On July 10, the cast and crew of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ launched the ninth season of their hit CBS action drama. They marked the day with a traditional Hawaiian blessing, as they have every year since the series start. This was a highly anticipated event as fans have not seen a season blessing since July of 2016, which was the last time the tradition was covered by the Hawai‘i press. The 2017 season eight blessing was kept private, much like this year’s ceremony.
Last summer, several major changes happened just before season eight began. Namely, the departure of actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park from the series, as well as the elevation of recurring cast members, Ian Anthony Dale, Taylor Wily, Dennis Chun, and Kimee Balmilero to series regulars. Some speculated that the press was not invited to the ceremony to keep the drama surrounding Kim and Park’s departure at bay, while others felt that the cast and crew needed to get used to the many changes out of the public eye.
The first day of shooting starts off with the blessing, and Tuesday’s ceremony was led by Kahu Kordell Kekoa, who also performed the tradition in season six and seven. Kahu Kekoa has also guest starred as himself in the season two episode “Alaheo Pau ‘Ole” (“Gone Forever”) and in the season three episode “Kānalua” (“Doubt”). He “performed” both Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) and Malia’s (Reiko Aylesworth) wedding, as well as Malia’s scattering at sea after her death in the season two season finale.
This year, several actors and crew members posted pictures and short video clips via social media, so while fans did not witness the blessing– they did see the cast and crew celebrating the start of a new year. According to executive producer Peter Lenkov via his Twitter account, all actors who were on O‘ahu that day attended the blessing even if they were not scheduled to be on set to work. From pictures shared by Dennis Chun on his Facebook page, actors Chi McBride, Jorge Garcia, Meaghan Rath, Beulah Koale, Shawn Mokuahi Garnett, Kimee Balmilero, Shawn Thomsen, co-executive producer Bryan Spicer, and Lenkov attend along with Chun. Taylor Wily and Stephen Hill, who plays T.C. on the new “Magnum P.I.”, also attended according to Chun’s Facebook post. Eddie the dog posted a “fresh from being blessed” picture on his Instagram account.
Fans were concerned when they did not see series stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan pictured, especially after the major changes that happened last season. But Lenkov confirmed in a Tweet that the actors are still on hiatus and were not on the island. They are supposed to start shooting next week Monday.
The new season seems set to continue its focus on series star O’Loughlin and his character Steve McGarrett as he leads the Five-0 task force with his partner Danny Williams, played by Caan. Since 2010 the team was aided by Chin Ho Kelly, played by Daniel Dae Kim, and his cousin Kono Kalākaua, played by Grace Park until the actors left the show in 2017. Their characters have not been completely written out of the show, however, as Kono’s husband Adam, played by Ian Anthony Dale, was made a series regular after her departure. Dale was not present at the blessing because he is currently shooting the summer series “Salvation.”
Chi McBride, who joined the cast in 2013, plays Lou Grover, a former SWAT Team Captain who McGarrett brought onto the team after Grover was forced to retire. Jorge Garcia, who plays Jerry Ortega, also joined the cast in 2013, joined the Five-0 Team as a consultant in season six and officially got his badge in season seven. Taylor Wily continues to play the felon turned master entrepreneur Kamekona; and Kimee Balmilero, who joined the cast after Masi Oka’s Dr. Max Bergman left the show in season seven, will return as Medical Examiner Dr. Noelani Cunha. Dennis Chun, who plays HPD Sgt. Duke Lukela, has a major hurdle to overcome in season nine as his character stole evidence last season in order to save his kidnapped granddaughter.
The newest members of the team– Meaghan Rath and Beulah Koale, who play the two rookies of the Five-0 Task Force, Tani and Junior– have made such a positive change within the show. Many fans seemed to have completely moved on after the events of last summer. Whether it is because of the strength of the actors; the roundness, and believability of their characters; or how the fans have embraced them– it all works together for the continued success of the series.
The season premiere of season nine is set for September 28. Pictures of the cover of the season premiere script were shared with fans by Beulah Koale and guest actor Andrew Oliveri on their Instagram accounts. The title of episode 9.01, “Mimiki ke kai, ahuwale ka papa leho,” is taken from a ʻōlelo no‘eau, or Hawaiian proverb and poetical saying. The title means: “When the sea draws out in the tidal wave, the rocks where the cowries hide are exposed.” Hawaiians would translate this as “secrets will out on the day of wrath.” Sometimes the phrases are taken literally by non-native speakers. Yet, Hawaiians would take in the metaphorical meaning behind the proverbs and apply it on a deeper level.
We’ll have to see what the title means for McGarrett and his Five-0 team, but fans are already speculating about what our characters will face in the premiere. Now that filming has started fans are also anxious to learn if there will be another “Sunset on the Beach” red carpet event, especially as it is the 50th Anniversary of “Hawaii Five-0.” Fans are wondering if there will be a crossover episode with Lenkov’s newest reboot of “Magnum P.I.”, and what is in store for the 200th episode of the series.
Still, whatever is in store for season nine, it will certainly be a phenomenal year in the history of the series.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright, and teacher. Reach her at Five0Redux@gmail.com.