In downtown Honolulu, two men get out of a car and enter a bank while a man in a straw hat (William Devane) waits for them in the driver's seat. The two men visit Bank of Hawaii first where Mr. Gordon (Keene Curtis) withdraws from the "Palmer account" requesting it be broken into $50s and $100s. The teller (Susan Stewart) says this is a lot of cash and asks about security arrangements. Gordon tells her security is covered. They move on to the First Hawaiian Bank where they do the same: close an account, take the cash and leave. Their third stop is American Security Bank where they empty a safe deposit box. Another stop is Hawaii National Bank leaving with $22,000 with another stop after that. The last stop has some issues when the manager Weber (Norman Wright) questions the request for $24,000 but not in front of Gordon and his "security arrangement". Weber steps away and calls Five-O getting Duke (Herman Wedemeyer). Duke advises him to try to keep Gordon there as long as possible so they can have a look. Weber has received information Gordon has been doing this all morning: pulling a half to two-thirds of his clients' accounts and emptying the vaults. Weber returns to Gordon with a story they don't have the cash on hand to cover the check. When Weber notices something amiss between the pair, he yells for the guard to stop them. A shoot out commences injuring the guard and another man who tries to help prevent the escape.
McGarrett and Danno are on the road when Chin radios about a triple shooting at Oahu National Bank: one dead, two injured including a civilian plus a hostage in the getaway car. McGarrett makes a quick u-turn on the road as multiple HPD units respond to the call from Dispatch on the getaway car.
The getaway car heads toward the docks and a cruise ship about to depart for San Francisco. The driver passes off a smaller case to be put into storage for the trip. It's put on a conveyer belt as he blends into the crowds.
Duke and other HPD officers arrive to find the car but no driver and no Gordon. Duke asks a guard (Mitch Mitchell) if he saw who got out of the car and he says, "a guy with a white straw hat and a black suitcase" verifying he saw only one man. That's as much help as Duke is going to get as the guard didn't even notice anything else about the man. However, he did go up the passenger ramp onto the ship. They find the empty briefcase bringing it to Duke as he describes the man best he can and sends them to search for him.
Five-O arrives at the terminal with Duke briefing them on what's happened. McGarrett wants the briefcase sent to Che (Harry Endo) and sends Danno with the guard to find the bag the man deposited on the conveyer belt. McGarrett sends an HPD sergeant to gather a detail to make sure the bag doesn't find its way back onto the dock. He wants Ben to gather a list of passengers who have boarded in the last 10-15 minutes with their staterooms to hopefully narrow down the field. McGarrett wonders what happened to the hostage Gordon as Duke doesn't know. Danno and the guard arrive below but there is no black suitcase as they just missed it!
Ben catches up with McGarrett with the names from the last 15 minutes: "Mr. And Mrs. Dudley Harper, Miss Elena Lewis (Gail Strickland), Mr. And Mrs. Thomas King" and their cabin numbers. Ben says the ship is open to visitors and they're not checked. The 'Monterey' sounds it horn for a 30-minute warning. Danno catches up with them with no trace of the bag and it could be anywhere. McGarrett knows it hasn't come back to the dock and an HPD unit pulls up with Gordon. An HPD officer (Arte McCullough) introduces Vincent Gordon and he was found near the Ala Wai golf course. Gordon tells them he jumped out of the car when the driver slowed down for traffic and that he shot at him at least three times. When he says he can give a description, McGarrett takes him along to board the ship to try to spot the driver. As they run off, he tells Danno to notify HPD "Red Alert" and he does relaying the suspect is believed to be aboard S.S. Monterey at Pier 10. Dispatch takes the information and patches through Chin who is at the scene where the dead gunman is being loaded into the wagon. Chin tells Danno, "better hold on to your hat".
On board the 'Monterey,' McGarrett navigates the crowds as Gordon tells him the thieves made off with almost $500,000. They find some of the crew requests help in questioning the list of people they have. They are happy to help, requesting the Chief Purser (Harold Wagner) meet them at the first cabin. When Mr. Harper answers the door, Gordon shakes his head with McGarrett apologizing and moving onto to the next people. The Chief Purser catches up with them as the announcement is made for all visitors ashore. McGarrett explains the circumstances to the Chief Purser and he takes them to the Captain (Kent Bowman).
