Last summer, after the exit of series regulars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, CBS announced the addition of Meaghan Rath and Beulah Koale to the “Hawaii Five-0” cast. Both actors were not only newcomers to the show, but relative unknowns. Before she was cast as Five-0 rookie Tani Rey, Rath was best known for her portrayal of the ghost Sally Malik on the SyFy series “Being Human.” Koale, who plays Navy SEAL Junior Reigns, was gaining a name for himself after his breakout performance in the film “Thank You for Your Service.”
Once the two actors joined the Five-0 cast — Rath in the season opener “ʻAʻole e ʻōlelo mai ana ke ahi ua ana ia” (“Fire Will Never Say that It Has Had Enough”) and Koale in “Nā lā ʻīlio” (“Dog Days”) — viewers began to quickly embrace them. “Hawaii Five-0” continued to have the highest ratings in their Friday night timeslot, and fans seemed to have accepted the loss of Kim and Park. The new kids brought along new storylines and gave the veteran members of the cast different roles — as mentors and role models.
Rath’s character, Tani Rey, was recruited by McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) after she was kicked out of the Honolulu Police Academy. Danny (Scott Caan) makes several references to the fact that Tani is just like McGarrett in her drive and determination to catch the bad guys — even if this means jumping a fence, fighting someone twice her size, or shooting a big gun out of the window of a moving car. Tani is fearless, but not foolish, in her approach to solving a case, and that is one of the reasons why fans love her.
Koale’s Junior Reigns has returned home to Hawaiʻi from Afghanistan and asks McGarrett, a fellow SEAL, for a job. McG turns him down until he realizes that Junior needs Five-0 more than they need him. McGarrett convinces him to go through the Police Academy and also has the homeless veteran move in with him before he offers Junior a spot on the task force.
As the season progressed, McG, Danno, and Lou (Chi McBride) began to refer to Tani and Junior as “the kids.” Still, the kids have certainly made a name for themselves — they were seamlessly incorporated into Five-0’s tactical maneuvers, as Tani was trained as a cop, and Junior has combat experience. And their youthful knowledge of technology has helped them to find clues and details to solve cases.
Yet no matter their youth, the two also seem to have good instincts and desire to prove themselves to McG and the rest of the Five-0 team. While McG, Danno, and Lou have taken their turns mentoring them both, they have helped to solve several cases working as a team. They have also formed a strong bond of friendship, and unlike Chin and Kono who were blood cousins, the fans have wondered if their relationship is developing into more than just being members of the Five-0 ʻohana.
We first got a glimpse of this budding romance in “He Kaha Luʻu Ke Ala, Mai Hoʻokolo Aku” (“The trail leads to a diving place; do not follow after”) before Junior officially joins Five-0. He and Tani have a candid discussion of their similar family “issues” over shrimp plates at Kamekona’s. In “Make me kai” (“Death at Sea”) we continued to see the two bond after the team are exposed to a deadly toxin while investigating multiple murders aboard a yacht. It is Junior who keeps Tani from losing her mind while she bemoans the fact that she is probably going to die. It’s Junior who talks her through her feelings and reminds her that the fight is only over when she has no more fight to give. And that he won’t let her give up.
Over the entire season, the evidence of Tani and Junior moving from a team relationship of friendship and trust to a romance seems to be even more evident. In “I ka wā mamua, I ka wā mahope” (“The Future is in the Past”) the team is stuck in quarantine because of being exposed to the toxin on the yacht, and Danno is shot by an unknown assailant. While he is fighting for his life, he imagines a possible future for the team. In one of his dreams, Tani and Junior are married — and now in charge of Five-0. When they go undercover as a married couple in “O nā hōkū o ka lani ka i ‘ike ia Pae” (“Only the Stars of Heaven Know Where Pae Is”), the ease in which they fall into “acting married” seems almost too perfect. And when they are tasked by McGarrett in “E hoʻokō kuleana” (“To do one’s duty”) to walk the beat in uniform to complete their HPD training, they play off each other’s strengths better than partners and couples who have been together for years.
Still, whether or not the two are destined for romance, they definitely work well together to solve cases. When they are tasked to find out if a suicidal man, Brad Woodward (Devon Sawa), actually killed his wife in “O ka mea ua hala, ua hala ia” (“What is gone is gone”), they cover all of their bases, even when the evidence seems to implicate Brad is a killer. Together they find evidence to clear him. And after a VCR tape of a murder is delivered to Five-0 headquarters in “Ahuwale ka nane hūnā” (“The Answer to the Riddle is Seen”), they take old school investigative tips from Lou to help solve the cold case.
They also seem to rely upon each other on many different levels. In “He lokomaikaʻi ka manu o Kaiona” (“Kind is the Bird of Kaiona”) Juns, Tani’s nickname for the level-headed SEAL, goes for a run and gets stuck in a ravine. It is Tani who comes looking for him after Eddie, McG’s dog, arrives at Five-0 headquarters without his running buddy. When they are forced into a dangerous shootout in “Ka hana a ka mākua, o ka hana no ia a keiki” (“What parents do, children will do”) they are both focused on stopping the bad guys and saving Junior’s friend — as well as protecting each other. And in the season ender, “Waiho wale kahiko” (“Ancients Exposed”), it is Junior that Tani turns to with her worries about Adam (Ian Anthony Dale). When she finds the gun that killed Adam’s sister Noriko (Susan Park) in Kono and Adam’s house, she doesn’t go to her mentor McGarrett — she asks Junior what she should do.
It’s obvious that like McG and Danno, Tani and Junior seem to depend on each other for more than just team support and back-up. They care about each other on a deeper level than just a work friendship. They may or may not be headed toward a romance, but either way, their relationship is solid and believable. And coupled with their talent for investigation and expertise with weapons and technology — they have become invaluable to the team in a very short time. Likewise, Rath and Koale, have certainly proven that they deserve their spots on the Five-0 team, and we look forward to seeing how they grow and develop in seasons to come.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright, and teacher. Reach her at Five0Redux@gmail.com.