In this modern age, many things seem to be only temporary — from social media Snapchatting our images away and filters that change how we look to temporary tattoos and contact lenses that can change our eye color in a blink. But death — that continues to be pretty permanent no matter how much we change. No amount of technology or money can stop death. It’s the great equalizer in our world.
This week’s episode of “Magnum P.I.,” has Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) looking into the death of an old girlfriend of a wealthy sugar tycoon, Henry Barr, played by special guest star Ben Vereen. Henry hires Magnum to find Elizabeth Cole, a woman who went missing in 1987. Yet, despite being declared dead 30 years ago — she recently sent Henry an email asking for money. Magnum is skeptical, and feels the email is a money scam, but takes the case. He feels a need to appease Henry’s desire to find out what really happened to his long, lost love.
The episode, “Death Is Only Temporary”, written by Gene Hong and Scarlett Lacey and directed by Duane Clark, has Magnum and Higgins (Perdita Weeks) looking into Henry’s need to rectify his past, while Rick (Zachary Knighton) and T.C. (Stephen Hill) meet a fellow vet (Christopher Thornton) who is having a hard time adjusting to civilian life.
The two storylines ran parallel and did not overlap into each other — which made for a pretty smooth episode. Both stories found a conclusion at the end, and were equally impactful. While they were a bit sentimental, they were not overdone or melodramatic, which really works in this rebooted version. It reminds us of the original show while still creating its own feel and tempo.
Thankfully, fans will get a chance to continue to see good storylines like this one, as CBS ordered a full season of “Magnum P.I.” on Oct. 19. CBS’ rationale for the order is that the show “reaches over 9 million viewers each week,” and that Monday night ratings during the show’s time slot improved by more than 50 percent over last season. Good news for the fledgling series and its fans.
DEATH IS ONLY TEMPORARY
Magnum’s case of the week paired him quite appropriately with Higgins and gave us more background into her life while they worked the case together. Henry (Vereen) has dementia and while he has good days and bad days, according to his assistant Reginald (Randy Oglesby), Magnum and Higgins are able to work with him to find out as much as they can about Elizabeth. While her email is cryptic — it only asks for money based on their shared past — Magnum correctly feels that someone is trying to scam the ailing man out of his fortune.
Higgins, with her MI6-trained computer skills and spy-level online access, helps Magnum find out that the mystery email was sent from the Hawaii State Public Library on King Street. By dropping library benefactor Robin Masters’ name, they are given access to the library’s surveillance cameras. While viewing the playback they see a woman who very much resembles Elizabeth using the library’s computers to send the email. When they show the video to Henry, he recognizes that the woman’s sweatshirt is from Elizabeth’s alma mater. Still, Magnum is not convinced.
When Henry becomes agitated when he cannot remember details to help Magnum in his investigation, Higgins steps in to calm him down. Later, as they search for the spot a second email from Elizabeth has lured them to, Magnum tells her how good she was with Henry. Higgins reluctantly confesses that her mother had dementia, which is how she knew just what to do when Henry got upset. While it was more background information into Higgins’ past, it also helps to make her so much more than just Magnum’s sidekick.
THE MAGNUM AND HIGGINS DILEMMA
Each week Magnum and Higgins seem to be spending a lot more time together, even to the point Magnum seems to correct himself from calling her “Higgy” and changing it to “Miss Juliet.” While it may have been for Henry’s sake — so as not to confuse him more — it did seem more like a change in the level of respect Magnum has for Higgins and how much she has helped him with his cases. While we love the dynamic Magnum has with Rick and T.C., this new friendship between the two adversaries certainly makes for better character development, which can only help strengthen the show overall.
Yet am I the only one who sees a bit more than just a friendly connection between the two? I suppose it would be a huge deviation from the original if something romantic happened between Magnum and Higgins — but as Higgins is a woman, and it is 2018, I hope this could be explored as a possibility.
I’m still interested in the story about Hannah, the woman who supposedly wronged Magnum in the past, but Higgins as a potential partner for Magnum is a sexy option. It beats seeing him with blank-faced girls who answer the guest-house door in his shirttails. No matter how pretty they are, they are no match for Higgins.
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL
While Magnum and Higgins work to find the truth about Elizabeth — Rick and T.C. are hanging out with a fellow veteran they have a chance meeting with near an ABC Store in Waikiki. Kenny “Shammy” Shamberg (Thornton), paralyzed after fighting in Iraq, is sitting outside the popular convenience store drinking a beer in a paper bag and mad at the world. Rick and T.C. see a memorial tattoo for fallen soldiers on his forearm, and get the reluctant vet to go surfing with them.
While surfing Shammy pushes himself off his surfboard and sinks into the water. After T.C. and Rick pull him out of the ocean, they tell him if he doesn’t want any new friends, that’s fine, but they are not looking to bury someone else they know. Both convince him to take a chance and try to live. Sure, it’s hard, they all know that daily struggle, but they want him to know he’s not alone and they will help him if he lets them.
Rick tells him the story of Robin Masters — who knew it would be hard for them to get back to civilian life — and who gave them a shot. Robin got T.C. his chopper and got Rick the job running the King Kamehameha Club. We all know how he also helped Magnum. Still, Rick says to Shammy that Robin gave them a hand — and they want to do the same for him. When T.C. offers him a job working the phones and fixing the chopper at his Island Hoppers business, Shammy tells him he’s only taking the job to “help him out.” We know it’s more than that, but Rick and T.C. thank him and welcome him to the team.
I hope Shammy becomes a regular or at least a recurring character on “Magnum P.I.” According to Thornton’s bio, when he was 25 “he sustained two fractured vertebrae in a rock-climbing fall, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.” I really appreciate when shows cast actors who can honestly portray a character. It makes the role much more believable, and Thornton is an amazing actor. I thought he was a veteran who had been injured in combat. It was an inspiring performance.
One of the things both “Magnum” and “Hawaii Five-0” do really well is to shine a light on veterans in a dignified and respectful way. They show the damage war causes, but work hard to make it realistic so it does not glamorize the truth. This was no exception. Veterans do not want our sympathy, but they do want understanding and compassion. When a television show can portray this in a positive light, it makes that much more of a difference. As the wife of a 26-year Navy veteran who battles PTSD and physical ailments after four wars, 13 years at sea and countless deployments, I know this means the world to military families. And it adds more depth to a show where the main characters are also military veterans.
THE WHITE KNIGHT
The theme of the White Knight continues to emerge in “Magnum P.I.” — this week continued to explain both Robin Masters’ fantasy character Magnum, as well as the hero in real life.
Magnum finds out the truth about Elizabeth: She was murdered after giving birth to Henry’s child. She had wanted to tell Henry about their child, and when she went to his house — Reginald, who is also Henry’s brother-in-law, killed her and buried her body in Waimano Park.
The park had been shut down by the state years before, yet a hunter found her remains, and in her pocket was a letter from Henry basically telling her to leave him alone. The hunter put two and two together, and with his wife, staged the email to extort money from Henry. Magnum’s hunch was right, and the letter — penned by Reginald — sealed his fate as Elizabeth’s murderer.
So the White Knight wins the day — or perhaps, comes to help those in need. While the character maybe a fantasy in Robin Masters’ novels, he certainly shares many realistic traits with Magnum and his team.