S11E20 - “The Skyline Killer” - Plot

(Prepared by Mike Quigley)


Act One

The opening titles appear on a background showing various Honolulu high rise buildings. In one of these buildings, a woman, Erin Black (Spray Rosso) gets out of bed and takes a look outside, where she can see the beach and harbor.

She goes to the bathroom where she peels off her nightwear and gets into the shower. We see the legs of a man who is also in her apartment moving towards the bathroom (the killer, played by Walt Davis). She stops the shower and towels herself off from inside, with the door closed. When she opens the shower door, she sees the guy in the bathroom and screams, flinging her hands up.

Five-O is soon on the scene. McGarrett says "What have we got?" to Danno, who replies, "Another one." The current murder victim is 27 years old and an airline stewardess. That makes a total of three stewardesses, two models and three entertainers. The killer's M.O. is the same in all cases -- he enters the apartment through the balcony.

McGarrett is frustrated with lack of the progress on the case, but Danno says that "Everybody's doing their best."

Duke rushes in with a copy of the day's newspaper classifieds which features an ad saying "Skyline killer, your story is worth millions," with a postal box for contact. McGarrett says "That's the most despicable thing I ever heard of." He tells Duke to go to the newspaper office and find out who placed the ad and Danno to go to the post office where the box mentioned in the ad is located so they can create a "little surprise" for whoever picks up the mail.

The next scene shows the killer reading the ad as he is hoisted by crane high up above a building under construction.

The man who rented the mailbox is confronted in the post office by Danno and Duke who want to talk to him "downtown." Taken to the Five-O office, we find out he is Norman Klane (Charles Cioffi). McGarrett says that trying to contact the guy through the newspaper is a "stunt." Klane has a reputation for "theatrics" and McGarrett threatens him not to turn the investigation into "some kind of freak show." Klaine throws The First Amendment (freedom of speech and the press) at McGarrett, who replies that what Klaine is doing could be considered "obstruction of justice. "Klaine says news of the Skyline Killer is all over the world "and I intend to do everything, legally, within my power to get his story."

McGarrett continues: "Okay, since we're discussing legalities, you understand that you are obligated, by law, to provide me with every piece of evidence which might be pertinent to this case." Klane tells him, "I think we may have a difference of opinions as to what my obligations under the law are." McGarrett tries to straighten him out: "Very well, then let me clarify them for you. Any contact, and I repeat, any contact, by letter, phone or in person, that you may have with this monster, I want to know about it immediately. Now, is that clear?" Klane, quite correctly says, "I can't do that, McGarrett. Any conversation between myself and any potential news source is confidential until I decide how important it is." But then Klane relents, saying, "Don't worry. Anything I can tell you, I will."

After Klane leaves, McGarrett describes him to Duke and Danno as "One of a growing number of so-called investigative reporters who value their bank accounts above their consciences. Instead of doing a responsible job and reporting the facts, they exploit tragedy purely to make a profit. Now, in a case like this, Mr. Klane is planning to make murder profitable for the murderer." Danno brings up Klane's book Judgment on America, a best-seller. McGarrett describes the book as "a perfect example of what I mean. The case history of a convicted killer who blamed society for all his crimes." The killer went to the gas chamber a rich man "after using all the money for high priced lawyers and appeals. He stalled justice in California for years."

McGarrett asks HPD to monitor the mailbox on a 24 hour basis. As far as wiretap on Klane's hotel room is concerned, there is not enough evidence for that. Coming somewhat down to earth, McGarrett speculates that "this maniac [the killer] has got to be someone with the instincts of a mountain goat. Could be a circus performer, a mountain climber, or a high-rise construction worker."

As Klane returns to his hotel (room 440), he is observed by the killer, who phones Klane in his room and says he wants to talk to him via the pay phone in front of the hotel in one minute. The killer is worried that Klane is a cop, saying "my story is worth millions." The killer hangs up after Klane tries to build up his confidence, saying "I want to think about this."

Act Two

Ben (Ernest Chan), who works for the District Attorney, tells McGarrett it is fruitless to try and compel Klane to co-operate as McGarrett tried to browbeat Klane earlier; it could take maybe 2 years to get Klane on the stand in a lengthy freedom-of-speech court case. McGarrett wants Ben to try and find a legal precedent to get Klane in court.

McGarrett talks to Danno, who says that the six letters that the co-operative Klane gave McGarrett from his mailbox were "all from ding-dongs." McGarrett tells Danno this case is "like trying to catch a shadow." He says "We can't just sit around and wait for him to get a parking ticket, the way they caught the Son of Sam."

Later, Klane shows up at the Five-O office again and gives McGarrett some more letters that he received. Klane apologizes for his behavior during their previous meeting. He suggests they should co-operate to "both ... get what we want out of this." Klane wants some tidbit of information known only to the police so that he can ID the real killer if there is further contact. McGarrett ridicules this suggestion, saying "if I told you, it wouldn't be a secret very long, would it, Mr. Klane?

After Klane leaves, McGarrett realizes that Klane and his ad may be the break that they are looking for because "it just might appeal to a deranged mind."

The scene jumps to Beecham's Books (seen previously in S07E03, "I'll Kill 'Em Again"), where the killer purchases a copy of Klane's Judgment on America.

