Sometimes helping a friend can turn out to be much more than we bargained for — and that could be either a positive or a negative. Friendship, like any kind of relationship, is not always smooth sailing. There are times when you need to overlook transgressions and be quick to forgive and forget. But if a friendship is based on love and trust, then there is nothing you wouldn’t do for each other.
In this week’s episode of “Magnum P.I.,” titled “Bad Day to Be a Hero,” Magnum’s (Jay Hernandez) friend Rick (Zachary Knighton) comes to him with a problem that is both dangerous and illegal, yet urgent to resolve. Rick has gotten himself into a bit of a jam after helping his friend Toni, played by special guest star Jamie-Lynn Sigler from “The Sopranos,” set up a high-roller poker game. During the evening, the game is robbed by two masked gunmen, and all of the money Toni put up as the bank, as well as all the winnings, are stolen.
The problem for Toni, and therefore Rick who has feelings for the woman, is that the biggest winner was a mob boss, Pascale Parata (Kawika Smith) and he gives Toni a short deadline to return his money. So Rick comes to the only people he trusts who can help him — Magnum and TC (Stephen Hill).
Written by Ashley Charbonnet and directed by Lin Oeding, a veteran stuntman, and stunt coordinator, the episode is fast-paced and more action-packed than some of the episodes of late. This is not a bad thing, as Oeding — who has directed for television since 2015 and has been stunt coordinator on feature films like “The Equalizer” and “Straight Outta Compton” — has a good eye for action and fight sequences. He was a perfect choice to direct this particular episode, as the action started in the opening scene and did not let up for most of the episode.
BAD DAY TO BE A HERO
Rick, of course tries to step in and help Toni during the heist, which gets him a gun barrel to his forehead. Since Toni was taking a rake, 5 percent of each pot, and she had financed the game, when the money was stolen — she was the one who had to cover everyone’s losses. But Pascale wants his cash by the following day. Since Toni was the bank and was going to take a cut, Rick can’t call the cops because the game is illegal. Even if Toni was doing it to pay her brother’s medical bills and even if Toni herself didn’t suffer from multiple sclerosis — the mob guy baddie still wants his take. No one is a nice guy when it comes to Texas Hold ‘em.
Except Guy Hagi, the Hawaii News Now weatherman, who played himself in the poker game. He seems to have done the right thing and agreed to a hefty credit for Toni’s next game. You might not have recognized him because he was in an aloha shirt and sans glasses — and a little upset at being held up — not his usual smiling, upbeat newscaster personality. But having Hagi at the game added a bit of local accuracy to the scene.
Still, Rick is very concerned that Toni won’t be able to pay Pascale back, so he brings in Magnum and TC to help. Of course, Higgins (Perdita Weeks) comes along to help with the tech side of the investigation. And Rick reaches out to the one person who can possibly smooth things over as the team begin their search for the money.
NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED
Rick heads over to Halawa Correctional Facility to visit an old friend. He hopes he can get some help to smooth things over with Pascale. Rick’s friend is Icepick, played by the incomparable Corbin Bernsen. If you were a fan of the original “Magnum P.I.,” Icepick was a native Chicagoan turned Hawaii crime boss who had his hands in many facets of the criminal underworld. Rick often went to him to find out information for Magnum. As Magnum couldn’t rely on HPD and Five-0, he often had to get his intel by other means.
In this version, Icepick is in prison, and yet he seems to be able to “reach out” to those on the outside, as Rick asks him to do in order to get more time to return Pascale’s money. This is the first time we have met Icepick in this version of “Magnum P.I.” He was mentioned by an informant in “Six Paintings, One Frame,” who told Rick the only reason she was dealing with him was because he was “a friend of Icepick’s.”
Like in the original, Icepick acts as Rick’s de facto father, scolding him for getting involved with someone like Pascale. “You were always in a jam growing up, Rick. Headed down the wrong path. On your way to becoming a criminal degenerate like me. So what do I do? I nudge you onto another path. Now you’re a war hero earning an honest living, and still you’re mixing up with animals like Pascale.”
