Hawaii Five-0 gave us a rare midseason cliffhanger Friday night, heading into the holiday hiatus with an ominous final shot of Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) heading to an undisclosed location with a hood over his head, accompanied by some vengeful members of a Mexican drug cartel.
Chin goes to Mexico after his birthday celebration is interrupted by a phone call informing him that his niece Sarah (Londyn Silzer) had been kidnapped. Chin and the rest of the Five-0 crew initially assume that the kidnapping was related to a drug lord who is a client of Sara's adoptive father. But they eventually discover it's more complicated than that: Sara is being used as bait to blackmail her adopted parents into luring Five-0 to the country. Why? It's a revenge play by the leader of the "Diego" drug cartel, whose brother was killed in a shootout with Five-0 a few months prior.
Facing higher stakes than he's ever seen before, Chin goes rogue and offers himself up as a pawn to the kidnappers, in exchange for Sara's safe return -- hence his little road trip at the end of the episode.
We'll have to wait until 2017 to see Chin's fate, but in the meantime TVGuide.com chatted with Kim about Chin's big decision, what's coming up when the show returns, and the "Easter egg" that's hidden in those slideshow photos at the birthday party.
Obviously this case has a huge personal connection for Chin. How has having Sara in his life changed him?
Daniel Dae Kim: It's a nice new dimension to his character, and it's one that's personally significant to me because I have children, and I know what it's like to love and want to protect a family. Any time that you have a procedural show like Five-0, whenever you can introduce kind of the more human elements to it, it's more compelling to play as an actor. And the introduction of Sara has been really a nice way of deepening what we already know about Chin Ho. I think one of the themes of our show since the beginning has been family, or as we say in Hawaii, 'ohana. Just to see our main characters love, lose and try to have that personal family, as well as a family at work, is always nice. As far as what I've been getting to do as an actor, it's been nice to have something beyond the crime of the week kind of story. I think our show in general has been moving towards something more serialized when it comes to relationships. So this new storyline for Chin is a reflection of that.
In the birthday party scene at the beginning of the episode, were those really pictures of you?
Kim: [Laughs] Actually, yes. They are all pictures of me, except a little Easter egg is that one of the pictures is of one of my sons. I'll leave it to viewers to guess which one. But yeah, it was a nice way of including my own family in the show.
At the end of the episode, Chin goes rogue and essentially sacrifices himself for Sara. Why does he make that decision?
Kim: In some ways, it's Chin's Achilles heel. He will sacrifice himself to protect the people he loves. We've seen him do it on the show before, and he does it again here. It's, in a sense, a blind spot of his. Because he doesn't see how it puts himself in danger, and he's willing to make that sacrifice in order to protect Sara.
He also has a heart to heart with Kono (Grace Park) about feeling like he may have put Sara at risk. How much of a role does that guilt play in his decision?
Kim: I think one of the themes that [executive producer] Peter [Lenkov] has been exploring this season is the toll that our jobs take on our lives, as members of Five-0. The decision that Chin makes to sacrifice himself is I think a really interesting one, because I think it speaks to that theme, and that maybe there's a feeling of resignation that this is his destiny, in some way. Living the life that he lives, choosing the profession that he has - in the way I was playing it, there was a little bit of a feeling that, one way or another, it was going to end like this. He is a result or a product of the choices he's made. And so, in order for him to, quote unquote, get out of the game, this was the solution. This was an acceptable solution.
And if he can save Sara's life in the process, it gives his own life more meaning?
Kim: Right. There's something to be said for this notion that Chin chose this life. He chose the dangers. He chose the risks, and he chose all the obstacles, but Sara didn't. And so, in some sense, she's much less deserving of this kind of a fate than he is. He understood the risks over the course of his time with Five-0.
I know you can't give too much away, but how much danger is Chin really in when the show returns? How's he going to get out of this predicament?
Kim: This storyline will get wrapped up when the second half of the season begins. [But] this theme of the cost of doing what we do will be a runner throughout the rest of the season.
Assuming that Chin does manage to escape, can we expect that he'll re-gain custody of Sara?
Kim: I really hope so. I think the young actress who plays Sara, a little girl by the name of Londyn Silzer, is fantastic. She's such a pleasure to work with, and she brings such a great energy to the set, and I genuinely enjoy my scenes with her. And I think it adds a different coloring to the show that I hope stays inside of it. We've been doing the show for seven years now, and so it's nice when we see all different sides of the characters and their family lives. Our show is very dramatic and very violent and very action-heavy. It's nice when we can have the lighter, playful moments and the kind of more familiar - and I mean that literally, like family moments. Whenever we can portray that, I enjoy. ... It brings out a different side of me as a performer that I haven't really explored on Five-0. So, it's refreshing.
Hawaii Five-0 returns with new episodes Friday, Jan. 6 at 9/8c on CBS.