The bottom line is Steve McGarrett doesn’t care what anyone thinks. But there’s something lovable about that, it doesn’t come from ego or self-importance, he has a mission and he’s following that through.
— Alex O’Loughlin, The Sun-Herald, 30 January 2011
Who is Steve McGarrett? – The Key to it all
Those who have been keeping track of the episodes that we discussed in the previous three posts (starting here) about Season 3, will know that there is one episode missing. The odd one out, the one is not about Hawaii or the team or mom, but for me a vital key to who Steve McGarrett is…..
3:20: Olelo Pa’a – Promise
McGarrett and Catherine go in a secret mission to North Korea to find the body of one of McGarrett’s fallen SEAL buddies.
Just to help us understand this episode better, we will take a look at who the Steve McGarrett is that we find on the bridge of the border between North and South Korea. What brought him to this place in time, taking part in an exchange of some prisoners for a body in a coffin. Also part of the delegation, is his girlfriend officer Catherine Rollins:
10 March 1977
– Born as the son of Doris and John McGarrett. Doris was a teacher and John a police officer. One sibling, Mary McGarrett, about 5 years younger than Steve.
– Mother Doris ‘died’ in a tragic motorcar accident when Steve was only 15 years old. What Steve and Mary only realised later on, but what dad knew at the time, was that the accident was actually a bomb. For their protection John sent Mary and Steve to the mainland while trying to find the source of the attack, which he presumed was an attempt on his own life. Steve was sent to military school under the protection of mom and dads friend, Joe White.
– We find Steve doing his BUD’s training as a SEAL, together with his friend Freddie Hart. On the brink of quitting, Steve convinced Freddie that he has what it takes to complete one of the toughest military training courses.
– We catch up with Steve again ten years later. This time he is on tour in Iraq, but we also know that he has been on the trail of the Hess brothers for five years by then. They are international arms dealers and provide the scum of the earth with weapons. Steve is briefed about the whereabouts of one of the brothers and is asked to go on a secret mission to retrieve Anton Hess from North Korea, where he will be selling weapons to rebels. With the option of choosing one partner, he decide on his old friend Freddie. He is warned that it will be a mission without acknowledgement, rescue or recognition if anything should go wrong!
While flying to their drop-off location, Steve learns from Freddie that he got married to his highschool sweetheart the previous weekend, because they found out they were pregnant with a daughter. He shows Steve his brand new tattoo on his forearm, that he got as symbol of his commitment to his wife, Kelly.
While they were trying to get away with the captured Anton, Freddie is fatally wounded and begs Steve to complete the mission rather than to try to save him. His only request, is for Steve to tell his then unborn daughter one day, that her daddy loves her. Steve witnesses his friend being shot to death, while covering Steve and Hess to get away.
20 September 2010
– While Steve escorts the captured Anton Hess from South Korea under armed protection, Victor Hess takes John McGarrett hostage in his own home in Hawaii. Victor uses Steve’s mobile phone to locate his position, in order for a rescue team to try to free Anton from captivity. In the rescue attempt Steve kills Anton and while on the phone with Victor, he hears the shot that kills his father. This incident initiates the events that brought our hero onto our screens as leader of the Governor’s special task force in Hawaii.
During the time since then, Steve must have called in every favour and pulled every string that he had, in order to recover Freddie’s remains. For him the mission will only be complete once he returns his friends remains to home soil, to be buried with the honour and recognition he deserved!
Steve must know a lot of people in high places to get the government to negotiate with a hostile foreign government, who in return needed to negotiate with rebels in their own country, to agree to some sort of exchange for Freddie’s body from a mission that was not supposed to exist.
Present day (unknown date in 2013)
– After the exchange on the border, Steve discovers that the remains does not belong to Freddie. He realises that another attempt at recovering the remains via proper channels, would just take too much effort and time. He decides to do the recovery himself. With Catherine there in Korea with him, she insists on being his back-up. He does not have any other options and he trusts her abilities as a soldier enough, to assist him on his quest.
He calls in a few more favours via Joe White to help him on the mission. One of them, is to get the helicopter pilot friend “Jimmy Buffett” to help them once again. With Tangerine “killed” off by birds, the only help on offer from him, is a drive to the border and some weapons. Jimmy also warns them about minefields, the rebels and also the government and people in North Korea that would not be very friendly.
