Hawaii Five-0 S3 – A season for ugly corpses and awful surprises…Part 4

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.

December 2000

– 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.

September 2010

– 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):
  1. 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 😀 )
  2. 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


Filed under Alex O´Loughlin, Hawaii Five-0, Steve McGarrett

26 responses to “Hawaii Five-0 S3 – A season for ugly corpses and awful surprises…Part 4

  1. Funny, as I was reading the episode summary above, when I got to the funeral scene the light bulb went off in my head “hey why is he being buried on Oahu?”. Why not where he was from or at Arlington? That never clicked in my head when I watched the episode. Definite flaw in the the writing, but then again there are always flaws in the writing. And really, I’m not watching the show for the writing, I’m watching it to see his face on my TV each week.


    • Anwyn

      What she said!!
      Wonderful job FOYeur. Your devotion is inspiring and I am glad that at least you are cunning enough to point out the obvious. I am really too much swept up in THAT FACE to realize much when watching for the first time. I have to rewatch often to see things.


  2. Katy

    Hi! I’m new to this blog but I absolutely love it. Amazing gifs, amazing pics and amazing info about such a talented actor! Anyway, this episode always gets to me. I’m always a crying mess at the end when Steve (wearing his dress blues… sigh) gives Freddie’s dog tags to his daughter. As you underlined, there are inadequacies in the writing of this episode but Alex’s performance is flawless. He can bring so many emotions to his characters, not only Steve, it’s truly outstanding. I can’t wait for so 4 even though we’ll have to wait till spring 2014 to see the new epi in France (in the original version, thank God for small favours…) grrr. Mahalo for doing such a great job on this blog! BTW, sorry for any mispelling or grammar mistakes, as English isn’t my native language.


    • We do plenty of misspelling too, so no need to apologize. Blame Alex for confusing our grammar 😉


    • Hi Katy
      Welcome here, hope you will have lots of fun with us.
      I sometimes get whole word wrong and my grammar is terrible – like just now in a comment – lucky for me. I sometimes pick it up and correct myself – but only sometimes 🙂


  3. LindaSue

    Wonderful episode summary. The writers of this episode did a great job telling this emotional story in just one short hour of television. Keeping that in mind, I always overlook and forgive the little flaws. But I do love reading your “intense studies” of Alex. You have brought many little things to my attention that I may not have noticed otherwise. Season 4 is now just days away and I am looking forward to all of your studies about it!!


  4. It´s a good thing we are not H50 blog 😉 We might be nitpicking on the inconsistent writing 😉
    I should be thankful for not being so into the stories, I rarely notice these things and often don´t care enough to mention them either. But must say FOYeur´s sharp mind picks up on these details billion times better than me anyway. I actually find it amusing how much I keep missing while ogling Steve.
    Alex is saving the show with his acting and pretty, for me at least 😀


    • buttercup

      I’m just to much focused on Steve to actually get distressed by those “little mistakes” the writer sometimes make! For me it’s TV and a little bit “over-the-top” and “spacy” is ok for me – as long as it is funny and not so serious!
      I mean those carguments are so refreshing sometimes and they “lighten up” the seriousness of the case (like “those lonely nights” song and McDanno switching radio stations!)


  5. visage13

    This is one of my favorite episodes. Honestly, I never dig too deep with the inconsistencies but find it a fascinating read by those who do because I learn a lot. I admit it, I am shallow I watch this show because of Alex and I think 99% of the storytelling is good. I love the over the top stunts that most people seem to not like. I wish this show would get more recognition for the outstanding work that is done.

    I am really looking forward to season 4 and I hope the Wofat question gets answered because if it turns out like I think, talk about drama. And I want Catherine’s ex boyfriend or one night stand, I cannot remember, to come in and stir up trouble in their relationship. I want Catherine with Steve but he takes her for granted and I want some drama there where he really has to prove and talk about his feelings for her. Of course I want more Chin, Danny and Kono back stories and drama too. Less procedural and more relationship would be ideal but I am sure is not going to happen.


  6. Ontlls

    *pass the Kleenex box” I know it’s corny but I loose it every time I see caps from this episode. I love emotional episodes, over gory ones anytime! I loved this episode, I don’t want to nit-pick it, find the flaws, I just enjoy it.
    Thank you Paula for the great gifs and the study.
    I am not a shipper type person, but I love the chemistry that Steve and Cath have, but I agree someone need to stir it up a bit. Steve not calling Cath his girlfriend but calling her every time he needs help, hmmm. Doris stirred the pot between them, but not enough. The Amersterdam boyfriend we met in the finale should be interesting.
    But remember Steve met Cath’s father, and Freddie did say that Cath was the one for Steve, maybe a promise ring or something??

    I just don’t know about the Season 4 rumors of Cath being kidnapped!! 😯 That might stir the pot enough!!

