We start out with previouslies of Steve getting the phone call from Doris's lawyer that he was given instructions to deliver a package to Steve four months after his mom's death. Cut to two days later and the lawyer shows up and gives Steve an envelope which he opens and looks surprised.
Cut to a woman going into her apartment with her little boy and two tough guys right behind her. They're bank robbers that need her to stitch up a gunshot wound. Just after the TV reports on the bank robbery, (where an officer was killed) there's a knock at the door. Uh oh. It's a really hot "busboy" returning a toy the woman's little boy left at the diner. He asks if she's okay and she says she is, but he sees one of the gunmen in a reflection of the laptop screen. She shuts the door, but he kicks it in and attacks the gunmen. The woman takes her son and runs for the bedroom instead of the open door (why not get out of there!) The busboy is shot in the shoulder, but does shoot one of the gunmen and the other gets away. The woman and her son are safe and she calls the cops, but her good Samaritan leaves before they get there.
Steve is at the cemetery visiting his dad when Danny drives up to say since Steve wasn't answering his phone he pinged him and they have a case. Steve just looks resigned and says there's always a case before he sits on a bench to tell Danny about the lawyer visit. Apparently, it was a cypher, but Steve doesn't know why his mom would send him that and doesn't care what it is because he doesn't want another mystery in his life. Danny doesn't think he'll be able to leave it alone and wonders why Steve came to the cemetery. Poor Steve has been thinking about how it's been ten years since his dad dies and a lot has changed since then, including losing Joe and his mom. It's been a tough year and he's just feeling a little lost. Danny tells him to take a day and relax and he'll do the crime scene himself, but Steve says, no, let's go and he'll drive. (Of course.) They get to the apartment building and Tani runs them down on how the woman (Sylvia) got approached by the robbers at a diner and forced at gunpoint back to her apartment before the busboy threw down and killed one of the robbers and chased the other one out. He saved both of their lives, but didn't stick around to give a statement or get treated for his bullet wound. Oh, and his name popped up as a dead guy's, so he's working under an assumed name. Guess he wasn't always a good Samaritan.
Noelani is telling Steve how the dead bank robber had a crushed trachea and a broken neck, so the guy who killed him obviously had some training. Steve hears yelling in the hall and it's the brother of the victim and he's come to ID the body. Only *they* hadn't ID'd the body, so how did he know to come there? The brother gives him the ScaryCriminalStaredown and Steve guesses that he's going to want blood, but they'll find out who did it and let the system take care of it. Steve also points out that maybe the partner from the bank robbery told ScaryBro what went down and if that's the case, ScaryBro knows the gunshot wound didn't kill him. ScaryBro rasps that we'll just have to see how that works out. (It doesn't sound promising for the whole system taking care of it idea.) Then we see the good Samaritan climbing a balcony all bloody. He goes inside and finds a bathroom and starts to clean up his gunshot wound in his shoulder, actually stitching up his own wound. Ew.
Back at HQ, they're still trying to figure out who the good Samaritan is but his address is an empty field and no hits on facial rec. He's obviously working hard to stay off the radar. ScaryBro, however, is ID'd as Hector, and he's high up in some crime syndicate and probably enlisted his brother to pull off the bank robbery, like a good crime syndicate brother would. Yikes!
Adam is at the good Samaritan's apartment looking through his mail, talking to Junior about how one of Hector's cars was seen in Sylvia's neighborhood. (How did they find the apartment?) The good Samaritan has good hygiene and left his toothbrush and they get DNA off of it. His name is Lincoln Cole. He's a Marine gunnery sergeant with Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams. FAST teams are the Marines dedicated security forces deployed around the world to handle threats, primarily counter-terrorism. So, why is he here bussing tables with an alias? Well, back in 2016 Cole led a strike team on a siege of a terrorist stronghold in northern Iraq and lost five men before they managed to retreat. He got a purple heart two days later, went AWOL and was never heard from again until today. Since he started his military career with the third regiment in Hawaii, they'll run down who Cole served with there.
Once everyone breaks, Tani pulls Danny aside to an HQ balcony! (How did we not know there was a balcony?) She says she saw that Danny is obviously worried about McG and she is, too. Danny tells her Steve's been running non-stop for the last ten years, and might be burnt out, so he's going to force the issue since if a cop gets burnt out, he could lose reaction time and they can't have that. Tani takes that as concern that Steve won't be able to have their backs like he usually does, but Danny assures her he'll get to the bottom of it. (Since Steve saved all of their lives last week pretty much, I think he'll still have their back, but whatever.)
