“Hawaii Five-0” fundamentally has always been about good guys chasing bad guys. That’s what makes a police procedural work– the cops hunt for the criminals and villains who scheme and plot the demise of all that is good in our world. Seems like a pretty lofty idea, but for the Five-0 team– it is what helps to establish their purpose and cement their core values.
There would be no need for this kind of motivation if they had no villains to pursue. But this is not the world we live in. Thankfully, the villains of Five-0 are fictional characters, but their personalities and bad guy tendencies seem to mimic real-life criminals and monsters who do exist in our world. And while the Five-0 team may not be a real task force, we are thankful that there are real cops and detectives who work very hard to keep this kind of evil at bay.
This season, “Hawaii Five-0” had several interesting villains– some who were more evil schemers than killers, and others who were acting on their own core values, and seemed to have lost their way. For the first time, we had a season without a series villain, but I don’t think there is anyone who can fill the very large shoes of Wo Fat, played by Mark Dacascos for five seasons, and Gabriel Waincroft, played by Christopher Sean for three seasons.
Still, while Five-0 may lack a true nemesis, the villains from season seven have been interesting and did not disappoint. In a fiction story, if the villain is removed from the story, the story falls apart– because there is no conflict for the main character. As important as McGarrett and his team are to the story– there would not be enough drama in our storylines without a good villain for them to deal with each week.
Since many of the villains this year were also special guest stars, they also made this list because of their star power, while others hit my radar because of their stellar performances.
Elizabeth Röhm as Dr. Madison Gray “The Chess-Piece Killer”
If there is a guest star this season who came close to becoming a series villain, it was Röhm. We met her character on the side of good, and over the course of three episodes watched her evolve into true evil. In “He Moho Hou” (“New Player”), Alicia Brown (Claire Forlani) and McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) meet the good doctor, who is the HPD resident shrink, and also seems to have a strange interest in medieval chess. Much like the killer they are chasing.
In “Hū a’e ke ahi lanakila a Kamaile” (“The Fire of Kamile Rises in Triumph”), Alicia and McG began to focus their growing attention on Dr. Gray. When they arrive at her home to question her, she attacks them and holds them hostage. Thinking that she is going to send the pair to their death, she confesses her role as the Chess-Piece killer to Alicia.
I suppose confession is good for the soul– if you have one. Dr. Gray is killing serial killers, but only after she manipulates them into killing for her and sharing their exploits. She turns McG and Alicia over to a serial killer couple, who had once been captured by Alicia when she worked for the FBI. While Dr. Gray doesn’t literally lend a hand to attempt to kill our heroes, she does help orchestrate their death, sets fire to McG’s truck to get rid of evidence, and then escapes the Five-0 team.
But she is gone for only a short while– because she returns a few months later and this time, in “Hahai i nā pilikua nui” (“Hunting Monsters”)— she walks into HPD headquarters, her hands covered in blood and her identity and personality shiny and new. She manages to convince a fellow therapist that she has dissociative identity disorder (DID) and that she believes she is a tourist named Lauren Parker– and has no knowledge of her life as Dr. Gray. Quite convenient if you are a serial killer to not remember your serial killer personality, but it seems to work– for a bit. Really, Gray is back just to terrorize Alicia. She seems to have information that will help Alicia find her daughter, who Alicia thinks has been dead for several years. Gray gets Alicia to spring her from jail and the new BFFs head to Wisconsin to find Alicia’s daughter.
Yes, it’s a happy ending– for Alicia. For Dr. Gray– not so much. What I loved about Röhm is that she plays the intellectual side of being a serial killer well– and she had me convinced she had DID until that smidgen of a smile showed up on her face. It was her smile that really messed me up. When she smiled in the interrogation room at Alicia– I knew she was faking the Lauren Parker personality. And when she smiled at Alicia as she moves to save her daughter– I wondered if the happiness that radiated out of her smile was because she was reuniting Alicia with her daughter, or if she was just happy that she had gotten yet another person to kill for her.
All in all, Röhm, most famous for her role as ADA Serena Southerlyn on “Law and Order” and who was last seen in the short-lived series “Stalker,” played a good villain– one I think we would have enjoyed seeing McG and the Five-0 team chase for another season. Unfortunately, if you saw the “MacGyver” crossover “Flashlight” Kono (Grace Park) tells Jack Dalton (George Eads) that Dr. Madison Gray is dead.