Klane is hanging out at his apartment waiting to be contacted by the killer when he suddenly gets a call from his daughter Mary Ellen (Rita Wilson), who lives in Hawaii. After his daughter complains that she hasn't seen her father in months, she overcomes his objections. They go to a bar called Sally's, where they engage in the usual father/daughter chit-chat. He is concerned around her living alone (she is 23 years old), but she assures him that she will have a roommate: "one of the girls from the office is gonna move in with me next month."

While at the bar, Klane gets a call which is taken by Sally (Melveen Leed), the owner of the place. The killer wants to meet with Klane, so he leaves his daughter there; she is not happy.

Klane goes to a construction site, which is deserted at that time of day. The killer talks to him from a distance inside the building, saying he wants his story to be "the truth." When Klane wants to know his motivation, the killer says "I'm doing it because it must be done. Those tramps, exposing themselves at their windows, wearing those clothes that show. Someone has to do it." Klane wants something from the killer to prove who he says he is.

The next day, the killer phones Klane and says "If you want proof, Bluet towers, apartment 2102. (We finally see the killer's face now, though it is in a shadow.) Kline goes there, and gets the building manager to open the room. Its tenant is a "Ms. Howard," who they find dead on the floor.

Act Three

McGarrett is super pissed because of this woman's murder, telling Klane "If you had called me before you went to meet him last night, that poor girl might still be alive." He accuses Klane of "inflating this maniac's ego," and wants Klane's "total co-operation," which Klane says he will now give. McGarrett tells him to go back to his hotel and when the killer calls again -- though Klane is skeptical he will do this -- then "dangle a carrot, use some of your famous powers of persuasion" to arrange a meeting. When Klane and Danno asks McGarrett if he thinks will really be co-operative now, McGarrett replies, "Not for a second." He orders a 24 hour tail on Klane.

McGarrett goes to see Sally at the bar. He asks her if she remembers anything from the call Klane received there that might help them. She doesn't remember anything other than the fact that his voice was that of a "haole," with no accent, suggesting he was from the mainland.

The killer phones Klane again and arranges another conversation at another public phone. Klane tells the killer that he has to meet him in person, they can't do business just on the telephone. The killer proposes to meet at Sally's during happy hour, and says he'll identify himself by saying he is a friend of Mary-Ellen's, which makes Klane very nervous, because there is no way that the killer would have known his daughter's name.

At Sally's, Duke is hanging out there, along with McGarrett and Danno, all wearing casual Hawaiian clothing. Klane scopes out various guys in the bar and some fan of his introduces himself, but he just wants to shake the author's hand. A guy, identified in the credits as Man #2 (Lee Jay Lambert), comes up to Klane and says he knows Mary-Ellen and is quickly nabbed by the three cops. But he was paid $50 by the real killer outside to say this.

Act Four

Man #2 looks through mug books trying to ID the killer, without any luck. The killer calls calls Klane via the Five-O office where is getting more chewing out and calls him a "Judas goat" (an animal which will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared) and that Klane tried to set him up. Trying to drag out the call so it can be traced (which, as usual, does not work), Klane tells the killer "I do think you need help," the killer replies, "You mean a nuthouse? Never. Never again. I'm not crazy." (During this conversation we finally see the killer's face fully lit up.) The killer ends by call by saying, "I just called to tell you one thing. Because of you, someone's gonna die tonight."

McGarrett realizes this is actually their big opportunity to catch the killer: "We're gonna play our ace in the hole The killer sent a dozen red carnations to each of his victims. Remember? Now, those posies could be his undoing. Danno, call H.P.D. Ask them to check every flower shop in this city. I want a list of orders for red carnations placed today, for delivery today."

In the next scene, we see the delivery of carnations ... to Klane's daughter Mary-Ellen. The killer is then seen checking up with binoculars from a nearby building under construction to see that she got the flowers.

Later that evening, Danno brings McGarrett a list of floral orders, which includes the delivery to Mary-Ellen. This order was placed from a flower shop in Maui.

The next morning, In a series of vertigo-inducing shots, the killer is seen rappelling down the side of Mary Ellen's building and moving over to her balcony. He enters her apartment and finds her sleeping. He attempts to strangle her, but it is just a dummy. McGarrett emerges from the closet, but the killer overturns the mattress and escapes out the window via his rope to the ground below.

McGarrett is seemingly the only cop on the scene, but others from HPD and Danno soon show up. The killer runs through a residential neighborhood until he comes upon a building under construction. He goes up in the workers' elevator, but McGarrett is close behind and he grabs the bottom of the elevator and is hoisted up!

McGarrett manages to get off the underside of the elevator into the building, and he and the killer end up on top of a crane. The two of them briefly fight several stories up in the air and Danno, on the street, winces every time a blow is struck. McGarrett almost falls off the crane, then he gets up and returns back towards the control cab where he tells the operator to move the crane away from the neighboring building.

The killer climbs down a cable at the end of the crane where there is a hook on the end. He is lowered to the ground, where he is nabbed by 8 cops and Danno.

The show ends with a shot of McGarrett standing on the corner of the building looking satisfied.

This plot summary Copyright Mike Quigley 2019. No reproduction of any kind without permission.


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