McGarrett pleads his case to the Captain who says he can only delay sailing in a life or death emergency and they have 15 minutes. The Captain can't delay the sailing without proof there is a criminal on board. Duke finds McGarrett on the bridge who tells him privately the civilian who tried to help was Congressman Chang. This changes things a bit: he can't delay the sailing so McGarrett decides they're going to join the cruise. Gordon is hesitant because of the threat to his life but things take a darker turn: Danno informs McGarrett that Congressman Chang died while in surgery and the guard is critical.
The 'Monterey' sets sail with McGarrett, Danno and Gordon aboard. The captain introduces McGarrett and Danno to the crew where McGarrett briefs them about what's going on and his plan to walk the witness through the ship at various times in order to find the man responsible for Congressman Chang's death. At the same time, Danno will be looking for the black suitcase. The Captain says the crew will be available and they can use his day room as an improvised headquarters. The chief (Peter Leeds) takes McGarrett to the communications room in order to send the passenger list to Five-O as well as hook up their new passengers with some essentials since they boarded at the last minute.
The radioman patches through a call to Five-O. Chin answers the phone and receives the heads up to check the crew and passengers of the 'Monterey' for state and federal criminal records. He passes the phone to Ben who has something: they've identified the gunman in front of the bank as Arthur Meskill, 38 and he did time in Hawaii, California and Mexico.
Danno works on his search finding some bags in the holds because they're not needed during the trip. Danno is ready to bang his head into a wall because anyone in a steward's uniform could come down, grab a bag and no one would even look up. The most likely place he would go is the stairwell and as he and the Chief Purser walk there they run into a passenger (John Byner) looking for A Deck but they're on B Deck. He's looking for the ship's hospital and Danno recognizes him as Duffy Malone.
That night, McGarrett and Gordon enter the dining room eyeing the passengers. Gordon surveys the room but doesn't see him while the waiter brings over some champagne, "Compliments of the lady at Table L-4" who is Elena Lewis. McGarrett stops him from opening it and asks Gordon if he knows her but he doesn't. The Cruise Director (Harold Alan Scott) walks in inviting everyone to the Polynesian Club for some nighttime activities including an appearance by Malone. McGarrett keeps wondering who it is but Gordon finally tells him the man isn't in the room. Malone gets into his routine for a bit before McGarrett pulls the plug taking Gordon out to meet Duke who takes him back to the room to order dinner in. McGarrett refocuses meeting Danno in the foyer: he hasn't found the bag yet but he tells McGarrett about meeting Malone below decks. McGarrett wants his story verified with the ship's hospital and a list of passengers who ordered dinner in their rooms that night.
McGarrett meets Elena in the stairwell where she asks him, "don't you like champagne?" After some banter, she admits she's a feature writer for Transpacific Wire Service. She's digging for a story because she knows there is one if McGarrett is on board. He is noncommittal.
Later, as McGarrett wanders the ship, Malone stops him asking if he's a cop. Malone shows him a threatening note after he requests protection. McGarrett says it's not his jurisdiction but Malone is obviously nervous then gunshots ring out. McGarrett takes off in their direction. Malone flops back down onto the couch taking a drink. Duke reports someone fired two shots through the door but Gordon is fine: he passed out from fright!
The next morning, McGarrett and Danno meet on deck: Malone's story with the ship's hospital checks and McGarrett asked for the book on Malone with Ben last night so they should hear something soon. Danno says they donŐt track who orders meals in their rooms. McGarrett wants them to begin keeping a list so they check because they're now down to four days before San Francisco.
In the day room, progress of the search is briefed. All the cargo holds have been searched except for dry cargo: twin alarm systems. The passenger rooms will be searched during the fire drill. The meeting is interrupted with a call from Honolulu patched into the radio room. Ben reports Malone has gambling debts into Vegas for $25,000 to $30,000 and into the syndicate for possibly double that. Ben also reports on the only hit they got from the passenger list: Frank Fallon who used to deal in Vegas casinos but was caught skimming. After serving time, he worked as a card shark on cruise ships in the Caribbean but was caught there too. After being briefed, McGarrett also wants the book on Elena Lewis.
