Five-0 Redux: State of Grace

Aug. 23, 2014 | 13 Comments

COURTESY CBSGrace Park in a more dramatic moment as Kono Kalākaua.

COURTESY CBS

Grace Park in a more dramatic moment as Kono Kalākaua.

BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Grace Park can be described in many ways. She’s an intelligent, strong, beautiful woman who has been successful in two television series reboots and is a role model for Asian actresses around the world. She’s not just eye-candy, but an integral part of the Five-0 Team’s Core Four and another reason why fans love “Hawaii Five-0.”

Yet, of all of the “Five-0” characters, Kono Kalākaua may be the one who makes the most sense to us mere mortals. She’s not a SEAL like Alex O’Loughlin’s McGarrett, she’s not a seasoned detective like Scott Caan’s Danno, and she doesn’t have the years of police experience like Daniel Dae Kim’s Chin Ho.

Kono started off a rookie, and after four years she has definitely earned her place as an equal part of the team. And while Park was no rookie actress when the show started in 2010, she was definitely a new face on primetime American television.

Park got her start playing small roles on television and in films, then was cast in Canadian teen drama “Edgemont,” about suburban kids living in Vancouver, British Columbia (where Park was raised). Her next big break was the hit Sci-Fi Channel reboot of “Battlestar Galactica” as Lt. Sharon ‘Boomer’ Valerii/Lt. Sharon ‘Athena’ Agathon. Fans fell in love with Park, who played a Cylon who believed she was human.

COURTESY CBS"Rookie" Kono (Grace Park) learning the ropes from McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin).

COURTESY CBS

“Rookie” Kono (Grace Park) learning the ropes from McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin).

When Park was cast on “Five-0,” many hoped “Galactica” fans would follow. Other fans were pleased the new “Five-0” would have a strong female presence. Park’s character is definitely beloved by fans who admire Kono’s resilience and courage, and how she is driven by love — of her cousin, of her profession, and of her man. These are all traits viewers can relate to and understand.

Park’s character is a definite twist from the original Kono. The part was first created by Hawaiian actor Gilbert Lani Kauhi, better known as Zulu. Many were surprised to find out a woman would play the part in the reboot, and a non-Hawaiian woman at that. Yet Park seems to play a local girl and ex-surfing pro with ease.

It’s interesting that Park has been in two television remakes where her character was once played by males. But Park seems to have not only pulled off the gender switch, but has made both characters her own.

COURTESY CBSThe love story between Kono (Grace Park) and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) has been a fan favorite from the start.

COURTESY CBS

The love story between Kono (Grace Park) and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) has been a fan favorite from the start.

Kono has never been boring or simple, and Park has taken a character who could have played a more peripheral role and built her into one fans love. Many missed Kono’s absence in season four when Park was on maternity leave for half the season (she gave birth to a son in October 2013). Except for short scenes while she was on the run from the Yakuza with her lover, Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale), Kono did not return until the 12th episode of the season.

Fans were pleased to have her back and relieved the star-crossed lovers storyline came to a happy conclusion. I know many were concerned Adam would meet a sad end in order for Kono to return to the Five-0 team.

Some of Park’s best work has been when she is torn between her feelings of loyalty to someone she loves and doing her job. In “ʻOhana (“Family”), Kono gave up her own graduation from the police academy in order to help the team solve a case.

In “Ma‘ema‘e” (“Clean”), she secretly went undercove in order to help Capt. Fryer (Tom Sizemore), even though it put her at odds with her cousin Chin and her boss McG.

When Kono chose her love for Adam over staying safe and home with her team in “Aloha, Mālama Pono” (“Farewell and Take Care”), we were all torn by her decision. While we wanted Kono to stay with her team, we also wanted her to be with her love, Adam. Kono went to protect Adam just as much as she went because she loved him.

COURTESY CBSCousins Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) and Kono Kalākaua (Grace Park).

COURTESY CBS

Cousins Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) and Kono Kalākaua (Grace Park).

One of the things I really love about Kono is that she is such a tough girl, but still has such a big heart. When Adam saved Kono in “Lā o nā Mākuahine” (“Mother’s Day”), we were so happy Kono survived, and even after Kono’s near death, she spent much of the episode worried about Chin and mourning the loss of his wife, Malia (Reiko Aylesworth).

Still, she got right into the action, helping to catch the bad guys, and jumping on the hood of a car to shoot Toothpick (Karl Herlinger) and get his death rattle confession.

Because that’s our girl.

In this last season though, I’m hard pressed to call Kono a girl. Park has matured her character from the hot-headed surfer who will beat the lights out of any man who dares steal her wave, to someone a little more thoughtful, taking her time to reveal just how strong she really can be.

One of Park’s best scenes was in “Ma Lalo o ka ‘Ili” (“Beneath the Surface”) when she reveals to the selfish Kelly Donovan (Conor Leslie), that all the work she had done to set up her boyfriend to take the fall for killing her father was in vain.

Kono whispered, “You get nothing,” because the father had let his million dollar policy lapse right before his daughter had him killed. Kono’s quiet venom was just as strong as if she had hit the girl with a roundhouse kick.

Kono really is definitely a character we enjoy watching, whether she’s fighting a bad guy, taking a shot from above, crying with a victim or hugging someone she loves. Park is terrific in all ways as Kono; a woman who hurts and struggles, yet can pick herself up, dust herself off, and state with steely grace, “Bring it on, boys.”