McG and Junior drive up to a house and approach Chuck Norris who is holding an axe and chopping wood. Apparently he was Cole's CO. Steve tells him he knows what he did for the country and respects that, but please drop the axe. Chuck says if that's true, turn around and drive away. They can't do that because they ran Chuck's phone records and know he got a call from a hotel room that had Cole's blood in it. Junior goes into the house while Steve tells Chuck that other people are looking for Cole and he'll be safest in their custody. Junior finds blood in the bathroom and Cole is running. They chase him down yelling, "Five-0 stop!" (Haha, no one ever stops when they yell that.) Cole gets the drop on Steve in a wooded area and they fight, but Junior comes along and ends it and cuffs Cole. (Cole has a clean shirt on that perfectly fits him. I guess Chuck had an extra?)
They have Cole in the Blue Room of Doom and Steve comes in and uncuffs him and gives him some ice. Awww. He tells Cole that you usually have to do something pretty bad to end up in this room, but here he is, just committing some crazy act of heroism and taking off before anyone can say thank you. But hey, that's his MO since he served valiantly in battle and got a purple heart, then went UA. Now he saves this woman and her kid and disappears. He wants to know what Cole is running from. Cole just asks if he's being charged with anything, but Steve zings him with besides assaulting a law enforcement officer? (Ha!) But, since Cole killed Hector's baby bro, he's in the crosshairs of some very dangerous people so until they fix that, he's not going anywhere. Oh, and can you tell Steve your life story since there's nothing else to do while they wait?
Junior comes in to HQ from Chuck's place and Tani questions him about how McG acted in the field. (Which was odd, really. Steve hasn't given any indication he's off in the field.) She's worried about him, but Junior tells her Steve was fine. He's been through a lot this year. Tani encourages Junior to talk to Steve since he's hurting right now, but Junior tells her that McG's the best soldier he's ever worked with and he's able to compartmentalize things and if he's got something to deal with he'll deal with it in his own way, there's nothing to worry about. (Go Junior!)
McG is sitting on the floor facing Cole asking him to help make sense of all this. Cole is silent. McG tells him he read up on that mission in Kirkuk and Cole saved lives that day. Dozens of lives. But his unit lost five men and McG knows how that feels, how it eats at you, especially when everyone is calling you a hero and trying to pin medals on your chest when all you can think about is the men you lost. (McG's tone is so awesome, right here, understanding, but not condescending.) But Cole is in a dark hole, potentially on the hook for a dozen felonies and he's okay with that because he's put himself in a hole since Kirkuk. Cole finally speaks and says he could say the same thing about Steve. (Interesting comment, considering where Steve is at right now.) Steve goes on to say that Cole went off grid and changed his name because he couldn't deal with the guilt of getting out of there alive and he's in Hawaii bussing tables, helping out neighbors and fighting for justice to atone, but he didn't do anything wrong, he just survived. Cole denies that and Steve says, tell me how I'm wrong. Cole tells him he's the reason those men are dead. Dun, dun, dun.
Then we cut to a news van being overtaken by masked men with guns. They give the newswoman an envelope and tell her to make sure whatever is on it gets on the air if she wants to live. (Yikes. Do they really need a thumb drive or to track down a news van? Just stream it. Record it and email it. Ha!)
Cole tells Steve about his mission. They'd captured a Jordanian jihadist and Cole interrogated him until he broke and told them about a high value commander in the village just south of them. They searched it, but didn't find the commander. It was a prearranged ambush! They waited until they cleared the village and let their guards down so they were exposed and they hit them. He lost his five men and four ISF members who were accompanying them. Steve tells him war is messy and that all they can do as leaders is to make the best decisions with the information they had at hand. (I hope he takes his own advice!) Cole feels responsible because he wanted to win so bad and he let it affect his judgment. He's not fighting for justice because if there was any justice he would be dead and they'd be alive. Danny interrupts and Steve goes to the Chatting Table. A local news station cut in with Hector in a mask telling everyone that his brother was killed that morning (and it's a really nice pic of the bank robber that died.) They show Sylvia and her son duct taped in the corner and tell the person responsible for BabyBro's death that if he wants to save them, he has to trade his life for theirs. In two hours.
Quin says they got nothing from CSU and Lou can't get any leads from watching the video. They have no idea where the mom and kid are being held. Danny is talking to Steve about Hector being behind it and he won't stop until Cole is in the ground. They have to think about using Cole to flush out Hector. Steve thinks that's too dangerous. Adam comes up with the burner phone number Hector's been using so Steve calls him and says he knows he has Sylvia and the kid and Steve has the man who killed his brother in his custody. Tani is trying to trace the call, but it's being run through a proxy server. Hector tells Steve since he has the guy, what happens to the woman and child is in his hands. Steve assures Hector that the guy who killed his brother is going away to military prison for a long time for going AWOL so he can let the hostages go. Hector isn't going for that. He wants the guy delivered to him by 5 p.m. Come alone, no cops or the woman and kid are dead.
