Hawaii Five-0 series finale: Ten seasons, and an enduring legacy

Hawaii Five-0Tonight, it all ends. The Hawaii Five-0 series finale concludes what has been an epic-ten year journey, and it does leave us in a place where we wonder many different questions. There are of course ones related to the story, but then there’s also this: How will we remember the series?

We know that there are some who will always remember it as a new version of the original. Some viewers grew up on the Five-0 of old, but we’ll be the first to admit that it was before our time. We didn’t have the memory bank or the nostalgia for the original. Instead, we dove into this Five-0 as though it was something totally new. Like it was almost akin to visiting Hawaii for the first time.

For some, Hawaii Five-0 really is the only exposure they have to the islands. It’s a part of America and yet still somewhat elusive — a faraway place with crystal-blue water and beautiful beaches. It was a character on the show in its own right, and it certainly does play a role in how we remember the series — it’s escapism in the warmest and best way. Is there a more perfect representation of this very thing in the past ten years? It’s hard to consider another option.

What Hawaii Five-0 did during its run is conjure up the perfect formula for creating a network TV show in this current era. It starts with great characters — think Steve McGarrett, Danny Williams, Chin Ho Kelly, and many others. Then, you constantly find new ways to use these characters. That means at times emotional story arcs, but it also means dangerous missions and moments of levity. You know them inside and out, and you find a way to cry with them as much as you do laugh. You could get excited over a car chase one week, whereas another you could see a tender moment as Danny risks his life for Steve.

Hawaii Five-0 made you feel like you were a part of the team, like you had a back seat for some of the famous “carguments” or like you were solving the case alongside them. It opened its arms and made you a part of the ohana. It featured fantastic performances, smart writing, and some killer stunts. It was also able to adjust well on the fly. Have we missed Chin and Kono since their departures? Certainly, but Junior and Tani served as fantastic characters in their own right and other additions (think Quinn) have worked out swimmingly. It always found a way to pivot, and it developed one of the deepest benches of recurring guest stars in all of TV.

Even though this show is going, what it’s leaving behind are well over 200 episodes that each feel like their own mini-movie. You get something different almost every time, you explore different parts of Hawaii, and for just one hour (or around 42 minutes, without commercials), you feel like you’re transported somewhere else. It’s an atmosphere and a vibe few other shows have replicated, and it’s created a fantastic road map for shows like MacGyver and Magnum PI to follow.

We’re going to miss Hawaii Five-0 no doubt, but entering tonight, it’s hard to feel anything other than gratitude. Ten years is a long time, especially for actors who travel back to work there and writers who constantly have to think up new ideas. They’ve given this show their all, and as we prepare for the final sunset, we’re ready and willing to watch with pride.

After all, this may be the end of Five-0, but the aloha spirit lives on. We can’t imagine anyone forgetting about this Hawaiian TV world anytime soon.

You can read our pre-finale interview with executive producer Peter M. Lenkov here. Meanwhile, check out our preview discussion on the end of the series below; once you do that, subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube and view our playlist. (Photo: CBS.)

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