S09E01 - “Nine Dragons” - Plot

(Prepared by Mike Quigley)

Act One

The show opens with what is like a teaser.

Steve McGarrett is being held captive on a sampan, which we later find out was in the East Lamma Channel off Hong Kong. He breaks free of some chains and dives into the water. As he is swimming to shore, he is spotted by Suzie, a young Asian woman, who points McGarrett out to her equally Asian uncle. The two of them pull McGarrett on to their boat and take him to Aberdeen Harbor on Hong Kong's south coast.

Suzie, who speaks English, gives McGarrett a cup of tea. He looks very confused; he doesn't know where they are or what his name is. There are brief flashbacks to scenes where he was being tortured. After McGarrett says he wants to go to the police, Suzie takes him to the shore where he sees a copy of a local newspaper. There is a picture of himself on the front page of the paper under the headline "Police Comb Territories for Missing American."

As Suzie leads McGarrett down the street, they are followed by a green Mercedes with thugs inside. Two of these guys get out of the car and start chasing McGarrett and Suzie, but they lose their pursuers in a nearby market area. As he is running, McGarrett thinks, "Steve McGarrett. Hawaii Five-O. How did I get here, and why? What is it that I've got to stop by 4:00? Gotta clear my head. Gotta think. Got to think."

The plot switches to what is the beginning of the story. McGarrett narrates: "It all began two weeks earlier at Hickam Field in Honolulu. I was there to meet an emissary from the Defense Department who brought with him two vials of a deadly toxin from a government stockpile. The president had ordered this stockpile destroyed, but agreed to lend samples to the University of Hawaii for use in important medical research. Five-O was made responsible for security while these lethal chemical agents were in the Islands."

At Hickam, McGarrett takes receipt of the toxin samples, which have arrived on a US Air Force C-141 Starlifter (thanks to Bobbi). They are in small metal canisters in a grey metal box. McGarrett radios to Danno, who is at the university, that "Cousin Naomi has just arrived. We're heading in." Danno reports that all is secured at his end. With Chin Ho driving the Mercury Marquis, McGarrett is driven to the university accompanied by a police escort.

When they arrive, they are greeted by Dr. Arnold Kiamalu (Harry Chang), who introduces McGarrett to Dr. Barbara Dalton, dean of students (Dina Merrill), and Professor Takeo Shimoto (Daniel Taba), who will be conducting the experiments. Shimoto is anxious to get going, but McGarrett first wants to review security procedures which have been set up with Kiamalu.

McGarrett delivers the box to a safe-like chemical storage room in one of the university's buildings, which he locks. McGarrett explains to the three academics: "This safe is where the toxins will be kept when not in use. Armed guards will be on duty 24 hours a day, serving in shifts of four hours." He tells Shimoto, "You will be the only one authorized to remove the toxins from that safe. Now, you may do that by presenting this coded ID card to the officers on duty. They will check the card on this special circuit to the H.P.D. Computer room. No forgeries are possible if these procedures are followed to the letter. After the identification is made, the officers will accompany you across to Laboratory Two."

Moving across the hall to this lab, McGarrett continues, "This is where the experiments will be conducted. The guards will remain with Professor Shimoto until the experiments come to an end. Professional colleagues assisting in the experiments will be admitted only after showing proper credentials and after personal identification by the professor. Now, this lab will be used for nothing else during the term of these experiments. When not in use, the door will be kept locked. There will be no admittance to anyone without exception."

Dalton finds McGarrett's security precautions excessive, comparing them to General Patton, Attila the Hun, Mata Hari, and the German 9th Panzer Division "all rolled into one." McGarrett tells her he doesn't like the level of security either, but his responsibility is "to protect the people of this state."

At the Honolulu airport, a "Professor T.L. Shang," having arrived from Hong Kong, checks in through immigration. He explains to the officer, "Your university was kind enough to invite me here to give a series of lectures." As Shang gets into a waiting car, we see that he is actually Wo Fat.

