Hawaii Five-0 interview: Peter M. Lenkov previews series finale, show’s impact

The Hawaii Five-0 series finale is set to arrive on CBS this Friday, and you should very much prepare in advance for all of the emotions that are going to come with saying goodbye to such a beloved show. This is an important chapter in the journey of Steve McGarrett, a chance to reflect on the legacy of Five-0, and of course have a few fun moments along the way. Entitled “Aloha,” this episode should remind all of us one final time why we love this show so much and the journey we’ve been on with this family.

This is part one of our two-part series finale interview with creator/showrunner Peter M. Lenkov and we’re diving a lot into his own emotional journey with the show which includes witnessing the impact it’s had on fans, trying to plan out an ending, and making a real effort to make sure that this episode reflects the original pilot from so many years ago.

CarterMatt – I’m sure you’ve been getting a lot of messages from people who are being reflective and thinking back about your show, and I think times like this make us all the more appreciative of it. It’s a chance to sort of get away and look at palm trees and beautiful scenery and have a good time. What has the reception been like since news broke of the show ending?

Peter M. Lenkov – That day, I was getting a lot of messages from people about how much the show meant to them. How, during troubled times, they looked to the show for a laugh or for some escapism. For the first few weeks it was hundreds a day.

I know, just based on all of those message, how important the show was for them, to have a place where they could feel comfortable for an hour. It was a place they could escape to with characters they could relate to and that’s incredibly rewarding. It makes me feel like we did our job, and there are 240 episodes that are out there and maybe people can find those and have that same feeling that viewers who watched us week-to-week did. We left an arsenal behind for people to escape to when they need it.

I want to go back to the very beginning here. When you first had the show, was there ever any way you saw making it ten years? It’s an incredible feat — of course we always want more, but it is ten seasons! It’s a decade of TV.

When you’re writing a good script, you’re hoping it gets picked up. Then, you’re hoping to make a good pilot. Then, you’re hoping for it to go to series. Every step of the way, I hoped that we would keep moving forward. When we got picked up, all I cared about was getting a back nine order. I wanted to make the first thirteen episodes were good enough to warrant the back nine. When we got to the end of the first season, I wanted a season 2.

Every year, I wanted to see the show continue. I never thought long-term. The only thing I ever thought about was what the end would be, but the end could’ve been any season — season 7, season 5. I never took for granted that the show was coming back, and that’s a muscle that has been exercised after so many years of writing for TV. You know that every spring you could get benched. I always just looked at it like I needed to do the best job I could and then let the network decide if we’re coming back.

At what point did you realize that this finale was going to be the series finale?

I knew when I was writing the script that I knew it could be the series finale. It was both an end of season 10 and also a series finale, with a couple of adjustments. I did go back and retool a couple of things. In the original draft I had a couple of cliffhangers — stories that could have been in season 11 if we had continued. I took a few of them out when I knew we wouldn’t be coming back.

I know you put on social media that people should check out the pilot again before watching the series finale. Why do you think that’s so important?

I think they compliment each other, the two are bookends holding up a series of novels. All of the stories are good stories, but if you watch the first and last one, you’ll get a sense of how far we’ve come. Danny and McGarrett, they hate each other when they first meet. Where we get to in the end, when we see how far that relationship has evolved, it reminds you of the journey these two went on. It reminds you of the journey of the past ten years. What started as conflict turned into a brotherhood and a deep love for each other.

Re-watching the pilot is really for people to see that we really took the craft of character development seriously. For me, at least, it’s a way to show the continuity of storytelling. It was really thought out. It’s fun to see how connected they are, even if there is ten years in between.

What do you most want to see on the Hawaii Five-0 series finale?

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