Ugly Corpses: First we have the ugly corpse of some unknown person that was given to then in place of Freddie – also ugly because somewhere he was somebody’s family or friend, somebody who might not know what happened to him and his remains.
Then we have the mutilated body of Freddie Hart, a soldier who was serving his country and was in fact murdered and then his body desecrated out of pure evil. You might ask why I say he was murdered? I know most would say it is stretching it a bit far and that Steve and Freddie were not innocent civilians, but soldiers who were being shot at in a foreign enemy country. In my opinion they were only trespassers, who did not attack North Korea or the rebels. They did not even want to kill Anton Hess or anybody else. They got shot at for “kidnapping” an arms-dealer and they defended themselves.
Awful surprise: Steve McGarrett is a Navy SEAL, one of the best trained killing machines in the world. There were a lot of people who did not like the fact that Steve planted a grenade under the rebel. Navy SEAL’s are trained to survive and in the game of surviving on enemy soil, playing nice does not feature. This man was in fact a rebel and an outlaw in his own country – not a soldier defending his homeland. He also had a front row seat the day Freddie was murdered.
This is also in my opinion where Danny (a police officer who serves and protects on home soil) would have started ranting and freaking out at Steve for ‘needing help‘ and for ‘not being right in the head‘. While Catherine who is a fellow soldier, understood what needed to be done and just supported Steve’s decisions as leader of the mission.
Angry Steve decided that it is time to take revenge for the desecration of his friends body. He feels like he’s got a score to settle with the rebel leader responsable and for also sending them the wrong body, because of the mutilation.
Just some trivia:
Alex might have missed out on the role of 007, but at least he got a chance to ‘die another day’, with a Bond villain (actually two, but the second one (Sang Min) he does not encounter in this episode, but on a regular basis ever since the Pilot episode 😀 )
Every time I see this part of the episode, I kind of wait for Steve and Cath to start doing a ‘shoot out dance’ a´la the movie ‘Mr and Mrs Smith‘. 😀 In any case they get the job done by killing the villains and taking Freddie’s remains back.
At long last Steve completes his mission. His friend and fellow soldier is back on home soil! (For me this scene where the coffin leaving the plane, stirs my emotions even more than the funeral 😦 )
Freddie can now receive the honour he deserves and Steve can fulfill his promise to his friend, by telling the little girl at a special ceremony, how much her daddy loved her……
Steve, with his heart a bit lighter after fulfilling his promise and duty, looks up to see his Ohana. You can see the love on his face for the family that carried him these last three years. They will never be part of his military life, but what they have as a group, runs deeper. Together they serve and protect their state……They are HIS TEAM!
Things I would have done differently:
I will be one of the first to remind anybody that Hawaii Five-0 is fiction and that we should suspend belief a lot and enjoy that fantasy as it is produced for us. But by changing a few things in this episode, telling the story could have just been a little bit better………
- The identification of Freddie’s body (I have two problems with the use of the Kelly ‘Hart’ tattoo):
- If I understand the information I could find on the internet correctly, Navy SEAL’s are not allowed to have tattoo’s on their arms below their sleeve line, that can not be covered with a thumb – so that would be a violation of Navy rules. (I do realise that the rule is constantly broken because of the tattoos below the sleeve on Steve’s arms, but it is just something that comes with Alex, that would have been too much to cover all the time 😀 )
- Although I’m not an expert on the decay of dead buried bodies, my instinct and most of what I could read on the matter, says that a body that has been buried in the conditions in North Korea, would not after 3 years be preserved in a manner that would allow identification of something on the skin that still might be left on it.
For me they could have used something more in the line of the pin in Jenna’s boyfriends knee – something involving the skeleton, would have been more permanent, to use for unique identification. The writers could have easily written a side story about an injury (that caused that identification), Freddie sustained and how Steve helped him to overcome it in their past lives. 🙂
It would have made it that much easier to believe that Steve and Cath just needed to carry a bag of bones back across the border, than a decaying body that still had some flesh on it and made it heavy. 🙂
- The back story of the pregnancy and the marriage:
The whole story just did not sound good to me. Here you have two highschool sweethearts who have been together for more than 10 years, now suddenly having an unplanned pregnancy. Fighting one week, finding out they are pregnant and getting married the next week. And to top it off, already knowing the gender of the baby. It would also make the little girl barely older than 2 years at the funeral – in my opinion a bit young to understand the whole ceremony. 😕
The story could have been even more heart breaking if the Hart’s struggled over the years to fall pregnant and at long last they got their little girl. Freddie could have for instance showed a picture of an already born baby girl to Steve.