Act Two

As Wo is travelling from the airport, he talks to his "main man" Mr. Chong (Robert Nelson) about "arrangements" that have been made: "The gas company truck, the battery pack, the Freon cylinder," and a "fourth man." The two discuss which would be the best person from the university to use to help "penetrate the lab," because "McGarrett has those toxins tied up tighter than a drum." They decide on Dalton, because she is a "fighter for the underdog, champion of minority rights, [and] member [of the] Committee for Academic Freedom."

Back at the university, Shimoto begins testing the toxins. Outside, Wo Fat as Shang is mobbed by students, some of whom want his autograph. He is welcomed by Kiamalu and Dalton. When a student reporter (Susie Burke) wants a comment from Shang, he declines, saying that he has relatives still in China and "should my visit to your country become known it could make it difficult for them." One person who is not so enthusiastic about Shang's arrival is Professor Po Ling (Yankee Chang), who looks perturbed. Shang tells the students, "I can tell you that nowhere in the world does human intellect flourish with greater freedom than it does here in your own beloved country."

Po Ling returns to his house, where he looks at a photo album containing a picture of himself and Shang taken together in 1950 in Hong Kong. That person is obviously not the man who just arrived on campus.

Dalton is giving Sheng a "Cook's tour" of the university. He says that he is particularly interested in their biochemistry department, specifically Enviro-V, "the environmental vacuum chamber." When they go to the lab where Shimoto is working which contains this device, an HPD cop tells them they can't come in, despite Dalton attempting to throw her weight around. Shang tells her, "I understand completely. I have seen bureaucratic repression before."

Wo Fat returns to his hotel to discuss strategy with Chong. Po Ling manages to track Shang down and shows up at the hotel. After Wo invites him in, Po starts making references to their friendship from 26 years before. Po makes up a story about some woman he intended to marry, and Shang says that the woman is well, whereas she was shot dead when Po and Shang attempted to escape from China with her years before. Po denounces Wo as an imposter, but he is then murdered. His body is placed in his car which is forced over a cliff and it explodes.

Outside the Iolani Palace, which is currently having renovations done, Danno tells McGarrett he received word about the attempted access to the lab by Dalton and Shang. Danno says he has sent a request to Hong Kong CID (Criminal Investigation Department) to run a check on "Shang." Shortly after this, Danno and Duke go to meet Shang, but it isn't Wo Fat who answers the door, but some other bald guy with a beard who has a vague resemblance to Wo. Danno gives this guy greetings from McGarrett, telling him "to call on us for any services we can provide." From a balcony, Wo snickers as he sees Danno and Duke leaving. In Five-O's temporary headquarters in the Territorial Building, McGarrett talks to Inspector Blake of the Hong Kong police (David Tomlinson), who will investigate Shang's connection to the local university.

Wo returns to the university where there is supposed to be a reception, but it has been called off because of Po's death. When Dalton asks Wo if he knew Po Ling, he says "Why, of course, we were very close friends." Wo suggests there is something fishy about Po's death, because he was "an outspoken critic of the Communist regime, a constant thorn in their sides." When a couple of cops walk past them, Wo tells her, "police states will stop at nothing to achieve their ends." This totally grabs the liberal Dalton's attention. She tells him, "They resist our movements, tell us where we can and can't go. I suppose it's our own fault in the end, for not being more critical, more resistant." She is now determined to let him see the Enviro-V.

Dalton lets Wo into the lab containing this device, and tells him, "It's enabled us to study physical matter in a new and undistorted way under residual pressure of one-400-millionth of an atmosphere. We can study matter from outer space or we can probe the very substance of life itself, the DNA of the living cell. Using this chamber, we've now verified that DNA is the carrier of genetic information for all living systems and that the amino acid sequence of any polypeptide chain is related to the linear sequence of nucleotides within the DNA molecule." She lets Wo open the door to the lab using her key, but he doesn't give back to her right away, and, during her speech, he makes a copy of it behind his back. Wo also attaches a small box to the gas line used with the lab's Bunsen burners.

