Considering all the changes “Hawaii Five-0” fans have learned about in the last month, there has been lots of concern about the fate of season eight. The season premiere is slated for Sept. 29, and fans have wondered how the show will deal with the exit of the actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, as well as the six new additions to the main cast.
Last week, we released the news that Hawaiʻi actors Dennis Chun, Taylor Wily, and Kimee Balmilero had been moved from the recurring cast member list to series regulars, along with Ian Anthony Dale, who will continue in the series as Adam Noshimuri. Meaghan Rath will play a new character, Tani Rey, who McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) recruits after finding her working as a lifeguard at a hotel pool after she was kicked out of the Police Academy. Beulah Koale will portray Junior Reigns, a former Navy SEAL who just returned from serving his country and asks McGarrett, a fellow SEAL, for a job, hoping to repurpose his skills as a member of Five-0.
Many fans were disheartened that Hawaiʻi actors Shawn Mokuahi Garnett, who plays Kamekona’s (Wily) cousin Flippa, and Teilor Grubbs, who plays Danno’s (Scott Caan) daughter Grace– were not included in the move to the main cast. While both actors are beloved by fans and well-respected by the cast and crew, it seems as if those who were made series regulars are important to the central story of the Five-0 task force. Main characters are important to the overall story arcs that fuel the action and plot lines of each episode.
Hopefully, the movement of Hawaiʻi actors Chun, Wily, and Balmilero to series regulars has set a precedent for “Hawaii Five-0” to continue casting other local actors to bigger and more important roles. It also paves the way for Garnett and Grubbs– and perhaps Kala Alexander, who plays Kawika, Al Harrington, who plays Mamo Kahike, and Kekoa Kekumano, who plays Nahele Huikala– to also be considered for stronger prominence in future episodes, as well as placing them all in a better position to be made series regulars as the show continues.
Still, the season eight promotions have somewhat calmed the diversity issue that the show faced with the contract issues surrounding Kim and Park’s departure. The six newest members of the main cast represent in part the Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Samoan community, and along with fellow series regulars Chi McBride and Jorge Garcia, definitely help to dispel the idea that the show lacks diversity. But it is what will happen with these new series regulars once the show starts again in September that has the fans concerned.
They wonder about where the show left off in season seven, and what happens now to the characters who remain. Last March, after series regular Masi Oka left the show, I speculated how viewers were dealing with season seven changes as they waited to find out if there would be a season eight. But I definitely could not even imagine what kind of changes fans would have to face in the summer hiatus.
So as we round the corner and head toward the start of season eight, we are all wondering what the new year looks like for the Five-0 team. Of course, McGarrett (O’Loughlin), Danno (Caan), Grover (McBride), and Jerry (Garcia) return and their stories are relatively status quo. Duke (Chun) and Noelani (Balmilero) will continue to aid and assist the team, hopefully in a far more significant and prominent way.
Tani (Rath) and Junior (Koale) seem to be new additions to the team, so we’ll wait and see how they mix with the others. Tani has a bit of conflict already written into her character as a young rookie who seems to buck authority. While it seems reminiscent of Chin’s story before he joined McGarrett and Five-0, it is also a mix of Kono’s story as well– the rookie hand-picked by McGarrett. Tani also seems to reflect McG’s basic nature, so I’m sure he has a soft spot for her and will turn into a mentor she needs in her life.
Junior will definitely up the action within the team. With the loss of Chin’s Big Gun prowess and Kono’s sniper eye, the team needs a bit more muscle to add to McG’s stealth, Danno’s tenacity, and Grover’s SWAT skills. Perhaps this will also lessen the demand of McGarrett always having to do the death-defying action– like jumping off the Hirano Tunnel to a moving truck or being blown out of a second story house and jumping to the ground. Maybe Junior can take over for McG and give the Commander a bit of a physical break. McG might not need it, but we’d like O’Loughlin to last for several more seasons.
Adam’s return is going to be very interesting. Since, in the season seven finale his wife, Kono, left on a jet plane headed for Nevada to chase down sex traffickers. Yet Adam was left behind, and perhaps this means he will take up Kono’s badge as well? The show left Kono’s fate up in the air, as it seemed Park had already made up her mind to leave the show to spend time with her family– as Peter Lenkov’s alluded to in his statement from July 6. Kono’s end was set up for Park to return for a “handful of episodes,” but now even that will not happen. So what does that mean for Dale’s character? I’m hoping they will try and find a way to keep Adam as a main part of the cast, and not just a side player as he has been in the past.
So let’s do some math. We have the four remaining Five-0 task force members- McG, Danno, Grover, and Jerry. We add Tani and Junior. If we add Adam, that makes seven members and then Duke, Noelani, and Kamekona continue with their own jobs, while still important parts of the Five-0 team. That adds up to ten– ten series regulars. The storylines to support these nine can be very significant and rich.
While it looks as if we have lost quite a bit, we have gained new and fresh elements for even stronger storylines and relationships. Sure, we love the action and drama of the weekly cases, but it is the relationships between the members of the team that brings us back season after season. I don’t think the additions to the team will end that equation– I just think it will continue to add to all of the facets that we love about “Hawaii Five-0.”
REDUX SIDE NOTE
The episode that started Kono’s crusade to save the girls from the sex traffickers was this week’s “Hawaii Five-0” rebroadcast. “Pukaʻana” which means “Exodus” in Hawaiian had Kono taking their case of the week very much to heart. So much so that it changed the course of her career and had her leaving the team at the end of the season to save more girls. The episode was extra special as the cast and crew worked with Ho‘ōla Nā Pua, a nonprofit organization that is “dedicated to the renewal of underaged sex trafficked girls through health, education, advocacy, and reintegration.” The Five-0 actors starred in various PSA’s aired during the episode to raise awareness about the truth about sex trafficking– which sadly, is not a fiction story created for a weekly television drama.