For “Hawaii Five-0,” who starts their eighth season next Friday, Sept. 29, the concept of drama should be second nature. Yet since the beginning of their last season, the hit television show has been plagued by more drama than any television show should ever face. Since last fall, the popular action drama has dealt with death, intense controversy, and the untimely exit of several cast and crew members. Many fans are looking forward to next week’s season eight premiere, “ʻAʻole e ʻōlelo mai ana ke ahi ua ana ia” (“Fire Will Never Say that It Has Had Enough”) because as one fan told me last week– “it will be one of the best moments we’ve experienced since the premiere last year.”
Some fans may disagree with that statement, but many have had a hard time wrapping their head around the changes the show has made in the last few months. Besides the departure of series stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, fans are still trying to understand why they– and the press– were shut out of the traditional Hawaiian blessing and the celebration of the start of shooting in July.
They are also confused by the “postponement” of the annual “Sunset on the Beach” season premiere on Waikīkī Beach. Executive producer Peter Lenkov has said via Twitter that they are “still trying to lock down a date.” Many fans are deeply disappointed that CBS has decided not to have the season premiere on the beach this month. Many fans feel that the cast and crew just do not want to put themselves out there to be questioned about the controversy surrounding Kim and Park’s exit.
Or maybe they do not want to answer the endless questions about whether or not this will be their last season. This stems from series star Alex O’Loughlin’s November 2016 interview where he said that season eight might be his last. Coupled with Lenkov’s response that the show would move forward without the popular star, fans started off 2016 already on edge.
The year was also plagued by several incredibly sad moments. Soon after the O’Loughlin interview, Hawaiʻi actor Keo Woolford, who played Detective James Chang off and on between 2011 to 2015, had a stroke and suddenly passed away. After the start of the new year, actor Masi Oka, a series regular, who portrayed Dr. Max Bergman from the start of the series– left to pursue other projects. Soon after Five-0 celebrated both Oka and his character Max in “Ua hoʻi ka ʻōpua i Awalua” (“The Clouds Always Return to Awalua”), stunt coordinator Jeff Cadiente left the show in the middle of shooting season seven.
Still, season seven of “Hawaii Five-0” ended on a very interesting note. The finale episode “Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono” (“The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness”) aired in May and wrapped up a very successful year. Ratings were up, the series finally had a strong lead-in show with “MacGyver,” and the news of Five-0 coming back for an eighth season was, even more, confirmation of the success of the action drama.
The episode ended with the team celebrating the end of a tough, yet very personal, case. Five-0 successfully broke a few laws of gravity to break up of a sex trafficking ring and rescue a truckload of kidnapped young women– but for the most part, the happy ever after ending that everyone hopes for, was short lived.
Fans usually spend the four-month hiatus imagining ideas for the next season. They start by dissecting the season finale and discuss what will happen to their favorite characters and project what they think the season premiere will hold. Yet, in July a huge wrench was thrown into their summer daydreams and hiatus discussions. When it was announced that actors Kim and Park would not be returning to the show, viewers were upset and deeply saddened by their departure. The controversy that surrounded their leaving made the loss even more profound. Add to that the lack of coverage of the Hawaiian blessing and the seeming cancellation of the beloved and long-established “Sunset on the Beach”– and fans were left heartbroken by the additional losses.
So everyone is very excited about next week’s premiere. The new episode will introduce a brand new character, Tani Rey, played by series regular Meaghan Rath. Granted, the only party to surround the new episode will be on our television screens, yet fans are still excited for season eight and fresh episodes of their favorite show.
Everyone is very curious how they will wrap up Chin and Kono’s characters. In the season seven finale, it seemed as if Chin might take on his own task force in San Francisco and ready to settle down with Abby (Julie Benz) and make a family with his adopted niece, Sara (Londyn Silzer). Kono was on a plane headed to Carson City to help find more trafficked girls to save. But they also alluded to the fact that she might also be pregnant.
This creates a bit of a problem as Kono’s husband Adam– played by new series regular, Ian Anthony Dale– has been left behind. I’m not sure how they can have a husband on the show without a wife– at least one that was a major part of the storylines and overall series arc– but I just hope that whatever story they come up with it is believable enough for viewers.
So the team is now made up of McGarrett (O’Loughlin), Danno (Scott Caan), Lou (Chi McBride) and Jerry (Jorge Garcia). Tani will be added in the season premiere. Junior Reigns, played by new series regular Beulah Koale, comes in the third episode of the season, and it looks as if Adam’s (Dale) new storyline will be later in the season.
The other characters also seem to be headed for changes as well. We left the rest of the cast thinking and planning new adventures, and perhaps battling more serious illness. Danno wants to start his own restaurant, which McGarrett affectionately has named “Steve’s”; Lou is worried about his daughter going to college in Chicago, a city that hates Grovers; and McGarrett has finally admitted to Danno that he suffering from radiation sickness.
Danno might (probably, for sure) still be in love with Rachel, and maybe her impending divorce from step-dad Stan might mean a reunion of sorts between the two exes. Yes, Daddy Danno is helping her out with transitioning their children Charlie (Zach Sulzbach) and Grace (Teilor Grubbs) through the emotional change in their lives, but what could this mean for Danno and his relationship with his girlfriend, Melissa (Lili Simmons)? And what does “radiation sickness” and “spells” mean for McGarrett?
So many questions– and only a little less than one week to start getting a few new answers. Perhaps this year the answers will be less heartbreaking for the fans and viewers who have helped “Hawaii Five-0” last for eight seasons.