If you have ever served in the military or lived around military personnel, you know teamwork is at the core of their training and work ethic. It is the first thing a service member learns when they join — two is one, one is none. They can do nothing, are nothing, without their team. In this week’s “Magnum P.I.,” teamwork, as well as the theme of friendship and service to others, was what made the episode more than just a story about a fish.
Yes, a fish — a really big fish. A 300-pound Pacific bluefin tuna, supposedly worth $350,000 if sold directly to a high-end restaurant. The episode titled “From the Head Down,” which was written by executive producers Peter M. Lenkov and Eric Guggenheim and directed by Karen Gaviola, starts with Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) meeting Dan Sawyer, played by special guest star Carl Weathers, at Robin’s Nest. Dan was friends with Nuzo (Domenick Lombardozzi), Magnum’s teammate who was killed in the season opener, “I Saw the Sun Rise.”
SPECIAL GUEST STAR
Dan, a struggling fisherman, tells Magnum how he caught the prized bluefin that morning and when he went to sell it to his regular restaurant contact, the fish had been stolen out of his van. Dan tells him what the fish is worth and he needs the money to save his boat. He promises Magnum a cut of the sale of the fish if he finds it. “When I came back from ’Nam, I didn’t ask for nothing, from nobody. But now, I need some help. And I got no one else to turn to,” he tells Magnum.
In a voice-over, Magnum says how often he’s heard this from clients who can’t pay him — and how annoying it is that it works on him every time. We hear this as Magnum sits there smiling conspiratorially with Dan, and we know he’s taking the case. Dan is a fellow veteran, a friend of Nuzo’s, and well, the payoff could be great. Magnum just paid to fix Robin’s Ferrari, which had been riddled with bullets when he tried to save Nuzo — so he needs the funds. And he’s been thinking about his friend and remembering everything Nuzo did for him.
THE MUSTACHE FLASHBACK
Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This is certainly something Magnum and his friends adhere to. We see Magnum trying to find himself by filling his time helping others. His voice-over reveals much about what he is thinking about in the episode.
It seems as if Magnum is having a hard time dealing with losing Nuzo. He has been thinking about his friend, and what he did for Magnum while they were prisoners of war in Afghanistan. Nuzo not only saved his life, but he also seems to have spawned the idea of moving to Hawaii and keeping their team afloat.
The flashback to Magnum, shortly after the team escaped the POW camp, shaving his grown-out beard after so many days in captivity, gives us an idea at what he’s dealing with. The haunted look we see in the mirror — with or without the Selleck-style signature ’stache — is similar to what flashes across his face now and then. There is much more to this story and let’s hope this kind of intrigue continues in future episodes.
‘HAWAII FIVE-0’ CROSSES OVER
One of the things fans are excited about with the start of “Magnum P.I.” is that the show will eventually have a crossover episode with “Hawaii Five-0.” So far we’ve seen two “Five-0” characters join the “Magnum” crew at least for an episode. Dr. Noelani Cunha (Kimee Balmilero) was in the season opener helping Magnum look at Nuzo’s autopsy for clues to his death. Magnum also mentions speaking to her after he finds the fish and needs to see if it had been used to smuggle drugs within its 300-pound body.
This week, Rick (Zachary Knighton) brings Magnum to see Kamekona (Taylor Wily) to pick his brain about what “Kame” knows about buying and selling seafood — and other black-market items. Rick is the most connected man in town, so it makes sense he would know Kamekona, who is also actually connected to everything — including Five-0. It’s adorable how Kamekona calls Rick “Casablanca” and Magnum “Rockford” — and then asks them to taste test his spaghetti sauce. The scene takes place in a familiar “Five-0” set, that of McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno’s (Scott Caan) fledgling restaurant, one that Kamekona is helping to rescue.
Once Magnum promises Kamekona one meal at his shrimp truck every week for the next month, and after two hours and eight lunches, he gets a list of leads. One of them is none other than Chef Roy Yamaguchi, who plays himself — who actually gives Magnum the real lead to the fish.
CALL FOR BACKUP
Magnum asks Rick and T.C. (Stephen Hill) to help him once he finds the fish. The thief, Tua (Peter Shinkoda), who had been a crewman of Dan’s, stole it to help his kidnapped family. Tua planned to use it as a ransom for his wife and daughter. Rick and T.C. arrive with bats and a sniper rifle to trade the fish for the man’s family — and then recapture the fish once it’s dumped on the side of the road.
The best part of Rick and T.C. is the punny interplay between the three friends. When T.C. asks Magnum what his plan is for the ransom drop, and Magnum tells them not to worry he has one, Rick says, “Do you care to share that plan just for the halibut?”
You can roll your eyes or just laugh, but it was funny. Even Magnum’s voice-over tells us he gets the surrealism surrounding the case. “This was supposed to easy. Find the hot fish, help out a fellow vet, I think it’s fair to say it’s got a bit more complicated.”
It’s very telling how much the team knows each other, as Rick watches the fish-family trade while in sniper position and T.C. brings out a big ‘ole bat. Nothing fancy, just a hard wooden, well-loved Louisville Slugger. And T.C. is a really big guy — anyone would promise to keep things professional when he says, “You’re going to shoot me, but I’m going to keep on coming, and then I’m going to beat you.” They might say never bring a bat to a gunfight — unless you are T.C.
Rick almost gets taken by a third henchman, but he unarms him and trades him for Magnum and T.C. It’s darling that his ring tone is “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper — who is scheduled to make an appearance on the show this season. It disarms the situation and moves the ridiculous nature of the scene — paying a ransom with a 300-pound fish— into the realm of comedy with a fun payoff. They get Tua’s family and the fish back — so it’s a win-win on some level.
A DATE WITH HIGGY
The episode continues along a rather silly path: The fish suddenly becomes a vessel to smuggle illegal terrorist intel within its fishy gills, but we’re really not sure why it was used that way. But no matter — the case gets Magnum to ask Higgins (Perdita Weeks) out on a date to a fancy restaurant so they can hack into its reservation system to find the bad guy. After mahimahi and gristle — and sexually-charged banter — they figure out who Mr. Terrorist is and tail him in a red Ferrari, which means they are made and picked up.
But since Higgins is a former MI6 agent and an all-around tough gal — she incites an in-car fight which causes the SUV to flip over so they can escape. Good thinking, Higgy baby. Thankfully, they get the flash drive back that was inside Mr. Big Bluefin and turn it over to the FBI. It included the plans to attack Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and everyone involved is arrested. Yes, Rick is right, it was one fish story that turned out to be true.
Overall, the episode was fun, funny and the action helped to keep it moving. I appreciate that the characters are showing a bit of vulnerability so we can begin to fall in love with them.
I love the interplay and obvious friendship between Magnum, Rick and T.C. Higgins is a cool character, and I love that this version is a woman. I really want to see what happens between Higgins and Magnum’s characters. There’s something there and all that witty banter is going in a direction that is very different from the original. Not a bad thing — it just adds to my desire to see more.