Terrence Howard and Scott Caan
Hawaii Five-0's Scott Caan really hopes fans dig Monday's episode — and not just because it's built around a juicy flashback for his character.
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"I hope that people are more into stuff like this than the procedural part of the show," Caan tells TVGuide.com. "We get to do episodes like this not often enough. ... If we can get enough people that like the episodes like this as a business model, then CBS can say, 'Oh, OK, this works too.' But CBS has been so successful with the way that they do their shows, it's almost risky for them to do episodes in a procedural show that have nothing to do with cases. ... I hope we can do more like that."
This particular departure episode finds Danny in a very precarious position. When he accidentally gets too close to a live bomb, he has to remain perfectly still while the bomb squad dismantles the explosives. To keep his mind occupied, McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) asks Danny to tell him a story about his days as a cop in New Jersey.
"One of the things I wanted to do was tell stories of our characters pre-Five-0," executive producer Peter Lenkov says. "Danny is so interesting because he's such a fish out of water. We wanted to see what he was like when he was happy and in an environment that he was comfortable in. It seemed organic to tell a story about his life back in Jersey."
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Indeed, Danny is happier in the flashback, particularly after he receives word from then-wife Rachel (Claire Van Der Boom) that she's pregnant. But soon enough, Danny's good day turns bad when he and his partner (guest star Sydney Tamiia Poitier) cross paths with a couple members of a violent drug ring (guest stars Terrence Howard and T.I.). But the episode isn't all doom and gloom. "It's fun as a writer," Lenkov says of digging into Danny's past. "You're not just telling the story, but you're planting all these seeds and little Easter eggs. You learn who he named his daughter after. And Danny has a history of never being able to drive his own car."
But the episode also has a very poignant connection to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After being pre-empted a week because of Hurricane Sandy, the episode now fittingly airs just one day after Veterans Day. "This episode is, I think, super-important," Caan says. "Everybody remembers where they were when they got that phone call or when they first turned on the TV. It's one of our biggest moments of our generation. [With] everything going on in the world today, I think it's pretty relevant and a pretty important episode. For me, it's without question the most interesting episode we've had."
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Adds Lenkov: "I was at the Twin Towers two days before it went down. Everybody has their memories of New York and that day. I just want to keep that alive. I want to keep people remembering what happened and what we can't let happen again. So many stories have been told about 9/11, but I wanted to tell one in a different way. I didn't want to hit people over the head with it. I just wanted it to creep in."
In the present story line, Danny laments the way 9/11 changed America, in particular how it will forever affect his daughter Grace's generation. "He's just trying to be a protective father," Lenkov says. "He [doesn't] want his daughter growing up being afraid and looking over her shoulder." Adds Caan: "The idea of... bringing a kid into the world and bringing a kid into all this bullsh-- was immediately heavy. That's one of those things where you go, 'Oh, I remember this.' ... You don't have to go to do homework on that. You have an immediate feeling for something like that."
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Moving beyond Monday's episode, Lenkov promises that Danny's custody battle over Grace (Teilor Grubbs) will be resolved soon. But don't expect it to end with reconciliation between Danny and Rachel. "Danny's in a relationship with Autumn Reeser but she's on another show right now!" Lenkov jokes. "If [Last Resort] will let her out for us, we'll use her. We built a relationship last year and [either way] we're hoping to continue Danny in a relationship that's not with Rachel."
Whatever is next for Danny, Caan hopes to continue to pull back new layers on his character. "Anything that has to do with real-life things and not necessarily a case, I invite all that stuff," he says. "I understand people like to see cases and like to see them solved. That's the business we're in. But again — I've been saying this for three years — for us, the more fun stuff to do is the other stuff. It's fresh, it's new. How many times can you talk about where the bullet went?"
Hawaii Five-0 airs Mondays at 10/9c on CBS.