Rick is appropriately chastised, but he tells Icepick he did it to help Toni who is more than just “some skirt” he’s chasing. But as Icepick tells him that while his “one redeeming quality” in his life was trying to be a father figure to Rick, he is not going to save him this time. Rick got himself into this mess, he had to get himself out. Rick realizes he’s going to have to find the money or else Toni is going to have an even bigger issue than bills and fighting MS.
FIND THE MONEY
Really, finding the money seemed to be the easy part — all it took was Higgins agreeing to be Magnum’s wife and the rest seemed to fall into place. If you believe that line, then you are one of the many who think there is something going on there between the private investigator and the majordomo. But right now we just have to appease ourselves with watching them play the happy couple.
This time Magnum has Higgins act as a Mrs. to his Mr. Marlowe, of Omaha, Neb. I’m pretty sure they could have picked a far more believable place for a couple like Magnum and Higgins to come from because if we are to believe those two were really married — they would not live in Omaha. Yet Higgins used a darling American accent and Magnum perfectly stonewalled Akamu (Mark Ah Sing), the kindly manager of the hotel where the poker game was set, so Higgins could hack into their computer system.
While Magnum demands they find their fake reservation and threatens to let his 10,000 Twitter followers know of hotel’s poor management, Higgins downloads all their security footage in order to see if they can identify the two men who robbed the poker game. While they can’t identify the thieves, they get a look at their getaway car and Higgins finds the address of Terry Kanarot (Peter Jang) off his license plate.
Magnum, Rick and TC head over to Mililani and find their masked gunmen — Terry and Mike Davis (Matt Mullins) — very dead, and all the money missing. They do find all the personal effects stolen that night, as well as Terry’s phone. As they search through his text messages and find their wheelman, Charley Franks (Rich Ceraulo Ko), who Magnum correctly deduces is hiding out with his mother (Suzen Murakami). Magnum and TC chase Charley from his house using the Ferrari to play chicken, luckily catching him and finding all the money.
But that’s just the part of the case. Sure, they get the money back. And Rick saves the day with Toni — while promising that this means more to him than helping a friend out. He confesses he has feelings for her and he really wants to make something of their friendship after they pay Pascale back. So once Magnum and TC return the money, Rick is thrilled he can save his girl.
But Magnum is not satisfied. He thinks there was more to this heist than just looking for a payday. The two men who robbed the poker game were Army Rangers, decorated former soldiers. Both served with distinction. Both had good jobs and stable lives. Charley said they were good guys. He also tells Magnum and TC that, “Terry said he was doing it for a good reason. He said he was doing it for his family, and it wasn’t about money.”
Magnum sees a picture from the poker game posted on social media, and figures out one of the personal items, a small hula girl keychain, is missing. They track one of the whales playing that night to a bank where he has removed a suitcase full of passports. They bring in Katsumoto (Tim Kang), after finding Terry and Mike dead, and explain all that they have found out about the owner of the keychain, Russell Chang (Hahn Cho).
Chang owns an employment agency Agro Workforce Solutions, but Pascale tells Rick he deals in slavery. He brings workers over from foreign countries, holds their passports and makes them work off their entrance into the U.S. With the help of Katsumoto, and TCs chopper, they find the workers that Terry and Mike were really trying to rescue when they robbed the poker game. They knew that Chang was going to be there and used the robbery to mask their true intentions of finding the enslaved workers and freeing them.
Sadly, even though the team saves the day, Rick loses what he really wants — Toni. She decides she’s moving back to the mainland to start over, and be there for her brother. She has a chance to thank the team and Katsumoto for coming through for her and pulls Rick aside to deliver the news.
She brings Rick a kokio keokeo, or a Kauai white hibiscus, which is native to Hawaii. It is one of two species of hibiscuses in the world known to have fragrant flowers. It’s a sweet parting gift, but I think Rick would have preferred pursuing things with Toni. It makes for a better story. The hero saves the day, gets the loot back and gets the girl.
I suppose for now, Rick will just have to settle for being alive and living with his friends in paradise.