Hawaii Five-0: Daniel Dae Kim Previews a Suffering Like Chin Has Never Known

This Friday on Hawaii Five-0 (CBS, 9/8c), Chin Ho Kelly’s birthday party comes crashing down around him, when in the midst of the revelry he learns that his niece Sara has been kidnapped.

What immediately follows that alarming phone call is Chin at his most unhinged, Daniel Dae Kim tells TVLine.

“The fact that he goes to save Sara without even telling the team is a first,” the actor points out. “The team means everything to Chin Ho, so the fact that his paternal instinct kicked in and he just took off in the middle of his own party, and in a state of panic, says everything. That’s something he’s never done before, and it’s very unlike his character.”

Driving Chin’s despair is the thought of losing the little girl he only met late last season but quickly came to regard almost as a daughter (ergo his close vetting of her adoption, by a couple that ultimately perhaps had too close of ties to Sara’s father, ruthless criminal Gabriel Waincroft).

“It’s the most poignant episode I’ve been involved in, but I would also describe it as one that showcases a side of Chin we’ve never seen before — specifically, the love he didn’t know he had for a little girl he’s come to treat like family. As family,” says Kim.

Of course, Chin has lost family before — namely, his wife Malia, who was fatally stabbed to death at the close of Season 2. In dealing with Sara’s abduction, he is “as distraught as he was at the death of his wife, but it’s slightly different,” says the actor. “Watching your children suffer in any way hits you in a different place than anything else, so it’s hard to equate it with any other suffering Chin has had in his life.”

In fact in preparing for this episode, Kim shares, “I strung it back to the death of his wife Malia, because I think Chin thinks of Sara as the child they would have had, had she been alive. If you think about it, [that child] would be around Sara’s age, so when Sara came into his life, it opened up a side of him that he didn’t even realize was missing.”

Sara was originally introduced as but “a complication” in the Gabriel storyline, Kim recalls, but subsequent conversations with showrunner Peter M. Lenkov “revealed the depth of the relationship they would share, and I loved it. Over the course of seven seasons, Chin has been able to do a lot of different things, but he’s never been a parent. He’s never shown the love that he’s had for his team and for his romantic partners to a child, so it was a great new avenue for him.”

Five-0 being Five-0, of course, Chin’s exploration of that “new avenue” — punctuated by his desperation to satisfy the kidnappers’ slowly revealed, jaw-dropping demands — will trigger plenty of gunplay and pyrotechnics.

“Our show is noted for some high-octane action, and this was no exception,” Kim assures. “But it’s much more satisfying to me, as an actor, when the action is rooted in character, and not just gratuitous. When it’s emotionally driven, it helps the audience understand the stakes — and the cost — of the characters’ actions. That’s a theme that Peter has been exploring this year, ‘the cost of doing the job that we do as Five-0,’ and this storyline falls right in line with that theme.”

But what cost will Uncle Chin have to pay, as Five-0 wraps its fall run?