One of the elements of the new “Magnum P.I.” that has crossed over from the original, is the interesting variety of clients Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) agrees to help. From the start, he seems to only take cases from those who are a bit vulnerable and who need a friend more than a private investigator. A woman who wants to know if her husband is cheating, a friend of a friend who needs help retrieving a stolen — and very valuable — fish, and a man who wants to know the truth about his mysterious fiancee. These are not unusual clients for Magnum, and like the classic version of the show, pretty standard.
In this week’s episode “Six Paintings, One Frame,” written by Ashley Gable and directed by Antonio Negret, Magnum starts off consulting for a wealthy friend of Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks) and Robin Masters. Jack Candler (Hal Ozsan), a British tech entrepreneur who loves art, has six prized paintings hanging in his private gallery in his Waikiki penthouse. Magnum is tasked to check his seemingly impenetrable security, and after he uncovers its weaknesses, Candler is murdered and the paintings are stolen. Magnum becomes the prime suspect in the theft of the art and Candler’s murder, and it is up to him — with the help of Higgins, Rick (Zachary Knighton) and T.C. (Stephen Hill) — to clear his name.
SUPER SEAL MAGNUM
The episode starts with a spectacular stunt scene which includes Magnum in night-vision goggles, riding an exterior elevator to break into Candler’s penthouse. He breaks into an air vent while hanging onto the elevator cables and belly-crawls to the gallery. He uses an app on his phone to raise the temperature in the room and then disables the infrared sensors in order to drop into the gallery space. As Magnum is a former Navy SEAL, this is all relatively easy for him. He strips off his ninja gear, which reveals his tuxedo underneath, and looks smugly at the six masterpieces he has been hired to protect from thieves.
“I know what you’re thinking,” he says in voice-over, “there has to be a better way to crash a party.” But his penthouse invasion has a purpose. As newly hired security consultant to Candler — he needs to be able to advise his client on how to improve his system.
After the initial James Bond stunt, the episode turned into more about following the case and clues rather than big stunts and action. Magnum does get into a fight with not one, but two villains at the end, but for a Navy SEAL, disarming and fighting them seemed quite easy. Still, Magnum seems to know a bit more than just how to pick a lock and conduct surveillance. This rebooted modern detective might be closer to an operative than your average private investigator.
CLEARING MAGNUM’S NAME
One of the elements in the episode was how the play on words in the title gave us a clue to what would happen to Magnum. Six paintings are stolen and since Magnum was the one who breached Candler’s security system, he rises to the top of Det. Katsumoto’s (Tim Kang) suspect list.
Magnum realizes he needs to find out who killed Candler so he won’t go to jail, but also because he feels obligated to Higgins, who is nearly devastated by Candler’s murder. Candler was her friend, a fellow Brit who she could talk to about home. He sweetly called Higgins “Jules” and teased her by sending her a “shandy”— a British working-class drink made of mixing a lemon-lime soda (called lemonade in England) and beer. As Higgins once told Magnum she played soccer from “kindergarten to Cambridge” — which suggests a more upper-crust upbringing. The shandy scene tells us the two Brits were more than acquaintances, since Higgins takes the drink with good humor and a hearty sip.
Rick and T.C. help Magnum by trying to find out who might be reaching out to the black market to fence the paintings, and it is the first time we hear the name Ice Pick mentioned. In the classic series, Rick was like a hanai (foster or adopted) son to a legendary underworld boss named Ice Pick. It was how Rick knew everyone and every way to find out information for Magnum. Our modern Rick is charismatic and likable — which makes his knowing the pulse of the island tied more to who he is, rather than who he knows.
TAKING ARTISTIC LICENSE
One of the paintings stolen from Candler is “Lady in Blue (Portrait of the Artist Yelizaveta Martynova)” by the Russian painter Konstantin Somov. According to art appraiser Tracy Hutton (Catherine Davis) who worked with Candler to help him raise money for various charities by showing his art off to wealthy friends. Hutton tells Magnum that “Lady in Blue” is the least valuable of all of Candler’s pieces. Magnum likes it because the blue of her dress reminds him of Detroit Tigers’ blue — and as this is his favorite team — it sticks out to him.
However, the painting is the real prize of Candler’s collection because beneath the surface of the painting was a more valuable Rembrandt. Several of the masters repainted over their own canvases — Van Gogh and Picasso among them — and other masterpieces have been found beneath existing paintings in the past. It seemed odd that a Rembrandt — who was Dutch and painted in the 1600s — would have been under a Russian’s work who painted in the late 1800s.
Still, it was rewarding when Magnum put together all the clues, and we got to see the Rembrandt under the “Lady in Blue.” Hutton had Candler’s assistant James Chen (Raymond Lee) steal the collection, and when Candler interrupted the theft, Chen killed him. Hutton confesses to Magnum, offering him a cut in the sale of the Rembrandt should he let her go. But Magnum wants his name cleared and turns her over to Katsumoto.
ALL ABOUT OHANA
What made the episode work was the many reveals about the friends who support Magnum.
When Rick finds out T.C. minored in art history in college because he did not get into art school, he and Magnum ask him how after 18 months and 11 days in a POW camp they did not know this about their friend? While they tease him about knowing so much about art, they also reveal how much time they all were together as prisoners and why they are still so very close.
Kumu (Amy Hill) is the first to come to Magnum’s defense when Katsumoto comes to arrest him for Candler’s murder and the theft of the paintings. Her stink-eye gives new meaning to “if looks could kill.” It’s endearing how protective she is of Magnum and Higgins. And if you don’t believe she would put herself — and her many family members who work for various legal offices and HPD — between them and harms way, you are not paying close enough attention.
Yet, it is the quiet moments that really set the episode apart from the first few this season. The moment Magnum brings Higgins a beer to toast Candler. A simple gesture so Magnum can tell Higgins that her grief has not gone unnoticed. It was sweet and tells us even more about their growing friendship.
The opening scene where Magnum glides out in the ocean on his surf ski, remembering growing up watching his father using his rowing machine every morning helped set the tone for the entire episode. Magnum’s voice-over reveals how he thinks about his father closing his eyes and perhaps seeing himself rowing over mighty rivers and great oceans. Magnum shares that, along with rooting for the Tigers, paddling out in the open water is how he stays connected to his father.
It’s that moment when Magnum mentions the Detroit Tigers that connects us to the “Lady in Blue” painting — which becomes the core of the case Magnum must resolve. And when he helps uncover even more behind the painting, it is what made the episode come full circle.