Rite of Passage: Ceremonies that mark important transitional periods in a person’s life, such as birth, puberty, marriage, having children, and death. Rites of passage usually involve ritual activities and teachings designed to strip individuals of their original roles and prepare them for new roles.
There were years when my daughter was a young teenager when I didn’t think either of us would survive it. I think I’ve said this in the past. There were times I was sure I was going to end up on the six o’clock news, I just wasn’t sure if it was going to be a murder, suicide or both. Of course, we did survive, we came through because a lot of growing up took place in those years. And I’m not just talking about her growing up, I’m talking about myself as well.
I needed to come to terms with the fact that my little girl was become a young woman. A young woman with very definite ideas about life. I needed to learn how to guide her both on the paths she chose and off some paths as well. I needed to grow up, grow as a mother, and stop seeing her as a child who I expected to just blindly follow my rules, but as a young adult with a mind of her own. Take it from me, it was not an easy “rite of passage” for me.
It’s so easy to look at the above definition and watch an episode like this one and immediately think of Grace and Will, growing up, leaving childhood and embarking on the new frontier of young adulthood as being the “rite of passage”. But, just as kids are passing through that “important transitional period” so are the parents.
Some deal with it better than others. Some look forward to it. In this episode, Lou was proud of Will growing up, becoming a man while Danny, forever Gracie’s overprotective daddy, hates the idea of his little girl growing up. Lou is looking forward to his son being a man while Danny? No matter how much he insists it’s love and protectiveness (which, of course, it is) it’s also a bit of selfishness too because Danny is dreading, above all else, the day another man steps in and becomes the most important man in Gracie’s life. He is desperately clinging to her childhood for as long as he can. The time in her life where he’s her hero. As he found out in this episode. He will always be Grace’s hero.
Ok… let’s get to it. Just like always… my ramblings in no specific order:
Cold opening: I loved the way the episode opened because we didn’t have a “previously” this week. Of course, since this was a stand-alone episode which didn’t tie into anything from the past a “previously” wasn’t necessary. But I was expecting one anyway, showing last week’s scenes of Lou grilling Will about Gracie’s boyfriend. I was very happy they didn’t use it this week.
I also liked how it showed the hostage situation as it was happening right at the beginning and showed Gracie was right in the middle of it. Now, I’m a person who loves spoilers, promo pictures and sneak peeks but I’ve got to admit, those who don’t care for them may have a point. If I hadn’t had any previous knowledge of what this episode was going to be about, this cold opening would have been much more dramatic. As it was, it was still a great way to begin the episode and, I’m not ashamed to admit, I still love spoilers.
Lou and Will: I would like to say right off the bat that Chosen Jacobs is one hell of a great young actor. He plays Will to perfection. His nervousness about the dance, his embarrassment at his father dance moves and his mortification at Lou deciding this is the perfect moment to have “the talk” was square on target. “Are you familiar with the phrase “no glove… no love?”. OMG…. absolutely hysterical!
It was also really cool how Lou, after repeatedly trying and failing to get in touch with Will, felt he needed to go down there and make sure Danny wasn’t giving his son grief after finding out Will was Grace’s boyfriend. It’s a given that Danny will always be the overprotective dad but it seems Lou isn’t far off. Knowing Danny the way he does, Lou wasn’t going to leave his son to fend for himself in that situation. Thank goodness Lou is as protective as Danny is and went down there when he did.
The poker game: This scene was pure perfection. Steve doing exactly what he said he wouldn’t do, taking credit for the sandwiches Danny brought for the game, while all the guys wolf down the grub and lavish Steve with praise on how great the food is. I loved the way the guys listened in on Lou’s conversation with Danny about Grace and Will. Their facial expressions were priceless as was the hysterical laughter from everyone when Lou said not to worry, Danny wasn’t about to over-react. Everything about this scene was fantastic.
When Steve answered the door to Danny and his sandwiches and noticed the way Danny was dressed he remarked “Hey…very formal…..ummm, it’s poker night” making it sound like this is something that happens all the time. I don’t know if it’s a weekly thing or a monthly thing but it’s pretty obvious that poker night is something that happens pretty regularly. I love the idea that the guys all get together like this on a regular basis. I was sorry that Max wasn’t included this time but it was great to see Mamo, Kamekona, Jerry and Dog there. I wonder if they ever include Kono in these games. I remember she was part of the game back at the end of Season 4. As a matter of fact, she was a big winner at that game if I remember correctly. I suppose she and Adam are too busy getting reacquainted to be out playing poker with the boys. Not that I blame them one bit, of course.
