NCIS: Hawai'i Season 1 Episode 1 Review: A Fresh Take on a Tired Format

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Welcome to Hawaii!

NCIS: Hawai'i Season 1 Episode 1 introduced us to Jane Tennant, her team, and the conflicts plaguing this group investigating high-stakes crimes involving military personnel, national security, and the mysteries of the island.

There was a decent amount of exposition into the past of these characters for a series premiere, so we knew what to expect throughout the season ahead.

Finding the Answers - NCIS: Hawai'i

The positive out of the gate is Vanessa Lachey as Jane. The casting announcement earlier this year took me by surprise because I never imagined the actress in the NCIS universe, but she's the real standout of the show.

Jane's warm but tenacious personality is infectious. She's one of the best leaders I've seen in the franchise, and the lengths she will go to keep her team safe while cracking these cases show how much of a great person she is.

However, it's hard not to feel like the marketing of the series undersold how valuable the show is. This could have been another run-of-the-mill procedural for the network, but having a female headlining gives it a different feel than its predecessors.

Finding the Truth - NCIS: Hawai'i Season 1 Episode 1

It's fresh, exciting, and might be the nudge in the right direction the franchise has needed for the past several years.

The trick in ushering in this different take on the NCIS format was the execution of the case-of-the-week, which was highly appealing.

Jane: Where's the autopsy report?
Lucy: I didn't technically get it, while Whistler read it, I read it upside down. Trick I picked up during a summer congressional internship.
Jane: So, we're looking at an overdose, intentional or otherwise.

I don't watch many procedurals, but the cases tend to be reasonably similar between them, with one show breaking the mold and another show copying it with a similar sort of case the next season.

This initial case introduced the dynamics of Jane's team naturally while also planting some seeds that should be sprouting in the coming episodes.

Jane Quizzes Someone - NCIS: Hawai'i Season 1 Episode 1

It was handled flawlessly, and if the cases can be as action-heavy going forward, CBS will have another hit on its hands.

Hopefully, we get a wide variety of cases that give each member of the team time to shine because the premiere mostly developed Jane, Lucy, and Kai.

Lucy knows how to get results, and while she broke some severe protocols to get information about the body, she did so with the eye of getting a fast resolution for everyone involved.

That's pretty darn commendable, and you could tell that Jane felt the same way when she defended her to Kate. In these types of scenarios, you need the team to be functioning well.

Welcome, Kate - NCIS: Hawai'i Season 1 Episode 1

Kate was a bit of a wildcard initially, but it became clear why she was so cold to Lucy when they were in the apartment together.

Have they been in a long-term relationship, or were they casually hooking up, and one of them caught stronger feelings than the other?

Kate sure was adamant about getting Lucy in trouble, but there's something more going on between them, and the sooner it's explored, the better.

Kate was right to be upset because one lick of information that only she should know becoming public knowledge could ruin her reputation.

New Team, Same Tricks - NCIS: Hawai'i Season 1 Episode 1

Kai was one of the most intriguing characters, and it comes down to Alex Tarrant's portrayal. He's the type of person to think first and ask questions later, and those characters are always a ton of fun.

From his first scene with him getting involved in the incident in the bar to his last at the dinner party, Kai had a lot of character development, but he runs the risk of alienating himself from his peers should he continue to ask questions later.

Jane: Hey, Alex, get me some lemongrass from outside -- or get the door.
Jules: Hey, mom. Did I remain the right one?
Jane: Hang on, Jules. Alex?
Alex: What?
Man: Oh, the door was open.
Jane: Nothing.

Jumping into the treacherous waters after Jane was a risky endeavor, but it showed that the team was in it until the end. Jane wanted the case closed, explaining her machinations.

The visuals during that particular scene were astounding, proving once again that this is not your typical NCIS.

Jane at Home - NCIS: Hawai'i Season 1 Episode 1

The weeks to come will be the deciding factor in whether I continue watching NCIS: Hawai'i, but my first impressions are that this series wants to tell different stories.

Refreshing, right?

The show wants to dig deep into Jane as a mother, leader of this team, and the other parts of her life, and that's a good thing. If it can balance these aspects in addition to killer cases, it will be well worth watching.

I know we should probably expect crossovers, but the idea of keeping this one separate from the others is much more appealing. Too often, spinoffs are produced, and they make fans watch both shows to know what's truly happening.

Kai at the Bar - NCIS: Hawai'i Season 1 Episode 1

If NCIS: Hawai'i had kicked off with a crossover, there's a good chance I would have skipped the show entirely because how are we supposed to get a feel for the show if far more established characters are hogging the limelight?

For now, I'm all in on this show. The premiere was bursting at the seams with action, conflict, and everything else you'd expect from this type of show.

Kid: Mom, I don't know anything about soccer.
Jane: They don't care. Just have fun, okay? Go be with the team, I love you.

What are your thoughts on the execution of it all, NCIS Fanatics?

Do you think it offers something different from the shows that came before it?

Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant - NCIS: Hawai'i Season 1 Episode 1

What are your thoughts on Jane?

Who is your favorite character so far?

Hit the comments below.

Remember, you can watch NCIS: Hawai'i online right here via TV Fanatic.

Catch new episodes Mondays at 10/9c on CBS.

Pilot Review

Editor Rating: 3.75 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.2 / 5.0 (47 Votes)

Paul Dailly was an Associate Editor for TV Fanatic.Follow him on X.

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NCIS: Hawai'i Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Kid: Mom, I don't know anything about soccer.
Jane: They don't care. Just have fun, okay? Go be with the team, I love you.

Ladies and gentlemen, please clear the field. We need everyone to move back to the parking lot. Bring all your stuff with you.