Hawaii Five-0 wasted no time in revealing what happened to the characters played by departing cast members Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park during Friday’s season 8 premiere.
As previously teased, Kim’s Chin Ho Kelly left for San Francisco to start his own task force — a selling point McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) uses in the premiere while enlisting Tani Rey (Meaghan Rath), a police academy flunky, who is initially hesitant to join the team.
Park’s Kono, meanwhile, was last seen in the finale on a plane en route to Carson City to take down a sex trafficking ring. As Danny (Scott Caan) reveals to Tani at the end of the hour, Kono is still on the mainland with a task force trying to achieve that goal.
Tani does join Five-0 after quickly being thrown to the fire — literally, there was a huge fire on the island and she cemented her place on the team and within their ohana after their ordeal. Ultimately, it’s the memories of both Kono and Chin that are instrumental in bringing Tani onto the team.
In June, it was announced that both Kim and Park would exit ahead of the procedural’s eighth season. Kim posted a lengthy Facebook message to fans explaining he decided to leave the show after contract negotiations with the network failed. Kim and Park reportedly had been seeking equal pay with stars O’Loughlin and Caan. (Kim later told reporters that walking away from H50 was about maintaining a “steadfast sense of your self-worth.”) CBS, in turn, responded with a statement saying the network offered the duo “large and significant salary raises.” H50 boss Peter Lenkov, meanwhile, defended the network and the show’s continued diversity in response to outcry online over three Asian characters leaving (Masi Oka exited during season 7).
Though the duo is gone, their presence will still continue to be felt. “There’s always opportunity for those characters to either return, or at least return in their mind, in the stories that we tell,” executive producer Peter Lenkov recently told EW, leaving the door open for Kim or Park to return in the future. “As long as somebody doesn’t have a bullet in them and laying flat on a slab, there’s always that possibility.”
It’s also not the last we’ve heard of them, either. Kono’s husband Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) will return in episode 7 to kick off an arc where he’ll be assisting Five-0 — meaning we should get another update on Kono then. “We do mention it, we do talk about it,” Lenkov said. “It’s definitely going to be a part of Adam’s arc when he returns.” (More details here.)
And Tani won’t be the only new recruit. Beulah Koale will make his debut in the third episode as Junior Reigns (Beulah Koale), a former Navy SEAL who just returned from serving his country and asks McGarrett, a fellow SEAL, for a job, hoping to repurpose his skills as a member of Five-0. Get more details about the character here.
Hawaii Five-0 airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.