Land Commissioner Nathan Manu (Lord Kaulili) returns to Honolulu from the Mainland. At the airport, he is helped with his suitcase by a local boy, who tells him "Us Hawaiians gotta stick together." Just before his taxi is about to leave, someone else passes Manu an attaché case through the open window of the cab. A few seconds later, the case explodes, killing him.
Five-O is quick to arrive on the scene. Danno has met a woman named Grace Willis (Jeanne Bates) who has been filming with an 8mm movie camera. She tells them she saw the man who passed Manu the case and describes him. This man is the last thing she filmed.
Later at the Five-O office, the team watches the film which has been quickly developed. It shows the guy who is suspected of being Manu's murderer. Kono describes him as "one dumb Hawaiian." Copies of his picture from the film will be made and distributed.
McGarrett goes to see the Governor, who says that Manu was "a warm, gentle human being, a man who devoted his life to the welfare of these islands and their people." He continues: "Not only was Nathan Manu one of Hawaii's finest citizens, he was also a close, personal friend. I want you to pull out all the stops on this one." McGarrett says it is strange that the Governor was the only person who knew Manu was returning on an earlier flight than expected for an "urgent meeting."
McGarrett goes to visit Manu's wife Kiana (Ann Barton). She didn't know her husband was returning early to Hawaii, and doesn't know of a reason why anyone would want to kill him. She says her husband phoned her a few days before; the call was of a personal nature.
They are interrupted by her husband's best friend Benny Kalua (Simon Oakland) and his daughter Leilani (Mary Liana Petranek) who offer their sympathies. When Manu's wife and Leilani go into the house, Benny tells McGarrett "You find whoever killed Nate. You find him, and when you do, don't arrest him. Don't put him in jail. You pin a medal on him." Shocked by what he has heard, McGarrett asks Kalua to elaborate.
Benny tells him, "Look, McGarrett, down there. Hotels, beaches, shops, tourists, glamour. Money. Nate and I were born right there in Waikiki. When we were kids, there were a lot of Hawaiians there. Most of the places where the hotels are now, that was a big swamp with ducks. Nate and I played there, chasing the ducks and laughing all over the place. That was the Nate I loved. He was like my brother. There's an old Hawaiian saying, McGarrett: 'And one day, we shall be strangers in our own land.' Nate loved the land until a few years ago, then he changed. All of a sudden, he was all for those high-rise buildings, and housing projects, condominiums, freeways. Never mind the Hawaiian and the land. Build the lousy cement and steel all the way up into the sky. Block out the sky and the mountains. Nate was all for that. He called that 'progress.' That side of Nate, I hated. The funny thing is, I wanna go to that place where he's laying. I wanna go to my best friend. I wanna yell at him: 'You turned against your people, against the land, like a traitor.' And at the same time, I wanna grab him in my arms, and I wanna say his name over and over. 'Nate... My friend, Nate'."
Shown the picture of Manu's killer, Kalua doesn't recognize him, Benny also says that Manu didn't contact him to say that he was coming home early.
As he is leaving, McGarrett gets a call from Danno at Five-O headquarters that someone named Lester Willighby (Milton Selzer) has come in and confessed to the murder.
When he returns to his office, McGarrett and Danno grill Willighby, who claims to be a hitman for the mainland mob who was hired because Manu owed $75,000 in gambling debts. Willighby wants "protection" because he fears a "double cross." But everything he says is a lie. Willighby is an attention-seeker, formerly a bookkeeper for a department store who wants people to notice him. He is taken away, possibly to Queen's Hospital, Psychiatric Ward.
The boy at the airport, whose name is Tommy Kapali, has been tracked down through his high school records. McGarrett goes to the house where Tommy's mother (Hilo Hattie) lives. Tommy is not there. His mother tells McGarrett that she hasn't seen Tommy for about a year. She describes her son as "a good boy and a good soldier," but he has been "sick in the head long time now." After McGarrett tells her that he just wants to ask Tommy some questions, the mother tells him that her son is working on a big construction job by Pearl City.
