CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 with its Season 8 premiere explained away two major absences, eased in a new (if reluctant) recruit and even made time for a wildfire of epic proportions.
On the heels of a summer full of news stories about the long-running drama’s cast shake-up, we very quickly were introduced to Tani Rey (played by new series regular Meaghan Rath), a hotel lifeguard who had been an extremely promising cadet at the police academy… until she cheated on her written exam and punched/broke a TO’s nose. Steve and Danny invite her to hang up her two-piece and help them track a hacker nicknamed Mizchief — and in the course of doing so, reveal that Chin Ho Kelly has moved to San Francisco to head up a mainland version of the task force — but Tani repeatedly and politely declines.
The hacker in question (remarkably) easily plugs into the security system at the prison where elite arsonist Duclair had been cooling his heels, allowing the firebug to simply walk out. Duclair, the team later learns, got sprung to help some dope dealers exact revenge on the arsonist who unwittingly torched their supply — only to have Duclair them immolate them afterwards. Meanwhile, Mizchief is revealed to be Aaron Wright, brother of the similarly talented Ian Wright (who years ago kidnapped Grover’s daughter and was eventually pout down by Wo Fat). Turns out that Tani knew exactly who Mizchief was when first asked, which McGarrett & Co. glean upon bumping into her at the hacker’s hideaway, where they interrupt Duclair from roasting another associate. Duclair, alas, gets away, and sets out to lay flame to the entire island, starting with a massive wildfire.
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With Tani bolstering their ranks, McGarrett, Danny and Grover head into the crackling forest, leading to an extended skirmish between Steve and the hulking Duclair. Despite Steve’s instruction to do otherwise, Tani ends the scuffle with a bullet to the arsonist’s leg. From there, it’s a question of everyone surviving the raging inferno, as they hole up in a small cabin about to be engulfed in flames. Steve makes a run for it back out into the fire, and against (literally) all (of the) odds not only hails but takes over the piloting of a rescue helicopter. He then lowers down several giant cables which the team very quickly deduces are to be used for the improbable lassoing and hoisting of the entire cabin itself, with them inside. And it works!
In the wake of the cheating of death, Danny checks in on Tani, who’s mulling a full-time offer from McGarrett. In the course of this conversation, as Danny details how Steve has a knack for reaching out to people who could use a pillar of support like him in their lives, Danny reveals that one such person, Kono, is now off chasing sex traffickers on the mainland. So that is two exits accounted for, and at least one new recruit set to bolster the Five-0 team.
The premiere closes with a callback to an earlier scene, where Danny revealed to Steve the empty space he was eyeballing to serve as home to their restaurant idea. Steve was initially skeptical (or at least more prone to explore this folly closer to retirement), but in the coda he produces a signed lease — regardless of how unsound the idea of opening an Italian place in the heart of Chinatown seems!
What did you think of the premiere, Tani’s intro included?