Two Shore Patrol (SP) men walk the streets of Honolulu ensuring the Navy is behaving. Another man steps out of an establishment, hiding his face but it's too late. They identify him as John Mala (Nephi Hanneman) an AWOL (Absent Without Leave) sailor. After he fails to halt on their command, a chase ensues to a baseball stadium. The pair splits up in an attempt to "box him in". Mala jumps the one who made his way to the next level, closing in. They struggle for the pistol when a gunshot sounds out and the SP falls a level to the ground. Mala runs. The second SP rushes down, it's too late.
McGarrett drives to a house quickly surrounded by native Hawaiians. He keeps walking to a woman walking near the beach, she is 'Mrs. Mala' (Myrtle Hilo) John's mother. Turns out because of McGarrett's influence, John was given a choice of jail or enlistment in the U.S. Navy because he stole a car at 18. John chose the Navy but military life proved tough, "there was no place for him. He felt out of place". McGarrett tries to help again, by persuading his mother to tell him John's location. She doesn't give in, but instead "you will hear from me".
McGarrett paces the lanai at his office in the middle of the night. Kono enters with "saimin from the all-night joint". Kono sticks around giving another perspective, that of how native Hawaiians would treat the situation. "And a Hawaiian in trouble will never trust a haole," whether they're cops or the Navy. McGarrett knows what he's up against but bets Mrs. Mala will eventually help.
The next morning, McGarrett is asleep on the couch in his office as Tommy Mala (Remi Abellira) sneaks in. A creak in the floor suddenly wakes McGarrett. Sent by his mother, Tommy will lead McGarrett to his brother John.
McGarrett and Tommy take off in the Park Lane toward the cane fields. Tommy is ever cautious looking back to make sure no one is following. They stop in the middle of nowhere near an open field. Tommy calls for John, "Mama says you're to trust Mr. McGarrett". McGarrett calls out too. John eventually relents, turning himself over to McGarrett.
In his jail cell, John tells McGarrett about his experience, why he went AWOL to begin with. John is convinced he shot the SP and is frustrated because he believes he shouldn't have turned himself in. Dave Bronstein (Al Michaels) shows up as John's lawyer. Dave lays it out: the charge is probably going to be Murder One. However, Dave is able to get John to tell his side: "I ran ... I hid and then kind of jumped him". In the retelling, John gives up a clue as he recalls a shot "whistle past my ear". This part never goes away in John's story but he's still convinced the gun they were wrestling for is the one that "went off". Both McGarrett and Dave know it doesn't look good for John.
Doc (Ted Thorpe) shows the bullet's trajectory as being very steep from the top according to the drawing on the chalkboard. "I'd guess with .45 muzzle velocity, it was moving pretty good". However, this is all Doc has because he doesn't have the bullet.
In his office, McGarrett makes it clear, "I want that bullet". Danno points out the SP's gun was fired and John's "prints are all over it". Chin and Kono leave to go find the bullet and McGarrett continues to circle his desk. "But I feel responsible for John," McGarrett searches for answers out his window. However, he receives a disturbing phone call: John escaped from two guards and took a loaded .38 with him. McGarrett grabs his jacket.
McGarrett and Danno drive to the Malas' house where they arrive to a scene of chaos. Apparently some Navy SPs decided to take matters into their own hands. HPD is mopping up as McGarrett and Danno show up. Since HPD has already looked everywhere here, McGarrett moves on.
McGarrett goes to see a Commander (Jack Ging) in charge of the SPs who has put them all in the brig. McGarrett tells him they "almost started a riot. A race riot". A phone call interrupts their confrontation. Mrs. Suzie Waters (Marcy Brown), widow of Fred Waters (Beau Van Den Ecker) the SP shot to death; enters the Commander's office. The discussion runs the gambit of insurance money to Fred's buddy, Walt Kramer (Christopher Walken) the second SP with him during the initial chase of John. When McGarrett says their idea of revenge doesn't solve problems, Suzie snaps back, "if you saw your best friend shot down before your eyes, then maybe you'd understand how Walt felt" before storming out.
Back at Five-O, McGarrett wants a run down of Walt Kramer and sets Danno to the task. Just after, Central Dispatch calls on the radio. "John Mala has been spotted at the Kuokola Naval Reserve". McGarrett takes off toward the Reserve.
