As we entered the Hawaii Five-0 season 8 premiere on CBS Friday night, the show immediately introduced us to one of its new arrivals: Meaghan Rath as Tani Rey. She is a lifeguard who previously got kicked out of the Police Academy, but Steve McGarrett didn’t care about that. He saw her talent and recognized that she’d be valuable to an undercover operation the he wanted to run. Unfortunately him, said operation escalated very quickly in this episode to the point that the entire island was in danger. Tani said no to his offer, and McGarrett’s stress level immediately escalated.
This brings us to Aaron Wright, played pretty wonderfully by Joey Lawrence. He was a skilled hacker who came to Hawaii to wreck chaos — though his precise motives were unclear. His brother Ian was killed by Wo Fat, so it wasn’t like he could directly get revenge on the Task Force. Nonetheless, he was responsible for letting loose a dangerous criminal from prison, one with a knack for setting things on fire. Suffice it to say, it didn’t take long for things to get crazy here. (We do think Aaron came to regret that later when said arsonist went and made his life hell.)
In terms of special effects, this was one of the best premieres of the show we’ve seen. The deeper you got into the story, the more the fire raged. Eventually Tani changed her mind and decided to join the team, and she certainly proved valuable! She was more than capable of holding her own in battle, and she, like McGarrett, showed a knack for breaking the rules. While everyone else was trying to figure out how to contain the arsonist, she went ahead and shot him in the leg. It worked, so there’s that.
The problem was that even with the arsonist contained, there was still the issue of the fire itself to deal with. Steve went out to deal with trying to be the hero, and for the rest of the team (arsonist included) this became about survival. There was nothing more sinister than listening to our resident criminal this week going on and on about how much he loved fire and what it does to someone. It seems like this was just a distraction so that he could free himself and run off into the fire, leaving everyone else to deal with the aftereffects of the blaze.
Here’s probably the craziest thing about McGarrett doing what he did — this is a dude who already had radiation poisoning and he was still out there risking his life. Somehow, he was able to find a helicopter, get on board, and then use said helicopter to LIFT THE ENTIRE HOUSE THE TEAM WAS HIDING IN BEFORE THE CONVICT ESCAPED. This has to be one of the craziest things we’ve seen on the show ever and we loved every second of it.
Ultimately, the arsonist died in the fire, the team escaped, and they all have a chance now to look towards the future. Tani now seems on board the team, and she already seems like a good fit. We also learned a little bit about her, including that she was an army brat who has seen a lot over the years.
One surprise in the closing minutes was seeing Grover bring his daughter to see Aaron Wright in prison, reminding us of what Ian did to her. This was Grover reminding her in turn that evil is out there, and there is a way to deal with such criminals.
The restaurant story
there’s not a whole lot to discuss here beyond the fact that Danny found a spot for it! This surprised Steve, but hey — gotta get the ball rolling somewhere. The two parties do have the space, but there’s a long way to go in order to really get this idea off the ground.
Our CarterMatt Verdict
We have to address the elephant in the room and say that we missed Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim — we love them, so how could we not? The two were mentioned in the premiere, and the exited precisely how you would expect — Kono is doing the sex trafficking ring investigation while Chin has a job in San Francisco. Yet, the writers did as great of a job as they could introducing Rath as Tani — she was fun, intense, and had the best line of the night courtesy of “I’m done with this weenie roast.” She took no prisoners.
In between the arsonist story, the restaurant, some trademark Steve / Danny banter, and Joey Lawrence, this was a great start to the season that tribute the past while still looking towards the future.