‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ Recap — What is a Paniolo?


  • ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ fans meet the Paniolo community
  • Law enforcement in Hawaii faces unique challenges
  • The paniolo on ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ was shot on purpose
Vanessa Lachey as Special Agent in Charge Jane Tennant on ‘NCIS: Hawa’i’i’
Vanessa Lachey as Special Agent in Charge Jane Tennant on ‘NCIS: Hawa’i’i’ | Karen Neal/CBS via Getty Images

NCIS: Hawai’i is supposed to be a show about Navy crimes that are committed on the Hawaiian islands. But this latest addition to the NCIS universe is way more interested in local culture. That trend continued in episode 4 “Paniolo,” which introduced fans to the world of Hawaiian cowboys.

‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ fans meet the Paniolo community

Ahead of episode 4, CBS released an episode description that revealed the latest installment of NCIS: Hawai’i would introduce fans to the Paniolo community. Which is the world of Hawaiian cowboys.

“When a beloved Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) is shot while out riding his horse, Jane and her team must gain the trust of the Paniolo community to help find the culprits and protect the Paniolo’s life,” the episode description read.

The opening scene featured the Paniolo riding into the middle of town on a horse after getting shot in the stomach and causing a car accident. The victim also happened to be a former Navy man — Master Sergeant Kaleo Whitman.

Law enforcement in Hawaii faces unique challenges

As Jane (Vanessa Lachey) and her team begin their investigation, the unique challenges faced by law enforcement in Hawaii are on full display. NCIS: Hawai’i is a celebration of local culture and island natives. And there is skepticism among many communities when it comes to the police — especially from the military base.

The Paniolo community is no exception, and they are the latest Hawaiian locals to clash with NCIS. Outsiders often bring more harm than good, and Jane’s team has a problem with their victim cooperating.

The investigation begins with Lucy (Yasmine Al-Bustami) and Jesse (Noah Mills) questioning Master Sergeant Whitman while he recovers in the hospital. He claims to be the victim of a hunting accident. But Lucy and Jesse don’t believe he is telling the truth.

The paniolo on ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ was shot on purpose

Further investigation of the crime scene reveals that the shooting wasn’t an accident. Someone was trying to kill Whitman. But who? When the team returns to the hospital to talk to Whitman again, they discover he’s bounced.

The clues lead the team to a drug-dealing gang, and their connection to the Master Sergeant is eventually made clear. He was protecting his son Micah, who accidentally got himself mixed up with the local group of meth distributors.

Jane Tennant takes on a gang

The gang, headed by Crazy Sam (Tom Schanley), had attempted to kill Micah when he discovered what was in the packages he’d been delivering. But Master Sergeant Whitman took it upon himself to protect his son. Which is what led to him riding through town on horseback while bleeding out.

Jane and Jesse head up to the Hawaiian mountains on horseback to find them. (Jesse’s got no riding skills, but Jane appears to be a pro). However, when they do eventually find Whitman and his son, Crazy Sam and his crew are closing in on their location.

Their attempts to call for help don’t work because Jane can’t get a phone signal. She sends the Master Sergeant and his son away, who leave on horseback as fast as they can. But Jane stays behind to face Crazy Sam on her own, with Jesse flanking her position.

Jane Tennant takes down her suspect on ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’

Luckily, Lucy and Kai (Alex Tarrant) figure out from their end of the investigation that Jane and Jesse are in need of the cavalry. At the perfect moment in time — just as Jane confronts Crazy Sam and tells him she’s not alone — Jesse appears from the woods and starts shooting. But it’s Jane who gets the kill shot. The helicopter also appears, and the rest of the gang is done fighting and ready to give themselves up. Case closed.

The episode ends with Jane and her team partying with Whitman, his family, and other members of the Paniolo community at a fun event that looks like a cross between a luau and a hoe-down.

The episode ends with Whitman’s cousin giving Jane and Jesse gifts — flower-adorned cowboy hats. Jesse also gets a pillow for his bruised bum after a day of riding horses.

New episodes of NCIS: Hawai’i air Monday nights on CBS.

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