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Hawaii Five-0 Postmortem: Daniel Dae Kim on Chin Ho's Tough Choice and His Search for Peace

[WARNING: The following story reveals major plot details from the Season 3 premiere of Hawaii Five-0. Read at your own risk.]Last season's finale of Hawaii Five-0 presented Daniel Dae Kim's Chin Ho Kelly with an impossible choice: save his wife Malia or save his drowning cousin and team member, Kono (Grace Park).Fall Preview: Get scoop on all your favorite returning showsAlthough Chin rushed to the aid of Malia (guest star Reiko Aylesworth), Monday's Season 3 premiere revealed...

Adam Bryant

[WARNING: The following story reveals major plot details from the Season 3 premiere of Hawaii Five-0. Read at your own risk.]
Last season's finale of Hawaii Five-0presented Daniel Dae Kim's Chin Ho Kelly with an impossible choice: save his wife Malia or save his drowning cousin and team member, Kono (Grace Park).

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Although Chin rushed to the aid of Malia (guest star Reiko Aylesworth), Monday's Season 3 premiere revealed that he also dispatched Kono's Yakuza-affiliated boyfriend Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) to help her avoid a watery grave. Unfortunately for Chin, his quick thinking could not save Malia, who died despite the paramedics' best attempts to revive her.Hungry for revenge, Chin set his sights on Frank Delano (guest star William Baldwin), the ex-cop that masterminded  Chin Ho's Sophie's choice in the first place. After a massive gun battle, Chin was faced with the opportunity to arrest Delano for stealing a truckload of meth, but he shot him at point-blank range instead.So, how will Malia's death affect Chin Ho this season? And is Chin's cold-blooded vengeance a sign of even darker days to come? We chatted with Kim to find out:

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Going back to the choice Chin Ho made in the finale, do you think there was a moment where he thought seriously about trying to save Kono instead of Malia?
Daniel Dae Kim:
I actually had to do a lot of thinking about what I would do and what the character's priorities were. I think many people, if faced with that same choice, would choose their spouses over a cousin. But the relationship between Chin and Kono has been so much more developed than the one between Chin and Malia. So, from an audience perspective, it would be a choice that might not be so obvious. I think they might have preferred Chin to save Kono only because of the investment they have in her character
I heard many fans asking, "Is Kono going to be angry with Chin for not saving her?" Were you glad to learn that he did send Adam to the rescue at least?
It would be an interesting dynamic if Kono and Chin started to kind of be at odds as a result of the choice that he made. It might be a nice change of pace for them to have a little bit of resentment toward one another. But he did have a plan to try and save Kono. It was a big step for him to reach out to someone that he doesn't respect, but who he knows cares about Kono almost as much as he does. Chin really did try to do the best he could for both people. He wouldn't just abandon Kono.
Sadly, even though Chin rushed to Malia, she didn't make it. What was your reaction when you saw the script?
Kim: It's not very often in a crime procedural you get to do a lot of deep character work. To me, the strongest elements of Hawaii Five-0 are when you are able to develop an investment in the characters because you know their personal stakes. I think it makes for more riveting drama. I was happy to have the opportunity. And the consequences and the ramifications of his choice are going to stick with him for a while.

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Chin obviously sought vengeance against Delano. Were you surprised that he actually pulled the trigger and killed him?
It's great stuff for an actor. They say drama is conflict. He already has enough conflict about the choice he had to make. But now, once he crosses that line between an officer of the law and a vigilante, it raises a whole different set of questions as far as how he feels about his own character.
It's pretty cold-blooded. Do you think Chin is acting on raw emotion at that point, or is there a darker side to him we just haven't seen before?
I actually do think it's about something deeper. It's not just about the choice he was forced to make because of Delano. It speaks to a lot of his own issues about being called a dirty cop and his own history of having to take the blame for something he never did. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy — he does become a dirty cop.
Clearly, Chin doesn't feel better after he kills Delano. How much will all of this pain eat away at him this season?
His journey is to become whole again. But how far off the path has he gotten? Is it possible for redemption? We're not going to see a happy-go-lucky Chin the way that we did in Season 2. I think the last scene where he comes home and sees the chicken in the oven and breaks down is not just about Malia. It's about the man that he's become, the choice that he's made and who he is now.

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Do you think there will be legal ramifications for Chin killing Delano later this season?
That's a really good question. We were in a parking lot, and there were witnesses. He pretty much admits to McGarrett that he did something that was not by the book. So, that may come into play.
How much will Steve and the team be there for Chin during his struggle?
One of the biggest themes of this series is family. In almost any episode you watch there's a reinforcement of that. We'll see how strong that bond really is. I think part of what Chin's been doing in the series is just trying to rebuild a family. I think that's why the Five-0 team means so much to him. Hopefully he hasn't jeopardized that by the choices he made.
Kono obviously forgave Chin for choosing Malia. But is Kono now a living reminder of what Chin lost?
Yes. And I think there are going to be other times where Kono is in jeopardy. What feelings will Chin have when those situations arise? Is he going to be gun shy about it? Any time she's put into a
situation where her life could be in jeopardy, I think it should resonate.
All of this sounds like a lot for one man to carry.
He's got to try and find a new start in a way. He thought he had his life complete and it's no longer complete. So, he's got to make himself whole or embark on a different path and just try to find peace.
Hawaii Five-0 airs Mondays at 10/9c on CBS. What did you think of the premiere?