Brent Sexton as Kyle Kane
This week’s “Hawaii Five-0” repeat was one from early in season seven. “Ke Kū Ana” (“The Stand”) which was a highly politicized episode that focused on gun-control issues. I found it strange that the episode focused on gun-control when Hawaiʻi has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, but I suppose it created a dramatic focus for the Five-0 team to do what they do best– make peace and end a dangerous moment quickly and with as little bloodshed as possible.
Still, the highlight of the episode was Sexton as a grieving father, Kyle Kane, whose son had been terribly bullied and had taken out his revenge by shooting eight people. Kane takes the state supreme court members hostage and demands a news crew to put him on the air so he can take his stand against gun laws and lobbyists, as well as against the police and the government. He is heartbroken that he could not help his son, and because he feels as if he failed him. He does not know who to deal with both his grief and his guilt, but he knows he wants to do right by his son.
The scene between Danno (Scott Caan) and Kane on the phone, as Danno talks Kane into surrendering, was really well done– both actors doing a fine job to make Kane’s surrender as realistic as possible. But Sexton was definitely at his best when he is being led away by McGarrett and seeing images of his son’s life played out. It was sad and touching and really quite beautiful. Sexton pulled off all the action, as well as the dramatic moments needed for the episode to work.
Sexton is one of those actors that you know you have seen before, but you can’t always place. Most recently he played a very interesting villain in the second season of the Amazon Prime police procedural “Bosch.” He also was a series regular in “The Killing” and in “Ironside,” and has been in many other television shows and movies. He is an actor that can play both good and bad at the turn of a smirk, or in the ghost of a smile.
Lou Diamond Phillips as US Federal Marshall Wes Lincoln
Phillips is one of those actors who has played so many beloved characters, that when he gets a chance to play a villain, well– it’s a little jarring. Phillips plays Lincoln in “Ka laina ma ke one” (“Line in the Sand”). The episode has Five-0 defending the rights of the Nation of Hawai’i, and their leader Bumpy Kanahele (who played himself), when a suspect wanted for questioning seeks refuge within the nation.
Lincoln wants to raid the nation and find the suspect, but Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) and McGarrett work hard to keep Lincoln from acting rashly. Lincoln sees Five-0 as a bunch of pesky local cops who are standing in his way. He is overbearing and self-righteous and condescending. He’s just what a Marshall might be like if he wanted to take a case out of the hands of Five-0.
And while Lincoln may not be seen as an actual villain– he still stands in the way of Five-0. He blocks cell-phone signals, cuts water and power into the Nation, and prevents anyone from entering. He wants to make it as difficult as possible for Five-0 to question their suspect and solve their case, and keep the peace within the Nation. I did love how Phillips played the bully, but when the stand-off ends, Lincoln sort of tips his hat and moves on. He at least has the good graces to not continue to push his own agenda.
And as much as I like Phillips in the hero roles we know him for– it was fun to see him take this turn at playing the bad guy.
Darius Rucker as Desmond Abati
For those of you who do not know Rucker, he is probably more famous as a singer than as an actor. Lead singer of “Hootie and the Blowfish” and currently a Grammy award winning country singer– Rucker is known for his voice and his hit pop and country songs. But for “E mālama pono” (“Handle with Care”), Rucker played Abati with more of an edge than we are used to from the beloved singer. Really, Rucker as a terrorist bomb maker was a bit of a stretch– but even if we couldn’t see him as a complete and total villain, he sure looked and sounded the part. His voice is perfect when it wants to be scary, and he definitely played his bad guy role sincerely and with good intensity.
And he truly is a bad guy, shooting Sang Min (Will Yun Lee) and his smuggler friend Xander (Davy Malaythong), he builds a dirty bomb and doesn’t tell anyone how to disarm it, and then he kidnaps Sang Min so he can get off the island. When he uses Sang Min as a shield just as Lou (Chi McBride) and Chin find him and move in to capture him, I thought that was the so evil. Luckily, Kono comes to Sang Min’s rescue and sniper-shoots Abati and thus ends his villainous career.
OVERALL, the villains this season were strong. I did like that Michelle Krusiec, who plays Lady Yakuza Boss Michelle Shioma, returned this season, just as evil and cold-hearted as ever. I did love that she was finally caught and put in her place. The best part was Steve asking her to think of her daughters before she tried to make a deal with the feds, which wiped that smug look off her face. It was great to be able to see the hero get the villain and put her in her place.