At Five-O headquarters, a telex is received with a description of Shang which matches the bald guy who Danno and Duke met.

Back at the university, Dalton takes Shang to a classroom where he delivers a lecture to the students, dedicating it to Po Ling, who he describes as "more than a colleague, more than a great scientific mind, he was that rarest of things: a friend." While this is going on, two of Wo's men, pretending to be from the Island Gas Company, enter a utility room below the lab where they hook up a container of "V-Nine" gas to the pipe which Wo attached the box to earlier, which has some kind of radioactive material in it to help them locate the specific pipe in the room below. Upstairs, Shang is talking about the philosopher Nietzsche and answering a student's question with a quote from Longfellow's poem The Ladder of St. Augustine: "The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night."

The next morning, the gas company truck returns with Wo and people from his retinue. The bald Wo impersonator enters the building dressed as a maintenance man.

At Five-O, the receptionist (Lynn Kimoto) tells McGarrett there is a priority call from Hong Kong. Blake reports to McGarrett that the real T.L. Shang is dead, his body having been just been fished out of Hong Kong harbor.

Act Three

At the lab, Shimoto shows up with two students who will be assisting him with the experiments. McGarrett is on his way to the university, but he isn't able to contact the lab, and neither is Duke. The bald guy is in the basement, introducing the V-Nine gas into the Bunsen burner line, with the result that Shimoto and his students are knocked out, as is the HPD cop who is on duty. The two maintenance men from the previous day show up at the door of the lab wearing gas masks and carrying machine guns. They take the canisters. Two university security guards confront them as they leave the lab, but they are shot by Wo's men.

McGarrett arrives at the university and goes to the third floor lab, where there is blood all over the floor outside. Entering the lab, he is almost overcome by the gas. The people in the lab are taken outside, where an ambulance quickly arrives. Chin Ho finds the canisters which were installed in the gas line, and McGarrett immediately flashes on the gas company truck he passed on the way into the campus. He tells Chin, "I want every man, every police car, to be on the alert for that truck. And double security on all reservoirs and water supply systems, any place those toxins might be used. Notify Army, Navy and Public Health Service, full red alert, on the double."

Dalton shows up with Kiamalu, and McGarrett tells them, "The toxins have been stolen. Someone got into the lab before the experiments took place." Dalton says that she let Shang into the lab, but "he couldn't possibly have been responsible." Predictably, McGarrett is super pissed, telling her, "Professor Shang couldn't have been responsible, because Professor Shang has never been in Hawaii. He was murdered in Hong Kong a few days ago."

Danno arrives, having checked out Shang's hotel room, where a note was found: "You were too late, McGarrett. I have obtained what I came for. When and where I use it, you will learn in due time." McGarrett realizes only one person could have pulled off such a caper: Wo Fat.

The Governor comes to the Five-O offices to discuss what has happened, and Danno tells him that the paper with the message for McGarrett had a watermark which shows the Chinese characters for "nine dragons." This can refer to either Kowloon, an urban area in Hong Kong, or to an organized-crime group known as a triad operating in that city. Chin Ho says "Nine Dragons is the biggest and most feared triad." McGarrett asks (but really tells) the Governor: "I request your permission to go after him. Of course, I'll be working with the full cooperation of the Hong Kong Police." He says he will be gone, "until I find Wo Fat, until I recover the toxins, however long that takes."

McGarrett goes to Hong Kong via Air Siam. He is picked up at the airport by Carter, supposedly from CID, but Carter is really working for Wo Fat. McGarrett is shot in the neck with a tranquilizing dart, which takes effect immediately. When he wakes up, he leaves the room he is in and walks outside to an area on top of a mountain which has an incredible view of Hong Kong. (This area is known as Victoria Peak.)

