Hawaii Five-0 Featured Image

Aloha Hawaii Five-0

Dept. of Unashamed Pleasures


I love Hawaii Five-0 and I’m not sorry. Listen, I respect you too much to lie and call it a guilty pleasure. Besides, all of us know what people really mean when they say that. What they mean is: “I’m all about The Wire, and Chernobyl, and the melodrama-as-high-art of Pretty Little Liars… I mean Big Little Lies… but sometimes I like to switch off my brain and watch Celebrity Love Island.” I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to pretend and call this a hate watch. Because it isn’t.

I love Hawaii Five-0. As much as some people love Stranger Things and Game of Thrones. Possibly even more. I have seen all 240 episodes and I’m pretty sure I know the inner lives of these characters better than I do my own family.

Earlier this month, the series ended it’s 10-year run leaving a gaping void in my weekly viewing schedule. And my heart.

I was prime fodder for this thing when it premiered 10 years ago. I grew up watching reruns of the original and the idea of an oversaturated reboot, set in pretty places, with even prettier people, wasn’t something I was particularly averse to.

I came to Hawaii Five-0 by way of its four original leads, all of whom I was already fond of from their previous work. Alex O’Loughlin as Mick St. John in the very short-lived and incredibly underrated Moonlight (my tastes weren’t quite refined enough then to have watched him in The Shield.) Daniel Dae Kim I knew from Lost (and the lesser known Crusade). Scott Caan was fantastic in the Ocean’s remakes. And Grace Park was the best thing about Battlestar Galactica. (Fight me!)

The original line-up of Hawaii Five-0.
The OG crew of Hawaii Five-0. Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park would leave the series after Season 7 following a much publicised salary dispute with CBS.

Throughout its first two seasons, I would dip in and out of the series. I would tune in every once in a while, to soak in the scenery and catch up on the crime of the week, never worrying about having missed out on any ongoing story arcs. Everyone knows, that on network television, major character developments only ever take place during season openers and closers. The series, like so many of these things, eventually fell off my viewing schedule, making way for shows like The Americans and True Detective. Peak TV was upon us and there just wasn’t any room between The Good Wife and Mr. Robot for Hawaii Five-0.

And then it happened. Chickenpox. Deathly ill, itchy, and stuck at home for two whole weeks, I was slowly making my way through Netflix when their algorithm decided that pretty people fighting crime in pretty places was something I would enjoy. They were right. Over the following 10 days, while drugged out and delirious, I devoured five seasons (that’s 121 episodes) of Hawaii Five-0.

Alex O'Laughlin is Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-0.

Now, if you’ve never seen a single episode, here’s all you need to know. The series is very much a relic of the past. Made up of traditionally long seasons with little to no continuity between the episodes, the series is so rigidly plotted that you would be hard pressed to tell one episode from another. Almost every one starts the same way. Steve or Danny, or one of the other members of the team, will be making breakfast, or surfing, or on a date, or playing with their dog, when they get a phone call. A high crime or misdemeanour had been committed and Five-0 are the only ones who can save the day. 44 minutes later, following a shootout, a chase scene, and some TV-14 rated torture porn, everyone is hugging it out at Kamekona’s shrimp truck and basking in their found family.

Believe me when I tell you that there is comfort in that sort of structure. In the simple notion that everything will be okay in the end. In knowing exactly who the good guys are and that they will always do the right thing. No matter what.

This is a series that has taken a formula and fine tuned it. Think Tom Clancy or Lee Child. And how those Ryan and Reacher novels are crafted to appeal to your basest pleasures. Think James Patterson and how his literary industrial complex is honed to give you exactly what you want, when you want it.

This is precisely what showrunner Peter M. Lenkov has done with Hawaii Five-0. In a world where professors and pundits debate the root causes behind terrorist attacks, Steve and his team just find the bad guys and take them out. No questions asked. Hawaii Five-0 has elevated the revenge fantasy to new heights. There is very little grey here. And it is the perfect antidote to our overly complex reality.

But it is in that notion of found family where Hawaii Five-0 found it’s hook. Lenkov struck gold with “ohana” and milked it for all it’s worth. Over ten years, he pushed the idea that there was salvation for the lost, the broken, and the outcast. And that it came in the form of Steve McGarrett and “ohana”. One giving them a purpose in life and a “proper” channel for their discontent, while the other kept them together. It is a trope so powerful that it’s spilled over to both of Lenkov’s other reboots, MacGyver and Magnum P.I.

The team get ready for one final takedown in the series finale of Hawaii Five-0.

Which brings us to the end. Was I happy with the finale? Not really. Did I cry? Most definitely.

You see, the series ending came as something of a surprise. In January, Lenkov told TVLine that he hoped the Five-0 would go on for a few more seasons as there were still many stories to tell. And then, and rather unexpectedly, at the end of February it was announced that the series would air its 240th and final episode on April 3rd.

Needless to say, I wasn’t ready.

This sudden announcement made for a somewhat rushed and abrupt finale. They were already well into Season 10. This meant that character arcs needed to be rejigged, ongoing storylines needed to be wrapped up, but mostly, they needed to figure out a satisfying end to Steve’s journey.

The final two episodes of the series did give us something of the sort. Linking everything back to the pilot, even bringing back “special guest stars” Mark Dacascos, James Marsters, William Sadler, and Michelle Borth, they shoehorned and retconned their way into closure. The story, which involved the wife of series villain Wo Fat seeking revenge on Steve, was pure fan service. Leaning hard into the core bromance that drove the show, the episode even featured a scene in a hospital, with Steve at Danny’s bedside, holding his hand. And while it struck the perfect tone for Hawaii Five-0, I just kept wishing they had more time to get there.

That being said, the time-honoured farewell at the end of the episode, where everyone gathers in a circle and says their tearful goodbyes one-by-one, had me blubbering like a little boy who had accidentally driven his prized remote controlled car into a swimming pool. (It happens!) Their tears were as real as mine. For five brief minutes at the end, it didn’t feel like any of them were acting. Not Alex or Scott. Not Chi, or Meaghan, or Buelah, or Ian. They were a real family. And I knew then that I was really going to miss our weekly visits.

Aloha Hawaii Five-0… A Hui Hou.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

Sam Claflin and Olivia Munn in Netflix's Love Wedding Repeat.
Previous Story

27 Thoughts My Girlfriend Had While Watching Love Wedding Repeat

Michael Jordan at home.
Next Story

The Last Dance

Latest from Opinion TV