Hawaii Five-O” took a hiatus for Thanksgiving week, marking the week with a Friday night Grammy history special. Absence only makes the hearts of “Hawaii Five-O” faithful grow fonder for any news on the police drama and its dedicated bearers of the badge. The latest cast photo released last week represents the growing “ohana” on the show, and Eddie, the dog, is front and center as island ambassador for law and order. The assembly also represents the concerted effort to show appreciation for all the cultures of Hawaii [VIDEO], and the featured roles that have become more prominent throughout Season 8. Part of the changes certainly came from the unexpected transitions of cast departures, and perhaps the jolt was good for the growth of overall cultural consciousness in television.

The last time fans saw Alex O'Loughlin as Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett as a pilot, he was really thinking “out of the box” for the season’s premiere. The boss dared to lift all of his “Hawaii Five-O” teammates out of a blazing wildfire by lifting them all together in a cabin via cables and his helicopter. Of course, call it fantastical, but only this man in charge could see through such a rescue. This week, McGarrett takes to the skies again to solve a case of a dead pilot.

Everyone in the frame

The newly released photo of the “Hawaii Five-O” cast is remarkably different from those of past seasons, and not just in the number of performers included. For all previous seasons, only the five members of “Five-O” were included. Of course, a few shots including Alex O'Loughlin [VIDEO] and Scott Caan as the most beloved “bromance” partners in all of cop TV are necessary, as well.

The staging for past photos usually featured the squinting “death stare” into the camera.

The current photo portrays not just the show’s namesake group, but all the crew who have any part, from finding escape locations, as Jorge Garcia provides as Jerry Ortega, to Kimee Balmilero as Dr. Noelani Cunha on forensics mastery. The ambiance of the photo is also unique. Everyone from a seated Chi McBride (Lou) upon the rocks to Taylor Wily as Kamekona, is doing his, or her, best to be themselves, to the extent that anyone can on a photo shoot.

Who’s the real star?

Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan are wearing very similar shirts in chambray fabric, but it is the canine cast member, Eddie, who is all dolled up as a dog, wearing a traditional palm leaf lei of blessing. The faithful pooch rescued by Steve has been a fan-favorite from the first lick, with the leader of the team ordering that the dog gets his due of appropriate affection before being pressed into service. The softer side of Steve McGarrett certainly comes through his kisses on the head for Eddie.

The “pawsome” new cast member is doing his part for ratings, which have been at highs all season so far. When Eddie doesn’t even have a scene, he still manages to steal one. He was the hot topic of conversation between Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) and Steve in catching up before the holiday break.

This Friday’s episode competes again in the longest title competition. “He Kaha Lu’u Ke Ala, Mai Ho’okolo Aku” (Translated as “The Trail Leads to a Diving Place, Do Not Follow After), puts “Hawaii Five-O” to work with the case of a pilot killed during an air show. The preview teases a “hot dog” McGarrett asking for permission to buzz the tower.

There's no way to know if Eddie has had any training to be a dog in flight, but at least he already knows how to take cover.