There’s nothing like starting off the second season of “Magnum P.I.” with a cool opening sequence that has Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) chasing a blonde beauty across the Great Wall of China. Even though it was a fantasy sequence as Magnum’s new love Abby (Brooke Lyons) reads from Robin Master’s latest “White Knight” novel, it really worked. The image of Magnum on a black motorcycle, flying onto the Great Wall, sticking the landing, all while talking to Rick (Zachary Knighton) and TC (Stephen Hill) who are backing him up on horseback somewhere in Jinshanling, China, was a pretty slick way to start off the season.
The season premiere, “Payback for Beginners,” was written by executive producers Peter M. Lenkov and Eric Guggenheim, and directed by Bryan Spicer, who is best known for directing seven of the ten premieres of “Hawaii Five-0.” The episode had Magnum and his friends Rick and TC, along with Higgins (Perdita Weeks), Kumu (Amy Hill), and a reluctant Katsumoto (Tim Kang) working the case of a missing woman, Leanna Owens (Sonya Balmores). Leanna’s husband Charlie (Michael Patrick Thornton) asks Magnum to find Leanna who is reeling from losing a friend who was killed when the bank where they worked was robbed. Between the idea of the white knight returning, as well as all of the established characters from the first season, it was a smart start to season two.
PRESSURE IS HIS MIDDLE NAME
One element of “Magnum P.I.” that has been firmly established in the rebooted version of the show is the fact that Magnum often relies on his friends and their skills and connections. While most private investigators don’t have Ferraris or helicopters at their disposal, Magnum seems to not have a problem asking for favors, especially if the aide will give someone else a hand. Strangely enough, he doesn’t come across as taking advantage of his friends, and they seem to know that helping Magnum will also mean helping someone who really needs it.
Still, in this episode, the pressure is on as Magnum must find Leanna soon, as she seems intent on either killing herself or someone else as her husband found that she was looking up “how to buy a gun on the black market.” Magnum turns to Higgins to help him, and she teaches Kumu how to hack into Leanna’s financials. As they continue to search, they look to Katsumoto for some information about the bank robbery at Leanna’s bank. When Katsumoto turns them down, they seek out Rick to see if he has any connections to get them the intel they need.
Ironically, it is Rick who needs help, as he is in jail for getting into a fight with one of his King Kamehameha Club patrons. Once Magnum and Higgins bail him out of jail, Rick and his panda eye get them a video from the bank robbery, which helps them to see why Leanna may want a gun. She seems to want revenge for the death of her friend.
As the pressure of trying to find Leanna before she shoots someone mounts, the entire team gets in on the chase, with Kumu feeding them intel about where Leanna is using ATMs around town, TC and Rick offering surveillance in TC’s chopper, and Higgins backing up Magnum as they are overtaken by one of the bank robbers who is also looking for Leanna. Seems as if they want Leanna to go back to her vault and steal more money for them — and they use her husband Charlie as leverage.
The entire episode, Magnum has been trying to mend fences with Katsumoto after lying to him about harboring Hannah in the season one finale. Magnum has been sending him macadamia nuts with little “Please forgive me” notes. Katsumoto tells Magnum that he’s allergic to nuts, so unless Magnum was trying to kill him, it’s not working.
It’s hilarious how Magnum is trying to get back into Katsumoto’s good graces. Yet, it is Katsumoto who Magnum calls when they find one of the bank robber’s dead. Katsumoto is not happy at Magnum and tells him, “Let’s get our roles straight. I investigate crimes and clear suspects and you just get in my way.” When Magnum finds out the truth about Leanna — that she was in on the bank robbery and her lover was one of the robbers — it is with Katsumoto’s help that they make a play to get Charlie back.
THE WHITE KNIGHT RETURNS
At the start of the episode, we see Magnum dating Abby, an attorney he met in the season one episode “Black is the Widow.” Abby comments that Robin’s White Knight character “is kind of like a romance novel cliche — compassionate, monogamous.” Magnum reveals in voice-over that the character is based on him, but he doesn’t think he knows Abby well enough to reveal this truth to her. Still, the episode progresses and Abby gets to see Magnum deal with Charlie as he explains to him that his wife was not only having an affair but that she was also part of the bank robbery.
Higgins tells her, as they watch Magnum offering Charlie his friendship and help, that she once thought his being a private investigator was “just a paycheck for Magnum. Or a diversion. But I soon realized that he genuinely wants to help people.” Perhaps it is then that Abby realizes that the White Knight may not be a fictional character after all.
Wendie Burbridge writes “The Five-0 Redux” and “Magnum Reloaded” blogs. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @wendiejoy.