What could be better than “Hawaii Five-O” to fill fans’ hearts with dreams of surf and sand while so many shivers under the throes of the brutal “cyclone bomb” blizzard conditions on the mainland? “Hawaii Five-O” has always been an emotional and visual escape from the doldrums of the typical day for faithful fans, but in this week's January 5 winter premiere for Season 8, the intrepid crime-fighters have to summon all the help they can in “Ka hopu nui ‘ana” (The Round-Up). Despite all the intervention, tragic loss, and “executioner’s justice” a bitter triumph surfaces.

Camaraderie over conflict

Commander McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) has a few contentious moments with FBI Agent Fischer (Kip Pardue) when he finds out that the FBI is asking one of his team, Tani (Meaghan Rath), to give Intel on Adam (Ian Anthony Dale), without McGarrett's knowledge. The boss not only vouches for Adam’s character on the right side of the law but declares that “I trust him with my life.” He makes it clear that this visit is direct but polite, and that a second one will not have such decorum.

When photos are produced showing Adam visiting the jailed Yakuza Madam, Michelle Shioma (Michelle Krusiec), Steve realizes how Adam has become a target in the crackdown of gang violence on the island.

Adam comes clean about Shioma asking him to visit her in prison so that the “soccer mom” crime boss could get updates from him on the safety of her children. Adam reminds her that she is the primary reason that her children are in protective custody, and he walks out before she reveals a secret that she says will change his life.

A deadly bomb is left at the doorstep of Agent Fischer's home just as he and his family are moving in, killing them all. When Steve looks upon the bodies, and the remains of the beloved stuffed animal still clung to by the young daughter, he dedicates himself to rounding up every gang-related criminal. The team calls on police help from all corners, canceling leave, and calling up the National Guard to transport the potential perpetrators to a rendition center for interrogation.

No one is talking

It's very satisfying to see every “Hawaii Five-O” team member take on responsibility in this case. Junior Reigns (Beulah Koale) is selfless and heroic as he is ordered to go in as a backup in taking in gang target Alvarez. In the process, an officer is fatally shot, while he pulls another to safety, and goes in to take his man. The life-and-death battle takes every tool and bit of training the enthusiastic Navy Seal has yet acquired in a capture that was supposed to be “baby steps” in being “Five-O.” Alvarez is killed, and Junior is haunted by the loss of the officer, despite his own wounds. Death is never an easy reality. His action of rinsing his hands is powerfully symbolic.

Tani has to face her shadowy past in the capture of Bautista (Jon Chaffin), who happens to be a boyfriend from her past, and formerly involved with her brother. Catching up on life works until she reveals her badge, and then he explains that his “boys” will be taking him to a nicer hideaway. Fearless as always, she leaps with her suspect in a dive to the pool, and asks, “Do you want me to break your arm, too?” before taking him in handcuffs.

Eddie, the dog, does his magic again with Steve and Captain Grover, putting them right on the tail of Hector Garcia, their target. Hector manages to tunnel his way out of the spacious mansion, but Steve and Eddie take him down at the outside point of escape.

It would seem after gathering so many suspects, and using Jerry’s microphone “bugs” in every corner of the building, information would start to flow. The team soon realizes that every boss they pump for leads has none because they are “telling the truth.”

McGarrett opts to trace a lead to the current Yakuza leader, Brandon Kenzo (Lanny Joon). Joon is perfect for this part and cool as a mob snake should be. Steve asks Adam to put his old life connections to use, to lure Kenzo into custody. Adam hasn't lost his icy veins or his courage, facing eight loaded guns as he convinces Kenzo to surrender. Kenzo confirms to Steve that he's not “crazy” enough to bring this level of heat on himself.

Slaughter and searching

Jerry (Jorge Garcia) witnesses an on-camera takeover at the rendition center. Masked assailants release the high-value targets from their cages, line them up, and shoot them from behind. By the time “Hawaii Five-O” arrives on the scene, the blood and carnage are all that remain, and the shooters are gone.

Tani wants to take the one personal effect of Bautista to his mother, and she comforts Junior, still fixated on the fallen officer’s body, and his own feelings of failure. “This is not on you,” she assures before taking him home.

Steve is struggling with the senseless loss, and suffering from the fact that he “hasn’t had a day this bad in a long time,” with a killer still free.

He tells Adam about information he has on gang activity from Japan and asks that Adam head his own task force devoted just to this mission, knowing it will mean “going back” into his former life, in a sense. Two words close the episode, as Adam answers “I’m in.”

All is not well in this ending, but there are elements that make the episode well worth keeping.