Hawaii Five-O” has taken fans through incredible journeys over now nine seasons and counting. From almost every vista of the Hawaiian Islands to tribal camps in Afghanistan, to South American drug lord hideouts, to Cambodia, the US mainland, and aboard Soviet submarines, Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) and his intrepid team have enforced justice and remained “ohana” against incredible odds.

In this week's December 7 tenth episode of Season 9, “Pio ke kukui, po'ele ka hale" (When the Light Goes Out, the House Is Dark), the season’s fall finale, a series of choreographed, murderous attacks on fellow Navy SEALs, and McGarrett himself, sets in motion an immediate plan of survival and retribution.

From the first two minutes of this powerful episode, faithful viewers are drawn into a life-and-death battle, and the stakes stay the same until the heart wrenching, picturesque, and loving the last frame. However jarring, this is an episode to remember.

A Saturday to survive

The opening scenes depict tranquil family time for one former SEAL (Joel Steingold), who is having splashing fun with his kids in the pool until he is called him by his wife to take a phone call. As soon as he picks up the phone, an assassin's rifle takes him down, as giggles are still heard from outside. The call was from Joe White (Terry O'Quinn), coming just minutes too late, instructing him to get himself and his family to safety.

Steve has just returned home from his morning swim, hardly able to get a full breath before his beefy hitman almost has his way. The battle becomes a slasher fest with big knives. The would-be killer gets some nasty gashes into McGarrett’s arm and thigh, but that doesn't keep McGarrett from fighting on, and he takes his shots.

More and more this season, fans are seeing that the valiant “Hawaii Five-O” leader is only human, but his will to protect and serve is his strength. The assailant gets away, just as Joe White’s call comes to his protégé.

Steve has to answer “Nope” when White inquires “Did you get him down?” Joe tells Steve that he is coming to him, and they will “regroup” and make their plan together, with three brothers in arms from the Morocco black ops mission already killed.

Steve tells Joe that he “might” have a plan already, which usually means he has scripted out the full mission.

The full contingent of “Hawaii Five-O” assembles in Steve's living room, astounded that their leader is still alive. It doesn't take much explanation for them to understand that as much as they want to jump in with immediate action, success and survival depend on keeping every aspect of this execution of justice “quiet.” Junior (Beulah Koale) interjects that “if SEALs are involved, I'm gonna be there.” Steve privately shares with him that this time, “it's gonna be me and Joe.” Junior knows that his boss already knows who divulged the names to become targets-- this season’s elusive and absolute adversary, Agent Greer (Rochelle Aytes).

“Copy that,” he responds to Steve. She is a mistress of eluding capture and blame, even escaping every member of “Hawaii Five-O” staked outside of a ship. Steve knows that this operation has to be stealthy and silent.

Steve pays a visit to Greer in the penitentiary in Victorville, assuring her that he is alive and that he knows she is responsible. He also tells her that he has arranged with the warden for less comfortable accommodations, and she will be moved. She warns that those in charge of the assailants are “rich, relentless, and motivated” and will fulfill their mission.

Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) works inside to try to uncover the contact with Greer within the prison.

Mayhem and ultimate peace in Montana

Joe proposes that his ranch property in Montana is the perfect place to reign down justice and rein in the killers. He knows time is limited, and his thoughts and words turn very prophetic to the man who considers him as another father, and certainly a father figure. When they arrive, Steve is alerted because there are already cars around the property. He makes moves to assure safety, per “Hawaii Five-O” standard operating procedure, and literally almost shoots Tim Cole (Brad Beyer) who perfectly portrays another SEAL teammate, with a rather matter-of-fact, cowboy attitude. The two warmly embrace.

It so happens that Tim has brought along a full complement of military-grade weaponry, playing Santa Claus, as he reminds Steve and Joe.

He still gives the operation a “50-50” chance, causing Joe to remark that “you're always an optimist.” Joe has his own arsenal of weapons, and it's by numbers that the three valiant fighters are up against the wall, never lack of a commitment, know-how, or ammunition.

During the moments of mounting weapons and preparing, the exchanges between the three are true and touching, Cole calling himself the “Lion” of the ladies and the nightlife. Lion is the name of Alex O'Loughlin's youngest son, and that might've been the namesake inspiration. Joe asks Steve to go get Cotter pins, and Steve finds a photo of White, clearly with his significant other, in Nairobi. Joe cautions Steve not to wait so long to settle on his own love of his life.

Lou (Chi McBride) corners Steve's shooter/slasher (David Agranov) in a gas station bathroom, and it doesn't take long to work a deal for his imprisonment in Germany to allow him to see his son, and elicit his information. Tani (Meaghan Rath) and Junior pull together some crucial pieces, as does Adam with the name of Cooper as the prison contact, but Greer manages to escape again. Connections later uncover that the son of the target taken down in 2002, Omar Kassan, is orchestrating the attacks.

It doesn't take long before the marauders attack from all sides and within the ranch house. Cole is immediately engaged outside and soon takes a fatal hit. Steve tries to go after him but barely escapes with his life, returning to the house.

Even by the standards of “Hawaii Five-O” history, this battle was unlike anything staged on the drama. An RPG is launched into the house, but before that, Joe White takes a severe shot to his abdomen.

Steve's calls headquarters to arrange for a medevac, but time is not long. Finding the cars torched, Joe suggests taking nearby horses, and riding to a surgeon, two miles away. Tragic as it is to see the man who has literally carried Steve through so many situations, and kept him connected with both his mother and father, now suffering and fainting fast from life, the scenery and the mood evoke the sense of a classic Western, with the heroes side-by-side.

Joe tells Steve, “We're here,” and to stop by a beautiful tree.

Steve is perplexed but understands what his dear mentor is doing. Joe admits that he never planned to see a surgeon, and he called off the medical flight.

Steve protests, putting his arms on Joe’s shoulders, his hands around his face, pleading that he travels on, and fight for life. In more ways than one, Joe has come to his place of peace. He asks Steve to help him under the tree. Steve cradles his friend, saying “I never thanked you for Carlsbad,” remembering that Joe stood by the 16-year-old Steve when he stole a car after starting military school. “I knew somebody believed in me,” to Steve of the moment that changed his life. Joe insists that Steve has thanked him in every way that he lives and works to save people.

In a final question, Joe asks, “Have you ever seen a sunset as beautiful as that?” “No, I haven't, Joe,” comes the reply broken by tears before the credits roll. There will be many more episodes to exact justice and honor due from this loss, but at this moment, there is only love and mourning.