Monday night is date night TV night in the Davies' household.
First Chicago Code (sob!), followed by Hawaii Five-0 (just renew the damn show, CBS, okay?), it's appointment TV night for my husband and me. (I also watch Glee on Tuesdays, but that's not his thing.) We go from gritty to sun-drenched in the space of two hours, and I love both shows.
But I discovered something about myself as a viewer, and the shows I watch, last Monday. Because my two favorite characters on these two shows brought up a specific issue, and my reaction to it was diametrically opposed.
WARNING - SPOILERS AHOY!
On the Chicago Code, main character Jarek is a cop with an ex-wife he still has feelings for. They have a child together. And all season, the two of them have been sleeping together, regardless of the fact that he has a fiancee he theoretically loves as well.
On Hawaii Five-0, Danny Williams is a cop with an ex-wife he still has feelings for. They have a child together. And in the last five minutes of Monday's episode, we find out that apparently they've been doing the infidelity dance as well.
(The whole WTF exchange: Steve says, so, you and Rachel. How long...? Danny responds, "a little while.")
So why do I accept the infidelity on the part of Jarek, but get infuriated at the thought of Danny doing the same thing?
Well, on Chicago Code, Jarek has been set up character-wise to make this choice believable. He cuts corners. He skirts the edge of legal when it suits his purposes, and rarely has a qualm about it. He is a gray-area character. More importantly, it's been a thing all season long, and one of the defining elements of his character.
On Hawaii Five-0, Danny has been set up all season as the moral compass of the team. He's the one shouting about procedure and suspect's rights and doing the right thing. Does he always manage it? No, but he tries, because it matters to him.
So for him to apparently start sleeping with a married woman - regardless of the fact that she's his ex - struck me as out of character and, more significantly, out of left field.
Yes, the pining (on both Danny's and Rachel's parts) has been signposted throughout the season, and the troubles in Rachel and Stan's marriage have been mentioned before. I actually liked that element, as we watched them grow from battling exes with "Psycho" ringtones and custody battles that required intercession from the governor into two people who were finding a way to be friendly co-parents.
I was even fine with the forehead-kissing and falling asleep on the hospital bed and the pining glances as she drove away. The lost love you always regret is a fantastic trope in a TV show like this, and it really worked for them. But to suddenly (and confusingly) suggest that they're actually sleeping together and have been for a while? It made no sense to me. And I believe it made no sense for the character.
Gracie also factors into this. The child is not stupid. And if her parents, both of whom she loves, are suddenly making googly eyes at each other and hugging and acting all couply, she's going to start hoping they'll get back together. And unfortunately, for these two, love wasn't enough to conquer the issues that tore them apart previously, issues that are even more looming now. Danny's dangerous job? Even more dangerous. Financial issues? Not going away. And on a practical, TV show note, happy couples aren't interesting over the long run. No way are the PTB going to allow Danny to have a happy home life for any length of time. So how much is it going to mess up that little girl to have her hopes for a reunited family dashed AGAIN?
In short, because of the way the character of Danny Williams has been revealed to us over the season, I was disappointed and angered by the turn taken on Monday's episode. And much as I hate to admit it, it makes me look at him in a less positive light now. I hope that changes soon, because I really do love the character and would hate to have that color the way I look at him from now on.
One good thing I'll be taking away from this is the reaffirmation that motivation and character development matter. And you can bet I'll be applying that knowledge to the characters I write as well as the ones I watch on my television screen.