For some inexplicable reason Steven Marek came to mind. Yes, that Steve. And it suddenly became a top priority to determine what his name meant, and what it could tell us about his behavior in Higher Ground, and possibly even all the way back in Impossible Dream. Needless to say, there were definitely insights to be acquired.
The surname "Marek" means "warlike." And, when we look at the definition of "war," it includes “a state of competition, conflict or hostility” and “a sustained effort to deal with or end a particular unpleasant or undesirable situation or condition.
Applying both name and surname definitions to the character of Steve Marek, suddenly his actions and behaviors begin to make sense not only in Higher Ground, but from the first moment we became acquainted with him. Steve has, in many ways, been waging a war ever since Shane came to Denver. Intent on "end[ing] a particular[ly] unpleasant or undesirable situation or condition"---being without Shane---he launched a sustained effort to "win" her back.
The Art Of War
It seems that Steve's favorite tactic is to "surprise" his targets whenever it suits him. A pattern which apparently began almost as soon as Shane arrived in Denver. Coming to woo her back didn't work, so he waited a year and sent a birthday card. He might have tried something else if Shane hadn't decided to call him in D.C., which gave him home field advantage in Impossible Dream. Notice when Steve ambushes Shane at the Franklin-Adams that he admits he "staked out [her] hotel." If that's not military tactic, I don't know what is.
Of course, the advantage of having Shane in his immediate presence provided him the opportunity to ambush her in other ways, whether trying to corner Shane on her reason for leaving D.C., to actually stealing a kiss from her outside the hotel, Steve was pulling out all the stops, especially when it became clear he might have "competition."
Despite the information coming to light out of chronology, the idea that Steve knew Shane was transferred to Denver, and had enough information to track her down, proves Steve comes prepared. Not to mention the fact he had Oliver "vetted," ensuring he knew exactly with whom he was dealing when assessing a potential direct threat to his objectives, even attempting to use the information to persuade Shane to "give [him] another chance." Unfortunately for Steve, it was his misuse of information in Higher Ground that ultimately became an Achilles heel.
Steve's appearance on Shane's porch in Higher Ground was an ambush, with the addition of a ticking time clock and a crisis at hand. In the style of a hit & run, where the purpose of the attack is to disorient the target and expose its weakness before retaliation can occur, Steve dropped a bomb and left, taking Shane right along with him. It was a devastating blow that left collateral damage in its wake, which we'll discuss more in depth soon.
A deliberate act meant to weaken a target through disruption or other means, it's not hard to pinpoint when Steve employed this particular tactic. Some noises you can't un-hear, and that shrill text tone ringing from Shane's purse will forever be one of those. Observing their interaction, Steve intentionally interrupted Shane and Oliver's exchange in the lobby of the Department of Defense.
The Last Stand
The truth always has a way of coming out, and when Shane finally caught on to Steve's deception, he had no choice but to come clean. Rapidly approaching mission failure, Steve admitted he was "still in love with [Shane]," but not before taking one last shot at "the squeaky porch swing in Denver."
Steve Marek very much lives up to his name, but it's this particularly thorough embodiment of "warlike" that, in the end, proved his downfall. In his effort to "end the unpleasant...condition" of being without Shane, Steve employed tactics over an extended period that, while effective in an actual military conflict, proved inappropriate for the objective of "winning" Shane's heart. Indeed, "all is [not] fair in love and war."