In order for me to properly review the season finale of Hawaii Five-0, it is necessary I tell you the following story: This last weekend, my brother graduated from the University of Rochester with a Bachelor’s in Biochemistry. Since the university is so large, there were two graduations: a big one where they had a “big” speaker, and a smaller, intimate one for the department where they all received their diplomas and their professors spoke. One professor, in particular, said something that’s been stuck in my head, especially since the season finale of Hawaii Five-0. No, he did not talk about Hawaii Five-0 in the graduation speech (though that would have made it way more interesting). He was talking about how the real world is different from college, and he made an interesting point about what we consider to be good or good enough in different situations. For instance, an 85% on a test is a B+, which is a good grade you can be proud of. But an 85% will not be good enough in the real world in many situations. Say these kids took their degree and went on to become doctors — they couldn’t perform open heart surgery if they only 85% knew what they were doing.
Season finales are the open heart surgery of television shows. They are extraordinarily difficult to make amazing. Good is easy, most episodes of TV shows are good. But to get an episode that says, “This isn’t just any old episode, this is a finale“, they need to go that extra mile. They need to both wrap a season up to a viewer’s satisfaction, but leave enough unanswered questions that everyone will tune in next season. And as if that wasn’t hard enough, they need to be the sort of episode that bears repeated scrutiny every time someone views it. They need to have the power to hold up. Because if you’re a crazy person (like me), you re-watch season finales trying to find itsy-bitsy clues you missed, or maybe just because you need to scratch that itch over the long summer hiatus. And the Hawaii Five-0 finale got it 85% right.