For the most part, the major themes of “Magnum P.I.” all revolve around friendship — between Magnum (Jay Hernandez) and his fellow battle-brothers Rick (Zachary Knighton) and TC (Stephen Hill), as well as his friendship with Higgins (Perdita Weeks), Det. Katsumoto (Tim Kang), and Kumu (Amy Hill). Friendship and trust, as well as Magnum’s past as a Navy SEAL and his time with Rick and TC as POWs in Afghanistan, are all themes that drive most of the storylines and overall character arcs of the show.
In this week’s episode, “He Came by Night” all three themes are intertwined within the episode, as Magnum and Higgins’ friendship is tested by questions of trust and consideration, and TC, Rick, and Shammy (Christopher Thornton) look into someone they believe has stolen the identity of a dead combat veteran.
Written by Barbie Kligman and directed by Antonio Negret the episode was a bit drawn out in some places but offered enough action and interplay between the main characters to give us a satisfying conclusion. The addition of the musical group Train performing at Rick’s bar, La Mariana, also helped to give the episode a bit of a boost. The group, who also performed at the “Magnum P.I.” and “Hawaii Five-0” season premiere event Sunset on the Beach in Waikiki in September, performed the world premiere of their new song “Mai Tai,” with special guest Skylar Grey, at the end of the episode.
FRIENDSHIP AND TRUST TESTED
Since the start of season two, the partnership and friendship between Magnum and Higgins have been at the forefront of several episodes. As they are now true partners in Magnum’s private investigative business, the two former special operators have to work very closely together. It’s interesting to watch their friendship grow, but also to notice subtle changes that may have their relationship headed in a different direction.
So this week, when we see Higgins disagree with Magnum about taking a case, it gave us a deeper understanding of the dynamics being built between Magnum and Higgins. She is hurt by his decision to disregard her rational and correct thoughts about telling Katsumoto about their client’s problem. Even when it all works out in the end — their client is saved, a huge drug-dealing operation at Wahiawa Prison (which should be Waiawa Correctional Facility) is stopped, and Katsumto gets to show his fighting skills taking down a dirty guard — their relationship is still a bit strained.
When Magnum apologizes and asks for her forgiveness, he tells Higgins he sees her as a strong woman who thinks that being vulnerable goes against that strength. When she tells Magnum she just wants to be “equal partners,” Magnum’s admission that they are not going to be equal because she is “just a little bit better” than him, was more than just a little honest. Kumu is right, Magnum and Higgins are better as a team. Perhaps these two can get through all of the relationship-building and finally figure out where their partnership really lies.
The secondary storyline was far more compelling than Magnum’s case of the week. The storyline was an interesting take on stolen valor, a term for individuals who lie about their military service. It helped to also shine a light on Veterans and the complicated issues some of them face as they return home and go back to their regular lives.
The story starts with TC giving Shammy a lift to a Veteran’s support group and stays to meet fellow Vets and hear their stories. He recognizes the name of one of Shammy’s friends in the group, Dan Skordi (Troy Garity), but not his face. Higgins finds out that the man Shammy thinks is Skordi, is actually James Harris, who served alongside Skordi, and is a hero in his own right.
After TC and Shammy confront Harris, he comes to La Mariana and confesses to them that he didn’t steal valor he actually gave up his own. Dan was his best friend who had been writing letters back and forth with Kalea, a woman on Oahu, and when Dan died James started answering her letters as Dan. He fell in love with her and did not want to end the relationship by telling her the truth.
Shammy understands him a little better, as he was in love with his ex-wife and, as he tells Rick and TC, losing her “was harder than losing the use of my legs.” But TC feels as if Harris needs to tell Kalea, who is about to have Harris’ child. While Harris did not necessarily commit stolen valor as he is a Vet as well, TC — always the peacemaker — tells him that he thinks Kalea deserves to know and that his kid should know who their dad is, as “there’s a lot they’d be proud of,” he tells him.
While the storyline wasn’t one that celebrated Veterans, it was a good reminder a few days after the Veterans Day holiday that they really do have a lot to be proud of, which is a theme that “Magnum P.I.” does so well each week. While the question of stolen valor in this episode is complicated, it does open the door to let Veterans know how much they are appreciated and should be proud of their service and sacrifice — whatever it may be — to our country.