    WOW longest reply in awhile! 🙂


    • Did you notice that FOYeur did this study (and the previous ones too). I can´t take any credit for her amazing work 🙂
      Anyway, Cath´s kidnapping was in one of the promo videos, I think it will happen early on in this season.
      I´m already suspecting Cath´s ex will be a scumbag and Steve needs to deal with him in an agressive manner…


  7. rita

    All I can say what an excellent analyses. You had be spellbound. I totally agree with your conclusion about Alex/Steve


  8. buttercup

    Thank you FOYeur for doing those wonderful recaps of s3! I love this place, ’cause it’s NOT like a box of chocolate, we always KNOW what we gonna get 😉 !
    So much great information and so many new lines of gaze!
    I really loved Steve and Cath in the jungle!
    Just imagine Danno freaking out about everything Steve “did wrong” and discussing the “help issue” that would have been seriously out of place! Cath was great and Michelle did a great job, not to much sentimental stuff (I don’t like that, for that I could make a rewatch of “Gone with the wind” 😉 )!! And strong women are great, I don’t like them whining and crying all the time! Kono and Cath are great, and so is Gracie, Rachel was cool too, and I didn’t mind Lori at all (but not as Steve’s BFF) and MaryAnne did her Scene at the cementary (which was really outstanding) for she’s a tough one too!
    Doris’s the one doing all the crying 😉 (I guess she has to, so be it!) !!


  9. Marta

    Foyeur, when you did the first post of these collection of 4 posts that you introduced , i was very curious about this last one – The Key. Never cross my mind that was about my favorite character and my episode of season 3. Truly, i have to salute and applaud your work on this post. By reading the outstanding moments and flaws in the writing, it’s brilliant. I appreciate that i’m not the only one who found some of them by watched it, but you describe it with more detail. No surprise, you’re a specialist of intense studies. And i love your conclusion.
    You and i can’t wait to see in which direction the writers and Alex take Steve in the new season. Thank you very much.


  10. vanduyn

    This post is wonderful. You said so many things that I think a lot of Alex fans feel. I love to watch Alex act and the fact that he’s gorgeous and sexy is a bonus for sure. He really showed his range of emotions in this episode. It breaks my heart to watch it but I love this episode because of the acting by Alex as well as Michelle. Thanks 😀


    • KarinA

      I totally agree with you vanduyn – a wonderful post about a truly amazingly acted episode that gives us a deeper understanding of Steve and lets Alex shine as an actor, as does Michelle. Thank you all !


  11. marnov2205

    An excellent, thoughtful research as ever, FOYeur!! I’m amazed by the amount of details that you discuss and that totally escaped me! Though I admit not watching for the plot most of the time 😯 … I would love to see your version of the events, your suggestions are great and I honestly believe they would improve the writing of this particular epi. Show had better hire you!!


  12. I can’t read enough about this amazing episode and you did a great great job FOYeur! I totally agree with your comment about the grenade scene.
    Yes, of course there a flaws, but that’s normal. Nothing is perfect (maybe His Perfectness, but seriously I hope there has to be something, some! thing!, maybe he has three hairs on his big toe? 😆 ). But the little flaws are of no importance for me, if you get an epi like this. All in all very well written, a deeper insight into what and who Steve is, seeing that even a SuperSeal has cracks, and of course, Alex’ amazing and outstanding acting. Can’t see any actor who could be a better McG! Or at least just as awesome. For me the best episode – for now. Hope there will be more like this!
    And I’m looking forward to your excellent, detailed and funny recaps! Brilliant work!
    Thank you so much for your so3 “rewatch” and your eagle eyes for details!!!


  13. emerald1972

    I haven’t seen this episode, but with regards to the body being in the state it is, if the soil and temperature conditions were right it could very well have naturally mummified. I would have had more issue if the body had been identified solely from the tattoo. For purposes of identification something like a tattoo, or a piece of jewellery (dog tags, for example), might give reasonable suspicion that the body belongs to a certain person, but it doesn’t confirm it. And the military would not formally identify a fallen soldier based on nothing more than a tattoo, they would have checked stuff like DNA and dental records.


    • Stupid wordpress changed my username again. Damnit that’s my log in name not my screen name *shakes fist*


    • Once they got back on home soil, that was most probably what the military did – to confrim his ID with DNA.
      No dental records comparison as his teeth was kicked in when his body was mutilated.
      No dog tags, because they were on a secret “non-exictent” mission.
      Watch the episode and you will understand 🙂
      And as I have said – I do not really have issues with it – it would just have made the story flowing better…..especially in regards to two people carrying the remains for a long distance, back to South Korea


  14. Thank you to everybody commenting on the post – RL time constraints and lack of mental energy prevents me form responding individually.
    As you can see, this episode was also one of my favorites – that is why I gave it this special place of honour in my overview of S3.
    I am really looking forward to be entertained by Alex and the whole H5-0 Ohana for the next season!


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