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Wo Fat is the name of a fictional villain in the long-running CBS series Hawaii Five-O. On the show, Wo Fat is the arch-nemesis of Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord), the head of Hawaii's (fictional) state police force. The character appeared in eleven episodes of Hawaii Five-O including the TV-movie pilot and the final episode. Two of his appearances were in two-part episodes and three were two-hour specials later re-edited into two-parters for reruns. The character evolved from beginning as a master spy for the Red Chinese, later into an extremist Chinese agent working with a hawkish Chinese general. The general opposed peace discussions with the United States in the early 1970s. By the end of the series, Wo Fat had become an international super-criminal out for his own interests. In the last episode, Wo Fat is finally arrested and jailed after 12 years as a wanted criminal. However, in the final shot, he smiles and craftily produces a file hidden in his shoe. It remains a perpetual cliffhanger.
In the first four years of the show's existence, Wo Fat made nine appearances. In Hawaii Five-O: Cocoon (September 20, 1968), the series pilot, Wo Fat, as a Chinese spy, uses sensory deprivation to crack the most loyal U.S. intelligence agents to give up top secret information. He was absent from the show for a year, but then made eight appearances over the three-year period from October 1969 to October 1972. In these appearances, Wo Fat continues his position as a top Chinese intelligence agent in the Pacific, whose duties include running Chinese spy missions in Hawaii. Wo Fat's appearances during this period are: Forty Feet High and It Kills! (October 8, 1969), A Bullet for McGarrett (October 29, 1969), And a Time to Die... (September 16, 1970), F.O.B. Honolulu: Part 1 (January 27, 1971), F.O.B. Honolulu: Part 2 (February 3, 1971), The Ninety-Second War: Part 1 (January 18, 1972), The Ninety-Second War: Part 2 (January 25, 1972), and The Jinn Who Clears the Way (October 10, 1972),
There was a two-year gap before Wo Fat turned up again, by which time his circumstances had changed. In the episode titled "Presenting... in the Center Ring... Murder" (December 10, 1974), Wo Fat is working for a hawkish government faction in China, and attempts to assassinate a Chinese government foreign minister, who represents the more peace-oriented leadership in China at the time.
A year later, In Murder - Eyes Only (September 12, 1975), Wo Fat returns to his more traditional role as an intelligence operative attempting to obtain the coordinates for a downed American military satellite in the Pacific through a mole in U.S. Naval Intelligence.
However, a year after that, in Nine Dragons (September 30, 1976), Wo Fat is depicted as the head of the Chinese mafia, who is attempting to cause a conflict between the U.S. and China through a mass killing in China from American developed nerve gas, stolen from Hawaii, which would allow him to regain power in the Chinese government.
Wo Fat was then not seen for nearly four years. In his final appearance and the series finale (Woe to Wo Fat (April 5, 1980)), Wo Fat is presented as completely unaffiliated with the Chinese government, operating on a remote island, developing a solar weapon for the highest bidder.
The evolution of Wo Fat's role with regard to the Chinese government is presumably due to President Richard Nixon's Rapproachment visit to China in February 1972 and his talks with Mao Zedong that led to a period of détente between the two nations. A regular recurring character in the show's four seasons, Wo Fat's appearances after the historic event became far more sporadic: just five episodes in eight years.
Leonard Freeman, the producer of the series, took the name for the character from the now-defunct Wo Fat restaurant in Honolulu's Chinatown. The Wo Fat Building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Wo Fat's influence continued beyond the Hawaii Five-O series itself. For instance, several seasons of the 1990s police drama Homicide: Life on the Street featured a recurring drug lord named Luther Mahoney whose gang always seemed to escape the blame for the murders they caused. In the DVD commentary for that series, producers explained that Mahoney was largely based on Wo Fat, and then adapted to the gritty Baltimore setting of their series.
Wo Fat debuted in the last scene of the first season episode "Hana 'a'a Makehewa" on December 13, 2010. In the episode, Wo Fat pays Victor Hesse a visit in jail and asks about Steve McGarrett's (Alex O'Loughlin) pursuit of justice for his father John (William Sadler), whom Hesse killed in the pilot episode. Over the course of the season, Wo Fat attracts McGarrett's attention because of his association with local Yakuza boss Hiro Noshimuri. It is revealed that Wo Fat ordered the death of the elder McGarrett and frames Steve in the season finale for killing Governor Jameson (who was in collusion with him). Like the original Wo Fat, Dacascos's character is depicted as an agent of the Chinese government (specifically the Ministry of State Security).
As the second season begins, Wo Fat orders Hesse to kill McGarrett behind bars and kills Hesse to prevent Five-0 from getting more answers about him. He is also in cahoots with ex-CIA analyst Jenna Kaye, whose fiancee was captured in an earlier mission to take down Wo Fat. This allows him to manipulate Kaye in getting Steve's help for a fake ransom exchange in North Korea. He kills her and disappears as Five-0 rescues Steve. It is revealed that Wo Fat is obsessed with finding and killing a person named "Shelburne", who killed his father years before the series. As Wo Fat hides in Osaka, late in the season, McGarrett captures him and brings him back to Hawaii. However, both men are forced to work together in fighting off Adam Noshimuri (who believes Wo Fat killed his father Hiro) and his thugs. McGarrett locks him up at the Halawa Correctional Facility at the end of the season.
As the third season begins, In La O Na Makuahine, Wo Fat is on the verge of being transferred but the prison truck he's in is knocked off the road, resulting in Fat being freed. It is later revealed that Frank Delano is the man responsible for breaking Wo Fat out of prison and the two strike up a deal, Delano will be able to get stolen drugs off the island in exchange for giving Wo Fat the location of Shelburne who happens to be Doris McGarrett, Steve's supposedly dead mother. Wo Fat eventually confronts Doris in Steve's home and the two exchange in a stand-off, holding each other at gunpoint. However, Doris fires three shots into the ground, giving Wo Fat time to escape although it's not known the extent of the relationship Doris has with Wo Fat. In Hana I Wa 'I, Wo Fat kidnaps a congressman and is about to kill him until a helicopter manned by Steve with Danny firing arrives on scene. Wo Fat exchanges gunfire with Danny before fleeing yet again. In "Imi Loko Ka 'Uhane", Wo Fat returns, disguised as a police officer and when Savannah interviews him during the show she videotaped about Five-0, McGarrett finds out that was Wo Fat and started to shoot him but he got away. However, he gets severely injured during a gunfight in the jungle which was caused by Five-0, but McGarrett refuses to kill him. So he sends him to the hospital with police guarding the hospital, where he is bandaged and handcuffed to the bed. In "Aloha, Malama Pono", Wo Fat is seen lying in a bed in a high risk detention facility at an unknown location with Steve standing in the room, staring at Wo Fat and at the end of the episode, McGarrett pays him another visit and wants to know why his mother paid him a visit but first McGarrett has to get Fat out of the jail. Then they both hear an explosion. Fat tells Steve that he's his protection because the unknown forces currently breaking down the door want Wo Fat dead.
As the fourth season begins, In Aloha kekahi i kekahi, NLM terrorists attempt to kill Wo Fat but McGarrett saves him. Before Wo Fat is transferred to Supermax Facility in Colorado McGarrett wants an answer from Wo Fat why Doris visited him. Fat said, "She wanted to apologize to him for killing his father."
Wo Fat also has a U.S. stoner rock band named after him. They released a 'thoroughly enjoyable' album in 2012 entitled The Black Code which features powerful riffs and has been compared to as as cross between Kyuss and Electric Wizard.