Usually around the end of April, “Hawaii Five-0” fans start to realize that the end is near. As we head toward the May 12 season finale, we are often torn between two emotions– excitement about finding out the answers to our many series questions, and sadness that four months of reruns loom before us. But it seems as if there are a few positive changes on the Five-0 horizon that may help to put us more at ease. While the summer hiatus is always an anxious time for Five-0 fans, perhaps the knowledge that their show will definitely return for an eighth season– will make for a more relaxing break.
Season seven was a little different for Five-0 fans, as they said farewell to a beloved series cast member, Masi Oka, and were told of the midseason departure the show’s fan favorite stunt coordinator, Jeff Cadiente. Both events sent anxious waves of social media chatter throughout the fandom, as the news of two major players leaving the show did not bode well for a season eight renewal. So when “Hawaii Five-0” was renewed on March 23, fans began to see that perhaps their worries were premature.
Last week’s episode, “Waimaka ʻEleʻele,” (“Black Tears”) showed off the stunt work talent of Five-0’s new stunt coordinator, Eric Norris. Fans could tell from the start of the episode that the action, gun fight, and car chase scenes– were directed from a completely different point of view. We’re used to fantastic action, strong physicality, big gunplay, and spectacular explosions. But the new stunt scenes– while still slick and very professional– they were grittier, bloodier, and more violent than we’ve seen in the past. It’s not a matter of the scene being better– they were just different.
Norris may be new to Five-0, but he’s no stranger to film and television. He just finished a stint as the stunt coordinator for the FOX television show, “24: Legacy,” a spin-off of the popular action thriller, “24.” His extensive resume has him working on film stunts in several major movie productions, like “The Fate and the Furious,” “CHIPS,” and “Independence Day: Resurgence,” as well as for other action-filled television shows.
Since 2013 Norris has been the stunt coordinator for “Sons of Anarchy,” “The Player,” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” before his work on “24 Legacy.” A former NASCAR driver and the youngest son of Chuck Norris, he is no stranger to creating adrenaline-fueled gunfights, motorcycle, and car chases, as well as hand-to-hand combat and fight scenes.
With the departure of Masi Oka, Five-0 lost their medical examiner. Fans loved the quirky, but completely likable and steadfast, Dr. Max Bergman. Still, when Dr. Noelani Cunha– played by Hawaiʻi actress, Kimee Balmilero– joined the cast and took over Oka’s spot, fans took it all in stride. Dr. Cunha quickly became just “Noelani” to the Five-0 crew, as McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) often asked her to help him with patching up different members of the Five-0 ʻohana.
Dr. Cunha has been a strong addition to the Five-0 team. She started at the beginning of the season working “The Chess-Piece Killer” case, and she quickly moved from being just a co-worker to a reliable friend. She has come through on several occasions to help McGarrett when he asked her to patch up Sang Min (Will Yun Lee). And she came through to stitch up Danny (Scott Caan)– prompting her to ask if they disliked hospitals, and reminding them that her medical forte dealt more with the dead– not the living.
Still, she seems to be someone they can trust as she was the first person Jerry (Jorge Garcia) sought out when he thought the Five-0 crew was in trouble. In turn, Dr. Cunha seems to equally trust the Five-0 team, as she reached out to Kono (Grace Park) to help with the case of a young woman who is being abused and sex-trafficked. While Dr. Cunha knows her job and how to help the team with clues and information, she is also quick with a comment, and always willing to lend the team a hand– no matter how unorthodox. She is not a carbon copy of Max– and as much as we all loved him– Noelani is a sweet and effective addition to the Five-0 ʻohana.
I think one of the biggest Five-0 season seven puzzle pieces that we have to wrap our minds around, is the bit of teaser about the season seven finale that was released this week. The synopsis for the finale “Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono” (“The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”) has McGarrett risking his life when Five-0 attempts a dangerous rescue of young girls trapped in the sex trafficking ring they have been tracking since “Pukaʻana” (“Exodus”).
This sounds like a great and exciting episode, but it really is the closing sentence that makes me a bit nervous. “Also, Kono (Grace Park), deeply affected by the case, makes a life-changing decision.”
What could this possibly mean?
It could mean that there are some changes coming for season eight that might now be as popular, or as gradually handled as our season seven changes have been this year. Not that we can’t live with change, but with every change comes a moment of getting used to the change, and I’m hopeful that season eight will start off in September without a hitch.
But if other season finales have told us anything– change comes and when it does it comes with a price.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
This week’s rebroadcast of “ʻElua Lā Ma Nowemapa” (“Two Days in November”) gave us a nostalgic glance into old Waikīkī– when the Pink Place reigned and Don Ho was only known as a popular nightclub act.
The episode first aired in November a few days before the fifty-fourth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. While the case Five-0 investigates is the murder of an active conspiracy theorist, it is the nostalgic flashbacks to Hawaiʻi in the 1960s that sets the episode apart.
Next week, “Hawaii Five-0” returns with a new episode, “He keʻu na ka ʻalae a Hina” (“A Croaking By Hina’s Mudhen”), which has McGarrett and the team working to stop a terrorist attack on Oʻahu.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright, and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
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