Rank #1: S1 Episode 1: The Death of Kollin Elderts
Reporter Jessica Terrell introduces the deadly events of Nov. 5, 2011 when federal security agent Christopher Deedy shot Hawaiian Kollin Elderts to death one night in a McDonalds. This story is tinged with historic suspicions around race, nationality and the presence of the US government in Hawaii. It sounds like current racial tensions around law enforcement and non-white victims on the US mainland. But the Deedy/Elderts case also carries echoes of a similar story going back to the eve of WWII.
Rank #2: S3 Episode 1: The Adoptions
International adoptions were a rarity in the Marshall Islands until the mid-’90s. Then came an adoption boom of such intensity that the remote island nation suddenly had one of the highest per-capita adoption rates in the world. In just a few years, hundreds of children were adopted from the far-flung atolls — so many that it seemed like an entire generation was disappearing.
Now, two decades later, some of these children are beginning to search for answers about who they are and where they come from. Some, like 25-year-old London Lewis, have never known a single person from their native country. Adopted as an infant from the Marshall Islands, London’s journey home would begin with a Facebook post.
Rank #3: S2 Episode 1: Mauna Kea
Atop one of the world’s most sacred mountains, a battle over science, culture — and the future of Hawaii.
Rank #4: S3 Episode 3: Springdale
More migrants from the Marshall Islands now live in Springdale, Arkansas, than any other place in the world. It’s a surprising choice for them, moving en masse to a small Midwest town that is about as different from their island homeland as you can get. London Lewis was born in the Marshall Islands, but he doesn’t have the resources to make that trip any time soon. So if he’s going to have a chance of finding someone who knows his family, he has to start here.
In 1986, as part of a treaty between the U.S.and three Micronesian nations, Marshallese were given the right to travel to this country with little if any immigration restrictions. But nobody anticipated the wave of migration that would follow. Or that the treaty would contribute to an adoption explosion from the islands.
Now, the migration has taken root in this quiet corner of Arkansas — where local judges say as many as nine out of 10 adoptions are of Marshallese children.
Rank #5: S1 Episode 2: Two Lives Collide
Christopher Deedy and Kollin Elderts had never met before Nov. 5, 2011, when a 3-minute brawl ended with Elderts dead and Deedy in handcuffs. How did a Native Hawaiian born in the islands and a white federal agent who’d just arrived end up on opposite sides of a gun?
Rank #6: S3 Episode 2: Missing History
Susette Lewis was excited when she arrived in Honolulu in 1992. And like most new moms, nervous. Uncertain of what to expect. She didn’t know that picking up her adopted son would be an alarming experience.
Her son, London, says he had a happy childhood, growing up in a big house in a town just past the Everglades. But he’s spent a lot of time searching for a connection to a culture thousands of miles from where he was raised.
And while he did a lot of research in college on American military history in the Marshall Islands, he wants a sense of what’s missing from Western textbooks.
Rank #7: S1 Episode 3: The White Minority
Hawaii is the only state where whites have always been in the minority. There is this idea that people in Hawaii are racist against white people, that they hate the federal government. So, with a huge diplomatic summit taking place in Honolulu, tensions were high the week that Christopher Deedy shot and killed Kollin Elderts. Blocks away from the McDonald’s where their fatal confrontation took place, tanks had taken over a local park and protesters were out on the streets. There was a reason Deedy and dozens of federal agents were in town. And there were a lot of people who wanted them out.
Rank #8: S2 Episode 2: The Protectors
What is it about Mauna Kea that makes it so sacred to Hawaiians? So precious that people have pledged their lives, their liberty, to blocking further development on its summit?
Rank #9: S1 Episode 4: A Sinister Past
A privileged socialite. A Native Hawaiian wrongfully accused of rape. A ruling elite that favors whites. So begins the Massie Case. A story from 1932 that still impacts how some Hawaiians view the federal government. And Christopher Deedy.
Rank #10: S1 Episode 5: The White Menace
After a hung jury in the rape trial of five local Hawaiians, the family of the alleged victim looked for vengeance. They got it — by committing one of the most explosive crimes in Hawaiian history.
Rank #11: S3 Episode 4: An Unbreakable Bond
In Springdale, London Lewis begins to experience Marshallese culture for the first time. He’s going to meet people he’s only read about in World War II textbooks. Hear a language he’s never heard except for on YouTube. Get a little closer to finding his birth family.
But we’re not just in Springdale for London. We’re also here to try and find out exactly what’s happening with Marshallese adoptions today. To speak with private adoption lawyers, adoptive families, and Marshallese birth mothers about the adoption process.
Adoptions are big business. As international adoptions have dropped off, there are still hundreds of thousands of adoptive parents vying for an increasingly small pool of healthy babies. Many of them are turning to this small community in Arkansas where private adoption lawyers and their Marshallese liaisons – or fixers – are household names for quickly matching them with Marshallese birth mothers.
Rank #12: S1 Episode 6: Agent on Trial
Special Agent Christopher Deedy’s first murder trial begins in 2013. The stakes in the case were high. For Deedy but also for local prosecutors, who take an all-or-nothing approach to the case — placing all their chips on the table in a bid to lock Deedy up for life.
Rank #13: S2 Episode 6: Creation
In the final episode of Season Two, Offshore goes back to the beginning to search for answers to the conflict on Mauna Kea. Not the beginning of astronomy in Hawaii, but beginning of the Kumulipo. The Hawaiian chant of creation.
Rank #14: S1 Episode 7: Defense of Life
After jurors deadlock in Special Agent Christopher Deedy’s first trial, the family of Kollin Elderts calls for a new prosecutor to be put on the case. And Deedy gets a new team of lawyers to start working on a different strategy.
But there are larger issues at play. Why is it so hard to convict cops in America? And, after losing in two trials, why won’t prosecutors just let Deedy’s case go?
Rank #15: S1 Episode 8: Never the Same
In even the most high profile criminal cases, there comes a point where the world moves on. But for the families of both the victims and the shooters, nothing is ever really normal again. Not even decades later.