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Remembering 10 best episodes of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ from Seasons 1-4

An executive officer of the USS Pearl Harbor salutes the USS Arizona Memorial as the ship passes it while entering port.
An executive officer of the USS Pearl Harbor salutes the USS Arizona Memorial as the ship passes it while entering port.
United States of America Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Behnke/U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons

McGarrett, Danno, Chin Ho, and Kono are back in the updated version from the classic crime drama TV series set on the island of Oahu.

Aloha...In September 2010 an updated version of "Hawaii Five-0" premiered on CBS. It's a nod to the classic TV series of the same name that originally aired for 12 seasons from 1968 to 1980. "Hawaii Five-0" reboot is another name referring to the remake series. Remarkably it follows closely to the original formula with an opening crime taking place, and Five-0 then takes charge.

The four main characters: Steve McGarrett, Danny "Danno" Williams, Kono Kalakaua, and Chin Ho Kelly are the same, except the character of Kono is now a female. The iconic theme song is still the same with its beginning montage on the famous sites of Honolulu. Even though the current show honors its predecessor it does adhere to 21st century crimes and technologies. It's much more fast-paced in the storylines. The team now dresses a lot more casually and appropriately than the original cast. Each series have many similarities and differences.

Dedicated to avid fans of both shows paying homage for "Hawaii Five-0's" triumphant four season run, and its upcoming fifth season in September, here are 10 choices of the very best episodes. Season 4 has been the best season ever with a number of four highlighted episodes, followed by Season 3 at three, Season 2 at two and Season 1 with one. Each episode title is listed in Hawaiian, followed with an English translation in quotation marks. There are two episodes with only English titles as they honor the original series format...Mahalo.

"Pilot" (Season 1)

This is the first episode with its title in English like with the original series. We are introduced to Steve McGarrett who is a Navy SEALs Lieutenant Commander. He gets a phone call his father has been kidnapped and later killed. Upon returning to Hawaii, the Hawaiian Governor wants him to head up a special task force that reports only to the Governor and has complete immunity. McGarrett recruits key people in his life that have strong connections to his father, Jack McGarrett (a nod to Jack Lord, the original actor who portrayed Steve McGarrett). Throughout the seasons his father's untimely death leaves many clues for his son to follow.

"Lekio" (Season 2)

"Radio" features James Caan guest staring as Tony Archer, an ex-NYPD bomb technician, who lives in a rundown houseboat. A popular and controversial talk radio DJ is killed by a bomb. Evidence eventually leads to Archer who then helps McGarrett and Williams (played by Scott Caan who is the real-life son of James Caan). This is the beginning of the McGarrett/Danno carguments. In a number of episodes, before and after, they oftentimes argue during their drives over police procedure, relationships, driving habits, and other personal issues. Tony Archer stated they sound like an old married couple. This has led to their bromance.

"Ua Hala" (Season 2)

"Death in the Family" is Season 2's finale with Chin Ho having to make a life or death decision between his new wife, Malia or his cousin and Five-0 teammate Kono a la "Sophie's Choice." The final minutes will have you on edge and fraught with emotion. This is one of the most powerful endings of any finale on "Hawaii Five-0."

"La O Na Makuahine" (Season 3)

"Mother's Day" is the premiere episode featuring a state-of-the-art escape only seen in feature films of Wo Fat as a prisoner en route to the airport. This prisoner or nemesis has dogged and will continue to hound the task force till the bitter end of time. Wo Fat was the nemesis in all 12 seasons of the classic franchise, and of all four seasons currently. Without Wo Fat there is no "Hawaii Five-0." This is also one of the saddest Five-0 episodes. One thing about both series that has stayed true is McGarrett, Chin Ho, Danno, and Kono have not been fortunate with lasting relationships. It has always ended in heartbreak, sometimes tragically.

