Hawaii Five-0 interview: Peter M. Lenkov on season 9 finale, cliffhanger

Hawaii Five-0 finaleFriday night, the Hawaii Five-0 season 9 finale is airing at a special time at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, and through this episode you’re going to watch a lot of important storylines play out. There may be a full-circle element to McGarrett’s journey, you’re going to see Junior’s family life become complicated, and you’re going to have another showdown with Joey Lawrence as Aaron Wright. Beyond all of this, you’re going to have a big-time cliffhanger … so go ahead and prepare yourself accordingly for a summer with a lot to talk about!

Leading up to the episode, we had a chance to interview the man in charge – executive producer Peter M. Lenkov. Check out what Peter had to tell us in regards to the finale story, bringing back Joey, and also some early ideas and thoughts on season 10.

CarterMatt – When you’re crafting a finale, do you think a lot about what happened at the end of the season before? For example, if you have a big cliffhanger one season, do you opt against another one the next?

Peter Lenkov – Sometimes. This time we just felt like we’ve done the big spectacle; let’s do something a little smaller. It can also depend on what led up to it. I usually don’t even think about how to wrap up a season until I’m midway through the season.

What was the basic idea that you had in your head this time around?

We knew that we wanted to bring back Joey, but we also wanted the ending to be believable. We didn’t want something [extreme] — he’s a hacker. He doesn’t have the skill set to be believable in some sort of physical altercation or gun battle.

I want to go back to casting Joey in the first place, because I think it speaks to something you and the casting team have always done so well: Finding people who are somewhat unexpected who totally come out and deliver. I don’t typically think of Joey as playing a bad guy; what about him appealed to you?

He did a CSI: NY when I was there, and he just did a really good job as an actor. Like you said, it’s a character you didn’t expect Joey to play.

I want to focus in on some of the characters for a moment. I really like the journey that Junior and Tani have been on this season, where they’ve had some fun moments but really built up this emotional connection. Is there an endgame you’re trying to reach, and will we move closer to that in the finale?

I’m really hoping that there are many more years of the show, so their relationship is being really crafted that way. It’s very small baby steps right now, but isn’t that like any relationship, the ones that last? A lot of them really start out as people falling in love with their best friend. Their relationship is still growing in that department, with them really becoming best friends and then, maybe, them seeing each other as more than that.

As for McGarrett, where do you think we’re going to see him at emotionally during this finale? He’s been through a lot this season, in between the premiere and what happened to Joe.

A big part of the mythology [for this season] was with Joe dying, and in the finale we sort of arc out that storyline — the mission that they were on and that Joe was killed. For McGarrett, the way the finale opens is with a scene with him and Jimmy Buffett where they’re talking about Joe. McGarrett is trying to come to terms with Joe dying, but is still mourning him and is trying to get some closure with that.

So, we really arced out that story for most of the season, so I think emotionally, he’s still dealing with the loss of Joe and what the cost is of that.

With Adam, we saw him when he first arrived this season heartbroken and in a difficult place emotionally. Where is he going to end up?

I think you’ll see in this episode that he is ready to move on and put that grief and that emotional trauma behind.

Are there any other specific stories from the finale you’re excited for people to see?

I think they all have something. Beulah [Koale] has a big one, as Junior’s relationship with his father is going to play a role. Really, they all have their little arcs.

Let’s talk about the idea of a cliffhanger at the end of this. Are people going to be screaming bloody murder?

Yes. I’m certain they’re going to be mad, because it’s a really big cliffhanger. Let me put it this way — I’m not looking forward to Saturday morning reading all the tweets (laughs).

I know the show wasn’t renewed until recently, but you probably felt good about coming back at the time the finale was coming together, right?

I always feel good because the show has been strong for a long time, but you never know. Everything changes. Sometimes shows don’t come back for other reasons that have nothing to do with the ratings or the quality.

Are there any specific goals you’re looking to hit with season 10?

We’re going to introduce a new character, and there’s going to be a little bit of a shift in the team dynamics. Everyone’s getting older and we’re going to play some of those roles. Grover and his wife are going to become empty-nesters with the kids gone. We’re playing it real, with the real things that happen in people’s lives as time marches on.

Even so many years into the show’s run, are you still learning things and taking away things from the audience after every single season?

In terms of the audience, my takeaway is that they still enjoy the show and what they enjoy is the characters. That’s what we always focus on, because if they said they love the plots and hate the characters, that would definitely give us pause. They seem to be responding to what we put our focus on, and that is the characters.

I know you said earlier that you want to see the show go on many more years…

That’s just me! I can’t speak for the network. Even if they don’t pick it up [for season 11] next year, I may just keep writing scripts for it.

All right, then I’ll come over and play some of the parts.

(Laughs) You may have to do that.

So obviously, we want the show to last for many more years, but do you have an idea already as to how you want it to end when it does?

Yeah, I’ve been sitting on that for years.

Want to preview the Hawaii Five-0 season 9 finale further?

Then check out some more thoughts on the subject now over at the link here. Meanwhile, let us know in the comments what you’re expecting on the upcoming finale! (Photo: CBS.)

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