Cole wants Steve to call Hector back and tell him he'll make the exchange, but Steve reminds him that there's no guarantee Hector will hand the hostages over. Cole wants to try, it's an innocent woman and child! Steve wants to find another way. He understands Cole feels responsible, but they'll do everything they can to get them out of there. Danny is still advocating using Cole as bait, especially since he volunteered and it's what Steve would do if he were in his shoes. Before they can figure it out some MPs come in to take Cole into custody. Steve tries to play it off like, who? but when Five-0 ran Cole's prints, it rang bells for the military. Steve tries to buy time and get them to talk about it, but the lead MP isn't having it. He knows who Steve is and wants him to produce Cole now since the COMMANDANT ordered it himself! (Who is the commandant?) I guess the governor is afraid of the commandant because even he won't help Steve stand up to the guy. Since they don't have a choice, Cole is carted off while they watch. Danny asks Steve what the plan is, but he doesn't know. Then he shrugs and walks away. (Kidding, kidding. They just stand there thinking up plans I guess.)
Cole is traveling in the back seat, but he attacks his guards and escapes. The team is at the Chatting Table all sad about Cole being gone and Hector's phone being out of service, when Quinn gets the call that Cole escaped. Steve thinks he's going to the exchange spot. (Did they tell him where that was?) And he's right! Cole is in a blue car at the drop off when Hector shows up with his men. There's a ringing phone taped to a fencepost. Hector thinks of everything! Cole answers and Hector wants Cole to prove he's unarmed, then start walking. Cole isn't on board until he sees Sylvia and her son. They show him the woman and kid and they start the exchange. He passes Sylvia and tells her to keep walking and don't look back. (His car was hotwired, so how is she going to use it to get away?) Cole stands in front of Hector who raises his gun to Cole's head and says, "This is for my brother." Then Junior snipes him and a gunfight breaks out. Tani gets the woman and her son in the car, then Junior blows up the car when Steve is pinned down.. Cole gets a guy underneath the car and Quinn snipes a guy for Adam. It was a good fight. When it's over Danny tells Steve he thinks Cole might be crazier than him and Steve agrees. (Ha!)
Back at HQ Cole is in Steve's office looking at his medals on the wall. The MPs leave without Cole thanks to Steve speaking to the commandant and getting him to release Cole into their custody until the formal military review. Cole is surprised since he went AWOL and assaulted three MPs while escaping custody, but Steve pointed out that if he hadn't have escaped an innocent woman and child would be dead and it isn't a great look to press charges against a decorated war hero. Cole doesn't know how to thank him and Steve says he doesn't have to. Cole notices the cypher on Steve's desk and asks about it. Steve has been looking stuff up online, but hasn't had any luck cracking it. Cole knows a guy that is a wizard with this stuff and he can make a call. He'll be in touch. As he's leaving Steve tells him it takes courage to forgive yourself and put the past behind you and move on and he believes the men Cole served with would want him to do that. Awww.
Steve meets up with Danny on the beach and asks him what's with the face? Is he worried that Lincoln will be his new BFF? Well, no one can replace you, he says, you're my Danno. Danny isn't going along with the teasing, he wants to have a real convo. He's concerned. Steve takes a breath and tells him that he doesn't know when it happened, but something changed. He's been doing this for so long, protecting everyone except himself. Danny tells him to take some time for himself, but Steve says it's more than that and he can't do it in Hawaii since there are too many memories there. He's been trying to distract himself with dating and the restaurant, but it wasn't working. Danny doesn't understand, does Steve think he's capable of being done? Steve doesn't know. All he knows is that he hit the ground running hard ten years ago and he's been running ever since. He needs time away to get some perspective. Soon. Danny recommends he go to Jersey, but Steve says no, it's full of people like him. Danny gets offended and tells him to go anywhere but Jersey, so Steve gives in and asks for recommendations for restaurants and places to stay. Danny goes inside to get another beer and hears a noise in the house. A masked man is in the dining room and Danny fights with him. Steve hears the crashing and comes in. Danny is bloodied and the guy tried to steal Steve's cypher. Luckily, Steve didn't put it back in the envelope, so the thief will be disappointed. But what did he want it for? (And when is Steve going to get an alarm system for his house? Sheesh!)
I'm so sad this is the second-to-last episode. Did you watch? What did you think?