for Joe and Steve.” Helma Gerth-Koelman of the Netherlands also commented via Facebook about the scenes between Steve and Joe. “The scenes between Steve and Joe were really heartbreaking and (showed) very good acting from both men. (It) must be so hard for Steve to lose another family member. Even well-trained SEALs have feelings and Alex is able to show this on screen so well.”
SECOND PICK FOR BEST OF THE YEAR
“Pua aʻe la ka uwahi o ka moe” (“The Smoke Seen in the Dream Now Rises”), which originally aired on Nov. 9, 2018.
The 200th episode of “Hawaii Five-0,” “Pua aʻe la ka uwahi o ka moe” (“The Smoke Seen in the Dream Now Rises”), was not only great fun as the actors were able to “go back in time” and play the 1940s equivalent of their modern characters, but it was also a way for the show to pay its respects to Hawaii’s most famous detective, Chang Apana. The episode had McGarrett working a cold case his grandfather, Steven McGarrett, tried to solve before he was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. O’Loughlin played the 1940s version of his grandfather, with Scott Caan playing his old friend Milton Cooper, an HPD detective.
The episode was McGarrett’s dream of what his grandfather’s life could have been like had he followed his desire to be a detective in the Honolulu Police Department. It both honored his namesake as well as Apana, a real-life detective in the HPD from the 1910s and ’20s who was the inspiration for the literary character, Charlie Chan.
Karen Rossi shared via Facebook about how the episode “was so special. The strength of Steve and Danny’s partnership across time really came through.” And Debra Mathis of Louisville, Ky., said via Twitter, that she “loved the step back in time to the ’40s. I was in awe of the acting by all the wonderful cast which (they) seemed to love, as well.”
Susan Morrell of Mesa, Ariz., said via Facebook, “not only was it a fun episode to watch visually, but the storyline was also solid. I especially liked getting to know more about Steve’s grandfather. Plus, working in (the story of) real-life Hawaiian detective Chang Apana, and the segue to the attack on Pearl Harbor added to (the strength of the episode).”
Italian fan Maria Grazia also chose the 200th episode as one of her favorites, “because of the sheer perfection of the dream sequence set in the 1940s. (It was) a true masterpiece on every level — the performance of every single actor, the writing, the amazing soundtrack, the sets, the costumes — I truly was in awe the whole time,” Grazia shared via Twitter. “I loved that Steve, throughout his dream, kept his grandfather safe, far from the attack, far from death, still able to achieve his dream, still able to be a father to John McGarrett.”
Grazia also shared a part of the episode that really set it apart, when the contemporary McGarrett places a picture of the victim, Lila, in front of Apana’s picture in the Honolulu Police Department Museum. “In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest scenes of the whole show. Steve’s life has been riddled with unanswered questions, mysteries, and lies. He knows the value of the truth, the value of closure — so this need he felt to give closure to Chang Apana and all those who cared about Layla, (including) Milton and his grandfather — it was so much like Steve. There was Steve’s heart in this scene.”
A subplot of the episode was Steve and Danny’s decision to sell their fledgling restaurant to Kamekona (Taylor Wily). Grazia said it best when she said, “I was happy with Danny’s ‘if you’re out, I’m out.’ That’s the way they do things: together. As long as they’re together, as long as they need to be together and can’t even conceive the idea of not being together, I’m happy. Because that’s what they’ll do, that’s for sure — they’ll move forward, and they’ll do it together.” Grazia is not alone in wanting this for McGarrett and Danno, and this is evident in many of the choices for this year’s best.
EQUALLY SOME OF THE BEST
“E hoʻoko kuleana” (“To do one’s duty”), which originally aired on March 30, 2018, and “Ka ʻowili ʻokaʻi” (“Cocoon”), which started the ninth season on Sept. 28, 2018.
One episode from season eight, “E hoʻoko kuleana” (“To do one’s duty”), received the same amount of positive reaction as the top two fan favorites, Directed by O’Loughlin, the episode was a wrap-up of the mystery surrounding the shooting of Danno by a mysterious man he did not recognize or remember. Fans loved the episode, as well as the glimpse into Danno’s back story, which showed him as a young beat cop in New Jersey who helps an abused woman leave her brutal husband.
Many fans hoped that O’Loughlin will direct again, because of their love for him and their eagerness to have him craft another episode of “Hawaii Five-0.” It was evident to many that he was uniquely familiar with all of the characters, and the episode had far more depth than others. Both a testament to O’Loughlin’s talents and inside knowledge of the characters and their back stories.
In the opener of the ninth season, “Ka ʻowili ʻokaʻi” (“Cocoon”), the series created a remake of the original “Hawaii Five-O” premiere from 1968, which also marked the 50th anniversary of the series franchise. The rebooted “Five-0” meshed the original storyline within our contemporary time period and characters. The episode was quite successful as it was able to continue the character arcs established in the modern version of “Hawaii Five-0.”
In this episode, we are introduced to Agent Greer and first learn about McGarrett’s time in Morocco, which comes back to haunt him in “Pio ke Kukui, Po‘ele ka Hale” (“When the Light Goes Out, the House Is Dark”). Kim Harper also shared about how “they did a wonderful job recreating ‘Cocoon’ from the original. The set they built for this episode was awesome and Alex was great in this episode. The way the storyline continues throughout this season with Greer is genius,” said Harper via Twitter.
Debra Mathis also shared via Twitter, about how much she “loved (the season premiere) as it was a beautiful yet dramatic 50-year celebration. (It also) set the course of what has been of Steve’s year of loss and desperation at the hands of another beautiful and evil friend with lasting benefits — Agent Greer. Since she reappeared, Steve’s life has been filled with sorrow and worry for the friends and family who are still alive and possible pawns of his evil foe.”
Really, there were other episodes that received a vote, all for similar reasons. Most fans just love the episodes where the Five-0 team work together to save each other, support each other, and when they come together to solve a crime or help a victim. For the most part, McGarrett and Danno are the main focus, but fans sent in love for Tani (Meaghan Rath), Junior (Beulah Koale), Lou (Chi McBride) and Jerry (Jorge Garcia) — as well as Duke (Dennis Chun), Noelani (Kimee Balmilero), Kamekona (Taylor Wily), and Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) — as true parts of the Five-0 ohana. Overall, that is the best part of this series, no matter what the year or season.