McGarrett goes to the low-cost housing Hawaii Hou Condominiums construction site and tries to talk to the boss there whose name is Saunders (Milton Hibdon). He is not particularly co-operative, saying that he fired Tommy a couple of weeks ago because he was a "troublemaker" who was "always shooting his mouth off." He refers McGarrett to the company's head office.
McGarrett goes to the office and talks to the site's developer, whose name is David Milner (Paul Kent). Milner gives McGarrett Tommy's address. He says that he knew Manu, and suggests that Tommy killed him because Tommy "was telling the other workmen 'we were destroying the land, not building it,' and even claimed 'the land belonged to them'." Milner goes on: "I've run into his kind before … You've gotta stop treating these Hawaiians like children. You've got to use the land, make it work for them. Provide them with jobs. I've never seen a race of people die out anywhere when they had good jobs or money in the bank."
When McGarrett and HPD go to Tommy's place, they find him swinging from a rope, as if he committed suicide.
Danno has been checking the method used to rig the bomb in the attaché case which killed Manu. Danno figures that Tommy got the explosives from an ordnance office on one of the nearby military bases. But when McGarrett goes back to the construction site, Saunders finds that three sticks of dynamite are missing.
Back at the office, Kono's investigation says that Tommy served in Vietnam three months with a bomb-disposal unit. He shipped home, and was discharged under a Section 8: mentally disturbed. McGarrett says that the facts in this case are too pat: "All the pieces go together. You could put a ribbon around this one and mail it in."
The team look at the filmed footage from Grace Willis again. McGarrett notices that the time Tommy was at the airport was 4:15, which doesn't make sense, since Manu's flight returned at 7:30 a.m. McGarrett says that Tommy has been set up as a patsy.
McGarrett calls the HPD evidence room, wanting them to hold on to Willis's camera, but she already picked it up. It turns out that there's no record of a Grace Willis anywhere on Oahu and her address is an empty lot. Chin Ho brings McGarrett some paperwork which reveals why Manu was on the mainland.
McGarrett gets a visit from Kalua's daughter Leilani. After reading a newspaper article which said that Tommy was Manu's killer, she says that Tommy could not have murdered Manu, that he "wouldn't hurt anybody." He was her boyfriend.
McGarrett goes to a nightclub run by Benny which caters to tourists featuring native musicians and dancers. McGarrett confronts Benny, saying he lied when he told him earlier that he didn't know Tommy. Benny says he withheld this information because he wanted to keep his daughter out of the limelight. McGarrett says that he's going to find out who killed Manu. He also says that Manu went to San Diego for a checkup and discovered that he had terminal cancer.
McGarrett, Kono and the receptionist May pull an all-nighter on a weekend evening trying to put the pieces together. The next morning, Danno finds that a fingerprint that Willis left on the property room receipt belongs to an Anne Wilson who lives at 122 Kaalawai Place. When he goes there, he finds one of Kalua's employees attempting to strangle Wilson. Danno follows him outside and there is a brief skirmish and the guy is shot.
McGarrett talks to Wilson, who sounds like she is Kalua's mistress. She says that Kalua used her to help frame Tommy. Tommy was the one who phoned Manu on the mainland and found out he was coming home early. Danno says the shot guy admits planting the bomb at the airport. Wilson says that Benny is going to kill Milner at the development site.
Five-O hurries to the site, where Benny has Milner at gunpoint. Milner says, "Killing me isn't gonna stop those bulldozers. Not any more than killing Nathan Manu will stop them." Benny says, "I didn't kill him, you did. You and the others that are changing this island into a concrete jungle." He knocks out Milner and starts to use a bulldozer to bury him with dirt, but Five-O arrives and McGarrett wounds Benny, causing the bulldozer to turn in a different direction. Benny drives into the shack with the dynamite, which explodes, killing him.
The show ends with Kono looking out over the site, saying the title of the episode.
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