Wo Fat is there; he tells McGarrett that he intentionally left the "nine dragons" clue to encourage McGarrett to pursue him to Hong Kong. He says that McGarrett was "brought here for a purpose ... a single, simple purpose." He will be subject to "behavior modification through stress," an updated version of brainwashing, which years before resulted in US soldiers "confessing their crimes against the People's Republic of China" during the Korean War. Wo says that McGarrett "will do it too," offering him release and freedom if he co-operates. McGarrett rips up a "confession" paper Wo has given him and throws it in Wo's face. Wo yells to his confederates: "Mr. McGarrett's reconditioning will begin!"

Act Four

Back in Hawaii, Danno gets a call from Blake in Hong Kong that McGarrett has not arrived. There is confusion about which flight he was taking, so Danno and Chin Ho head to Hong Kong to sort things out. Danno and Chin soon arrive there and are met Blake and Anthony Waring from the CID Trial Bureau (Michael Anderson Jr.) As far as McGarrett is concerned, Blake says, "I'm afraid we've just got to assume the worst." Danno says, "We already have."

Meanwhile, McGarrett is subject to various forms of torture, including being placed in a rotating chair and receiving injections which produce delusions containing frogs, snakes and Wo Fat shrieking with laughter. When Wo brings him the confession paper to sign, McGarrett says "No." After his treatment is finished, Wo tells McGarrett, "You've been a very good boy," promising him sleep and food. McGarrett picks up a bowl of food and throws it through the bars of his cell where he has been kept.

Act Five

Wo Fat takes the canisters of toxin and delivers them to a military general, who says he is concerned about the "aftermath." Wo reassures the general that "When the deed is done, I will go to Peking to assume command, and issue the orders that will bring the American imperialists to their knees. And you, general, will once again have a high army command. Honolulu, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Washington. These are our primary targets. The rest is a mere mopping-up action." Wo shows the general what appears to be the confession that McGarrett made.

McGarrett, having finished his usefulness as far as Wo is concerned, is then seen on the sampan as at the beginning of the show. He escapes just as two guys are wrapping chains around him with the intention of throwing him overboard. He jumps into the water and is rescued by Suzie and her uncle. When told that McGarrett has escaped, Wo wants the two men from the boat executed and he wants to see the corpse of McGarrett by that evening.

Danno and Chin arrive at police headquarters with Blake and Waring, explaining why McGarrett came to Hong Kong, in pursuit of the two canisters of toxin. Blake says there is currently an informant in the Nine Dragons gang.

We go to a meeting of the Dragons, what looks like an initiation ceremony. Some guy in a suit interrupts this to tell the assembled crowd that McGarrett has escaped and he must be recaptured and killed. Later, Waring meets with the informant, but their exchange of information is seen by the man in the suit, and the informant is hunted down and killed by members of the Dragons.

McGarrett and Susie make their way to the police station in the back of a truck. After McGarrett leaves her and he is just about to enter the headquarters, some guy appears out of nowhere, leaping on McGarrett and attacking him with a large knife (Beau van den Ecker). Two cops rush over and subdue this guy.

Once inside the police station, McGarrett is given a checkup by a doctor who says "All I can find is exhaustion, physical and mental." The time is now 1:47 pm, and something is supposed to happen at 4 p.m. which McGarrett has to stop. McGarrett tries to reconstruct what has happened to him since he came to Hong Kong. He remembers he was kidnapped and ended up in a "strange compound." He also recalls that Wo Fat was there, who wanted him to do or say something. But McGarrett doesn't know what this was.

Chin Ho gets news from Hawaii that there is no record of a second cable concerning McGarrett's arrival in Hong Kong, which is why Blake was not there to meet him originally at the correct time. McGarrett suggests that there is a mole in Blake's department who was responsible for this. Blake arranges to dig out the mole by pretending that McGarrett is dead and then, during a meeting with the top agents in his office, having McGarrett interrupt the meeting so they see that he is really alive. Blake pretends to be annoyed by this revelation, telling the agents "What you have just seen is to go no further than this room. Is that understood? It is part of our strategy to have them believe that McGarrett is dead."

At Wo's compound, he gives the canisters of toxin to the general, who heads for the airport in the same car that was used to kidnap McGarrett earlier. Meanwhile, at police headquarters, Waring tells Blake he wants to check out a case which would normally be handled by the homicide department. Blake requests a tail be placed on Waring.

