Ever since the pilot, the theme of fatherhood has been instrumental in shaping the characters of “Hawaii Five-0.” Fathers and sons, fathers and daughters — even father figures have been major themes in several storylines.
With Father’s Day on Sunday, I was thinking of a way to wish everyone a Hauʻoli lā Makua Kāne, or Happy Fathers Day. I started to recall the origins of “Five-0” and the relationships of the main characters with their fathers.
The reboot actually started with the murder of a father when John McGarrett (William Sadler) was killed in the first episode and Steve’s (Alex O’Loughlin) life was forever changed. John’s death pushes him toward accepting an offer to start the Five-0 Task Force with the help of another father, Detective Danny Williams (Scott Caan). Steve also added his father’s former partner, Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), to the group.
But perhaps the show really began with the death of Chin’s father, Lt. Kam Tong Kelly (Gary Ala), who was also a friend of John McGarrett’s. When Kam Tong was murdered in a robbery gone bad (killed by Chin Ho’s de facto brother-in-law, Gabriel Waincroft), it was John who stepped in to mentor and help Chin throughout his career.
There is a behind-the-scenes connection to the name of Chin Ho’s father, Kam Tong. Viewers never get to see Chin Ho’s father mentor or guide him, as he only appears in a scene where young Gabriel shoots him in the convenience store. Yet his fatherly connection is more than just being Chin Ho’s dad; his name is meaningful because Kam Tong is the birth name of actor Kam Fong, who played Chin Ho Kelly in the original version of “Hawaii Five-O” from 1968 to 1978.
So, in a sense he is the father of the rebooted version of Chin Ho. Kam Fong is also the father of actor Dennis Chun, who plays Sgt. Duke Lukela on the reboot.
While Chin Ho’s father was only shown in a flashback episode, it seemed to give Five-0 writers a few ideas of how to present an alternate vision of what the team’s life could have been like if Steve’s father had not been killed in the pilot. In the show’s 100th episode viewers got to see how different Steve and Chin’s careers would be, how different Steve’s relationship with Danny would be, how different Kono’s life would be — all if John McGarrett had been left to live.
We know the death of a father always makes an impact in a child’s life, yet so do the actions of a father. Danny Williams definitely embraces his role as Daddy Danno, and his relationship with his daughter, Grace (Teilor Grubbs), has always been fundamental to his character and was well-established right from the start. Danny’s connection with Grace has never been in question as we have watched her father fight to keep her safe. Now that Danny has just learned he also has a son, I’m sure his Daddy role will continue to develop.
When Danny killed Marco Reyes (Anthony Ruvivar), I do think he wanted revenge for the death of his brother, but I also think it was also to keep Reyes from hurting Grace. We have never questioned Danny’s desire to protect his daughter at any cost, even if the price is himself.
Some protective actions have also come from father figures, rather than actual blood fathers. Joe White (Terry O’Quinn) is a father figure in Steve’s life, starting as Uncle Joe in his childhood and moving to the role as his mentor and SEAL commander when Steve joined the Navy. Joe has moved in and out of Steve’s life over the years, and some can argue that Joe has acted less like a father in some instances, especially when it comes to Steve’s mother, Doris (Christine Lahti).
Still, when Steve needed Joe’s help in saving Danny from sure death in a Colombian prison, Joe came through with the needed intel to rescue Danny and clear his name. Joe may call Steve “son,” but I’m not sure Steve will ever see Joe as a replacement dad in his life.
Steve himself has also taken on the father figure role in several instances. Though he has no children of his own, he definitely helps fill a male gap in a few lives. He is perhaps the only male figure in his niece Joanie’s life, and he has often tried to help his sister, Mary Ann (Taryn Manning), find her way in the world. He has saved her life as well as kept her from spending the rest of it in jail. While she is a bit more grounded now that she has Joanie, fans know Steve feels a big responsibility to her and her daughter.
McGarrett has also been a father figure to Danny’s daughter, helping coach her in baseball and train her for the Presidential Physical Fitness Medal, and by also taking a protective role in her life as well. We don’t doubt his love for Grace is as true as Danny’s love is for his daughter.
He has also taken to mentoring young Nahele Huikala (Kekoa Kekumano), the young man who stole his Mercury Marquis. Watching Steve teach Nahele football basics and helping him get a job with Kamekona (Taylor Wily) are all fatherly actions that will guide and protect Nahele, much like Steve is with Mary Ann, Joanie and Grace. While Steve may not technically be a father, he has learned strong lessons from many good men.
There have been other stories about good fathers on “Hawaii Five-0,” but the one about newcomer Capt. Lou Grover (Chi McBride) and his daughter, Samantha (Paige Hurd), comes to mind first. His actions to save her in the season three finale helped solidify his role within the Five-0 team. Grover definitely fits in, as they all take the idea of protecting a child to the extreme.
Not that this is a bad thing, but these fathers all carry guns and a believe in the phrase, “until death do us part.” By that I mean Steve, Danny, Chin, and Grover are not afraid that death might come to them if it means a child will be saved or protected. Whether they are fathers or father figures, they hold these fundamental parental elements within their hearts no matter what the cost.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
“Hawaii Five-0” repeats on Friday with “Wāwahi moeʻuhane” (“Broken Dreams”). Episode co-writer Steve Lilien shared a little-known fact about guest star William Forsythe’s character Harry Brown with fans via Twitter:
@WendieJoy fun fact, Harry Brown was an alias of Steve McGarrett from the original series 🙂
— Steven Lilien (@StevenLilien) May 30, 2015
Real life hula dancer Delys Kanemura Recca also guest stars in this episode as murder victim Brooke Waiakea.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.