For the most part, courage and bravery are traits we tend to use whenever we refer to our military, law enforcement and firefighters. Yet, we know that everyday civilians can also be brave — because anyone can make a sacrifice, save a life or battle an injustice.
This week’s “Magnum P.I.” has Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) helping a brave, young girl, who escaped her kidnappers after being held captive for five days. Magnum, with the help of Higgins (Perdita Weeks), and his teammates Rick (Zachary Knighton) and TC (Stephen Hill), try to help her recover from her trauma, as well as work to find out who kidnapped her and why.
The episode, titled “The Ties That Bind,” focuses on how Magnum and his friends are able to relate to Amanda (Lyrica Okano) as former POWs. The title is a metaphor for all the elements of anyone being held against their will, and specifically how even after Amanda’s kidnapping, she is still bound to her trauma. Magnum is hired by her parents Alan (Louis Ozawa Changchien from “Bosch” and “The Man in the High Castle”) and Mari (Kimiko Gelman from “13 Reasons Why”) to find Amanda’s kidnappers.
Written by Ashley Gable and directed by Ron Underwood (who recently directed “ʻAʻohe kio pohaku nalo i ke alo pali” of “Hawaii Five-0”), the episode is suspenseful and evenly paced. Amanda’s kidnapping and Magnum’s POW backstory does not create an overly dramatic storyline. It does give both Magnum and Rick an opportunity to talk about what happened to them in Afghanistan in a way that creates understanding rather than just being used to create a few crocodile tears. The story also allows for Rick and TC to be more involved in Magnum’s case as fellow POWs, and without Higgins’ hacker help most of what Magnum tries to do could not have been possible.
Really, Magnum is lucky to have Higgins, Rick, and TC. This is a theme that is a holdover from the original series, but in this day and age — Magnum could not do what he needs to do without them. Higgins can access cameras and satellites, ping cellphones and hack into any database. Sure, Magnum could do this himself with a little creative digging and by charming a helpful clerk or administrative assistant to find his information. Before anyone starts with the comments about being sexist — Magnum could charm anyone, male or female. Yet with Higgins helping him, he doesn’t need to work too hard — well, he probably owes her a million and one favors by now — but that’s Magnum.
Rick and TC come through for him in every pinch — but we know this will always happen because of what they have gone through together. With Rick’s connections and TC’s handy chopper, we know their particular skill sets make them indispensable to Magnum.
Our only hope is that there is a bit more face-to-face interaction happening soon. It seems as if both Rick and TC spend a lot of time helping Magnum — but it would be great to see them sharing more moments outside of TC’s chopper or just having a beer together. Though the fact Rick and TC seem to want to help Magnum with his cases is a nice change. In the classic series the two characters always seemed to be forced to help and almost reluctant to give Magnum the backup he needed. Now, it’s more a given that Rick and TC will come to his aid.
The departure from the original characterization of Magnum’s friends is a bit different, yet refreshing. Knighton plays Rick as more of a comedian, quick with a quip and a laugh, which helps keep the tone of the show light and relatable. There’s a reason Magnum’s ringtone for Rick is “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Rick is the consummate Mr. Fun Times, but his loyalty to Magnum is unwavering and sincere. He knows how to back up his buddy with solid insider intel and a sturdy sniper rifle — as well as with a good ear and fair advice.
While TC seems to rule the air, there is no one better when you need some muscle — or at least an imposing figure when Magnum needs to face one too many bad guys. Hill may be formidable at first glance, but he plays TC as a true friend who may chide Magnum for abusing his chopper privileges, but he seems to know Magnum only does this so he can solve his case or help a client in need. Still, Hill needs a bit more time on the ground, so to speak, to be allowed to show that his character as more than just a really good chopper pilot.
With Higgins, Rick and TC helping to find Amanda’s kidnappers, Magnum has time to also worry about Amanda’s emotional state. He certainly understands what she is going through. It was helpful to learn more about what happened to him and his team when they were POWs, as it not only helped to further develop their characters and backstories, but it also gave more credence to why they were all so eager to help Amanda.
