Credit: Norman Shapiro/CBS

Hawaii Five-0 may have ended its fall run without a cliffhanger, but the second half of the season will kick off in a big way when Danny (Scott Caan) and Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) are finally forced to face the consequences of their actions after attempting to save Danny’s brother (Dane Cook) by borrowing money from Chin’s ex-con brother-in-law (Christopher Sean). To find out what the team will be facing, EW turned to executive producer Peter Lenkov, who also teases a plethora of incoming guest stars and the future of the CBS series.

EW: What can you tease for what mystery you’re setting up for the second half of the season?

PETER LENKOV: I don’t know if you saw that arc at the beginning of the season with Danny’s brother being taken. There’s going to be consequences coming back for that. The big deal is Chin Ho borrowed money from his ex-brother-in-law to help Danny pay this ransom. They went down to South America to pay that ransom. It turns out Danny’s brother was actually dead. All that’s going to come back and there’s going to be a price to be paid for everything that happened in South America and everything that happened with Chin and his ex-brother-in-law. There’s an arc building to that where we’re trying to really milk that story, and make that a big deal, and there’s repercussions there.

Robert Knepper, I don’t know if you saw the episode last year, with Chin Ho when I.A. was investigating him, but Robert Knepper was investigating him. So this all culminates in episode 518. Robert Knepper is back and Terry O’Quinn is back. There’s a big McGarrett/Terry O’Quinn story coming up. It’s going to pay off everything we did in the first half of the season with regards to that arc. Danny and Chin really bent the law there, and they’re not going to get away with it.

What’s coming up for Steve (Alex O’Loughlin)?

First of all, I think the most important thing for him is getting over the whole thing with Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), what happened in the 100th episode, and getting some final closure from Joe White (Terry O’Quinn). I think Steve still doesn’t trust him, and I think that’s still very evident in the first episode they’re in together, so it’s finally just putting that completely to rest. The idea of finally getting rid of Wo Fat and finally putting that behind him was for McGarrett to move on. In order to move on, I think he also has to put to bed the stuff with his mom. I’m hoping by the end of the season that’s taken care of.

Will Steve and Ellie (Mirrah Foulkes) explore a romantic relationship?

They’re friends. I know people were saying there’s a potential love interest, but right now they’re just friends. I think they have a lot in common. They both lost parents, and I think there’s just a great friendship there. She becomes a real asset to the team, but no romance, at least not on the horizon.

What role does Ellie play in the latter half of the season?

Just somebody who is a go-to person. McGarrett always relies on his contacts. Because she’s in the prosecuting attorney’s office, I think he’s got a good asset there and somebody he can count on for information even if he’s not really supposed to be asking for so many favors. It’s the same way we utilized Michelle Borth’s character at first. That was a fun run until Catherine ended up becoming a part of Five-0.

Speaking of Catherine, are we going to see her back?

I’m hoping. Our plan was always, yes, we want to have her come back, but I think when that happens, it’s going to be really special. We really want to do it in the right way. I’m a big fan of hers, so I’d really love to have her come back.

Is there anything you can tease about Kono (Grace Park)?

We have a big episode coming up—which is 523—it’s a Kono mythology episode. You go back to her relationship with her mother and what she learned about survival in the ocean, how she learned how to surf. It’s a great story about survival. It’s a little like our version of All Is Lost, where Kono sets out to circumnavigate all the islands and she ends up catching a storm and she’s out there just with her paddle board and everybody is looking for her. While that happens, we have these great flashbacks to her growing up and learning about the ocean, respect for the ocean, and her relationship with her mother and father, who we’ve never seen before, they’re going to be in that episode. That’s a big mythology episode.

What guest stars do you have coming up?

We have a lot of big guest stars. We have a big block of CSI: New York guest stars. We have Anna Belknap coming in an episode. Right after that, the next episode is A.J. Buckley, and right after that is Melina Kanakaredes. I’m getting to work with people that I really love and worked with in the past. JC Dekker, played by Xzibit, he’s back. Michael Imperioli is playing a character in a couple episodes, a sort of fun ex-New York transplant who’s become a surfer/confidential informant. Greg Grunberg’s back. Ian Anthony Dale’s back. Barkhad Abdi, I don’t know if you remember him from Captain Phillips. He’s in the show. He’s in an episode coming up, a big episode as well.

