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Five-0 Redux

Not-so-likely villains

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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.

8 responses to “Not-so-likely villains”

  1. KAD1228 says:

    I completely agree! I was sad to see Tommy die, I thought that maybe Steve would have taken him under his wing and groomed him for 5-0 (ah, dreams!!). I would love to see Elaine Tan return – she had a certain chemistry with the team – and think she would be a great asset for them! Hopefully they’ll figure out out how to bring some, if not all, of them back in follow-up episodes. Maybe they can bring Tommy back in a different role too. I’m only sorry that my fav (evil) villain, Ed Asner, was killed off too. I’m hoping s5 has just as impressive a list of (not so evil) villains!

    8 more weeks to go but who’s counting! :-)! Thanks Wendie, enjoyable read as always.

  2. Angela Gerstner says:

    You’re right, Wendie – These guys (most of them, anyway) may have been set up to be villains but didn’t quite make it. Some of them even turned out to be thoroughly good guys, I think.

    To me, the list of these good guys is led by David Toriyama. He actually used an old gun that wouldn’t have worked anyway, so it was clear that he just wanted to draw attention to the injustice that had happened decades ago. This man was much too decent to kill anyone and, fortunately, Steve realized quickly that this guy was not the villain but someone who deserved a fair and thorough investigation into the murder of his father. It’s one thing I’ve always loved about the Five-0 team – They can get very tough and nasty when they’re dealing with true villains but when there is any doubt in their suspects’ guilt, the team will do anything to find out the truth and to do justice to those who deserve it.

    As for the crazy guy in the Halloween episode – the poor soul was just one of the victims himself. So, yes, definitely not even close to a villain. Oh, and I agree that DJ Squalls did an awesome job at impersonating this lunatic.

    Tommy (BooBoo Stewart) was just a young guy in love who was misled by his malicious girlfriend who so deserves to spend the rest of her life in Halawa or an equally unpleasant place. Most of us in the audience felt sympathy with Tommy and were sad to see him die.

    As for Ian Anderson, we do agree that he did more than enough to make up for the tragedy he had caused accidentally in the past and, hopefully, he will not have to rot in prison for nearly as long as Tommy’s evil girlfriend.

    I can’t quite make up my mind about the Chinese spy – I’m tempted to dislike anyone who threatens to kill harmless people like Jerry. But you had a good point there, too, about her shooting someone she loved to save “the world”.

    As a former drug and arms dealer, Dekker would definitely not make it on my list of “good guys” though. The only reason for him to help Five-0 was probably because he wanted his brother’s killer to get caught, which is very understandable but doesn’t make him less of a criminal.

    So I agree with at least four of your choices. However, I can’t say that I’ve ever fallen in love with any of the villains on the show. I did like Ed Asner’s character a lot, and I guess you could call Sang Min my “favorite” villain because he’s more funny than bad – and I certainly liked David Toriyama very much but I wouldn’t call my feelings for any of them “love” – That feeling is definitely “reserved” for the Five-0 team 🙂

  3. Dina says:

    Excellent piece! Always love your take on things… I think I have to say that Peter and Writers do make some very interesting villains?? or sorta villains?? not sure what title to give them but they make for entertaining tv!

  4. Linda M. Stein says:

    What an excellent idea for a blog this week Wendie! While there are those out there who complain that Five-0 stories can be too convoluted, it’s one of the things I love about the show. I love not really knowing that what I’m SURE is true may or may not be in the end. Having the bad guy turn out to be the good guy or, at least not as bad as I first thought, is part of the fun and it adds an emotional dimension to not only the “villains” themselves but to the team and their interactions with them as well.

    I have to agree with every one of your choices above. I would also like to add Michael Madsen as Roy Parrish in “Na hala a ka makua”. No one can deny the terrible things Roy did in his long life of crime (and how dare he carjack and hold a gun on our beloved Steve and Danny!) but his desire to clear his name of the last
    crime which he did not commit, to show his daughter that he wasn’t the complete monster she believed him to be, and her profession of love to him as he died in her arms was truly heartbreaking.

    And while I agree with you 100% in your choice of James Saito as David Toriyama in “Ho’onani Makua Kane” I would also add Jack Axelrod as Ezra Clark in the same episode. David was positive Ezra killed his father, held that hate in his heart for 70 years to the point of trying to kill him. Five-0 set out to prove he committed the murder and Ezra’s beligerant attitude didn’t do much to endear him. Finding out that Ezra not only didn’t kill James Toriyama but had actually tried to help him was a truth no one expected. The scene where David and Ezra meet and David heartbreakingly asks for and receives Ezra’s forgiveness was a tear provoking moment in an episode that will truly go down as one of the best, if not the best, of the series!

  5. Susan M says:

    Loved this blog article! What a clever, inspired look at often-overlooked characters!
    Another villain I’ll add is Vincent Rowlings…the serial killer played by Alex O’Loughlin in a 2009 episode of Criminal Minds. I was brought to tears when he died at the end, he played such a sympathetic, OCD killer who even sent the FBI a video with the message “Help Me” because he really wanted to stop killing. And he was so good with the blind kid he bonded with after killing his mother. I know, when it’s typed out, it sounds really creepy and weird, but this was the first time I noticed Alex and was excited to learn that the Vincent actor was playing Steve McGarrett!

  6. Mary Tomshack says:

    This was a great article. I’m so glad these articles have continued during the summer and your not on break too. I also thought of Michael Madsen as Roy Parrish as one of those villians you felt sorry for. I know he seemed pretty awful when he threatened to kill Danno with Grace listening on the phone but I don’t think he would have really done it. And I also remember seeing Alex on Criminal Minds. I never had heard of him before that because I’m not into movies, but he was so powerful in that episode. I will never forget it. I remember when the little boy said I wish you were my dad. That to me was the most powerful episode of Criminal Minds ever.

  7. Diane says:

    Great Blog Wendie. I agree totally, sometimes my sympathies are with the villians who really are not all that evil. Sometimes are H50 heroes cross the line also.

  8. Kate says:

    Thanks for your blog Wendie – here in Australia, Channel 10 pulled season 4 after just 12 episodes… so until I can buy the season set in September, you are the only way to get my Five-O fix!!! Keep up the good work!!

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