This is the time of year where the fates of many TV shows are decided. There have already been a few cancellations with some shows getting a full season order vote of confidence. Amidst that frenzy is something that should be celebrated and acknowledged. “Hawaii Five-0” has aired its 100th episode and has chosen the occasion to not only look back at its beginnings, but also propel things forward.
The momentous episode starts out exactly like the very first episode, with Navy SEAL Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) having taken Anton Hesse (Norman Reedus) into custody when he receives a satellite phone call from Anton’s borther, Victor (James Marsters). When I say exactly, I mean this is the exact footage used from the pilot. As before, Victor threatens the life of Steve’s dad, John (William Sadler) to secure his brother’s release. When Anton winds up dead, Steve hears a gunshot over the line and…HPD has arrived in time to save John’s life as relayed to Steve by Detective Danny Williams (Scott Caan).
Just when it seems we are viewing an unaired version of the pilot, we finally get the truth. Steve has actually been captured by his long-standing nemesis, Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), who is torturing McGarrett with drugs that are causing him to hallucinate an alternate universe in which the venerable taskforce never existed. Wo Fat wants to know the location of his father, which is pretty rich considering the gangster was responsible for ordering the death of McGarrett’s dad originally. Along the way we finally get the answer to a long-standing mystery of the series, namely the connection between Wo Fat and Steve McGarrett.
Alternate universe storylines are an age-old “It’s A Wonderful Life” riff that generally show the characters in a new light. It seems that any show that lasts more than three seasons invariably does it. Interestingly, though, all the characters seems to be doing well without the titular conceit existing. Danny is very happily married to Rachel and loving Hawaii, Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) is a captain in the HPD, Kono (Grace Park) is still catchy the tasty waves even if she is endorsing lip gloss. The only two that don’t seem to be doing well are an incarcerated Kamekona (Taylor Wily) and a homeless Jerry (Jorge Garcia). There is even a glimpse of the once-traitorous Jenna Kaye (Larisa Oleynik), happy and free of Wo Fat’s influence.
There are also a couple of nice surprise appearances back in the real world. Other than the aforementioned Wo Fat, we also get the ever-affable Sang Min (Will Yun Lee) assisting the Five-0 team on their latest case and then later in helping to find Steve, along with Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale). The centerpiece, of course, comes towards the end in a brutal fight between Wo Fat and Steve, the latter of which finally tells the former of how they are connected. But then a final armed stand-off between the two men closes off the longstanding conflict between the two as one lives to see the end credits and the other meets a definitive end. I’ll bet you can guess who lives to fight another day.
All in all, this 100th episode is terrific fun balanced by several emotional beats and all wrapped up with a montage of great moments from the show’s history. At the same time, it also feels like the closing of a chapter and the start of a new trajectory for the series and characters. A lot of epic moments have happened over the past four plus seasons and now that those have been celebrated, the table has been cleared for many more to come. Hau`oli la Ho’omana’o “Hawaii Five-0!”