Fallon is playing solitaire in his room when McGarrett knocks on his door. Fallon claims he was in Hawaii on vacation and boarded the 'Monterey' about two hours before she sailed. McGarrett keeps up the questions: luggage? It's in the room. What clothes was he wearing? Included a hat? A light suit, never wears hats. What kind of car did he arrive in? A taxi. Does he know Gordon? Nope. The more McGarrett asks, the more suspicious he becomes. How much money has he won on this trip? Fallon never answers even when McGarrett runs down his rap sheet. McGarrett reminds Fallon of the fire drill as Danno appears at the door. They found the black bag.
The fire drill commences as Danno pulls down the bag and opens it. All that's inside is the white straw hat. McGarrett wonders if the money was transferred to another bag, something they wouldn't suspect. The Chief Purser says it would wind up in the ship's laundry. McGarrett throws the bag in the middle of their evidence as he leaves telling Danno to take over. Danno removes the other bag and handles the suitcase without leaving prints.
McGarrett escorts Gordon to face each of the passengers while Danno and the Chief Purser check the laundry but no money. Danno then wants to check the staterooms and they do. Gordon pauses in front of Fallon and McGarrett is sure he will pick him out but Gordon moves on saying he's not there.
That night in the Polynesian Club, Malone goes through his act. Fallon even makes an appearance lighting Elena's cigarette. After his bit, Malone is swarmed by autograph seekers including Elena and a guy who slips him a note.
Another phone call in the radio room to Honolulu. Chin reports Elena checks out and she has a license to carry a gun. She's a member of the Ala Moana Pistol Club and has won prizes for shooting. Another fire drill commences but it involves the lifeboats this time. McGarrett again escorts Gordon to view all the passengers. Danno and the Chief Purser keep up their search. The chief tells McGarrett everyone is there except for about a dozen people on duty such as the head nurse and men in the engine room. McGarrett takes Gordon to look at them.
Later, McGarrett, Danno and the chief, Parkins discuss the dry cargo holds. Parkins says there are metal seals with serial numbers that are only opened at the end of the voyage. The numbers are recorded in the ship's log. McGarrett wants to compare numbers: the ones recorded versus the ones that are actually in place.
On the upper decks, Elena skeet shoots scaring the crap out of Malone. Meanwhile, McGarrett and Parkins check out the first dry cargo hold opening the watertight door and a loud klaxon alarm should sound, but it doesn't. McGarrett follows the line to find the cut but Parkins says there is still the visual alarm with a red light flashing on the bridge. The second officer (John Kilpack) says that's not working either because the bulb has been loosened. While the alarm has been tampered with, the seal is still intact but the numbers don't match. McGarrett wants the hatch opened and the seal broken. The problem is the dry cargo hold is huge and there is no way to find the money before 8:00 a.m. when the ship docks.
A ship's announcement informs they have been cleared to dock at 8:00 a.m. and everyone will exit the same gangway. All hand luggage is subject to search before disembarking. The 'Monterey' arrives in San Francisco as Malone meets with someone only to get conked in the head. Meantime, McGarrett tells the passengers to have their bags opened and ready for inspection. McGarrett is pages as the passengers' hand luggage is searched while another passenger sneaks around toward the dry cargo hold. McGarrett finds Parkins and Malone in the salon realizing it's a diversion.
As soon as he reaches the money, Fallon is discovered with the dry cargo hold lights turning on. McGarrett's voice is heard over the loudspeaker telling him they know what he's up to. The watertight doors begin closing as Fallon makes a run for it. He escapes from one door but the money gets caught between compartments. Fallon jumps onto the conveyer belt to get off the ship but is cornered by McGarrett and Danno. Once he's taken away, Gordon is also arrested. The powder burns on his jacket gave him away because the story he gave was the driver shot at him once he escaped from the car. McGarrett wants him held for extradition to Hawaii, which is where McGarrett and Danno are headed to next!
This plot summary Copyright Bobbi Baker ©2019. No reproduction of any kind without permission.