fatorangekat (fatorangekat) wrote,

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Understanding and deconstruction of a character

This is a very long rant on the character of Danny Williams from Hawaii Five-0 so if you have absolutely no interest- and I certainly can understand as this is my little obsession, then you need to read no further.

But if you are curious what I've got to say on the subject of character, specifically concerning this one, then by all means, get a cup of tea and a malasada and settle in. I've got a lot to say here.

The spectacular implosion of Detective Williams (and some assorted thoughts on the finale while I'm at it.)

I had said I was going to do this, but I had wanted to wait for a few days to let everything sink in. And to see what other people thought. I also wanted to "shuffle the deck" as I call it, in an effort to make better sense of what happened.

First of all, I want to say I was blown away by the finale. It's definitely one of my top five picks of the season. There was something there for everyone and well, they really did leave a huge cliffhanger (or three) to keep us pining the summer away for September.

I can honestly say I haven't "invested" in a series like this in years. Nothing has caught my attention and held it quite like this one has (since ToD) and the reason was pretty simple- it was character. Right from the beginning it was character. Not all the story lines were particularly strong, the crime of the week didn't really do much for me, but the characters and the chemistry was unmistakable with all four main cast members. It was off the charts when it came to Alex and Scott.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I came because of Alex, enjoyed him in Moonlight. I was so looking forward to seeing him in the re-boot that was being so highly touted. And I knew who Grace Park was, she was one of my favorites from BSG. And although I never watched Lost, I knew of Daniel Dae Kim. I vaguely knew of Scott Caan, but really- he was a unknown for me.

I never counted on being broadsided by Scott Caan or the character of Danny Williams and really, that's what happened. When Danny- furious and embarrassed- hauled off and decked Steve, hard, the character had my complete and undivided attention.

Wow, I liked this guy. Seriously liked this guy.

This scrappy and often sarcastic transplant from Newark, New Jersey who had absolutely no use for Hawaii and made sure everyone around him knew about it. He was there for one reason, his young daughter, Grace, and nothing else. He didn't consider Hawaii his home, just a place he had to be in order to stay near his daughter.

Danny is a fascination to watch, you can't help it. He draws the eye where ever he is. He's only around 5'5", but he more than makes up for it with a swagger and strut and his Jersey attitude. He's got a flashy temper and a quick mouth in that he says what means and means what says. Steve once said Danny wasn't born with a censor button. He's loud, he's quick and his sense of humor can be a little off key at times.

He's always in motion. Always. Those hands especially. He can't speak without those hands moving, waiving or pointing. Even when you think he's still, he's not. Watch him. He's shifting his weight, he's moving his head, swaying his body, fisting his hands. He has so much energy contained in that small package and there are times when it's all he can do to keep a lid on it. He's tactile- he's always touching someone or running his fingers over something. It's Danny that's drawing his fingers through the dust at one scene, putting his hand on the small of Steve's back, is in constant physical contact with Grace in some form or another when they are together.

But for as loud and out there as he is, he can tone it down in the blink of an eye when dealing with a victim. Gone is the edginess, the sharpness, the broad gestures. His hands are in his pockets, his voice toned way down, his words careful and measured. He knows how to handle someone in shock or pain or confused and he's good at it.

With Grace he's infinite patience and gentleness. His love of her is unquestionable and absolute.

When it comes to Steve, he's the one with the common sense. Steve is the let's- jump- in- a- volcano- and- we'll- worry- about- the- consequences- later type. To some degree, he's deliberately seeking harm as if it will somehow fix the problems of his past. Danny is constantly trying to throttle him back, get him to see reason or to at least think about what he's doing before he does it. Steve still does his own thing much to Danny's exasperation. Often it's to do just that- push Danny over the edge just to watch the resulting fireworks.

But through all of this, no matter what is happening, how Danny's feelings are changing about his being there in Hawaii, Grace is his center, his universe. It always comes back to her. And it is with her and because of her, we see what Danny's careful to keep as much to himself as he can. He's vulnerable. His marriage by all accounts failed spectacularly and left him hurt and wounded. His bitterness with his former wife, Rachel, is tangible in those first episodes. We see just how vulnerable he is when she threatens to take Grace away from him altogether. He's begging her to be kind, to please be kind and not take his sole reason for living away. It was heartbreaking as he put himself out there in his desperation to keep seeing his daughter.

Over the season, they've reached a point where they can at least talk to each other like normal people. Danny mentions to his brother they can have conversations without his bursting a blood vessel in his neck. And it is to Rachel Danny goes to after what happens with his brother.