COTW and the secondary story: The best part of the secondary story this week was there wasn’t one. The entire episode, except for the breaks for the poker game, was centered on the Winter Formal and what was going on inside that venue. When I first heard about a hostage situation at a school dance I was wondering what the writers would come up with to make it plausible that a bunch of terrorists would take over a random high school dance in Hawaii. I liked how writer Rob Hanning used the son of a diplomat as the catalyst for the takeover. I also really liked how the Philippine government couldn’t release the terrorist leader because he had already been executed. I expected the routine line of “my government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists”. The fact that they couldn’t negotiate even if they wanted to because he was already dead was a great twist. But the COTW this week was less about the crime than it was about Danny and Will and Grace.
Grace: Oh, my dear girl… I know you well. Surly, easily annoyed, smart mouthed, antagonistic, overly embarrassed by her parent, abrupt answers with her face buried in her phone…. I lived with this girl for years. This was the teenager I didn’t know if I could survive. I can’t tell you how happy I am that the writers are finally writing Grace as the teenager she is, even if it’s a teenager I had hoped to never see again. But you know what? Danny will survive these years, just like I did.
Grace has lived with her over protective father all her life. Yeah, he’s overbearing and intrusive and she has every right to be annoyed with him. But Grace, of all people, knows what the real world is like out there. How many times has she personally been put in danger, let alone the number of times she’s seen it happen to her father and/or her Ohana? She might lash out at him but she knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that Danno will save the day. It was such a wonderful moment, when Grace’s friend Riley was so upset, to hear Grace say “It’s going to be okay, really. My dad’s here.” And when Grace told Danny she was glad he was there with her. See, Danny…. you don’t have to worry, you’re always Grace’s hero.
Will: This kid was amazing, every bit the Grover his father is. He was scared but he held it together the entire time and he, as Danny said, saved Danny’s ass more than once. I liked how Will stood up to his friend Jeremy Ramos when offered some pakalolo and the way he stood his ground and bravely fessed up to Danny that he, himself, was Grace’s boyfriend.
He was invaluable to Danny from the moment the terrorists took over to the very end, holding up his cell phone camera so the team outside could see the lay of the land inside. And just like his father, Will wasn’t going to just sit by when he was sure he could help. I loved how he kept showing up even when Danny told him to hide but how he also stayed put when he knew Danny was making the right call.
I also really liked how Will helped Danny out with the technology to change the outside sign in an effort to get help. Asking Danny if he was “tech savvy” was cute especially since it seems Will has to help his Dad out with such things sometimes. Of course, we also know it’s not Danny’s strong suit. I have no doubt he could have figured it out on his own but having Will do it was a great way for the writers to show that Will was going to be a valuable asset to Danny, not just a kid tagging along that Danny was going to have to shield.
Danny: First off, Will being Gracie’s boyfriend is the best thing that could have ever happened for Danny. He knows Will, of course, he knows Lou and Renee and the type of family Will comes from. For crazy protective Danny this is a win-win situation. If Grace thinks he’s a pain in the butt now, just imagine how he’d be if he knew nothing about Grace’s boyfriend. He would simply lose his mind.
So, Danny ends up at the dance because Rachel is unexpectantly called out of town. That does seem to happen a lot, doesn’t it? Anyway, his first brush with danger happens the moment he steps up to the sign-in table when he comes face to face with an overly flirty soccer mom who wants to know if he’s “packin’” and whether he brought his handcuffs. Yikes! Run Danny…..
Things really hit the fan when the terrorist burst in while Danny is interrogating Will in the men’s room. Of course, Danny is not packing and Grace is out on the dance floor with all the other kids unprotected.
Danny, although admittedly freaking out a bit (did you notice how he was wringing his hands as he was pacing around), immediately forms a plan to get help and protect Grace and the other kids. Oh, he may have been annoyed with Will a second before, but Danny now treats him as if he were his own son and does what he can to protect him while, at the same time, coming to understand just how smart Will is and how competent he is in a tight situation. He is a Grover after all.
I loved every moment with Danny in this episode. It was great to see him in there alone, relying on his wits and his skills. Even with the terrorists threatening Grace and Danny forced to reveal himself and Jeremy to protect her, he was brilliant in the way he got the terrorist to let him talk to Steve. He was able to give the team all the clues they needed to know that Will somewhere safe in the building. It was quick thinking and the kind of great detective skills I wish we could see much more often.
