(If you have yet to see season 1 of Hawaii Five-0, this article may contain spoilers. Read on at your own risk.)
Caught between the demographic stealing Monday Night Football, and the counter-programming of the Nathan Fillion-led hit Castle (ironically on the former home of Monday Night Football), Hawaii Five-0 had its work cut out for it from the get go.
Though the show fell short of becoming the next NCIS or CSI the network was looking for, H50 did manage to earn a solid and loyal fan base – who will no doubt be expecting more from the show’s return this fall.
In keeping with those fans’ expectations, CBS and executive producer Peter Lenkov have big plans for the Hawaii Five-0 team in season 2. With shooting expected to begin sometime in July, the series’ writers have plotted much of the second season – which will not only reconcile the dramatic cliffhanger of the first year finale, but also integrate some new cast members.
When last we saw them, the team had been essentially disassembled. Team leader Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) was being led away in handcuffs by Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Day Kim) – presumed guilty of murdering Governor Pat Jameson (Jean Smart). While rookie Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) was being investigated by internal affairs for her role in some $200,000 that went missing from an asset forfeiture locker earlier in the season – leaving Danno Williams (Scott Caan) the only member of the team capable of clearing McGarrett’s name – at great cost to his personal life.
Lenkov admits the cliffhanger he wrote with Paul Zbsyzewki (Lost), which ended season 1, was done to create a seamless transition into the season 2 premiere.
"…we were writing the finale, and also writing the first episode of Season 2 at almost the same time. In order to put [characters] in those kinds of situations, you have to know the endgame. You can't just put it in and then paint yourself into a corner and think, ‘How do I get them out?’ But we had all these really strong ideas of what we wanted to do in Season 2, and a lot of it is based on how we leave them at the end of Season 1."
Without the team together, there isn’t much of a show. Lenkov assures fans that the kind of conflict season 1 ended on can be entertaining (for a short while), but achieving some semblance of normalcy will be the main goal – at least for the first episode.
"There is a resolution at the end of [the first episode], but we still keep a big part of it open. So the team is sort of back together, not really. There are some dynamics that have changed in how they're going to move forward. There's also a new governor who's not going to be as lenient as the last governor, because the last governor had an agenda.”
Obviously a new governor will be sworn in, and have the ability to directly oversee the Five-0 team. While we don’t yet know who will fill the role, Lenkov did let slip some details about the character – and why he or she will create a much different dynamic for Steve McGarrett and his team.
"The last governor gave them full immunity and means, but that was just because she wanted to make McGarrett happy, and she was keeping an eye on him. I think the new governor is sort of more realistic and is going to draw the line -- he may give them jurisdiction, but maybe not the immunity and means they had last season. The idea is maybe he's going to be a little more strict with them."
That means no more taping grenades to pawn shop doors like in the episode ‘Powa Maka Mona’.
The upheaval stemming from the events of season 1 won’t be the only thing Hawaii Five-0 focuses on in the upcoming season, Lenkov warns. Unlike other CBS shows, the primary Hawaii Five-0 cast will return entirely – and make a few additions.
“…we're adding another [member] to this task force. And I'm really excited because there are some major surprises -- there's one in the first episode of the season that I'm hoping is as shocking as the governor being bad. We think it is, but we're hoping it's amazing, ‘oh my god, I can't believe they did that.’ So I'm looking forward to that."
There is a list of usual suspects, involved briefly during the first season, who seem to be a shoe-in for the new member on the task force – Masi Oka (Heroes) and Larisa Oleynik (Mad Men, Psych) immediately come to mind.
In May, it was announced that guest star Masi Oka was going to be promoted to series regular. Oka will continue to play Dr. Max Bergman, the socially awkward coroner who assisted the team a few times last year. Oka and his character seem like a great fit because what is a CBS cop drama without a quirky coroner to help break up some tension? However, that doesn’t necessarily mean Bergman is the new member of the task force Lenkov was talking about.
Late in the season, McGarrett found himself reluctantly (at first) teaming up with Jenna Kaye (Larisa Oleynik) – who also had a score to settle with Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos). At season’s end, Kaye appeared to have an unofficial role on the team. Will her place be more permanent come season 2, or does Lenkov have a completely new character in mind?
Fans may worry that the addition of a new member means less time for the expansion of those with already established, but perhaps underdeveloped, characters. One aspect many thought was missing in season 1 was a good solid storyline for Grace Park. Having had so many amazing episodes of Battlestar Galactica revolve directly around her, being relegated to acting as bait or hacking an ATM security camera seemed to shortchange the actress a bit.
In season 2, Park’s role will increase almost immediately. Lenkov says:
“…we have a really great arc for Kono that starts at the beginning of the year, which we're excited about because it really gives her a lot of meat.”
Finally, along with the additions and changes to the status quo, the Hawaii Five-0 team will expand their area of influence.
“…we wanted to explore the other islands, and I think we just never got the chance. We're going to do that this year. We have these little ambitions, and that's one of them. Because it's Hawaii Five-0 and not Oahu Five-0, they can go to the other islands. And ultimately we want to explore off the islands. It's a task force, and the idea is there are no real boundaries for them."
It's hard to say if all these changes and additions will result in a better Hawaii Five-0. But with a show like this, more might just work out for the better.
Hawaii Five-0 returns to its regular time, Mondays @10pm on CBS this fall.