BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
“Nā Hala a ka Makua” — “Sins of the Father” — was an apt title for this week’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0.” The idea of fatherhood seems to be a major thread that often weaves its way into many “Five-0” storylines, perhaps because the entire series started off with the death of McGarrett’s father, or that McG’s partner Danno is fiercely protective of his daughter.
Unfortunately, both men also know the impact of sins on fatherhood; sins that still haunt them well into the show’s fourth season.
This week’s episode was written by David Wolkove, who also worked on “Kūpouli ʻla” (“Broken”) and “Aia lā Aku” (“From This Day Forward”). Executive producer Peter Lenkov also brought Peter Weller back to direct this week; Weller also directed “O Kēlā me Kēia Manawa” (“Now and Then”) and one of the best of season three, “Hookman.”
Leave it to “Hawaii Five-0” to bring us another episode focusing on daddy issues. Yet this week was a little different, as the issues had more to do with guest star Michael Madsen and his character, escaped convict Roy Parrish. Madsen is not really known for playing fatherly roles — although he did appear in the first two “Free Willy” films as foster dad Glen Greenwood. Madsen plays “Mr. Blonde” types more often, like the sadistic ex-con he played in Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs.”
I know we all saw a bit of evil in Parrish when he threatened to kill Danno (Scott Caan) unless McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) could get them through a police checkpoint. The sadistic part of the entire scene is when he calls Gracie (Teilor Grubbs) so that she can listen to her father die if McG fails. How scary is that?
Trying to reconcile Parrish as a “father” was hard for me to wrap my brain around, knowing he could still terrorize a child, even if it is “over the phone.”
The characterization helped show Parrish’s desperation and driving need to get what he wanted, despite what he wants not being what we are led to believe.
I love when the twist comes early. It is a nice payoff for us to see that even though he is a “three strikes” criminal and he obviously broke out of jail, kidnapped two cops, and held them at gunpoint without breaking too much of a sweat, he has a deeper and more altruistic need. Really, his need to escape has more to do with clearing his name so he could be seen as worthy enough to his daughter, Lauren.
I do love when this show gives me a reason to love a bad guy. Parrish’s short monologue about how much time he spent with his daughter and why he wanted to get clean after his second prison term was enough to lead me to the path of liking Madsen’s character. This had a lot to do with his acting; I know he is great at playing bad guys, scary guys and guys you’d never introduce to your mother, but he was just great as being someone who wanted a chance at being a dad.
I thought Madsen was going to just play a scary convict, bent on hurting McG and Danno, and perhaps dancing to a little tune and taking an ear off, but no — he really showed there’s more to Michael Madsen than just a scary guy. Perhaps it is all the poetry he has been writing (Madsen has published 9 books of poetry and photography via 13 Hands Publications), but he really got to me — and McG and Danno — with his want to prove to his daughter that this time he was innocent.
After McG and Danno heard his reason for breaking out of custody and taking them captive, they decide to help him clear his name, “because Five-0 are the only guys who will give him a fair shake.” I was in and ready for them to find the real bad guys. I sort of already knew that it was the “FBI” agent Kono and Chin met at Lauren’s house when they went to question her. It was a little obvious, but it might have been because Matthew Glave, who played Agent Kohl, usually plays smarmy characters. Kohl is really Julian Lynch, who set Parrish up to be his patsy.
Danno calling Parrish a patsy — a person who is easily swindled, deceived, coerced, persuaded — was spot on, and McG’s rub of Danno’s word choice, much like he has done in the past, was perfect “Five-0.” I know, we all love when Danno and McG poke and rib each other. Even when they have an escaped convict in the back of their car holding a gun to their heads, the bromance is always alive.
When Parrish tells McG to “shut up and drive,” and Danno quips back, “that’s going to be a problem,” it was pure gold. Not really a cargument, but much like the sarcastic back and forth that Danno and McG share in less stressful moments, which doesn’t usually involve a gun or a third person.
Having a larger part of the episode take place in the car was definitely a twist for the show, and while I always love episodes with McG and Danno as a focus, the rest of the team had their own turns at strong scenes as well. Chi McBride was back in uniform helping the team — and again being derailed by McG — in most of the episode. Grover really is turning into another part of the Five-0 Task Force, just in a SWAT capacity.
Kono (Grace Park) had a lovely scene with Parrish’s daughter, trying to help her see that she still loved her father and would only hurt more if she didn’t tell him her feelings. I love that Kono is back and even though she wasn’t in a lot of scenes, Park looked right at ease in her scenes and I’m glad she’s back full-time.
The episode had a lot of great action, with Madsen’s escape scene, McG’s outrunning of HPD, the shootout at Akama’s house and the drama of the ending was handled so well. I loved Lauren reading Parrish’s letters at the end, with Madsen’s distinctive voice over adding to the poignant moment.
Damn, “Hawaii Five-0” knows how to end an episode.
The secondary storyline of Danno’s Gracie punching out a fellow student only added to the theme of “daddy issues” in this episode. Danno’s discussion with the Principal Anne Fiske (Keiko Elizabeth) about potential mitigating circumstances causing Grace to hit Lucas Banks so hard that he required four stitches to stop the bleeding, was priceless. Daddy Danno not trying to be a cop, but just being a dad was very telling, and his daughter taking the Code of Omertà was priceless.
McG’s right— she’s scrappy, stubborn, hotheaded, and loyal to a fault; she’s you, pal. Better get used to it Danno, Gracie’s growing up. And you should be proud she has a mean right cross. Every girl should have that in her back pocket, because Daddy’s not always going to be around to give her a hand.
Redux Side Note:
Several Hawaii actors were featured in this week’s episode:
» Chris Gritti was the Impala driver, the unfortunate young man who has his car — and his pants — stolen by Parrish.
» Jackie Tufa-Marques was the School secretary who showed Danno into the principal’s office at Gracie’s school.
» Geoff Heise was the federal judge who sentenced Parrish in voice over at the start and was seen on the bench at the end clearing the charges against Parrish.
» Keiko Elizabeth was Principal Ann Fiske who battled with Daddy Danno about Grace’s assault on bully Lucas Banks. Elizabeth is a former Hilo resident who most recently has been seen in “Hot in Cleveland” and “Days of Our Lives.” She is currently producing a show called “Disassembly” with Theatre of NOTE in Los Angeles, and is also working on the webseries, “Manny in Real Life.”
Next week, CBS will air the season four opener “Aloha Kekahi i Kekahi” (“Love One Another”). Be sure to also check out my review of the episode in case you missed it in September.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.