The story of fathers and sons have been one of the consistent themes in “Hawaii Five-0” since the start of the series. If we think back to the pilot episode, it was the shocking death of McGarrett’s father, John (William Sadler), which caused Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) to return to Hawaii. Once Steve met Det. Danny Williams (Scott Caan), who was the lead investigator on his father’s murder case, the two joined forces and started the Five-0 task force. This birthed a kind of family, or ohana, that still exists within the team 10 years later.
Being a father, or a father figure to others is a common characterization within the show. Many of the strongest relationships between the characters are based on the idea of fatherhood. This season the storylines that spotlighted what it means to be a father were complicated and emotionally difficult. This is not something new, but it seemed as if this year’s stories often left viewers sad and feeling raw, even if a story came to a satisfying conclusion. Two major events seemed to stand out over the year — both focusing on tough moments between fathers and their children, real or assumed.
A FATHER PUT TO THE TEST
Danny is one of the characters who has been a father from the start of the series. His children, Grace (Teilor Grubbs) and Charlie (Zach Sulzbach), who call him Danno, have not only been a huge part of his life, but they also have driven what kind of cop he is, and what cases seem to matter to him. Whenever the victim is a child or when a suspect has put a child in danger — Danny seems to move into Super Danno mode. When Danny’s children are in trouble or in danger there is no stopping what Danno will do for them.
This season Daddy Danno was put to the ultimate test when Grace is involved in a terrible car accident and has brain surgery in order to save her life. While Danny and Rachel (Claire van der Boom), his ex-wife and Grace and Charlie’s mother, wait to find out the fate of their daughter, they discuss their past and seem to make peace with each other. Danny never allowed his anger about being kept from his children to turn into bitterness or revenge against their mother — which made being a father much easier and his children much happier.
In the episode, both Danny and Steve struggle with the thought of something happening to Grace. Steve would do anything for Danny’s children and loves them as if they were his own blood. When Uncle Steve finds out that Grace was not at fault for the accident, but had been run off the road by another car in a high-speed chase, both men are very proud of her and the action she tried to take in order to save herself and a friend. And extremely happy she made it through alive.
A FATHER’S LAST WORDS
One of the most popular episodes of the season, has to be the episode where McGarrett’s SEAL mentor and family friend, Joe White, dies after trying to save them from a team of assassins. Joe has sometimes been seen as a friend, a mentor, and sometimes as an adversary of McGarrett’s. In this season’s fall finale he comes to find McGarrett to protect him from a hit squad who is intent on killing all of the members of their SEAL team. In the last few seasons Joe, who often called McGarrett “son,” has often given McGarrett and the team a helping hand.
Joe’s passing was both heartbreaking and beautiful. It was the farewell that McGarrett never got to share with his own father. After defeating the hit team, Joe is critically wounded but as McGarrett tries to get him help, Joe has them stop so that they can watch the impending sunset near his favorite ponderosa pine tree — knowing that these are his last moments.
McGarrett thanks Joe for saving his life when he was a teenager. When Joe got him out of jail after he had stolen a car, it changed the course of his life because he never would have had the chance to become a SEAL or start Five-0. McGarrett tells Joe it was then that he realized someone believed in him, even though he’d given up believing in himself.
And while McGarrett thinks he is thanking the man who was the closest thing to a father he had when his mother was supposedly dead and his father a long way away in Hawaii — Joe tells McGarrett: “You have thanked me every day since with the man you’ve become. The way I looked out for you, that’s the way that you watch over the people in your life now. I couldn’t be prouder of the man you’ve become.” It is exactly what McGarrett needed to hear as he loses the last father figure in his life.
For the most part, Father’s Day is a celebration of the men we call “dad” in our lives. But sometimes these men could be called a nickname like “Danno” or “uncle” or even “friend.” In true Five-0 fashion, it doesn’t matter what a father is called, as long as they are there when they are needed.