Friendship has been a strong theme throughout the last eight seasons of “Hawaii Five-0.” While there are always examples of the bonds of family and ʻohana between the members of the Five-0 Task Force and their families — none have been stronger than between Commander Steve McGarrett and Detective Danny “Danno” Williams — played by Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, respectively. And it’s one of the many reasons why fans love “Hawaii Five-0” — watching this relationship of brotherly love and trust develop over the years.
Starting in the pilot episode, McGarrett sought out people connected to the Honolulu Police Department who were friends and co-workers of his father. Once he met Danno, who was the lead investigator on his father’s murder, he seemed to have met a fellow brother-in-arms as well as his best friend for life. While Danno is McGarrett’s partner on the Five-0 Task Force, he is also his business partner in their joint restaurant adventure. Yet beyond work and business, they love each other like brothers.
Danno tends to be more of McGarrett’s “keeper” — always reminding McGarrett about how close to the line he is going, how close to death he is taking them, and how close he is to a million speeding tickets. He does this out of sincere love and care for his super SEAL partner. Danno was born and raised in New Jersey and started his career in the New Jersey Police Department, so unlike McGarrett who is a trained special operative — Danno has street smarts, years of being a patrol officer, and years as a detective before spending the last eight years with the Five-0 Task Force. He understands risk and danger — but he is always the one who tries to temper McGarrett’s over-enthusiastic actions in order to save both their skins.
One of Danno’s endearing qualities has to be his razor-sharp wit, especially when it comes to McGarrett or the actions of the rest of the team. In the season eight finale, “Waiho wale kahiko,” (“Ancients Exposed”), one of his best lines was when McGarrett makes his way to a Russian sub parked off the coast of Waikiki, and Danno calls out to him — “Steve, Steve, Steve. He wanted me to name the restaurant Steve’s, I’ll do it now in his memory.” The line clearly summarizes their relationship — concern and care, loyalty and love — as well as acceptance for each other’s idiosyncrasies and stubbornness.
Still, through their tight bonds, Danno has consistently been there for McGarrett, becoming the family that McGarrett lacks. Both men have put their lives on the line for each other — and this has been evident since day one. In season eight they moved their relationship to a different level becoming business partners and venturing into the restaurant business.
Danno’s restaurant dreams
Really, it is Danno whose dream it is to have an authentic Italian restaurant, using his grandmother’s recipes, and even shipping in New Jersey tap water to make his pizza dough taste like home. He tells McGarrett this dream in the season six episode, “E mālama pono” (“Handle with Care”) when he and McGarrett diffuse a dirty bomb. While they fear for their lives, Danno tells McGarrett he is afraid he won’t be there-there for his children, and he wants to retire and open a restaurant. They survive the bomb, but in the season finale, “ʻO ke aliʻi wale no kaʻu makemake” (“My Desire Is Only For The Chief”), Danno ends up donating part of his liver to McGarrett to save McGarrett’s life. I think this is when, after both their lives have been in danger, Danno decides he wants to go ahead with his dream and not wait to retire.
Like everything else in Danno’s life, McGarrett is supportive and there to again be a partner in his life. They rent a space in Chinatown — which contrary to Kamekona’s (Taylor Wily) musings, is a perfect place for an Italian restaurant. Chinatown in downtown Honolulu is a hotspot for the arts, foodies, and eclectic nightlife. When Danno is shot in while they are trying to get their restaurant off the ground, he dreams of how the restaurant will come to fruition. Like any dream, it is perfect — but that’s what we want for Danno — his restaurant to come to life with McGarrett helping him make it all a reality.
During season eight, Danno dealt more with McGarrett and their restaurant, than he did with his personal life. Eight years ago Danno started out divorced from Rachel (Claire van der Boom) the mother of his daughter Grace (Teilor Grubbs). Rachel had remarried and moved to Hawaii, so Jersey boy Danno, moved reluctantly to Paradise — which he vocally disliked. Rachel and Danno rekindled their love at the end of season one and almost moved back to New Jersey together. But Rachel reconciled with her husband Stan, and had another child, Charlie — ironically, delivered by Danno– who turned out to actually be Danno’s son. Once he found out Charlie (Zach Sulzbach) was his son, he became an active parent in Charlie’s life.
Danno sees a good future for his children, as evidenced in his dreams from “I ka wā mamua, I ka wā mahope” (“The Future is in the Past”). He sees Grace growing up to become a beautiful and strong young woman who marries the man of her dreams — Will Grover — making Danno and Lou not only friends and teammates but related by marriage. It is something that is probably a big plus in Danno blessing Grace and Will’s relationship.
He also has high hopes for Charlie, who he dreams joins HPD, with a hope that he will eventually join the Five-0 Task Force, run by Capt. Tani Rey (Meaghan Rath). Still, no matter how much he dreams for his children, his love for them is undeniable. One of the best episodes in season eight was when Danno tells Charlie the best Christmas story ever in “ʻOni kalalea ke kū a ka lāʻau loa” (“A Tall Tree Stands Above the Others”). It was a sweet show of his relationship with the little boy, one we remember when Grace was little in the earlier seasons of “Hawaii Five-0.”
Danno’s love life
Danno seems to have come to a sort of peace with Rachel as they raise their children together. He was very angry with her for lying to him about Charlie’s true parentage, and his being sick with a rare disease that affects his immune system, which was treated once Danno donated his bone marrow to his son. When Rachel divorces Stan, it is Danno who helps her ease the pain with the children who love their step-father and worry about their mother. He seems to be supportive of Rachel — but while it doesn’t seem that they are reuniting, and we did get a glimpse at how Danno and Rachel met in a flashback in the season eight episode, “E hoʻokō kuleana” (“To do one’s duty”).
Yet the last time we saw Danno’s girlfriend, Melissa (Lili Simmons), was in the season seven Valentine’s episode, “Pōniu I Ke Aloha” (“Crazy in Love). Seems as if Danno likes a damsel in distress, as he saved Melissa from her abusive stalker ex-husband, and when he was a beat cop in New Jersey he saved another abused woman, Brooke Gardner (Joanna Christie). Danno met Brooke when he and his partner answer a domestic violence call, and he tries to help her. Eventually, he gets her to leave her husband, Ray Gardner (Daniel Kaemon), and they develop a relationship, which Ray finds out about and almost kills her to find out who is seeing. Danno gets Ray to beat him up in front of other cops so Ray would go to prison for assaulting a cop, instead of putting Brooke through a trial, and perhaps even being killed by her abusive husband.
While many thought that Danno broke some kind of ethics code by having a relationship with Brooke, it seems as if Danno in the past has broken rules before in order to save a life. He once gave his badge and his gun to McGarrett in order to beat the truth out of a man who had kidnapped a little girl and buried her alive, and he almost shot to death the man who put McGarrett in the hospital and caused him to lose his liver. While the relationship with Brooke didn’t last — in fact, right after their relationship ended he met Rachel — it did help to save her life. Perhaps it just gave her comfort or just the courage to leave Ray and find a new life, but it Danno ultimately helped to make sure Ray went to jail and allowed Brooke to be free.
While Danno is always a champion for the underdog, it would be nice for him to find a love interest that he doesn’t have to save, and one who understands his job and the dangers it holds. And it would also make perfect sense if she gets how McGarrett belongs in his life and understands how that partnership will never be broken.