Hawaii Five-0 was one of my go-to shows in high school. It was the perfect escapism: scenic and tranquil Hawaii, where I could escape to the beaches and the surf or watch a case unfold. I’m a fan of watching cases unravel and bringing peace to the victims and justice for all.
However, it’s the characters that kept me coming back. It’s the characters that made the show. If you didn’t love them, you wouldn’t keep coming back week after week. I loved Steve, Danny, Kono, and Chin, all for their different personalities, and I related to each of them to a certain degree.
Steve had been through a lot in his life, but he was a fighter. He didn’t give up. He did everything he could to help others. Danny was selfless, making sacrifices for his children without a second thought, and he was Steve’s best friend—an amazing best friend at that. He’d tell Steve the truth, but he’d also be there with words of comfort.
Chin’s patience and wisdom were everything I hoped to possess, and his willingness to take the hit for a family member was a thoughtful and selfless thing to do. I admired Kono for her confidence and for reinventing herself from pro surfer to cop, on an elite task force no less. Each character had qualities I admired, qualities that I wanted to possess as part of the person I wanted to grow up to be. They taught me life lessons and how to handle certain situations. These characters are part of the reason why I am who I am.
I liked the other characters, too, like Jerry and Kamekona, but my main focus was on the original four characters of the Five-0 team. Members of the team came and went (I was sad to see Chin and Kono go at the end of Season 7), but I never connected with characters like Tani and Junior in the same way.
Steve & Danny’s Bromance
One of the core aspects of Hawaii Five-0 was Steve and Danny’s friendship and bromance. The final episode more than delivered the ample amount required before audiences had no choice but to bid them one final “aloha.” Not only that, but they managed to tie in Steve and Danny’s friendship to the very first storyline of the series: the murder of Steve’s father.
Daiyu Mei is vicious saying the words, “don’t make the same mistake you made with your father…don’t allow a loved one to die because of your stubbornness.” It’s cruel, and it throws Steve for a loop, flashing back to the awful day he tried and failed to save his father’s life in the “Pilot.” Steve is forced to relive that trauma, this time faced with the very real possibility of losing his best friend, as Daiyu Mei has kidnapped Danny in exchange for the cipher Steve’s mother left for him.
Steve’s guilt and sense of responsibility for the whole ordeal amplifies the stakes and layers the storyline with that much more desperation and emotion. He tries to get to Danny before Daiyu Mei does, driving even more recklessly than usual. When he doesn’t make it in time, he sets off on his mission of getting Danny back before it’s too late, more than willing to sacrifice his deceased mother’s cipher to do it.
Steve will do anything for Danny. Their friendship runs deep. Steve doesn’t want anyone else to die because of him. He ditched the opportunity to learn the contents of his mother’s cipher and rushed to Danny’s aid, even reaching into a burning car for him. That says something about their friendship: Steve was willing to suffer physical pain to save Danny.
However, watching Steve pray in the hospital’s chapel and declaring with an intense, emotional tone that if “you want to take somebody, take me, not him, take me” is a particularly powerful scene. Steve would rather take the bullets, the pain, the hits, on behalf of those he cares for, especially Danny. He would rather suffer himself than suffer the loss of someone he cares for or see that person suffer.
Steve and Danny have their moments of banter, but for the most part, the interactions between the two best friends are emotional and heartfelt. Their talk on the beach is my favorite part of the Hawaii Five-0 finale. It’s mixed with their usual banter, but while comedic, it also contains serious tones, such as the fact that Danny feels like his “main dude” is leaving. Clearly, Danny is struggling with his goodbye, but with a smile, Steve assures his buddy that he’s only a phone call away and that he’ll keep in touch. It’s not a forever goodbye. It’s only goodbye until the next time.
Coming Back Full Circle
The series finale honors the very first episode of Hawaii Five-0 in many ways. In flashbacks, audiences find out more about the day John (Steve’s father) was killed and the planning it took beforehand. We learn that John suspected his wife had staged her death, among other things. We also learn that John had asked Wo Fat—husband of Daiyu Mei and Steve’s arch-nemesis (who he killed in Season 5)—to not tell Steve anything as it would be too hard for him.
Steve found everything John uncovered and more, and he has proven to be strong and capable of handling just about anything better than most. It was hard on him, but it wasn’t too hard for him. There’s a difference.
Catching and arresting Daiyu Mei was finally the end of the Wo Fat storyline. Wo Fat haunted and tortured Steve, and Daiyu Mei was the last to come out of the woodwork (a spin-off of the original Wo Fat storyline) wanting vengeance for her husband’s death. It’s the end of a chapter for Steve, allowing him the opportunity to finally go out and seek the peace he’s been wanting for at least a decade.
Echoes of the Hawaii Five-0 pilot episode exist in Steve’s final confrontation with Daiyu Mei in “Aloha.” Chasing after Daiyu Mei among the shipping containers is reminiscent of the “Pilot,” where Danny and Steve drove onto a cargo ship and had a shootout among the shipping containers while looking for Victor Hesse (the man who shot Steve’s father dead). While Steve shot Victor, who fell into the water, Daiyu Mei was arrested. In a way, I thought that was a loose end—who’s to say she wouldn’t wreak havoc from prison? Then again, it’s nicer to think that with her sentence, Daiyu Mei was permanently taken out of circulation and thus unable to conduct any more acts of vengeance.
There was a difference in the shipping container scene in the series finale, however. Daiyu Mei nearly kills Steve by slamming on the brakes of the forklift she was driving, sending Steve (who was atop the container) and the container careening forward. For one heart-stopping second, it looked as though it had smashed Steve, and I wondered if that was the end of Hawaii Five-0—the death of Steve. That would’ve made the series finale that much harder to grasp. But Steve’s a badass, so of course he got out of the way of the container and survived.