REDUX SIDE NOTE:

A very special thanks to all the “Hawaii Five-0” fans who voted in my “Fan Favorites Revealed” post. It’s always great to get everyone’s opinions and see how you all seem to agree on most things “Five-0.”

Unfortunately, there was no “Hawaii Five-0” Friday for us this week on CBS with the start of preseason NFL football. But next week the repeats return with the chilling “Peʻepeʻe Kānaka” (“Those Among Us”), directed by Jeff Cadiente.
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Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

  • Ryan Fluck

    Absolutely loved this Wendie! I agree with everything you said but speaking as a man, I can say that not everyone loves the Kono/Adam relationship (Me in particular lol)

  • edmattes763

    Grace’s Kono was definitely what hooked me on Five-0. In Season 2 we had seen Chin marry Malia, and of course Steve and Danny had Catherine and Rachel/Gabby but all season Kono wasn’t paired with anyone. (I kept saying all season, “what’s wrong with them?” – not even having someone at the Valentine’s Ball.) In the first part of the NCIS:LA crossover we found out that she had a secret boyfriend and the following week we found out it was supposed bad guy Adam. You knew that she wouldn’t “sleep with the enemy” so there had to be more to it. And personally I am glad that it is still an ongoing story.
    (Sorry to disagree with you, Ryan.)

  • Dina

    another fabulous character- actor profile! XOXOX

  • squidward

    A definite surprise since the first episode. Not enough has been said about her hard work to make the Kono character her own. It isn”t a very far leap of the imagination to think that Zulu’s Kono and Grace’s would get along fine if they were ever to work a case together. It also helps that she is as beautiful as most of the scenery they use as a backdrop in the series.

  • jlopie1

    “Kono” has definitely grown up during the past 4 seasons! Grace Park is a fantastic actress and brings heart and soul to every character she portrays. Kono’s romance with Adam is full of passion as well as love and Grace and Ian Anthony Dale really steam up the television screen when they are together! Needless to say, I look forward to those scenes and I certainly hope for more in Season 5! Thanks for focusing on Grace Park and Kono this week, Wendie!

  • Kristen999

    I love Kono. She is an intelligent, quick-witted, and able to hold her own against most foes. But I was sad to see this vibrant, independent character who could kick-ass reduced to the role of Adam’s girlfriend. She lost most of her agency.

    (Don’t get me wrong, I like both actors, but not at the expense of how both characters were water-downed). I know this is mostly because Grace needed time off to start a family, but leaving the team to go with Adam felt very weak. TBTB should have taken a page out of NCIS:LA’s playbook when dealing a long-term absence of a female lead while keeping that absence in character and with a meaty significant subplot.

    With Ian Anthony Dale’s busy schedule, I do hope we see more of Kono. Despite what feels like negative reaction, I really am looking forward to this season! I think it’s going to be very solid! I adore the show, just certain things have left me a bit frustrated.

  • sanja

    I don t like kono and adam relationship, at the beginning it was goog but now kono is just adam ‘ girlfriend nothing else i want the return of kono bad ass not just a woman with adam ‘s problem.

  • Angela Gerstner

    When you told me your new blog would be about Grace/Kono, I was all excited because I have noticed that a lot of fans have mentionned how much they love Kono on the show and how much they missed her in the first half of the fourth season. I’d like to include myself, by the way…

    As much as I love the boys on the Five-0 team (I’m a woman, after all :-)), it is so good to have a female team member, too – especially one who is not just stunningly beautiful (making male fans very happy, I bet), but one who also kicks a$$ and is tough and yet full of heart and passion – which makes her character extremely likeable and even admirable for all viewers. Grace’s Kono could actually be a great role model for women who would love to have that same passion and toughness.
    I’ve also noticed that Kono is definitely the best sharp-shooter on the Five-0 team – whenever a baddie needs to be killed off from a distance, she’s the one to do the job – and does it perfectly. I love the fact that Kono’s character is written as a very strong, very smart and multi-faceted woman, which I definitely prefer to shows in which females are merely looking pretty and talking about guys and face-lifts all day.

    Mahalo for dedicating a blog to this great woman! I can’t wait to see more of Kono and Adam because after all she went through in Season 4 to be with him, she truly deserves happiness. However, we all know that the writers of the show have never been very good at letting the main characters enjoy happiness for very long… so we’ll have to wait and see what Season 5 brings for Kono and her team-mates.

  • Kimo808

    Hi, Wendy
    Do you know if there will be a re-run of the Pearl Harbor/internment episode before the new season starts? Or perhaps during season five?

    • Wendie Joy

      Right now- there is nothing on the CBS press site that says the Pearl Harbor episode will re-air before the season premiere, but they could be saving it for December to replay the episode. Wish I had a more concrete answer for you! I’ll be they replay it at some point during season 5 :D Aloha, Wendie

      • Kimo808

        Thanks for the update.

  • KAD1228

    Great review! I love Grace’s portrayal of Kono. She every bit as bad a$$ed as the boys with nerves of steel and perfect aim! But she can be every inch of the beautiful woman she is! Looking forward to seeing where the relationship with Adam is going as well as to the season in general! Keep up the great work Grace!!

  • Diane

    I love the Kono/Adam relationship, and I hope it continues. Kono can be very much a kick ass cop, right up there with the other three. The relationship with Adam, shows that a woman can do a good job, and still be a woman. Grace Park has made this character her own. She has shown such great emotion, even though she can keep up with the 5-0 boys, doesn’t mean she not all woman. I hope Kono and Adam have a long lasting and solid relationship. Great acting by Grace, looking forward to seeing more of her this season.