SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details about tonight’s series finale of Hawaii Five-0.
After 10 seasons, CBS says farewell to the reboot of Hawaii Five-0… or more appropriately, “Aloha”, which is the title of the final hurrah of the reimagining of the Leonard Freeman classic series. In the series finale, it looks like everything has come full circle for McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) as he says “see you later” — not “goodbye” to his ohana.
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The episode continues McGarrett’s journey with this mysterious cypher his mother Doris left behind — and it turns out that Wo Fat’s (Mark Dacascos) diabolical wife Daiyu Mei (Eugenia Yuan) wants it because she knows something about the mysterious cypher that McGarrett doesn’t.
In order to get the cypher, Daiyu Mei kidnaps Danny (Scott Caan) and her goons torture him. They meet in the middle of nowhere (as you do) and she strikes a deal with McGarrett: the cypher for Danny. Before he agrees, he asks her to prove that he’s not dead. Through the magic of face time (relevant to today’s social distancing), McGarrett sees Danny tied up and bloody, but he warns him “Don’t trust her!”
McGarrett agrees to the deal. He gives her the cypher and she gives him the coordinates to where Danny is being held captive by her goons. As McGarrett and Lincoln (Lance Gross) rush over to Danny’s location, Daiyu Mei makes a call to her goons and makes sure that when McGarrett gets there they are welcomed by Danny’s dead body. Looks like McGarrett should have paid attention to Danny’s warning.
Luckily, Danny escapes and puts up a good fight against his captors but is severely injured while doing so. McGarrett and Lincoln find him and immediately bring him to the hospital — but it’s not looking good.
As McGarrett prays in the hospital chapel to take him instead of Danny, Lincoln says, “We need to figure out this cypher mess before it’s too late”. McGarrett agrees and sends him and Quinn (Katrina Law) to track down a contact that is able to decipher the cypher — but when they finally get to him, he’s dead. Daiyu Mei strikes again! But that doesn’t stop Lincoln — he has another contact that could help them.
Fast forward to an indeterminate amount of time later and Lincoln calls McGarrett and says, “Hey! We decoded the cypher and its coordinates.” McGarrett plugs it into the coordinate search machine and it turns out they are coordinates for a cemetery where his mom is supposed to be buried. Of course, we all know she faked her death — and even that is still up in the air. In the coffin is a bunch of money — and Daiyu Mei’s boys have taken it all.
In the final showdown between the Five-0 crew and Daiyu Mei’s posse, McGarrett comes face to face with her and she breaks it down. With the help of a flashback with familiar faces including Wo Fat, Victor Hesse (James Marsters) and a McGarrett’s captive father John (William Sadler), she claims that Wo Fat deserved that inheritance that was in the coffin. They share a banter back and forth as we see a flashback of his father beaten and bound as Wo Fat tells him he wants something from McGarrett — which is obviously this cypher. It turns out that her death may not have been staged after all. It was all a plan so that Wo Fat — and now Daiyu Mei — could get that money.
“You are your father!” Daiyu Mei tells McGarrett before he tells Lincoln to book her.
A week later, Danny is on the mend and he shares a moment with McGarrett, who is set to leave the island to “look for peace.” Where that is, it isn’t really known. One by one he says very tearful goodbye to everyone in the Five-0 — even the dog is sad.
When he boards the plane Danny texts him “Miss you already” and then he looks up and he is greeted by — surprise! — Catherine (Michelle Borth). Turns out she’s the one that helped Lincoln cracked that cypher. He takes her hand and she joins him on his journey to find peace.
We talked to executive producer and show co-creator Peter Lenkov about saying “aloha” to his Five-0 ohana, how the journey has been for the show, the pleasant surprise of the show’s success and how he squeezed out real tears and emotion from the cast in one of the final scenes of the show.
DEADLINE: How has this 10-year journey for Hawaii Five-0 been for you? And as a reboot, were you surprised wtih its longevity?
PETER LENKOV: For me, first of all, and I tell people this all the time, I don’t think I’ll have a better experience than I’ve had on this show in terms of sort of like the casting magic that we had, location, just everything, the support of the community. I don’t know if I’ll ever have that again. I’m seeing a lot of it sort of repeat itself with Magnum P.I. in Hawaii. Reboots, historically, they don’t last long and I think we got real lucky because I think we really kept well and we’re in probably the best location you can have for a television show. Those two ingredients probably really are the reason that we’re successful. But yeah, even people come to reboots with very skeptical, but I feel like we took the themes and spirit of the original and did something fresh with it. We honored the original and I think people saw that as not just a rehash of something, but an expansion on the brand and for some reason, 240 hours later, people are still fond of it. We’re lucky.
