“Hawaii Five-O” fans had reason to breathe a sigh of relief last week when it was announced that Season 8 would start on September 29. Loyal followers of the most elite force against crime on the islands can now make arrangements to celebrate. What is not so joyous to consider is that the drama set against the lush Hawaiian landscape may lose two beloved cast members across the span of next season.

Since last Fall, Australian leading man Alex O'Loughlin has hinted that Season 8 would be the farewell for his portrayal Navy Seal and Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett. “Hawaii Five-O” has not made any official determinations or announcements as of this early date, and granting the drama’s very early renewal for next season is a gift to the cast and longtime fans alike.

Recent news releases indicate that Grace Park, who has packed a ferocious girl power into every kick and move to capture wicked crooks, may also be departing from the drama. What are the clues?

New girl on board

At the last scene in the heart-thumping Season 7 finale, Kono Kalakaua is en route to Carson City, Nevada, on a mission to ensure that not another young girl is taken into the sex trade. Will her new passion mean parting from her team for just a while, or forever? “Hawaii Five-O” is said to be casting for a new female character named Tani.

Tani is stubborn, smart, and has had a history of troubles butting heads with her police academy superiors, leading to her expulsion.

Those kind of characteristics are not too far apart from those of other “Five-O” heroes, so she should blend right into the mix. McGarrett and “Danno” give the pitch to recruit her after seeing her on lifeguard duty.

The tough part is drawing faithful fans in every Friday night when a favorite female character is gone, and the looming departure of the leading man since “Hawaii Five-O” debuted in 2010 is likely certain.

Alex O'Loughlin had some success with stem cell therapies for numerous back issues, according to his own words last fall.

He has been very open with fans and the show-runners alike that the actor’s certainty that “my body’s got some fixing to do” is no understatement. Being able to be a robust and active father with his young family takes precedence over any TV part. He and “Hawaii Five-O” fans can only hope that these non-drug treatments keep doing enough mending to keep McGarrett on duty for awhile longer.

Scott Caan already has negotiated abbreviated shooting schedules to allow him to have time on the mainland for time with family and favorite projects. It's not likely that the star used to juggling so many talents with playwriting and movies on his plate alongside the police drama would be willing to surrender more personal time.

A favorites’ roster of old friends

A recent article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser asked fans to send in ideas for who they would like to see in Season 8, seeing that it may be a hard one to swallow with possible goodbyes.

Naturally, there is a steadfast contingent that wishes only for Steve McGarrett and Catherine Rollins, played by Michelle Borth, to be together again. Anything is possible in television land, but such a romantic restoration seems hardly plausible with the past heartache for the naval hero, who O'Loughlin dubs “the poor bastard” when it comes to women.

Maggie Q and Dwayne Johnson have been nominated for consideration. Many have voted that it would be a tip of the hat to bring on Sophia Myles and Jason Dohring into a storyline since both starred along with O’Loughlin in his one-season run as the vampire private investigator Mick St. John in “Moonlight.” Walton Coggins, who worked with Alex on “The Shield,” could definitely add a gritty angle to any role.

Surprise keeps life interesting, and “Hawaii Five-O” always steers into more twists and turns than Danny’s car heading to a crime scene. Before thinking about farewells, focus on the action and emotion that is bound to be served in heaping portions through the coming season

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