The villain in any storyline can make or break a show. How many television shows have you watched where the best part was the villain du jour?
So, I have a confession to make: sometimes when I watch “Hawaii Five-0,” I find myself falling in love. With the bad guy.
Oh, don’t write hate mail telling me I need to swear my fidelity to McGarrett and the Five-0 team. I’ve done that. Got the T-shirt and a badge to prove it. And they will always be my first love.
But sometimes, the villain just gets to me. I particularly love villains I’m supposed to hate, but once I find out why they went bad or even how they went bad, my anger cools and my heart yearns for their poetic redemption.
Most times, my heart is broken as they are killed in a shootout or are hauled off to prison, never to be seen again. But sometimes they come back, and that is the best part of being a villain who the team doesn’t kill — they get to return to my screen.
As we near the mid-point of our summer hiatus (only eight more weeks until the Sept. 26 season premiere!), I’ll complete my confession by sharing my choices for not-so-likely villains who while I thought they were set to bring mayhem and harm to the Five-0 team, they really ended up being characters I love and hope to see again on the show.
I know I’m not alone in my adoration for Karl Makinen’s portrayal of FBI fugitive Jack Anderson in “O Kēlā me Kēia Manawa” (“Now and Then”).
Even McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Grover (Chi McBride) could see that his crime of murder was done purely in self-defense. His utter remorse for his current crimes and for the one committed in his past was what made Anderson a villain we grew to admire. He lived a good, clean life while on the run, and he does try to make amends for his crimes until he is caught in a life or death situation.
When McGarrett and Grover bring him back to Five-0 headquarters to face the man whose wife he killed in his past, Anderson’s heartfelt and remorseful apology was more than enough to make him more righteous than villainous.
THE BAD BOY
Believe me, from the start of “Ma lalo o ka ‘ili” (“Beneath the Surface”), I was set to think Booboo Stewart’s bad boy character Tommy Faʻaloa was taking young Kelly Donovan (Conor Leslie) on a “Romeo and Juliet” ride to their deaths.
But once he was revealed as a boy spurred on by his want to protect and love Kelly — while she was just looking for a fall guy for a million dollar life insurance policy — my initial disdain for his baby-face turned to fear for his heart and his life. McGarrett and Danno (Scott Caan) do try to save him, but unfortunately Kelly gets her way.
Dead dad, dead boyfriend, but thanks to Kono (Grace Park), she also gets a dead-end life. Kelly went to jail, and poor Tommy went to the morgue, but at least we knew that in his heart he was never truly a bad guy.
THE CRAZY HOMELESS GUY
DJ Qualls really wasn’t a villain per se, regardless of how quirky and strange his character Marshall Demps was in “Kūpouli ʻla,” (“Broken”).
Demps was set up as the initial villain until he gives McGarrett and Danno the clues to catch the real one. Demps reveals his medical torture by the evil Dr. Ellery, who conducted medical experiments on Demps and the victim Lisa Mills (Dixie Rose). Demps can hardly be called a villain, but obviously was set up to be the initial red herring to keep the plot and action moving along.
Qualls was perfect as Demps and his heartbreaking performance adds him to my list of not-even-close villains.
THE DRUG DEALER
The first time Xzibit was on “Hawaii Five-0” as gun and drug dealer JC Dekker, he was billed as Alvin Joiner. He returned to reprise his role in “Kū I Ka Pili Koko” (“Blood Brothers”), where Dekker is behind bars at OCCC.
It seems as if Dekker was set up to give Five-0 a tip that would lead them to a building that was set to collapse in order to kill McGarrett and the team. Unfortunately, JC’s baby brother Marcus (Joseph Kingsly), a “good kid” who had just graduated from UCLA, was the only one killed in the explosion.
Dekker, heartbroken about his brother’s death and determined to no longer be on the bad side of Five-0, then helps to figure out who really wants them dead.
While Dekker is certainly no angel, his sorrow over losing his brother and his desire to make at least one thing right with the Five-0 team brings him down a level in the villain category.
THE CHINESE SPY
I just love adding Elaine Tan’s super-pouty Chinese MSS (Ministry of State Security) agent Zi Chen to this list. She was fun to both love and hate in “Hōkū Welowelo” (“Fire in the Sky”); fans vacillated, like McG and Danno, between trusting her and handcuffing her to a car.
Yes, she really was trying to help the U.S. as well as save her own skin. But as an American who loves her freedom, I did feel like Chen was between a rock and a hard place.
Still, anyone who shoots someone they love in order to save the world (so to speak), is more of a hero in my book, no matter their politics, their loyalties, or their gender.
THE VENGEFUL SON
I know a lot has been written about James Saito as David Toriyama in “Hoʻonani Makua Kāne” (“Honor Thy Father”), but I guess that’s because his character did more than just seek revenge for his father’s murder — he reminded people about the suffering of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
While David is a villain only because he wanted to kill Ezra Clark (Jack Axelrod), the man he thought killed his father, we all know that McG sees him as an older man trying to settle his debts before the end of his life. Saito was absolutely impressive to watch, and the ending apology scene with Axelrod is beyond beautiful.
Many of you will argue the title of villain should be no where near this character, and I agree, but he was set up as the initial villain while all along the real villain was really racism and prejudice hiding behind the guise of patriotism and security.
OVERALL, the villains of season four were great, but these are a few I thought were set up to be bad guys and just really didn’t make it. We had several villains who were truly evil, hateful, and ugly to the core. For these six, their not-so-likely villain status is set in my book.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.