Act Six

In the downtown area of Hong Kong, Waring goes to a public phone booth and calls Wo, identifying himself as "Seventh Dragon." He says that McGarrett is alive and in Blake's office; he witnessed this himself. Wo tells Waring that his cover is likely blown, and they will help him get out of Hong Kong. Cops are marshalled to follow Waring, but he gets to the docks where a boat is waiting for him, and escapes using it. McGarrett and Blake go to the Marine Police Base where they take a pursuit boat. Two thugs suddenly appear out of the hold on Waring's boat and kill him with machetes. After this, they jump into the water and attempt to swim away. Jumping on to Waring's boat, McGarrett gets a deathbed confession out of Waring, who tells him that Wo Fat is on Victoria Peak.

Act Seven

Blake and a large contingent of Hong Kong cops, accompanied by McGarrett, go to Wo's mountaintop hideout, where McGarrett was held captive. They don't find much, but McGarrett remembers, "They took movies of me saying something." They go to a film laboratory. The boss of this place has a major attitude, like he doesn't really care, but when they talk to one of the employees, he remembers McGarrett from film that he developed. This fellow says that McGarrett is a traitor who betrayed his country. Luckily, he made a dupe of the film, which everyone watches.

On this film, McGarrett makes a confession: "My name is Steven McGarrett, I am head of Hawaii Five-O, an American police unit. I am making this statement of my own free will for satellite broadcast throughout the world. It has come to my knowledge that at exactly 4:00 today agents of the United States of America poisoned the water supply of Hangzhou where government leaders of the People's Republic of China were meeting. Two kinds of poison were used: Cobra venom and saxitoxin. The latter derived from the red tide bacteria of shellfish. Both poisons were prepared and developed by United States intelligence agencies. I know because I was in charge of security while this crime was being planned under the guise of a research project. I call upon world conscience to condemn my government for this act of mass murder. As a personal protest, I intend to give up my American citizenship."

McGarrett is shocked by how he could make such a statement, even after being brainwashed. Danno tells him, "Steve, you had no control," and Blake recalls, "We saw it in Korea so many times. Whole companies of men denouncing their countries with absolute lies."

McGarrett suddenly has a big revelation (i.e., brainstorm), that what he said on the film was "the truth with the names of the guilty changed" -- that Wo is the one who is going to poison the water supply and wipe out the Chinese leadership, set himself up as the leader of China and then launch a nuclear strike on the United States! Lucky for them, the indifferent boss of the film lab knows where Wo's headquarters is located, since he delivered the finished film there himself.

With only about 36 minutes before McGarrett's confession will be televised internationally, Danno and Chin go to China Travel Service, a thinly-disguised agency in Hong Kong used to contact the Chinese government, to alert them about Wo's plan. An employee there (Ric Young) tries to brush them off, but Chin Ho throws an old Chinese proverb at him: "He who does not stop murder is himself a murderer."

At Wo's headquarters, he is directing the final steps of his takeover operation. He is dispensing congratulations to everyone involved when suddenly a red alarm signal goes off. Seeing the feed from a closed circuit camera outside the building, Wo mutters "McGarrett." Cops invade the building, busting most people, but Wo escapes. On the monitors, McGarrett and Blake see people in Peking being arrested, word having gotten to them about Wo's coup d'état.

Soon after this, McGarrett, Danno and Chin leave Hong Kong. At the airport, the employee from China Travel Service returns the canisters of toxin to McGarrett, which were intercepted thanks to the earlier request. As the three are on their way home to Hawaii, there is news: "Triad leader shot by police in Wall City. Face disfigured, but ID in pockets reveal corpse to be Wo Fat." McGarrett is very skeptical, imagining a disguised Wo leaving Hong Kong on a sampan. McGarrett says, "Maybe not."

This plot summary Copyright Mike Quigley ©2020. No reproduction of any kind without permission.

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