"Akanahe"/"O ka Pili'Ohana ka 'Oi" (Season 4)

"Reluctant Partner"/"Family Comes First" introduces viewers to a teenage computer hacker that literally trips up the task force. The first of two episodes with Nick Jonas guest starring in and later reprises his role in the Season 4 finale. When I first heard Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers fame was a guest star I was not exactly thrilled. In his first appearance he literally impressed me as the evil terrorist threatening to blow up a plane full of passengers.

Jonas is equally as despicable in the Season 4 finale. His character gets his comeuppance from a likely nemesis (Wo Fat), since they both want the same thing. Season 4's finale will be remembered for Wo Fat's unbelievable escape out of a super maximum prison on the mainland, the three-wheeler car chase with Steve and Danny, and Lou Grover being invited to join Five-0.

"Makani 'Olu a Holo Mãlie" (Season 4)

"Fair Winds and Following Seas" is the farewell episode to the former Naval intelligence officer and Steve McGarrett's love interest, Catherine Rollins. The actress who portrayed Rollins, Michelle Borth, has been a recurring character since Season 1 and a fan favorite. She became a regular part of the series and a member of the task force starting in Season 3. This was her starring episode. Rollins is asked to rescue the boy of a family in Afghanistan who saved her life when she was there in 2007. Steve McGarrett goes with her back to Afghanistan on this dangerous mission. Steve is captured and rescued in the nick of time. Catherine stays behind to search for the boy who was kidnapped and still missing.

"Hookman" (Season 3)

Originally this was an episode from the classic "Hawaii Five-0" that was updated for the reboot series. In this version Steve's father, Jack McGarrett, was one of the police officers called in on a bank robbery many years ago. The bomb went off too early blowing off the bank robber's hands in the process. Now he's seeking revenge on the officers involved. The title refers to the prosthetic hands that look like hooks. In a fantasy sequence we see Jack being reunited with his son Steve telling him what a good job he did. "Hawaii Five-0's official site at had the original episode available for viewers to look at.

"Hauʻoli La HoʻomaikaʻI" (Season 4)

"Happy Thanksgiving" guest stars the legendary Carol Burnett as Steve's Aunt Deb. She has an ulterior motive for her visit. Her character doesn't have much longer to live due to an inoperable tumor. She tries to get medicinal marijuana on the street, and is arrested by a narcotics officer. This is where she reveals to her nephew the true purpose of coming to Hawaii. Carol sings a wonderful song during a poignant Thanksgiving gathering at a restaurant.

"I Ka Wa Mamua" - (Season 3)

"In a Time Past" is one of my three personal favorite episodes in all seasons (the other being the one starring Carol Burnett). This episode is solely devoted to Danny Williams' backstory as a cop in New Jersey. Instead of the standard opening sequences of beautiful Hawaiian landscapes and sparkling beaches we see the industrial views of Jersey. It is quite a startling contrast. Danny relates to his fellow Five-0 mates a story of a drug bust taking place when he previously learned his wife is pregnant. On a day that should have been happy, turned out to be dangerously violent and extremely tragic. His partner named Grace is badly wounded. While stepping outside to seek assistance, there is smoke coming out of some tall skyscrapers in nearby Manhattan. It is September 11, 2001.

"Ho'onani Makuakane" (Season 4)

"Honor Thy Father" is first and foremost a memorial tribute to that infamous day at Pearl Harbor in 1941. TV critics, fans and viewers unanimously agreed it is the best episode "Hawaii Five-0" has ever done, and my top favorite episode as well. The opening sequence shows serviceman in a mess hall having breakfast when all of a sudden an explosion occurs and chaos ensues. Then it fades into present day aboard the USS Missouri for a Pearl Harbor Day ceremony.

A Japanese-American wants justice for his father's murder while at a Japanese internment camp outside Honolulu. He relates what Hawaii was like for Japanese-Americans before Pearl Harbor. Everyone got along beautifully. Everything changed on that day at Pearl Harbor. It's a stark and realistic view of what it was like at internment camps. "Honor Thy Father" is one of the most unforgettable episodes in television history and should be honored with Emmy nominations.

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