In Hawaii, when we say “aloha ʻoe” to a friend or loved one, it suggests a sad good-bye paired with a slight hope of seeing each other soon. The phrase, which literally means “may you be loved or greeted,” is best known because of the song of the same name, which says “Farewell to thee … until we meet again.” Sadly, for “Hawaii Five-0” fans, last week’s season finale, “Aloha” (“Goodbye”), was a final “aloha ʻoe” from the series after 10 years of airing on CBS.
As we bid our own last aloha ʻoe to the series, here are some of the best episodes from the series. The episodes were chosen by fan reaction, the strength of the overall character arcs, acting by the cast, and the writing and directing of the episode. Some were chosen because of the cultural and historical significance that drove the storyline. However they were chosen, there will always be others that could be on this best-of list, but for time and space, here are our choices. They are listed in chronological order from the first season to season 10.
“Pailaka” (“Pilot”), episode 1.01
Story by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Peter M. Lenkov with teleplay by Lenkov. Directed by Len Wiseman, it originally aired on Sept. 20, 2010.
We can’t have a best-of list without including the pilot episode, as it gave us the basis for the story of the Five-0 task force, as well as the foundation of the friendship and partnership shared by Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and HPD Det. Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan). The episode also sets up many of the storylines that existed for 10 seasons. McGarrett and Danno work together to investigate the murder of McGarrett’s father, John (William Sadler), who was killed by Victor Hesse (James Marsters). Hesse is later revealed to be the lackey of Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), who became the first series villain. We also met disgraced HPD detective, Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), and his cousin, Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park), who was just about to graduate from the police academy. Both Chin and Kono join McGarrett and Danno to form the Five-0 task force.
Written by Peter M. Lenkov and Ken Solarz. Directed by Larry Teng, it originally aired on Dec. 13, 2013.
If there was one episode that made a worldwide impact, it was this episode that taught many viewers about the historical tragedy behind the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Many fans around the world were incredibly moved by the thought-provoking episode, especially when they learned there had actually been a Honouliuli Internment Camp on Oahu, and many other camps around the United States. French fans sent their thoughts and condolences after watching the episode. “Hawaii Five-0” cast member Dennis Chun presented the French fans’ messages to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii during a Day of Remembrance Celebration in 2014.
Written by Peter M. Lenkov and directed by Larry Teng, it originally aired on Nov. 7, 2014.
Most famous for being the celebrated 100th episode of the series, the episode cleverly showed us an alternate version of McGarrett’s 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 the series villain, played by the beloved Mark Dacascos, they loved how the episode brought the entire team together in order to save McGarrett from Wo Fat’s torturous clutches.
“I ka wa mamua, I ka wa mahope” (“The Future is in the Past”), episode 8.10
Written by Zoe Robyn and directed by Peter Weller, it originally aired on Dec. 15, 2017.
Danny is shot by someone from his past, and as he slips in and out of consciousness, he imagines a possible future for himself, his children, McGarrett and for the rest of Five-0. Fans loved the episode as it showed McGarrett and Danno running their restaurant, and growing old together, after raising Danno’s children to marriage and graduation from the police academy. In Danno’s dream, Duke (Dennis Chun) is obviously in charge of the cadets of the police academy; Kamekona (Taylor Wily) and Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) now own two luxury resorts; Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) and Kono have a baby; Tani Rey (Meaghan Rath) becomes head of Five-0 and she runs the task force with her husband, Junior Reigns (Beulah Koale).
“E hoʻoko kuleana” (“To do one’s duty”), episode 8.18
Written by David Wolkove and Matt Wheeler. Directed by Alex O’Loughlin, it originally aired on March 30, 2018.
O’Loughlin certainly solidified himself as a capable director as Danny is seen in flashbacks working a domestic violence case in New Jersey as a uniformed police officer. Danny stops Brooke Gardner’s (Joanna Christie) abusive husband Ray Gardner (Daniel Kaemon) from killing her and 20 years later Ray returns to shoot Danny in episode 8.10. It’s both Caan’s acting, as well as O’Loughlin’s directing that made this episode one of the best of the series.
“Pua aʻe la ka uwahi o ka moe” (“The Smoke Seen in the Dream Now Rises”), episode 9.07, the 200th episode
Story by Peter M. Lenkov and teleplay by David Wolkove and Matt Wheeler. Directed by Bryan Spicer, it originally aired on Nov. 9, 2018.
The episode allowed the audience a glimpse of 1940s Hawaii and educated modern audiences on the legend of Chang Apana, a real-life Honolulu Police Department detective from the 1910s and ’20s. Some may remember him as the inspiration for the literary character Charlie Chan. The historic 200th episode has our favorites playing versions of themselves, as McGarrett dreams up the real-life resolution to Chang Apana’s last case. A case his own grandfather and namesake once actively investigated with his friend, HPD detective Milton Cooper. In McGarrett’s dream, he plays a younger version of his grandfather, and Danno embodies the younger Milton, and together they work the streets of Honolulu to solve a missing person case from 1932 just days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
“Eʻao luʻau a kualima” (“Offer young taro leaves to …”), episode 9.17
Written by David Wolkove and Matt Wheeler. Directed by Alex O’Loughlin, it originally aired on Feb. 22, 2019.
This episode focused on series newcomer Beulah Koale, who seeks a bank-robbery suspect who also is the lover of his former girlfriend, Layla (Anna Enger). While he understands his role as a member of Five-0 and his loyalty to McGarrett, he also worries that his pursuit of Tory (J.J. Soria) could be compromised by his feelings for Layla. O’Loughlin’s direction of Koale is magical, as the young actor is absolutely superb in the dramatic moments of his character’s life.
Written and directed by Alex O’Loughlin, it originally aired on Nov. 8, 2019.
O’Loughlin takes his character and McGarrett’s mother, Doris (Christine Lahti), on the final leg of their journey together and puts to rest the story of Shelburne, his mother’s CIA operative handle. The episode itself is a tour de force for O’Loughlin, as it shows his skill behind the pen, as well as his expertise as an actor and director. It should have been the series finale, as it gave us a conclusion that was emotionally heartbreaking, but ended all speculation of any secrets McGarrett hoped would be answered.
Yet we did seem to solve a few more mysteries in the season 10 finale, which like the pilot should be on this list of best episodes — because how can we say goodbye to a series we love without hanging on until its absolute conclusion? Perhaps the season 10 finale had the absolute best title to end the series — “Aloha,” which sometimes means “hello,” but this time — it definitely means “goodbye.”