Every minute of these final “Hawaii Five-O” episodes is simultaneously gut-wrenching, and treasured, to the millions of viewers who cannot envision the elite police drama being absent from next fall’s schedule of TV Shows. In this week's March 27 Episode 21 of Season 10, "A 'ohe ia e loa'a aku, he ulua kapapa no ka moana" (He Cannot Be Caught for He Is an Ulua Fish of the Deep Ocean), Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) is sharing those same emotions.

The “Hawaii Five-O” boss, and lauded Navy Seal, takes pride in his record of service and bringing justice, but realizes, more strongly than ever, the toll of the life he has chosen.

His father felt that same weight, so much so that he admonished his son to never be a cop. Despite all his efforts to rescue his mother, her devotion to her life as a deep-cover CIA agent became even stronger than her love for her son or any semblance of a normal life. McGarrett realizes that he doesn't want his sacrifice to go to those extremes, no matter how much he treasures “Hawaii Five-O.”

The cases still have to be closed on “Hawaii Five-O.” Even in the midst of reconciling his past with his future, McGarrett makes every effort to convince another valorous military hero that he is not to blame for lives lost on a mission.

Mom still makes things difficult on ‘Hawaii Five-O’

Doris McGarrett, so richly portrayed by Christine Lahti, never made anything easy for her children, and no one felt that more deeply than Steve McGarrett.

Even four months after her death, she determines to leave a mystery for her son.

Steve McGarrett gets to put a face to be the eloquent voice of the attorney, Michael Claypool (Anthony Armatrading) when a knock on his door welcomes the morning. The “package” that the barrister was hired to deliver is a single envelope, inscribed “To My Son.” Claypool quickly departs as Steve wishes him a safe flight back.

What might've been some loving words from another mother is instead another puzzle from Doris McGarrett. She bequeaths a cipher as a last inheritance, and Steve is left to struggle in solving it.

Danny (Scott Caan) tracks his partner down at John McGarrett’s grave. He asks why Steve chose today to visit his father's final resting place.

Steve says only that “I've been thinking about him a lot…” in a supreme understatement. Steve also shares that his mother left this cipher. McGarrett declares that “I don't think I really care” about solving the puzzle, but Danny knows that he won’t be able to leave it alone. Danny tells Steve to take the day off-- he can handle the crime scene, but Steve responds “Let's go,” of course, adding “I'll drive.”

‘Hawaii Five-O’ finds much more than just a busboy

When a single mother, Sylvia Yang (Diana Lu) and her son, Manu (Zayne Eveland) are forced at gunpoint from a diner by two bank robbers to return to their apartment to “stitch me up” as one of the bandits demands, a knock at the door interrupts.

A caring busboy, marvelously captured by Lance Gross, returns a toy left by Manu. He immediately knows something is wrong and sees brass knuckles on the counter. Sylvia doesn't lock the door, and within a minute, the interceding hero bursts in, shooting one of the men Marc Acosta (John Orantes), while the other escapes. Most importantly, he saved Sylvia and her son, but he vanishes before police or EMTs arrive, despite being shot.

Hawaii Five-O” immediately traces the identity of the mystery intercessor, but his name and numbers don't belong to anyone living, and his given name at the diner, Ellington, leads to nothing. After some deep digging, he is revealed to be Sgt. Lincoln Cole, a decorated Marine who served in an anti-terrorism force.

Cole’s last mission in Kirkuk resulted in the loss of five men, and Steve immediately understands why he is living anonymously, not feeling worthy after the guilt of being trapped by an ambush.

When Marc’s brother, Hector (Lobo Sebastian), visits the deceased at the morgue. Steve and all of “Hawaii Five-O” realize that the gang leader is the organizer of the bank robbery, and he won’t think anything of taking the life of a mother and child, and Sgt. Cole along the way. It was Sgt. Cole who stitched himself up in a hotel room after the gun battle at Sylvia's apartment, and Steve and Junior (Beulah Koale) rely on their military service to plead with Lincoln Cole's former commander, Phillips, played by Chuck Norris, to let them take the captive.

They find a bloody shirt, but Cole doesn't surrender easily, as Cole and McGarrett wrestle with weapons in the brush.

Tani takes her concern for the boss to Danny and Junior. Junior assures her that McGarrett is the best soldier he's ever worked with and that he will work things out in his own way.

Giving a hero’s due on ‘Hawaii Five-O’

Cole's interrogation at “Hawaii Five-O” headquarters turns into more of a counseling session between military brothers. Steve assures Cole that he has nothing to atone for-- he and his men were set up in what they thought was the taking of a Jordanian asset.

“You didn't do anything wrong—you survived,” Steve implores Cole to understand.

These scenes are so powerful, yet sensitive, in the way they encompass everything that makes “Hawaii Five-O” so unique among mere police procedurals.

These are all characters fans know and care about to the core. They are not simply catalysts to move the story forward.

The drama isn't over. Military police arrive to take Cole into custody, and “Hawaii Five-O” has no jurisdiction to stop them. “What's the plan?” Danny asks his partner as the SUV drives away. The normally meticulous McGarrett answers “I don't know.”

A news truck is hijacked by masked marauders, demanding that a video run immediately across local stations. The video shows Sylvia and Manu again held captive, as a manipulated voice demands the terms for their release.

It's not long before Quinn (Katrina Law) and Tani (Meaghan Rath) have news that Cole escaped, and Steve knows that he and the team can intercept a trade for Sylvia and Manu that Hector has ramrodded.

At the site by a reservoir, Lincoln Cole demands to see the mother and son before he gives up his gun. When he passes Sylvia and Manu, he tells them not to look at him and to keep running. They are safe in a police cruiser. When Cole stands face-to-face with Hector, he comes within seconds of being shot when shots from “Hawaii Five-O” take the vengeful brother down, and a gun battle like in the days of old begins.

For someone stitched and wounded already, Cole carries on like Superman, and much like the younger McGarrett once did, impermeable to any injury. “I think he's as crazy as you,” Danny insists. “I think you may be right,” Steve responds. Lance Gross was tapped as regular for the series if future episodes had continued.

It's fitting that the “Hawaii Five-O” that holds “ohana” above all go out together, but hopefully more good things will happen for Gross, and it will be fun to see him in the series finale.

Commander McGarrett uses his military powers of persuasion to allow Cole to be “a free man” while his investigation proceeds. Cole has a friend who is a “genius” at ciphers, so the two have every reason to stay close. Steve also tells Lincoln that he hopes he can forgive himself and move on since that is what his men would want him to do.

In the last scene of the episode, Steve teases that Danny may be jealous because he has been replaced by Cole. Steve promises “You’re my Danno” and that will never change.

Steve does say directly that his time to step away will be “soon,” after 10 years and so many memories. Danny instructs that he should go to “Jersey” to get his respite.

Danny goes to Steve's refrigerator for a beer and finds a man rifling through every possession in the living room. Danny is viciously attacked but spared. When Steve runs in, he sees instantly that the envelope from his mother, left on the edge of a table, is gone. “Hawaii Five-O” fans had to be cheering when Steve pulls the cipher from his pocket with “I got it right here.”

Hawaii Five-O” has given has much love and unity as it has car chases, “carguments,” and justice through an unparalleled decade of television. The heartfelt sentiment will survive, as will every episode. Next week's series finale will be so bittersweet but still so satisfying. Mahalo and much gratitude to all.