And okay, the slashers hated that but really, I can't see Danny going to Steve. But, I didn't see Danny taking it any further than needing Rachel's understanding of what had just happened.

Somewhere though, it went way beyond that but they didn't drop the bombshell until the finale. They didn't completely come out with it in the episode before- it was insinuated, it could be taken any number of ways, but really, no one was expecting what happened.

That Danny and Rachel had apparently, for a while now, been carrying on in a relationship. While she's still married to another man.

And that, folks is the rub and where we get a total departure of who and what this character is.

It's not that I dislike Rachel, (or the actress) because I don't. I love the chemistry between them and they are beautiful together. And I'd like Danny to be honestly happy for once- although what fun is there in that drama-wise, I get that. There is no problem in believing that he had always loved Rachel, even when things were at their worst.

But this character would never intentionally sleep with a married woman- including his ex-wife. He's not that careless or impulsive. He might want it, but he'd never do it. And if for no other reason than Grace. Grace who is his touchstone. Who he wouldn't hurt for anything and we all know this.

But not only is he sleeping with Rachel and apparently has been for some time (at least at some point shortly after the debacle with his brother we can assume…), he's pretty pleased with himself about it. Smug even. This doesn't bother him. At all. None of this does.

It's not Danny asking Rachel to leave Stan either. She's the one who decides they have to tell him. I guess as long as Rachel was okay with the sneaking around behind her husband's back, Danny was too. He's just plain happy.

But since we've now gone and tossed out some of the basic underpinning of the character, let's go for broke why don't we? Because apparently Hawaii was having a serious shortage of condoms because I can't think of any other reasonable explanation as to why two people, in their mid thirties, who have had one child already, wouldn't be using something while carrying on an affair. Hello?

So now Rachel is pregnant.

Insert face palm here. Oy.

I look at character differently than the average viewer does because I write. And at one time I was in the "business" some 25 years ago and that meant that character was my responsibility once. But even the average viewer was taken aback by this curve ball and that was because this was not the Danny we'd come to know all season long. There has been a certain amount of backlash because of it which is sort of a shame. Viewers who really liked Danny don't anymore.

I'm personally too invested in this character. I still very much LIKE this character and I like the actor and what he's doing with all of this. And sure, I'm having a bitch of a time reconciling this with everything else I've noted above. Like having a puzzle completed but for one last piece and that piece is from a completely different puzzle. It might fit, but it doesn't work.

I call it sloppy research and an unwillingness to look beyond the surface.

It's been noted by the executive producer- Peter Lenkov- that Danny will redeem himself with the new season come September. Mr Lenkov has received a deluge of email and tweets about this- I'm sure that wasn't what he was counting on; but rather the destruction of Five-O and what happened to Steve (and Kono for that matter.) Instead what he's getting is a tirade on Danny/Rachel for good or bad. If nothing else though, it does have everyone talking.

I still like Danny a great deal, still love the chemistry between him and Steve. It's sweet and cute and who can forget Danny declaring his love to Steve by drawing it in the air? I still very much want to write fic about these two and I will. And vid them as well. I just need to wrap my head around what amounts to character implosion.

I'm going to end this with some quick overall thoughts and observations about the finale.

           * I think Sergeant Duke Lukela called Chin as a tip off that Steve was about to be arrested.

           * Seriously, the ancient Auntie who saw Kono back on Christmas Eve can pick her out 5 months later? I can't remember what I was doing on Christmas Eve to be honest. And okay, is it just me or is it odd that the number Kono lines up with is "5"?
            * Come on, Danny has got to know that Steve is NOT gonna sit on his hands that night. Really.
            * Really, with everything starting to fall apart, Danny shows up with a couple of six packs of beer to announce to Steve that on top of sneaking around with his ex-wife, he got her pregnant and oh, btw- we leave for Jersey- TOMORROW!
            * On that subject- what, Rachel and Grace can't stay at Danny's apartment for a few days at least to make it easier for Danny to drop things and take them back to NJ?
            * Rachel notes Danny had made a life there in Hawaii. He says his life was with them, he followed "them" to Hawaii. Well no, he followed Grace. Not Rachel. Not Rachel and Grace. Just Grace.
            * Don't get me wrong, I think it's cute Chin making eyes at Laura Hills. But wasn't he like more or less talking to his former fiancé again?
            * Probably my biggest pet peeve- I don't care how you run it up the flag pole, the Governor and her aide are not a "major character", not even put together. I realize they had to build this entire thing up and it was a spectacular finale, but sorry Mr. Lenkov, those two do not fit the definition of a major character. Period.

Tags: character, danno, danny williams, h5o, hawaii five-o
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