Most people know that when a Hawaiian says you are part of their ʻohana, they do not say this lightly. ʻOhana means family, but sometimes “family” can simply be friends who have been with you through the best and worst of times. In this week’s “Magnum P.I.”, Magnum (Jay Hernandez), Rick (Zachary Knighton), and TC (Stephen Hill) risk everything to help Nuzo’s (Domenick Lombardozzi) brother Paulie (Louis Lombardi) rescue Ahmed (Mohit Gautam) an Afghan boy Paulie grew close to when they were all stationed in Afghanistan seven years before.
The title of the episode, “Blood Brothers,” definitely encapsulates the overall theme threaded throughout the storyline. When Paulie arrives at Rick’s La Mariana, he asks the guys to help him get Ahmed off a container ship heading toward Oahu. Paulie is trying to sneak the teenager into America and away from the Taliban who killed his mother and his adopted family. While they all work to find him, with a bit of help from Higgins (Perdita Weeks) and Katsumoto (Tim Kang), Magnum recalls the team’s tour in Afghanistan when they met Ahmed and his mother.
Written by Peter Lenkov and Eric Guggenheim and directed Peter Weller, the episode delivers strong performances from the main cast as well as special guest star Lombardi. And Lombardozzi’s return as Nuzo in well-placed flashbacks is always welcome. Lombardozzi, whose character, unfortunately, was murdered in the pilot “I Saw the Sun Rise,” consistently delivers a solid performance and he helps add Magnum’s backstory.
The entire episode was expertly paced as the tension and need to find Ahmed after he is forced to leave the container ship, and then kidnapped by human traffickers, added to the intensity of the episode. And when the team finally finds the boy, the true emotion expressed by all of the actors was natural and believable. Overall, this episode was one of the strongest of the season thus far.
YOU BLEED, I BLEED
The idea that Magnum, Rick, TC, and Nuzo are truly blood brothers after surviving war and 18 months and 11 days in a POW camp, is definitely brought to the forefront in this episode. As Magnum reminds Nuzo in the flashbacks “You bleed, I bleed,” he says. It means more than just literal bleeding for each other — it’s about having each other’s backs, and supporting them no matter where the mission takes them.
The episode flips back and forth between Thomas and the team looking for Ahmed in the present time, after he is forced off of the container ship when ICE arrives to search it, and flashbacks to the team’s time in Afghanistan when Ahmed was nine-years-old. Magnum is teaching him English, while Rick and TC show him their mean tetherball moves, and they all rally around him as Paulie loans him his Yankees cap and shows him how to throw some heat and strike Magnum out. They are sweet and funny scenes that help alleviate all the palpable sadness when Ahmed’s mother is killed and when they cannot find him once he makes it to Oahu.
Paulie is Nuzo’s older brother who works for a contracting company in the motor pool at their base. He specifically took the job to be closer to Nuzo as he served overseas. When Paulie doesn’t return to the base after going to visit Ahmed and his mother, Nuzo asks Magnum, Rick, and TC to help him. When they find Ahmed’s town deserted, they search the mountains and find his mother among all the dead. They barely make it back, and when they do, Paulie’s been shot in the leg, and all four are in front of Capt. Greene (James Remar) to be disciplined.
TAKING A HELPING HAND
Of course, they survive to fight another day, and that day comes when Paulie arrives to ask them to help find Ahmed. And when Ahmed is tricked into leaving a homeless camp by a group of human traffickers, it takes reaching out to Paulie’s contact who got Ahmed on the container ship — Gerard Hirsch (Willie Garson). Many fans know Garson’s character from “Hawaii Five-0.” Hirsch is a former art dealer and smuggler who knows how to get “art, vehicles, even people on and off the island.” Hirsch who “hates to be the good guy” gives up the name of the human trafficker who he thinks most likely kidnapped Ahmed once he got off of the container ship and landed on a beach on Oahu.
Magnum also takes Higgins’ advice and reaches out to Katsumoto — who is willing to help if he can do it properly, as he is still under review with HPD. And he wants to help as his grandfather came to Hawaii illegally and he believes “in what that statue in New York says.”
The team, with the help of Katsumoto and HPD, rescues Ahmed. It is a bittersweet reunion, especially when Ahmed asks about Nuzo. As they all look away, Paulie tells him that “he would’ve been here if he could.” The pain of losing Nuzo is all over their faces but it passes as they are relieved to find Paulie’s boy.
The hardest moment had to be when Magnum talks to Nuzo in a picture of the team hanging in La Mariana, “I wish you could’ve been with us today. It was like like old times. You bleed, I bleed. And, listen, if, uh if Paulie ever needs us again, we got his back.” This is confirmed when Paulie tells them, “When my brother died, I thought I didn’t have a family anymore. But I was wrong. You guys are my brothers.” He says the truth about all of the characters — they are certainly brothers until the end.