Each year, fans of “Hawaii Five-0” have an opportunity to choose their favorite episodes for a “best of” list, and it’s not surprising that their choices seem to always focus on Steve McGarrett, played by series star, Alex O’Loughlin. The series has certainly been around long enough to establish a solid fan base and after ten years and 229 episodes, fans know what they like and which episodes can be deemed the very best.
The list fans had to choose from began with episodes from the end of season nine to the start of season ten. This year’s best came down to two clear favorites with several episodes battling it out to complete the top five. Fans from around the world sent in their responses via email, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Much of their rationale had to do with their love of the “Hawaii Five-0” characters, specifically McGarrett and his partner Danny Williams, played by Scott Caan.
TOP EPISODE OF 2019
“Ka ʻiʻo” (“DNA”), which originally aired on Nov. 8, 2019.
While it’s not surprising that fans love the ohana of “Hawaii Five-0,” their deep aloha for Alex O’Loughlin and his character, Steve McGarrett, has been the most consistent element within the fandom from the start. This season, he not only directed but also wrote the episode which seemed to bring the entire series full circle. The storyline has McGarrett searching for his mother, Doris McGarrett (Christine Lahti), who has gone rogue and fallen in love with the drug dealer she was supposed to bring down. The CIA has written her off and has offered McGarrett a one-time deal to bring his mother back.
McGarrett leaves Five-0 behind to find her in Mexico. When he finds and confronts Doris, with the help of Junior (Beulah Koale) and two SEAL team brothers, she is fatally wounded by her lover. Yet, before she dies, Doris tells her son why she turned her back on him and her life. It was a way to complete the Shelburne storyline and perhaps bring some sort of closure to McGarrett’s past. Leslie Marsh of Ringgold, Georgia, posted on Facebook how “Alex did a great job writing and directing this episode. I hope Alex will write and direct more episodes for [the show]”
Helma Gerth-Koelman from Amersfoort, the Netherlands, said via email that the episode was her “most favorite episode … although Steve losing his mother at the end was heartbreaking. Great writing, directing and acting in this episode.” Of all the comments from fans, the consensus is that O’Loughlin did an excellent job delving deep into the complex DNA of McGarrett and all of the strengths and vulnerabilities that make up his character. The episode is a tour de force for him as an actor, as well as writer and director.
SECOND BEST OF 2019
“Eʻao luʻau a kualima” (“Offer young taro leaves to …”), originally aired on Feb. 22, 2019, and was rebroadcast this week on Dec. 27.
The episode with the second-best vote was O’Loughlin’s season nine directorial episode, written by David Wolkove and Matt Wheeler. The episode focuses on Beulah Koale who plays fellow SEAL and Five-0 teammate, Junior Reigns. The episode that Koale himself enjoyed working on, as it was directed by “big brother” O’Loughlin, has his character grappling with his loyalty to his mentor McGarrett as well as with his feelings for his once true love, Layla (Anna Enger). Junior suspects that one of the bank robbers Five-0 has been hunting is Layla’s boyfriend, and the father of her child, Tory (J.J. Soria).
Susan Morrell of Mesa, Arizona said via email, “Alex’s direction, Beulah’s acting, the storyline, and cinematography were fantastic!” Many fans concurred with Morrell, especially about the scene which has Junior begging Tory to give himself up. It is a brilliant and painful scene with the added overlap of clips from Tory’s memories of his last moments with his son and Layla just as Junior’s bullet hits him in slow-motion. It was truly artistic what O’Loughlin did with an already action-packed episode.
ROUNDING OUT THE BEST
Other episodes that were mentioned included season nine’s “Hala i ka ala hoʻi ʻole mai” (Gone on the Road from Which There’s No Returning) and “Ka hauli o ka mea hewa ‘ole, he nalowale koke” (“A bruise inflicted on an innocent person vanishes quickly”). Both were episodes where Danny and McGarrett leaned on each other during painful moments in their lives. In “O ke kumu, o ka mana, hoʻopuka ʻia” (“The teacher, the pupil — let it come forth”) fans appreciated the focus on Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) and Noelani (Kimee Balmilero) as they both faced former “teachers” from their past. The last season nine favorite was “Ho‘okāhi no lā o ka malihini” (“A Stranger Only for a Day”) which featured the return of McGarrett’s sister Mary, played by Taryn Manning.
Favorites from season ten included the Halloween episode, “He ‘oi‘o kuhihewa; he kākā ola i ‘ike ‘ia e ka makaulā” (“Don’t blame ghosts and spirits for one’s troubles; a human is responsible”), which was memorable because of the return of Dr. Max Bergman, played by former series regular Masi Oka, as well as the connection to a case that haunted Sgt. Duke Lukela, played by Dennis Chun, for years. The Thanksgiving episode, “Ka lā‘au kumu ‘ole o Kahilikolo” (“The Trunkless Tree of Kahilikolo”) was a favorite because it showed McGarrett in mourning and his friends, especially Danny, trying to help him through the pain of losing his mother.
While fans had specific episodes they thought were the best, they all agreed on one thing — there were too many to choose from, which in the world of television — is a very good problem to have.