Who does he play?

He plays basically Kony, that African warlord who was in the news a few years ago. He plays a character like that hiding on the island here, and somebody discovers that he’s here. And our guys end up confronting him. It’s a big, big episode. We were so lucky to get him, and we wrote it with him in mind. We were able to get him to the island, and that was a big coup for us.

Is there anything you can say about Rebecca Mader’s character?

I don’t want to give away, because if I give you what she’s doing it’s going to give away the story. How about Cloris Leachman? We have a great episode where our guys, McGarrett and Danny, are on a long-term stakeout. They move into this apartment together, and Cloris Leachman is a nosy neighbor who keeps popping by. When she finds out they’re cops, she wants them to help her investigate the person stealing her fern. It’s a really funny episode. There’s real stakes in it. There’s a real case in it, but it’s fun because it starts off with our guys back in therapy together. Now they’re cooped up together on a stakeout, and they’re living together. Those episodes are always really special, when those guys spend a lot of time together you learn more about them through their interactions.

Will we see the return of Doris (Christine Lahti)?

It’s funny because we’re talking around her return. Terry O’Quinn’s coming back, and the two episodes that he’s in, there’s a lot of talk about moms. So far, she’s not planning to come back, but it’s on the books; we just haven’t set the date yet. I’ll tell you one thing—just to go back to Rebecca Mader. The episode that she’s in, it’s like The Thomas Crown Affair. She plays an insurance investigator. I’ll tell you that much. It’s a fun role. It’s a very fun, sexy role. She’s involved in this big, stolen artwork ring. She’s not a part of it, but that’s the story that it takes place in.

Are we going to see more of Dr. Shaw (Amanda Setton)?

We have a couple episodes that she’s scheduled to be in. We love her. It’s just a matter of scheduling, but we love her. We have this great episode that we’re building for her and Danny. A real episode where those two spend a lot of time together because there’s a little connection. They’re going to have some more scenes together in a really cool story coming up.

What about Danno’s love life? I hear Amber’s (Lili Simmons) ex (David Hoflin) is going to come into the picture.

That’s a story where we’re going to find out why she really left New York. She told Danny the reason she left New York in the first episode they met in. Turns out that that’s not really the case why she left. We’re going to meet her ex. Danny suffered this trauma with the discovery of his brother being murdered. He’s been avoiding any kind of relationship. He’s been carrying that pain around for so long. The episode that we have coming up with him and Amber, he hasn’t even been spending time with her and he’s finally coming back to the land of the living. They end up going away to spend some time together and that’s where the ex comes into the picture.

Do you have any upcoming episodes that call back to the original series?

No, we’re not doing that. We’re not doing any reboots of an episode. We’re really just trying to focus on telling some great stories. There’s a big Elvis convention because of Blue Hawaii. It had such a big impact on the island here. We’re going to go to an Elvis convention in an episode. We have an episode coming up, this big diamond heist episode. That’s a two-parter that’s going to be actually separated. The first one is 517 and the second one is going to be 521. We’re just trying to tell very fun, unique to the island stories.

As you are writing the end of the season, are you looking at it as the end of the series or are you building up to a cliffhanger?

I’m hoping it’s not the end. If it is the end, I’ll write to the end, but I’m writing to a cliffhanger. My hope is that we come back and we get to tell more stories. Look, I think we’re doing a good job, even with audiences dwindling the way they are these days; we still have a very strong live audience. That’s always a good thing. In my mind, right now, the story that I’m building for the finale, which is very loose in my head, is a cliffhanger.

Can you say who is involved in the cliffhanger?

How about everybody? How about I tell you it affects everybody? I can’t say any more.

Hawaii Five-0 returns Friday, Jan. 2, at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

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