I haven't seen this episode in almost 25 years, but I really enjoyed it, despite its rather slow pace.

This was an interesting and unique communist spy tale, featuring Nehemiah Persoff playing "Mr. Winkler", an eastern European man whose real identity becomes somewhat of a mystery.

After Winkler accidentally appears on local TV and freaks out because he might be identified by those looking for him, he ends up being arrested for assault, getting the attention of Five-O, who can't seem to find records of him existing prior to 1966. (This episode took place in 1973, making it just seven years of him on record.)

Shortly after being released, he is visited by another eastern European, who attempts to pressure him into doing another unspecified job, in reference to some kind of shady past they both have. When Winkler refuses, first his family is threatened, and then the man murders one of his own associates in front of him, and calls the police and reports it.

Back at Five-O headquarters, Danno leads the further questioning of Winkler, with McGarrett explained as being "in Washington DC". McGarrett's absence is a bit strange from a production standpoint, as these type of absences usually mean that Jack Lord wasn't available for all or most of the episode, but he appears at the 17-minute mark in the DC setting, and is prominently featured in the final 33 minutes of the episode! So why the whole DC bit, which had fairly little to do with the plot (aside from a meeting with a CIA type regarding Winkler)? Why was Jack Lord absent from the first 1/3 of the show? Very strange.

Winkler reveals himself to be killer East German spy Paul Helperin, and asks for asylum, stating that he can help the US with a lot of useful information. However, it is difficult to confirm Winkler's identity, so they have to consult a Soviet defector named Roglov.

Roglov is extremely cautious and secretive, and meets McGarrett along with two bodyguards. After a discussion with McGarrett, one of Roglov's bodyguards reveals himself to be the real Roglov, and that they have decided to trust McGarrett. Pretty cool scene! Roglov is played by Mark Lenard from the awful "To Hell With Babe Ruth" episode.

They set up a meeting at a remote cliffside location in order for Roglov to positively identify Winkler as Helperin, but apparently the location isn't very secure, because the bad guys have a shooter stationed high in the hills. There is just one road in the area, so you'd think this would be impossible, unless they told Winkler way in advance where the meeting would take place! (This is never explained, and in fact it's never explained at all why they told Winkler where the meeting would be!) Winkler is shown giving a signal to the bad guys on the hill prior to being questioned by Roglov.

The scene with Roglov questioning Winkler is interesting, as Winkler seems to know everything Helperin would know, and recites it off very fast, though Winkler had already demonstrated being a memory expert earlier in the episode, so it's possible he could have been coached. However, it does seem that he was most likely Helperin. When Roglov questions him about the killing of his fiancee by Helperin in the past, Winkler says he didn't know Roglov was engaged to her, which gives him away as a phony, as Roglov had told the real Helperin about it. (Winkler's physical appearance doesn't confirm or disqualify him from being Helperin, because it has been 7 years, and he was said to have had plastic surgery.) Roglov also states that Winkler is too nervous and remorseful about the fiancee's death, and states that the real Helperin is a sociopath who cannot show remorse.

As they start walking out, Winkler informs everyone that this was all a setup and that men on the hill are ready to shoot Roglov when he walks out. He reveals himself to be former East German spy Otto Steiner, and that after accidentally appearing on TV, a man from East Germany showed up and forced him to pretend to be Helperin in order to draw out Roglov, who was considered a traitor.

From this point, McGarrett chooses not to go after the men on the hill, but instead tries to trap the ringleader. However, he sets up an incredibly sloppy plan where Roglov is smuggled out under the guise of having had a heart attack, and they have Winkler return to his store. Then Five-O sets up a post watching the store, expecting the ringleader to show up. McGarrett is outsmarted by the ringleader who shows up as part of a tour group, and leads Winkler out at gunpoint after forcing Winkler to wear a straw hat to conceal his identity. The stupid hat fools everyone until the car drives away, until McGarrett says, "Looks like we've been had!"


They also fail to chase down a large, clunky, tour vehicle, and the bad guy gets away with Winkler. The ringleader threatens to execute Winkler unless he reveals the truth about where Roglov is and what happened to him, but Five-O shows up just in time. When the ringleader grabs Winkler and threatens to shoot him if he isn't allowed to escape, Roglov appears with a gun and identifies the ringleader as the real Helperin -- the one who killed his fiancee. He says that he will gladly sacrifice Winkler in order to kill the man who murdered his fiancee, which scares Helperin, and he drops the gun.

McGarrett is shown at the end offering a new identity to Winkler, and joking about his many identities, in what is an unexpectedly warm scene.

Despite the slow-moving pace, this was a very good episode. Its only major flaw was the ridiculous plan to trap the assassination plot ringleader, but I can overlook that bit of poor writing. (Helperin's men knowing the location of the meet-up and stationing men in a secure location is another small flaw, but I'll overlook that, too.)

For those who are fans of a full Five-O team effort, you'll like this episode, because it featured McGarrett, Danno, Ben, Chin, and Duke all in fairly prominent roles, especially during McGarrett's early absence.

I give the episode 3.5 stars.