Hawaii Five-O

Season 2 Episode 1

A Thousand Pardons -- You're Dead!

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM Sep 24, 1969 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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  • An excellent opener to the new season. A strong psychological episode, with a clever scam, and James MacArthur putting on the charm...but the ending is quite a shock.

    It's startling enough to see a grieving widow saunter into a bar. Her unabashed glee at having received ten thousand dollars in G.I. insurance makes it clear that something cadgy is going on. A friend, Yoko, who turns out to be her roommate, does not seem to be impressed. After spending the evening celebrating her new financial status, the "widow" (excellently, if briefly, played by Loretta Swit, who would come back to show her talents more comprehensively on other episodes) heads for home--only to be knocked down by someone in uniform whom she recognizes. He takes the money before running her over.

    A very bad, and very simple, mistake: the killer neglected to remove the insurance receipt, making it obvious to the police that the young woman had been robbed. Questioning the victim's roommate, McGarrett picks up on something out of the ordinary, and sends in young, cleancut Dan Williams to covertly learn what he can from Yoko. Danno throws himself whole-heartedly into the role--it's a wonder he can remember anything from the night before. Yoko, who is as drunk or more so, finally lets it slip that other young women have died in "accidents" directly after receiving a dead soldier's G.I. insurance.

    Although Yoko did not mention names, Five-O rapidly finds leads to follow. Betsy, the woman who owned (or at least ran) the bar where the girls did most of their work, James Watanu, a clerk who arranged wedding licences--and death certificates--for soldiers, and Sgt. Simms, who deals with G.I. insurance. A simple matter to arrange post-dated wedding licenses to make it seem as though dead, single soldiers had been married while on leave in Hawaii, and then finding a bar girl to play the role of widow to collect the cash. Simms is confident to the point of arrogance, but Watanu, who has a heart condition, quickly breaks down when it appears that the police know too much. This leads to a truly vile scene in which Simms more or less kidnaps Watanu, grabs his heart medication, and simultaneously terrorizes and exhausts him until he collapses and dies. Another bad mistake on Simms part, because no one is going to believe that a man with a bad heart conveniently walked way off the beaten path and then dropped dead.

    Simms is fascinating, because we see his motivations gradually come out. It would have been simple enough to merely present him as killing the women involved in the scam because he greedily wanted all the cash for himself. Instead, Simms develops into a seriously twisted character, who seems to have developed this scam--which is quite lucrative--to give himself an excuse to kill. We learn that Simms had a younger brother, also a soldier, who had gotten "hooked" by a "tramp", who then got the insurance when he was killed in action. This could be acceptable on the face of it, and provides the idea for the scam, but Simms keeps reiterating how evil his sister-in-law had been. (She also is dead, and, it's assumed, by Simms' hand.) It becomes clear than Simms' relationship with his brother was unhealthily close, with no room for anyone else. It's quite possible--even probable--that the late Mrs. Simms was a perfectly nice, ordinary young woman who fell in love with a handsome young soldier.

    Danno, meanwhile, has pushed too hard with the pretty Yoko, and blown his covert operation. Typical of Danno, he beats himself up over it, whereas McGarrett is inclined to view it as "these things happen". They've already collected a good deal of evidence, but they need some more. McGarrett visits Yoko and pressures her into risking herself to prove Simms' complicity. Presumably it would have taken some little time to select a dead soldier, and arrange the post-dated license, but they compress the time, and we quickly see Yoko collecting her ill-gotten gains. Simms turns up at her apartment to collect his share. Yoko, who is playing her part as indifferent gold-digger to the hilt, quickly presses Simms' buttons, and he launches into a bitter diatribe about worthless women getting money from patriotic young men who died for their country. He drags her outside, to face the waiting police.

    It's surprising that the wardrobe department didn't have a spare uniform jacket for the second take, because it's painfully obvious that Simms is all wet before he lands on the wet ground. In addition, there is a goof that is all too commonly seen in shootouts.
    Simms turns and shoot the flashlight out of McGarrett's hand, just as we so often see guns shot out of people's hands. In actuality, even if the person's hand was not hit by the bullet, the force of the gun (or flashlight) being ripped out the person's hand would cause considerable damage, but here, as usual, McGarrett is not even scratched.

    No matter how many times I see this episode, the closing moments seem stunningly, horrifyingly violent, as Simms is blasted from all sides with continuous gunfire. However realistic it might have been, it just seems too much, and I'm surprised that they were allowed to show it. Of course, the realism didn't extend to showing the blood that should have been spraying everywhere, or even any holes, although by the time Simms hit the pavement, he should have looked like a sieve.