For fans of “Hawaii Five-0,” the Friday morning news that actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park are leaving the show, just a few weeks before the start of season eight, was both stunning and heartbreaking. Social media erupted with comments and tweets of sadness, disbelief, and questions about how the CBS show will proceed without two members of the “core four” — the original group that made up the Five-0 task force.
From the start, “Five-0” has consisted of Commander Steve McGarrett, played by Alex O’Loughlin; Detective Danny “Danno” Williams, played by Scott Caan; and cousins Chin Ho Kelly, played by Kim, and Kono Kalākaua, played by Park. Over the last seven seasons, they have added other members to the team, but only Captain Lou Grover, played by Chi McBride, and Jerry Ortega, played by Jorge Garcia, remain as additional task force members. Really to fans — the loss of two key members of the Five-0 Team cuts deep.
Still fans are also remembering what they love about both actors and their respective characters. Kim’s character Chin Ho Kelly — seen as a wronged man who found salvation in Five-0 — was beloved from the start. Everyone remembers his ill treatment by HPD, who saw him as a traitor and a thief. Chin was the character who was misunderstood by his brothers in blue, as well as by his own family. The only one who believed in him no matter the circumstance was his cousin, former professional surfer, Kono.
In a way, this was one of the reasons why fans also fell in love with Park. As Chin’s forgiving and uncommonly brave cousin, Kono was the rookie who we all watched grow up within Five-0’s ranks. Chin brought her to McGarrett weeks before she was to graduate from the academy and join HPD. Kono’s first act as a rookie was going undercover, alone, and without a lot of training. Of course, her actions helped to cement her place in McGarrett’s new task force, which they all agreed to name “Five-0.”
We loved that McGarrett took a chance on both Chin and Kono, and he did so with a clear heart. Chin was his father’s partner. John McGarrett trained Chin, and if his father believed in Chin, then that was good enough for him. We all trusted Chin as well, and like Steve we understood that Chin was a man between a rock and a hard place. Accused of stealing from the asset forfeiture locker (the place where confiscated cash and drugs are stored by HPD), Chin resigned from the force rather than implicate his Uncle Keako as the guilty party. Keako, a retired detective, had taken money in order to pay for his wife’s cancer treatment. Chin took the fall in order to keep his uncle’s cases on the books and the criminals he helped to prosecute behind bars.
Five-0 not only saved Chin, but it also gave Kono a home. As Chin’s cousin, she too would have had a hard time making her way within the HPD ranks, as her name would forever be linked with a “bad cop.” Yet from the start, she proved herself over and over again. The sniper of the team, Kono always had their backs, and if anyone could save their sixes — it was Kono and her sure shot.
We all have loved watching both characters grow in these last seven seasons. We saw Chin be reinstated into the ranks of HPD, and cheered as he used his new status to help clear McGarrett who had been framed by Wo Fat of killing Governor Jameson (Jean Smart). We say him marry his long time love Dr. Malia Waincroft (Reiko Aylesworth) and mourned when she was killed at the hands of dirty cop Frank Delano (William Baldwin). We saw Chin try and move on from Malia’s death, dating Leilani (Lindsay Price), falling in love and moving in with Abby Dunn (Julie Benz), and finally adopting Sara (Londyn Silzer).
Professionally, Chin has always been a huge part of the Five-0 Task Force, he’s the one who carries the biggest gun, and is as sure of shot as his cousin. He is always willing to make a sacrifice, and even when he is faced with his biggest nemesis — his brother-in-law, Gabriel Waincroft (Christopher Sean), we have supported and loved Chin and the hard decisions he has had to make.
Chin was always ready to make a sacrifice for others — his wife, his cousin, his niece, and for McGarrett and the team. We’ll definitely miss the character Kim made so real, so believable, and so easy for all of us to love.
Likewise, watching Kono grow from a young rookie, into a fiercely dedicated detective and cop, has been equally rewarding. We were a little lost when she was arrested for stealing from the asset forfeiture locker. While it was McGarrett who actually stole $10 million in order to save Chin’s life, Kono was accused of the crime. She was stripped of her badge, and unbeknownst to the rest of Five-0, goes undercover to reveal a group of dirty ex-cops. She definitely proved her worth as well as her talent in working undercover.
Over the years, she has been the decoy, the sniper, the beautiful distractor. Professionally, she had a talent for working undercover and behind the scenes, but when the team started to chase a sex trafficking ring, she seemed to have found her mission. And really, Kono is the perfect person to chase down this kind of evil. All of her training in Five-0 has set her up for this kind of work.
We have also seen her fall in love, and stand by her man on more than one occasion. The Kono and Adam love story has been long and drawn out, but no less romantic and true. Adam saved Kono’s life at the start of season three, but then she chooses to join him as he is forced to go on the run after he kills his brother, Michael (Daniel Henney). While they are running from the Yakuza, who want revenge for Michael’s death, Adam sacrifices himself to save her. She returns to Five-0, who help her to clear Adam. One of the best moments of their relationship was when Kono finds Adam washing dishes in a coffee shop and tells him he can finally stop running and come home.
When they decide to marry, he cuts his ties with the Yakuza in order for his business dealings to be clean so he can marry Kono. We all loved watching their wedding and seeing Kono become Mrs. Noshimuri. But our joy was short lived when the honeymooners were taken hostage by Gabriel for all of the money Adam was supposed to hand over to the Yakuza.
True, their relationship was full of obstacles — Adam going to jail, Kono waiting for him, and together having to rebuild their relationship when he got out — yet when they were together, we all loved how they looked at each other, and believed that their love would always prevail. If I want anything to happen for Kono is that she and Adam are finally together on whatever journey their relationship takes them.
Both Kim and Park have truly created characters that fans and viewers have really taken to heart and loved like friends. I think a lot of the sadness of losing both actors will be felt throughout all of season eight. I only hope that we get to see some kind of resolution for both of their characters in the future, even if they just return as guest stars. It’s hard to say goodbye to our series favorites, but it would be nice to have a chance to say aloha to Chin and Kono, and wish Kim and Park a fond mālama pono.