Chin and Kono go over the area where Fred Waters was killed, hoping to find something. Chin finds an overturned metal trashcan with a dent in it. While they don't know for certain where the trashcan was, they know where the SP was shot so they attempt to recreate the scene or at least the gun angle. Realizing the gun responsible was higher up, Chin moves to an elevated position and they retrace the bullet. It is found embedded in the wood on a staircase. Kono digs it out.
McGarrett arrives just as the Commander is about to send his men up the mountain to bring down John. McGarrett wants the chance to talk John down rather than bring him down by force. The Commander reluctantly agrees but warns McGarrett, "You bring him down, because if you don't, I'm gonna go up there after him, and whatever's left of you". McGarrett climbs the mountain, finding John at the top. John holds a gun on McGarrett, "I'm dead either way. I'd rather go this way". John shoots three times toward McGarrett in a vain attempt to keep him back. John throws the gun at him and jumps McGarrett. They fight leaving McGarrett scraped and John subdued after they roll about halfway down the mountain. The SPs arrest John at the mountain's bottom.
McGarrett stumbles into Five-O disheveled and scraped, shocking Jenny (Peggy Ryan) and the other secretary. McGarrett walks past them, "get me a clean suit, shirt, tie, the works, but get me the DA first," into his office. McGarrett talks to 'Ralph' trying to figure what options they have, which is none. Danno walks in and asks what happened. He has information on Walt Kramer, "is a real clean-cut American-type boy". Danno hands the file to McGarrett just before Kono walks in with the bullet. McGarrett wants Che Fong (Harry Endo) on the line.
In the lab, Che looks through a microscope. With the bullet in its beat up condition, it's difficult to pin anything down. Che wants some time to work on it and feels he can gain some answers. A call into the lab from Doc changes the course of the case. If the gun went off so close to Fred Waters, why aren't there powder burns?
In his office, McGarrett goes over it again studying the angle of entry. He figures it to be about 70 degrees. Moving to the chalkboard, he sets up where all the players were in relation to the surroundings. With various memories going through his head, McGarrett tries to figure out where the pair truly was. The pieces don't fit until he elevates them to the next level but the angle of the bullet still doesn't fit, until he accounts for someone else higher still.
Walt Kramer drives Suzie home in a military jeep. There is an uneasy tension between them, "Suzie, you, you can't stay in mourning forever". She excuses herself to go inside, but he stops her. When she tells him to "find a girl" Walt says he's found one, her. As soon as Walt turns to walk towards the jeep, McGarrett is standing there waiting for him.
McGarrett introduces himself and finds Walt less than cooperative because "Commander Anderson warned me you'd be around to check me out". Another reason for Kramer's attitude: "You've appointed yourself big white daddy to John Mala". McGarrett doesn't disagree while climbing into the jeep. Kramer doesn't want to talk, but McGarrett says, "I'll think of something".
Backing out of the parking garage, Kramer drives around Honolulu. McGarrett brings up Suzie, Kramer informs McGarrett they grew up in the same town. McGarrett gets to the point, "kind of a shock, wasn't it? Introducing your girl to your best friend and ending up best man, in name only?" McGarrett tries to nail down a motive, asking about how Kramer really felt and if he held any grudges. McGarrett has Kramer pull off at a certain spot, "should we get out and stretch our legs?" Because of the late hour, Kramer is hesitant but McGarrett assures him if he is late, McGarrett will "write a note".
McGarrett and Kramer exit the jeep, walking into the baseball stadium. McGarrett walks Kramer through the shooting again trying to pinpoint where Kramer was when the shot was fired. Kramer claims to have seen "Fred was laying there" and to have stayed with him. McGarrett also tries to eliminate which gun fired the bullet with Kramer also claiming he "turned in a full clip". McGarrett points out, "in fact, you're a small-arms expert". Kramer starts getting nervous. McGarrett closes in, especially about the guns: both men were carrying .45 caliber pistols "identical weapons with full clips". Digging deeper, McGarrett gets to the truth, Kramer switched clips because the bullet came from his gun. There is no way to prove this because SP headquarters failed to check if Kramer's gun had been recently fired. The motive McGarrett proposes was to eliminate Fred so that Kramer could become closer to Suzie again, perhaps someday marry her. When McGarrett produces the bullet, the one piece of hard evidence he has, Kramer breaks down and tells the truth.
McGarrett drives John home who is reunited with his family. John is willing to take what the Navy gives him. He walks to his mother standing near the beach, embracing under a palm tree.
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