This and the fact that Daiyu Mei told Steve about the day his father was murdered—including information Steve hadn’t had before—made things different. There was a time when Steve might have shot her, but he refrained. It’s not what his father would have wanted.
The Round of Goodbyes
Watching Steve and Danny share their goodbye was emotional enough, but if anything topped it, it was the goodbyes from the remainder of the Five-0 team—Steve’s “Ohana” (family)—that truly provokes the waterworks. Lou, Adam, Junior, Tani, Noelani, and Quinn all made an appearance to say their farewells to their team leader. Newcomer Lincoln Cole stands in the background, watching as the goodbyes are exchanged.
The characters’ words to Steve in their farewells include many thanks, and that they’ll miss him. Adam thanks Steve for seeing the good in him, Noelani thanks him for believing in her, and Quinn thanks him for taking a chance on her and giving her a family. For Junior, he touches foreheads with Steve, eyes closed, saying nothing, and their goodbye and the meaning of their friendship is expressed in their embrace. Sometimes words don’t need to be said to make a point of how much that person means to you; sometimes, a gaze or a hug is that much more powerful and meaningful.
Still, the best goodbye, at least for me, was between Steve and Lou. Lou tells Steve, “you saved my life when you met me,” and is emotional, openly crying from then on. Steve and Lou didn’t start out on great terms, but they’ve truly crossed bridges and overcome mountains since then, becoming the best of friends. Clearly, the two equally value and cherish their friendship, and it’s hard to say goodbye, even if it’s temporary.
Watching these characters say goodbye to Steve, it was everything I wanted to say, too. Even though Hawaii Five-0 is a TV show, I was saying goodbye to something that had been there for me, that had given me something to connect with and relate to, and something that had taught me so much and given me so much. Watching the characters say their goodbyes and thank yous was what I needed; they expressed what I needed to say, and it made my goodbye a little easier. That’s why that scene was so important; it was the end of an era. It was saying goodbye to one chapter and opening another.
I dearly wish Chin and Kono could’ve made a comeback for the finale. Showrunner Peter M. Lenkov would have liked to see their return, too, but with “logistics and timing” was unable to bring them or any other familiar characters back.
I would’ve loved to see Chin and Kono meeting the new Five-0 characters and sharing greetings with Steve, Danny, Lou, Adam, and Noelani, just like old times. It really would’ve brought the old vibes back, especially if a moment had been shared between Steve, Danny, Chin, and Kono—the original four members of Five-0. They started the legacy, so to speak, and to see them there with the newer characters really would’ve emphasized how much the Five-0 “Ohana” has grown since the very beginning. Though we already know this, it would’ve been nice to see it on screen.
I also have to wonder what became of Daiyu Mei. Was she placed into a secure prison? Was she isolated enough that she couldn’t contact any associates and cause more trouble for Steve? Would she strike again?
Plus, there’s also Lincoln Cole. Steve asks Cole to “hold down the fort” for him while he’s gone, implying he is Five-0’s new leader. Lincoln is a good leader, but I have to wonder why Steve wouldn’t have appointed Lou or Danny instead? Lincoln would be a good addition to Five-0, but because he was so new and because Steve doesn’t know him as well as he knows his teammates, it seems like a strange thing for Steve to do. Perhaps he wanted to spare his colleagues the responsibility?
Lastly, there’s Catherine. I’ve never been a big fan of Catherine; she seems to prioritize everything above her relationship with Steve, despite caring deeply for him. I get her dedication to her job and her personal sense of duty, but it doesn’t seem like the makings for a lasting relationship. It’s already broken them up before, even when Steve was ready to propose. When Steve and Lincoln had a conversation early on in the Hawaii Five-0 finale, and Catherine came up, I had a feeling she’d be making an appearance. Steve confessed she was the “one that got away,” after all.
Yet, who’s to say their problems from before won’t break them up again? I suppose that’s an impending problem, but in the last moments of the episode, when Catherine joins him on the plane, it seems they’re content just being together again and heading into whatever comes next as a team. While I’m happy Steve won’t be alone and that he’s with someone he truly cares for (and who cares for him), I have to wonder if she’s ultimately the right one for him, so I was a little dissatisfied with that portion of “Aloha.”
However, each of these things allowed for possible storylines if there had been a Season 11. Would Steve and Catherine still be together? What kind of team would Steve come back to with Lincoln as the leader? Would Daiyu Mei or another villain come out of the woodwork? I suppose the only way we’d find out now is if anything about the Five-0 team is mentioned on the reimagined Magnum P.I., which exists in the same universe.
Saying “Aloha” To An Era
A lot happened in the decade that Hawaii Five-0 was on, both on the show and in my own life. That decade changed my life in many ways, just as the events on the show changed the characters’ lives. Things come full circle, new things bringing back old memories or new things meaning new changes and new chapters.
The Easter egg of Danny’s silver Camaro was a fun reminder, especially since Danny’s current Camaro was set ablaze. Seems like he’d want to go with a different car after losing those. Plus, his character truly evolved—he even came to love Hawaii, and he’s probably right that Steve is to blame for that. Steve managed to change Danny’s mind and perspectives when no one else could. Steve, likewise, changed over the years, and as he says, he just wants peace after everything. Given all the trauma he’s been through, I don’t blame him.
Sometimes the peace you seek exists somewhere you’ve never been, sometimes you stumble across it, and sometimes you know exactly where to go and what to do. I’m all for journeys of self-discovery, so I hope that wherever Steve was headed once he boarded the plane, he was heading somewhere where he’d find what he needed.