‘Hawaii Five-0′ Season 3 preview: McGarrett’s mom, Kono’s fate, and more

Fall TV

For fans of "Hawaii Five-0," it's been a cruel summer indeed. CBS's sun-soaked cop show left viewers dangling at the end of Season 2 with more cliffhangers than you can shake a surfboard at. McGarrett's mom is alive? (And she's the mysterious "Shelburne" everyone's been looking for?) Did Chin make it to his wife Malia in time to save her? And will Kono survive being dumped into the ocean bound and gagged by Delano's goons?

Luckily for us, the cruelty ends this week as "Five-0" returns for Season 3… and gets right to work answering all of your burning questions. "It literally picks up exactly where we left off," promises star Alex O'Loughlin. We visited the "Five-0" set a few weeks back to chat with the cast and came away with plenty of Season 3 scoop; here's what to look for from "Five-0" this fall, straight from the stars themselves.

McGarrett, meet Mom
Season 2 ended with McGarrett (O'Loughlin) opening a door expecting to see the enigmatic super-spy known as "Shelburne" and instead uttering one word: "Mom?" Now we finally get to see who was on the other side of that door: Christine Lahti joins the cast this season as McGarrett's presumed-dead mother Doris, a former CIA operative who faked her own death to protect her children.

An Emmy winner for "Chicago Hope," Lahti had never seen "Five-0" when producers pitched her the role ("I don't watch procedurals or shoot-'em-ups. I deplore violence"), but a mid-air screening convinced her: "I was watching it on the plane, and I was on the edge of my seat. I was like 'Ohhhh! Ohmigod, no! Don't!' I was weeping and I cared about the characters. I called my agent and I said, 'Listen, I'm doing this. This is really fun.'"

But just because Mom's back in the picture doesn't mean McGarrett is ready to welcome her with open arms. "All the bad stuff that's happened to [McGarrett] in the last twenty years is because of the decisions that she's made," says O'Loughlin. "So there's a lot of resentment, a lot of mistrust, a lot of anger." Plus, there's the little matter of Doris's shady past as Shelburne. Scott Caan (Danny) hints that this season, "we're trying to figure out whether she's good or bad." In the meantime, we get to see Danny have a vintage "Five-0" "cargument" with Doris in the premiere, confirming that Danny's ability to butt heads with McGarretts doesn't skip a generation.

Get a sneak peek at the new season of "Hawaii Five-0" right here:

Chin's choice continues to haunts him
Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) was put in an impossible situation by crooked cop Frank Delano (guest star William Baldwin) on the Season 2 finale: forced to choose, "Dark Knight"-style, whether to save the life of his wife Malia or his cousin Kono. He rushed to his wife's side, and as the finale ended, he was clutching a badly bleeding Malia in his arms.

The dilemma was tough to watch, but as an actor, Kim relished the opportunity to dig a little deeper. "I was really grateful, actually, to get that kind of material to play," he says. "In a typical crime procedural, you don't get to delve into the characters' personal lives like that." And Kim hints that the trauma Chin experienced continues to linger this season: "The storyline doesn't end with the premiere. It affects him in subsequent episodes."

Meanwhile, we can't help noticing that Baldwin is back guest starring as Delano on the Season 3 premiere. So does that mean that we'll get to see Chin exact a little vengeance? "I think that's pretty likely," Kim hints. "Delano's a pretty bad dude, so I'd be surprised if he's not dealt with in one way or another." In other words, Chin's about to hit back so hard, all of the Baldwin brothers will be able to feel it.

[Photos: See All the Guest Stars Coming to 'Hawaii Five-0' This Season]

Kono goes overboard
Things looked mighty grim for Kono (Grace Park) on last season's finale as she slowly sank to the bottom of the ocean with her arms and legs tightly bound. But Park was alive and well when we visited the Season 3 set, so it's safe to say Kono survived the plunge. How, though?

Park doesn't want to spoil the surprise, but she hints that all the surfing Kono does may come in handy. "If you're surfing, sometimes you're gonna get caught under a wave," she says. "So the longer you can stay under without freaking out, the better. If you learn to expand your lung capacity, you can spend up to three minutes pretty easy." (Hmmm… how about 44 minutes, plus commercials?)

More guest stars say "aloha"
It doesn't take a lot of arm-twisting to convince actors to spend a few days in Hawaii, so expect another healthy wave of guest stars in Season 3. A special flashback episode will take us back to Danny's days as a cop in New Jersey, with Oscar nominee Terrence Howard ("Hustle & Flow") as his partner and rapper T.I. as the thug they're chasing. Kardashian sister Kendall Jenner makes her acting debut in an upcoming episode (yay…?), and TV icon Ed Asner returns as smuggler Auggie March — a role he not only played last season, but also in a 1975 episode of the original "Hawaii Five-0."

Plus, we can confirm that a couple of familiar "Five-0" faces will be back this season. Taryn Manning reprises her role as McGarrett's wild-child sister Mary Ann, who also has a tough time letting Doris back into her life. And Mark Dacascos (who we still can't look at without seeing the chairman from "Iron Chef America") is back as McGarrett's arch-nemesis, sadistic gangster Wo Fat. Last we saw the nefarious villain, he was safely locked away in prison, but the premiere sees him attempt a daring escape -- and come face-to-face (and gun-to-gun) with Doris. So will Mom be able to finish the job that McGarrett never could? Stay tuned.

Season 3 of "Hawaii Five-0" premieres Monday, 9/24 at 10 PM on CBS.