Faithful “Hawaii Five-O” fans had to feel as though years had gone by since the unexpected, heart-wrenching outcome of the series’ fall finale on December 7, which left Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) reeling. Not only did traitor, Agent Greer’s (Rochelle Aytes) sabotage of the Morocco SEAL team cost the life of a fellow brother in battle, Tim Cole, the relentless assassins under charge of Omar Hassan (Ben Youcef) delivered fatal wounds to Joe White (Terry O'Quinn) who was mentor, father figure, and example of heroism to the “Hawaii Five-O” Lt.


Just to have “Hawaii Five-O” back in Friday night rotation is a belated Christmas gift to loyal fans, and the January 4 eleventh episode of Season 9, the winter premiere, "Hala i ke ala o'i'ole mai" (Gone on the Road from which There Is No Returning), was full of huge satisfaction and familiar, welcome friends. Steve's quest for justice was hardly a solo effort.

Calling in the finest cavalry

Steve has taken on the look of the rugged mountain man after a month in Montana when Danny (Scott Caan) decides he has to see his partner in person. Putting his pistol away at the sight of the slick blonde coiffe, Steve reminds Danny that he didn't need to come, to which Danny replies "That's what family does,” reminding Steve of his constant presence when Danny’s brother, Matt, was brutally killed in Colombia.

“I'm glad to see you,” Steve says with a warm embrace.

When Catherine (Michelle Borth) emerges from the cabin, Danny assumes she is there as part of “the grieving process,” but Steve insists, “that's not what this is.” Once inside, Danny gets the full picture of just how rogue his partner has gone in seeking retribution for Joe.

An unrecognizable Gregers Thomsen (Andrew Grant) is bound captive, beaten, and bloodied in the cabin. He is a Hassan’s lawyer, who orchestrated the killings. Steve is obsessed with knowing Hassan’s location, and finally, through the “screaming and crying” as Danny relates, he learns that Laos is where Hassan is. Catherine leaves no doubt that “we're going to Laos,” and not having a passport, as Danny describes, is no issue.

In no time, Frank Bama’s daughter, Lucia (Kristen Dalton) has a plane ready, and Junior (Beulah Koale) arrives, receiving a warm welcome from Catherine, and another old friend to the party, Wade Gutches, providing the perfect tone and touch of the old veteran by veteran star, David Keith. He may be older, but he's not done yet, especially when it comes to avenging the death of his friend. Just hearing his character's voice and the pre-op banter lets anyone who loves “Hawaii Five-O” history know that this mission cannot fail.

The instantaneous sense of “Rambo” is no accident in this episode. The veteran actor, Carl Weathers, who sparred valiantly with Sylvester Stallone as Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” franchise directs this one.

He infuses the scenes with both heart and guts.

Striking anything but rich

Noelani (Kimee Balmilero) catches a case when she takes a call from one of two brothers who have just won the bid on a storage unit, hoping to strike it rich, and instead, finding a literal bag of bones. Before she can arrive to ascertain the situation and identities, both brothers are shot dead and the bag of evidence is gone.

It doesn't take long for Lou (Chi McBride), Tani (Meaghan Rath) and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) to combine wits and trace some old love letters to a bowling alley and a bad business deal between partners that leads to murder and disaster. The fun part about this secondary storyline is seeing Kimee Balmilero take over and really become part of “Five-O.” it's also a treat to see Lou and Tani tag team on interrogation because they speak the same language with crooks.

A little Bond before the final battle

As planning would have it, none other than Harry Langford (Chris Vance) meets Steve and company in Laos. He has everything done, including obtaining an elegant dress for Catherine, the tuxedo for Steve, and lessons in Baccarat besides all the money laundering lowdown. Catherine and Steve have to coax Hassan’s contact, Dimitri (Theo Coumbis) to consume a drink served with a tracking agent, so he can lead them to Hassan, who has impenetrable security.

The scenes in the high-end casino are luscious, and even though the cards don't fall right, Junior delivers the necessary drink, thanks to the switch enticed by Gutches, and Catherine is a perfect femme fatale, toasting with Dimitri before he leaves the table to get the job done.

Gutches knows what to do with a gun and a motorcycle, holding up guards as Catherine and Danny hack into surveillance at Hassan’s suites. Rushing to secure his family, Hassan hides as Steve, Junior, and Harry launch the mission to breach the rooms. Steve comes face-to-face with Hassan, who he last saw as a 10-year-old boy. He spares the villain for the sake of his little boy, and says, “I'm here for something more than you.” He gets the location of prison escapee, Agent Greer.

Greer is cornered in her small hovel. Steve enters her door in surprise, slamming her for the way she sold out her country and accepted money. As she starts to explain further the reasons for her actions, the shot from the corner by Catherine takes her down.

No one likes to end with killing, but this “Hawaii Five-O” service of justice was well-deserved.

As devastated as McGarrett is by grief, he is also ripped by his own vulnerability, a “blind spot,” to Greer, who ultimately used the information against not only him but all of the American intelligence. He confesses his time with Greer to Catherine, who tells him she already knew about the rendezvous from Greer herself. That makes two burdens he can lay to rest.

Wade Gutches cautions Steve that he should find a good woman and retire. They smile, disregarding that such an outcome is possible, but when Steve and Catherine say goodbye this time, it doesn't feel at all like forever. Everything unspoken is conveyed, and Steve tells her that Joe White gave the wise advice that brought her into his life.

With a tearful, but confident embrace, they sign “till next time” to each other before she drives away. Steve leaves with a lighter load, the proven loyalty of friends, and not so alone.

“Hawaii Five-O” is already halfway through Season 9, and the polls on the heartstrings don't have an end in sight. Next week, Danny faces every parent’s worst nightmare, as his daughter, Grace, suffers life-threatening injuries in a car crash.