- The use of Hawaiian airline and the lack of detail about where the funeral took place (for me it is not a big deal, but just a small irritation about attention to back story detail).
When I first watched the episode, it was always clear to me that Freddie and his parents were from the mainland and that it was where the body was taken to be buried (Cath talks about flying to the mainland in the begining). I never saw the Hart’s as people from Hawaii, who Steve just never even mentions to his team before. And it also does not make sense why Steve would spend ‘Thanks Giving’ with them and not his father, if they were in Hawaii.
The attendance of the team and Steve’s reaction when he sees them there at the funeral, would also mean that much more, if they made the effort to go to the mainland to be there.
Things I thought were outstanding:
1. The producers and writers were bold enough to go outside the procedural, to give us a glimpse of who the Navy Officer, Steve McGarrett really is. Telling us a bit more of what makes him tick. A man who can fearlessly seek revenge, but in the same breath cry at the sight of the mutilated body of his friend.
2. Catherine with Steve on the mission and my reasons for it:
Clearly the recovery of Freddie’s body was a personal matter for Steve, so understandably he would want to take somebody with him for support. The military would not allow civilians to go on such a mission and Joe is no longer in the military. Fortunately as a fellow soldier, he could take Catherine.
The confidence Steve showed in Cath, spoke volumes. It tells us not only how much respect he has for her as a colleague and soldier, but also that he believes women as soldiers can get the job done. (And it was also no surprise to us as viewers, because since the very first episode in Season3, we have been experiencing Cath’s skills at taking care of herself – it kind of became funny how Steve always arrived just to late to really help her 😀 )
In my opinion if Steve had a choice of any of his police officer team – Danny, Chin and Kono, or Catherine, she still would have been the best choice to take with him. For me there is a substantial difference in police officers being trained to serve and protect on home soil and soldiers who are trained to defend and attack on the battlefield, the way Steve and Cath would have been trained. (Steve as Navy SEAL of course having far more advanced skills for covert ops, than Cath will have of taking care of herself through the basic training of a normal soldier she surely must have had)
For me it is great that this series can embrace strong women. Women who are not only smart, sexy and beautiful, but who are also prepared to get their hands dirty, whenever the chips are down, to get the job done. They are not perfect ‘Stepford wife‘ beings, but real women with a multitude of flaws, but who their fellow-man can depend on, when needed.
3. And of course the most outstanding part of this episode will always be Alex’s performance. Once again he showed us how he can change around the emotions within a few seconds. All I can say is, he just makes it look so easy – Powerful performance, Alex!!
Although they are two vastly different men and should never be confused with each other, for me there are definitely some areas where Steve McGarrett and Alex O’Loughlin meet.
- They are both men who do things with all of their heart
- They are both prepared to do whatever it takes to get the job done, even to the point of maybe taking too many punches.
- They are both prepared to take up the responsibility of being a leader
- They both do not claim to be perfect, but are perfectly human.
- AND of course they share a body and a FACE – do we need to say more 😀
Michelle Borth posted this picture of Alex that she took while shooting this episode with him. I kind of envy the girl for having the front row seat in seeing Alex do his thing for this episode!! 😀
We here at Intense Study are extremely lucky. For us it does not really matter where the story takes us or with who they team Steve up in any given situation or for that matter, what shade of blue shirt he is wearing that day 😛 . As long as Alex is able to show us his skills as actor and also show us the pretty, we are in heaven. We can’t wait to see in which direction the writers and Alex take Steve in the new season……….BRING IT ON SEASON 4!
My first question is: ‘Can I shine in this role?’ Do I have a comprehensive understanding of this character? Do I also have an inherent, instinctual understanding of how I’m going play this character, does this character live within me already on some level? Am I going to be able to authentically bring honesty, integrity and life to this character and, defend this character with all my might? And so that’s our job as actors.
– Alex O’Loughlin, Vampires & Slayers, November 2008