DEADLINE: The final scene had a lot of tears from the cast. I am guessing some of those are real tears.
LENKOV: I had told the cast and crew two hours earlier that the decision was made that the show was not coming back. Everything you see there in that scene, including the dog, was so real. You almost had to imagine that the dog sensed it. (laughs) But everything you saw in that goodbye was real tears and genuine affection and emotion for each other.
DEADLINE: But it was all still scripted?
LENKOV: It was scripted, but what came out of their mouths and the emotion was not. I told them [we weren’t coming back] during a break in the day because I knew the press knew about it. I didn’t want our cast and crew to know about it through the trades. I wanted to have a conversation with them. I told them and then two hours later we were shooting this scene. I think it’s, for me, one of the best scenes we’ve ever shot because it was really them processing the experience and it came up great.
DEADLINE: Did you do that on purpose?
LENKOV: It was meant to elicit a performance. You don’t want family reading something in the news — you want to tell them personally. I didn’t want them to hear that from anybody but me. That was really about preventing them from getting the bad news on a headline and on social media.
DEADLINE: Was this the ending you envisioned for the show?
LENKOV: The ending I wanted actually happened in Season 7 when I thought that year may have been our last year. That was a conversation between Jack Lord and McGarrett. It’s a scene where I didn’t think the CGI was that good, but I needed to put it in because I thought it was going to be the last year of the show.
I always felt the end game was going to be some happiness. Sure, McGarrett is a happy guy — he’s got a family, but he’s suffered so much trauma over 10 years that I always felt that the end game would be him having a real relationship with Catherine, retiring, sitting on that adirondack chairs with Danny — all those things that would equate to happiness for him were always a part of sort of the finale for me.
If you know the show well, you know that he came to the island following losing his dad and the idea of leaving the island just to get some air and to breathe, get a little bit of a distance from it and then return, was always something that I thought he needed. He’s not saying goodbye to everybody at the end. He’s coming back, but he just needs to get away for a bit. Just like people need to recalibrate, he’s never really left. I mean, he’s been doing the same job for 10 years and he keeps moving forward. I think he needs a moment to reflect and breathe.
DEADLINE: After 10 years of a show that has persevered, what have you learned?
LENKOV: That is a hard question. I mean, for me, I was always taught that when you write television, it’s characters first. That’s really the most important thing going into every episode. It’s never been more clear to me that people follow a show for characters. I don’t think they really remember week to week what the plot is, but they do remember what your characters are doing and that really reminded me how important strong characters are on this show.
DEADLINE: The show has garnered a loyal fanbase. Throughout its run, how do you navigate what you want for the show and what the fans expect?
LENKOV: Social media has changed so much. You’re interacting with fans every day. It’s reminded me to sort of stay true to story and hopefully the audience will show up. Over the years, there have been many people with many ideas of where the show should. You try to stay true to your sort of vision without getting swayed. There are characters that audiences loved and not loved. I’ve always thought if I got to put blinders on and keep moving the direction I want to move in and not get swayed. For me, it’s having a vision and following through on it and hopefully the audience follows you in the direction you’re leading them in.
DEADLINE: McGarrett didn’t say goodbye for good, which leads us to believe that he may come back. Considering the previous Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum P.I. crossover, can we expect to see some characters in future episodes of the latter?
LENKOV: Five-0 and Magnum P.I. exist in the same universe and I’m hoping to continue what we’ve done in the first couple of years of Magnum, which is to have characters from Five-0 appear every now and then. Hopefully, if there’s availability, I’d love to figure out a way to get them at one point or another on the show.
DEADLINE: Would you be open to having a standalone Hawaii Five-0 reunion show in the future?
LENKOV: I can’t imagine that not happening at some point — And I’m going to be a big fan of it. I’ll be watching it. If it happened sooner and later, I’d love to be involved in it. If it’s 20 years down the road, I imagine I’m going to be sitting on that Adirondack chair looking out over the sunset. I mean, anything could happen. The brand is so strong, I think what Leonard Freeman did with Five-0 just really resonated with people and I think the location, people can’t get enough of that location.
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