Over the summer, “Hawaii Five-O” handled its share of rough waters, whether they should have been expected or otherwise, with beloved cast choosing to seek other professional horizons, and new cast coming in to make the team true to its name. One ray of light that had fan sites going completely aflutter was the sighting of English actor, chris vance, back on the set as Harry Langford, the MI6 British spy from Season 7, shooting new episodes. This week, the fruits of that labor came as the vision of Episode 3 for Season 8, “Kau pahi, ko’u kua, Kau pu, ko’u po’o” (translated in Hawaiian as “Your Knife, My Back, My Gun, Your Head”).

The intent of the show runners is clear, that favorite past stars will ease the transition pains of adjusting to the new team. The aim might be pure, and series ratings in this new season are going strong, but there are stories waiting to be told from within the elite force that beg for an audience, and “Hawaii Five-O” already has one waiting.

Battling boring luxury

Harry Langford turns up, appealing to Steve and Danny (Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan) to let him assist on a case, explaining that he's becoming bored with the courteous drone of luxury hotel life, making small talk with beautiful women at cocktail parties, and simply not having enough to do since taking his retirement pension.

The team is on the trail of a mass killer who mows down the majority of a crime family, all trying to preserve the life of the son of the Akada boss, living in virtual imprisonment in his high tower, consumed in fear. This episode was likely postponed due to the content coming to painfully close to the real-life tragedy of the Las Vegas shooting.

Some female fans were swooning at Chris Vance in swim trunks, rising from the surf, and completely dapper in his suit revealed from the elevator.

It doesn't take long for him to immerse himself in “Five-O” affairs, pitching that the upholstery for the booths at Steve's restaurant should be bland so they can sell at the “going out of business” liquidation. He tells the partners that they may surely miss the “hargy-pargy” (his English term for their arguments) and excitement of luring crooks to justice once no bullets are flying past them on a daily basis.

It doesn't take long for Langford to put his training to use, as he takes down Akada henchmen in the cargo trailer of a truck without so much as a drop of blood to stain his suit. It doesn't take long for him to give a special greeting to Tani (Meaghan Rath) who doesn't exactly warm to his British flattery of her “newbie” enthusiasm and stylish espadrilles. One of the best lines goes to Steve and Danny, who Langford deems to be “dead behind the eyes.” He apparently had no view of those eyes’ expressions from the front seat.

Tani and Lou (Chi McBride) fall under more Akada mob assault, and she shows off her abilities with weaponry and street-smart chutzpah again.

A tip on a waitress to the mob comes too late to save her life but leads to a “retiring” piano teacher (Steven Brand) who turns out to be the completely crazed gunman out for revenge in the death of his son, and the waitress, his girlfriend.

Deeper than the known

“Hawaii Five-O” is built on tradition, and fans applaud the homage to that tradition of the original series, its portrayal of the military, and the genuine embracing of “ohana” that permeates the storylines. Thus far in the new season, Randy Couture, Joey Lawrence, and now, Chris Vance have all played their recurring roles. Couture’s character, Jason DuClair, chose to make his final fiery exit in the first episode.

It’s all fine and fun to hearken back to favorites, and the casting has been part of giving fans a sense of familiar “sameness.” Now, stories need to turn inward, and go deeper into the lives of the team members, both old and new, to give humanity and empathy famous in “Hawaii Five-O” lore.

What is Tani Rey’s family story? We know she was booted from the Police Academy, we know she lost her father, but what was her full journey? Junior Reigns, introduced with passion by Beulah Koale last week, is bursting at the seams with “the right stuff” for a “Five-O” future, but why or what compelled him to leave “the sand” and the service while still so young?

The answers to these mysteries alone can manifest a whole season, and there are still the riches of the “regulars” to explore.

After their failed dinner offering for Harry Langford and his latest significant other, Steve and Danny should probably invest in some basic culinary classes and restaurant management training before hanging drapes at their fine dining establishment. This diversion lays open a wealth of possibilities for the partners, but especially in this season, these characters deserve the respect of stories that dig below the surface and solving cases and aim for the fences in a home run.

Familiar characters are like one of Kamekona’s shrimp spring rolls, a delightful appetizer, before a satisfying, full dinner. “Hawaii Five-O” can definitely deliver.

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