Spoiler alert: This story contains significant details from Friday's "Hawaii Five-0" series finale.
"Hawaii Five-0" wrapped up its 10-season run Friday with an action-packed finale that recalled characters and events going back to the series premiere while sending police team leader Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) through one more hail of bullets before hinting at a peaceful, happier future.
The 240th episode, "Aloha (Goodbye)," leaves the show's central bromance, between odd-couple cops McGarrett and Danny "Danno" Williams (Scott Caan), in a good place, while rekindling romantic possibilities for McGarrett, the rugged military man and tough-guy cop at the center of the island-based drama.
Although CBS announced the conclusion of the solid Friday performer only five weeks ago, executive producer Peter Lenkov says he had enough time to shape the episode as a series – not a season – goodbye.
"I write almost every season finale as if it could be a series finale, because we don't normally find out if we're being picked up until after the show wraps its season," he says. "When I found out during (finale) prep that we were not coming back, I just went in and made some tweaks. It felt like a strong bookend to the pilot we did 10 years ago."
The finale goes back to the rebooted drama's beginning, opening with a mix of flashbacks and new footage detailing the mission that resulted in the murder of McGarrett's father, John, in the series premiere. The loss has shadowed the son throughout the show's run.
That means the return (also via flashback) of familiar faces Victor Hesse (James Marsters), who killed John McGarrett (William Sadler), and Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), the preeminent "Five-0" villain whose roots go back to the classic original series, which aired from 1968-80. Although Wo Fat is long dead, killed by McGarrett in the 100th episode, he remains a lethal threat in the person of his widow, Daiyu Mei, who is seeking revenge.
Daiyu Mei (Eugenia Yuan) follows Wo Fat's playbook, kidnapping and holding Danno hostage, as her husband and Hesse did to Steve's father, to get McGarrett to turn over a cipher message delivered by a lawyer for his late mother, Doris, who was stabbed to death earlier this season. This is one violence-prone family.
McGarrett, who wants to avoid a repeat of his father's fate, trades the cipher for Danny's life. Shocker: Daiyu Mei has no intention of following through, but bloody, beaten Danny – sensing a theme here? – acrobatically escapes his chains and takes out four captors before they can kill him. Unfortunately, there's a fifth guard. He shoots Danny, who is immediately rushed to the hospital by the entire Five-0 team.
With Danny's life hanging in the balance, a despairing McGarrett, who's been dealing with parental ghosts and an existential crisis all season, goes to the chapel but can't find solace there. He sends Quinn (Katrina Law) and Cole (Lance Gross), a new guy who might have gone on to become a series regular, to track down a code breaker – McGarrett took a picture of the cipher before handing it over – but that proves to be a literal dead end.
Meanwhile, Danny finally comes to, with McGarrett at his bedside. They quickly resume their signature banter.
"If I had a dollar for every time you saved my life, I'd have, like, $20," Danny says.
McGarrett, a bit miffed, responds: "You'd have a lot more than that, actually."
The reunion ends when Quinn and Cole call to say they cracked the cipher, likely with the help of an unnamed code breaker. McGarrett meets them at his family's mausoleum, where they find that his mother's crypt – a storage place for ill-gotten loot she earned late in life – has been emptied.
Surveillance cameras, facial-recognition technology and smartphone tracking lead them to Honolulu Harbor for a final shootout, echoing a location from the series premiere. McGarrett eventually captures Daiyu Mei, who says her husband – who was raised for a time by Doris McGarrett – is entitled to the money. McGarrett thinks about shooting her, before barking a discordant: "Book her, Cole."
A week later, Danny, who's on the mend, and McGarrett are back in their beachfront chairs, as Danny asks what McGarrett, who's leaving the island paradise, is searching for.
"Peace," he says, before the two exchange a heartfelt embrace and say they love each other. McGarrett smiles contentedly.
"If you just watched the pilot and the finale, it shows how far those two have come," Lenkov says. "They started off with such conflict. They hated each other. Now, they're as close as two people could get. They're brothers."
McGarrett then essentially goes through a reception line of goodbyes from the latest amalgamation of the ever-shifting Five-0 unit – Quinn, Lou, Adam, Tani and Junior - before leaving on an airplane, a reversal of his island arrival in the show's premiere. (Lenkov cut some scenes when the episode turned into a finale, including one where Adam faces repercussions for his interactions with the Yakuza. That could be on the DVD release.)
As McGarrett takes his seat, the code breaker arrives and – surprise! – it's past love interest Catherine Rollins (Michelle Borth), the one McGarrett lamented had gotten away. She takes the empty seat next to him. It looks like she's back for good.
"You ready?" she asks.
"Yeah," he says, smiling faintly. They hold hands as the series ends.
"I think you feel like things are going to be OK for him," Lenkov says, before imagining McGarrett's future. "He's done a lot of suffering and lost a lot of people that were very close to him over 10 years. But I think he will find that peace. He may find the piece that's missing in his life with Catherine and then ultimately come back to the island and end up in an Adirondack Chair facing the ocean with Danny, riding that into the sunset."
Even if the series is ending, life will move on for McGarrett, Danno & Co. As any fan of "Five-0" knows, Aloha also means hello.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Hawaii Five-0' series finale recap: Callbacks to how the remake began