I was really glad the writers remembered that Danny is claustrophobic. It would have been so easy to use that plot devise once in Season 4 then forget about it. But they keep coming back to it year after year. The way injuries and past-history is often forgotten once they have serviced their story purpose, I’m glad this one has survived. It also gave us a great scene of Danny and Will crawling through ducts (why is it always ducts?? LOL) and Will telling Danny what it is he likes about Grace. She’s his best friend, smart and funny, they both miss winter’s snow and she’s honest enough to call him on his crap when he needs it. “That’s really great. She sounds just like her mother”. What a great line!
The takedown: It was fascinating to watch the team assembled outside the venue being at a complete loss on how to proceed. With no communication and no visuals, they had no attack strategy. Lou was beside himself with worry over Will being in the building so it was not a surprise he took drastic measures to get their one captured perp to talk. I had to laugh when the guy said “You’re a cop. You won’t hurt me”. Ummmm dude. Let me tell you a little story about a guy in Chicago named Clay Maxwell….
It was also fascinating watching Steve during all this. Alex, of course, the man who can deliver pages of dialog with just a look, easily conveyed Steve’s frustration at being hog tied. As Lou spoke to Will on the phone, radiating love and concern, the look on Steve’s face spoke volumes. Steve has spoken of his father several times this season. It was easy to see in his face how much watching a father’s love still affects him to this day, still hurts that he, himself, missed so much.
The takedown itself was a little anti-climactic. The team, with Will’s help, get the lay of the land, know where the terrorists are and take them down pretty quickly and easily.
The best part of it all, wasn’t the takedown but the……
Reunions: This scene was a fantastic Ohana moment, capturing the love of all the families involved. I adored the way the scene was shot, how each man, searching for the child of his heart, entered and swept the room until they found them. It was wonderful to see Jeremy reunited with this father, a man caught between his government and his family but, of course, it was the reunions of our own Ohana which made the scene.
“You are the man”. This was clearly what Lou was saying when he pointed to Will as he came through that door once the shooting had ended. The bear hug he was pulled into was full of love, of course, but there was also an overwhelming pride in what his son had done. Lou may have thought it was cute earlier in the day that his son was attempting to be a man. Now, he knows the kind of man his son is clearly on the road to becoming.
But, of course, you know my favorite reunion of all was the one between Steve and Grace and Danny. It is no secret that Steve loves Grace, has loved her from the time she was eight years old. He’s shown it over and over, has told her so, but it was never as evident, never as heart pounding as this time. When Steve bursts into that room, guns firing, and bodies on the floor, bodies he doesn’t know are injured or not, his one thought, it seems his only thought at that moment was Grace.
The look on his face, as he not only calls out for Grace but frantically mumbles “Grace..where’s Grace?” showed just how frightened he was for her. The hug he gave her… no, not a hug… the loving embrace he envelops her in and the look of utter relief as they cling to each other was palpable. A wonderfully moving moment.
Leave it to Danny, of course, to add a bit of levity to the moment. “I am so happy to see you right now. I’ll give you a hug. I’ll give you a kiss. Pick a base”. If I didn’t know this line was scripted, I would have been sure it was a Scott ad-lib because it sounds just like a line he’s throw in there. Someday I hope Steve picks a different base with Danny but for now, this line and this scene was more than perfect.
The last best moment of this scene was when Danny and Will caught each others eye. The salutes they gave each other spoke volumes. It spoke of shared struggle, comradeship and of mutual respect… man to man…. it was a beautiful moment.
Ending: For me this episode was perfect from beginning to end. Watching Grace and Will finally get their dance, at the local ice cream shop, was so adorable. I loved Will’s line “I’ve been waiting all night for this”. I think I heard a collective “Awwwwwww” from everyone watching. These two are so cute together. I really hope we get to see them hanging out a few more times this season.
But the best part of the ending was Danny and Lou, sitting in the car, watching as their kids have their dance. These men, already friends, bonding over the love they each have for their kids, but also over the recognition that, yes, their children are no longer children but wonderful young adults embarking on a new phase in their lives. Each man recognizing just how lucky they are to have the kids they do and that the choices these kids made are good ones. Their kids are growing up and, as it should be, so are they.
This episode is going to go on my list as one of my all-time favorites. I always love Danny centric episodes, especially ones that show not only his great skills as a cop but all his heart and soul. This episode did just that, in spades. I hope this isn’t the only Danny centric episode we get this year but if it is, it was one fantastic one.
I hope you all have a wonderful week, my friends. Aloha. Malama pono.
All screen caps are mine unless otherwise noted.