One of the elements that made the original “Magnum P.I.” so entertaining was the fact that Thomas Magnum worked cases that often ended with an intriguing twist. In the same way, this week’s episode of the modern reboot takes Magnum (Jay Hernandez) beyond a simple investigation of finding the true identity of a woman in a coma, to helping HPD solve a robbery homicide case.
The episode, titled “The Woman Who Never Died” was written by Joe Gazzam and directed by popular “Hawaii Five-0” director Sylvain White. Magnum takes a case from his poker buddy and fellow private investigator Luther Gillis (Ken Jeong) who wants to recoup some of the poker debt Magnum owes him. He throws Magnum a referral case knowing Magnum doesn’t have the money — and may never pay him back unless he takes a percentage of his pay.
Magnum is asked to find the true identity of Neil Crawford’s (Jack Cutmore Scott) fiancee, Tara Moss (Catherine Haena Kim, who played Nani Kalakaua, Kono’s mother, on “Hawaii Five-0”), who has slipped into a coma after they were involved in a hit-and-run accident. Because of Tara’s injuries, her doctors find that she’s had extensive facial surgery. Neil wants to know who she really is and what she is hiding. This sends Magnum on a strange journey — one that unexpectedly leads him to help HPD Det. Gordon Katsumoto (Tim Kang) solve a murder.
There were two new characters added to the cast this week — Katsumoto and Teuila “Kumu” Tuileta played by Amy Hill. Kumu is hilarious and it seems as if she will add more cultural references to the episodes in the future. Katsumoto is less adversarial than Lt. Tanaka from the pilot episode. Both add more dimension to the cast.
The episode sets up the case pretty well, and at first, it seems like a simple identification case. But like Magnum says in voice-over — most clues seem to fall into place and the case solves itself. Yet just as Magnum finds a new clue, new questions arise and he has to get some additional help to find the answers. The episode was a good mix of Magnum using some old-school investigation skills, while getting a bit of help from his friends, as well as modern technology.
CALL RICK AND T.C. FOR BACKUP
Magnum seriously relies on his friends in this episode. While this is not a new element of the show, they seem to not mind as much as they did in the original version. Rick (Zachary Knighton) and T.C. (Stephen Hill) are much more amenable to finding people, working clues and paying off Magnum’s favors.
Rick finds him a medical technician who takes Tara’s CAT scan and current picture and creates an image of what she once looked like. This only costs Magnum one helicopter tour of the island — which T.C. is forced to pay. Still, there were some pretty funny T.C. and Magnum scenes which showed not only a good dose of humor but how much the trio relies on each other.
When T.C. texts Magnum, “I can see you” after he has ignored T.C.’s call, Magnum looks up in the sky as if T.C. is hovering over him in his Island Hoppers helicopter. It was classic. Yet it was the scene where T.C. picks up Magnum to whisk him above the traffic that was the dream come true for anyone who has driven on an Oahu freeway. It would have been nice to see more of Rick and T.C.— but the case sort of got in the way.
Higgins (Perdita Weeks) really takes a step toward being Magnum’s sidekick rather than just being a pain in his side about the Ferrari. When Magnum needs to find out Tara’s real name it is Higgins who steps in to help. When she finds Magnum hunting and pecking on her computer trying to do a simple background check and exclaims, “It’s like trying to watch a chimpanzee operate a typewriter,” we know she’s going to get involved. She runs the check herself — using software Magnum knows is familiar to a former MI6 agent. She quickly finds that Tara is using someone else’s identity and sends Magnum to find out more information from Neil.
Yet it seems as if Higgins can’t keep herself out of the Magnum’s case and helps him all the way through to the end. She may not have used her ninja skills this week, but Magnum might be right about Higgins missing life as an agent. After Higgins stands by as Magnum pretends to be a cop, as well as helping him break into Tara’s apartment — we know that Higgins is not too upset about Magnum’s way of private investigating. Their relationship seems to be progressing quite well and it seems as if Higgins will be a constant in Magnum’s life — and in his cases — as the season continues.
Magnum uses technology — and his friends largess for sure — but it is his observation of clues and ability to manipulate situations that pays off the most. Knowing how to use a good set of lock picks probably helps as well. He asks Neil about other clues about Tara and finds out that she volunteers at the Bishop Museum (which played itself in the episode), and had a tattoo on her hand removed. It is those two clues that lead him to finding out Tara’s real name is Emily Layton and that she has a daughter. Her daughter is the reason why Emily didn’t leave town after she was involved in a jewelry-store heist, which ended with the murder of the owner’s son.
Really, it is Magnum paying attention to the details, and looking deeper into the why’s of the case, rather than what was at face value. It probably was how Emily was able to hide as Tara for so long. No one was looking at all the clues that would reveal her identity — not until Magnum was asked to find her. He looked past the changes of her face to uncover her real identity.
A REMINDER OF MAGNUM’S PAST
We also got a glimpse into what might be haunting our hero. In Magnum’s voice-over confessions, he admits to being able to relate to his lovesick client who feels betrayed by the woman he loves. Magnum seems to know exactly what he is feeling. When Magnum has to break the news to Neil about Tara’s real name and she is a suspect in a robbery homicide, it is Rick who sees that the case is affecting him more than he probably wants to admit.
It seems as if Magnum knows a thing or two about being betrayed by the woman you are about to marry. Rick says he can tell Magnum is thinking about a woman named Hannah, who not only hurt Magnum, but Rick and T.C. as well. While we didn’t get the entire story, we know the story of what Hannah did to Magnum will eventually come out. Let’s just hope when Hannah reappears — it doesn’t hurt more the second time around.