Magnum asks Higgins to teach Amanda some yoga in order to help her deal with her trauma. Higgins agrees after Magnum tells her a story about when he was in a military hospital after escaping the POW camp, and how yoga helped a corpsman who could not deal with the loss of four of his men. As Higgins shows Amanda some starter yoga moves, she tells Amanda, “You’ll realize there is nothing more empowering than your body achieving something your mind thought it couldn’t.” Which is exactly what Amanda did when she escaped from her captors.
After their yoga session, Amanda is ready to talk, and she begins to tell Magnum what happened to her. As she tells him about dislocating her own thumb to get out of her zip ties and running for miles until she found help, Magnum is impressed. He tells her, “When I was a prisoner in Afghanistan, it was my obligation to try to escape. Not to mention I had three weeks of naval training on how to do it. I had three guys with me. You had the courage to escape all by yourself.”
Using the information Amanda gives him, he finds the bunker she was kept in and calls Det. Katsumoto (Tim Kang). Unlike other times when Magnum has run into Katsumoto, or intruded on one of his cases, he seems much more willing this time to have Magnum’s help. Perhaps it is because he knows he has worked the case to a point that it has gone cold, or perhaps it is because the victim is a 16-year-old girl, but Katsumoto seems to have certainly thawed toward Magnum. His deadpan responses seem more like an attempt at trying to keep his relationship with the private investigator on the professional side.
Kang added a few nice touches to his character, which helps us to warm up to him. He gives Magnum Amanda’s case file and all the information he has, and allows Magnum and Higgins to continue investigating without him, as long as they keep him in the loop. When they realize Amanda’s kidnapper posed as a police officer — Katsumoto pockets his badge so as not to upset her. While Katsumoto is not going to be one of Magnum’s best friends, he certainly seems to becoming more of an ally than an enemy.
As Amanda reveals more about what happened to her and Magnum finds where she was held — she tells him she’s tired of being afraid all the time. He tells her something his father once told him, that “being brave doesn’t mean not being scared, it just means that you’ve decided that there’s something more important than your fear.” Magnum tells her about when he was being held captive, he was always trying to escape and was kept in solitary confinement, or “the hole.” The fact that he knew Rick, TC and Nuzo needed him kept him going.
Amanda begins to understand what he means when her mother is kidnapped. The guys who kidnapped her did it to use her as leverage to force her father to kill the U.S. attorney for Hawaii, Andrew Gore (Michael Mikasa), who has been building a major case against a Chinese triad in Honolulu. Gore has been traveling, interviewing witnesses in different cities, but when he’s in Honolulu, he works out of an office in Alan’s building. As Alan is an IT consultant and can be anywhere in his own office building without raising suspicion, he is the perfect candidate to kill Gore.
When they kidnapped Amanda, and she escaped, their plan failed the first time. So once Gore returned to Hawaii, they kidnapped Mari to complete their assassination plot. Magnum and Higgins figure all of this out in the nick of time and stop Alan from killing the U.S. attorney. Magnum tells him that Katsumoto and HPD found the kidnappers. He does not have to worry about them killing his wife if he does not do what they have asked.
KEEPING HIS PROMISE
When Amanda finds out her mother has been taken, she begs Magnum to bring her mother back. Magnum promises and while Katsumoto warns him that wasn’t a smart thing to say to the young girl, Higgins backs Magnum by saying, “Right now that girl needs hope.” Magnum and Higgins know she is imagining what her mother is going through, but she also knows what her mother is experiencing. Magnum’s promise has to sustain her through even more of this ordeal.
Thankfully, Magnum comes through — with more help from his friends. Magnum and Higgins question the kidnapper’s accomplice who had been watching Alan to make sure he didn’t alert security about the murder plot on Gore. Magnum forcefully gets the information out of him that Mari has been buried alive, and the group digs her out and brings her home. It’s a happy ending, but even more so for Magnum who not only was able to keep his promise to Amanda but seems to have been able to find some kind of peace about his own time in captivity. Perhaps helping someone else heal, will also help him and his friends deal with the loss of their fourth — Nuzo.
I suppose that is all anyone ever wants in the case of abduction — that the victim comes home safe and is able to deal with the trauma of the experience. Yes, that seems like such a simple response to a horrible situation, but kudos to “Magnum P.I.” for keeping the storyline from becoming overwrought and melodramatic. If nothing else, it gives us another definition of bravery and loyalty, which seems to becoming a part of the deeper framework of the show.