Hawaii Five-0 executive producer Peter Lenkov has his feet propped up on a long table, where the rest of the show’s writing staff also sits. All eyes are on the two dry erase boards covered in small, all-caps writing that run the length of the room. Here, much of the so-called “fan-built episode” is outlined but two unplaced pawns remain — a toy rocket and a maze.
Prior to this day in December, fans of the show voted on elements that would be worked into the storyline. They picked the setting (Chin Ho’s High School Reunion), the victim (a macadamia nut tycoon), the murder weapon (a five-inch stiletto), the evidence (the rocket), the suspect (a struggling illusionist, played by Rob Corddry), and the scene of the takedown (a giant maze).
The maze takedown will be easy to place, they say. Takedowns happen at the end of the episode. But the rocket is, um, up in the air. “We have some ideas, though,” says Christina Kim, the episode’s writer.
“The fun of this was finding the most diverse [elements] so it feels like fans are throwing us a curveball,” Lenkov says of the vote. “‘How are we going to tell a story with all of these very unconnected pieces?’ That’s the fun as writers — you want a challenge.”
For the record, the hardest object to work with was the stiletto, Lenkov says, because they wanted it to be incorporated in a unique way. (“Again, the audience, you don’t want them to give you the ingredient, and already know how it’s going to be used.”) And he was most thankful for the high school reunion because it gave the writers a chance to teach the audience more about Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) and Jerry (Jorge Garcia), who accompanies him to the event. “You’re going to see a world of Chin’s that we never get to see,” he says.
Take a look at an exclusive clip from the episode below:
Hawaii Five-0 airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.