In the world of “Magnum P.I.,” playing games of cat and mouse is pretty standard. Since Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) is a private investigator, he is usually in constant pursuit of clues for his cases which can sometimes escape his grasp. Usually, he has to rely on his partner, Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks), and his friends Rick (Zachary Knighton) and TC (Stephen Hill), to help him chase down leads for his investigations, and even with all this backup, Magnum can still miss something. So this week’s episode, aptly titled “A Game of Cat and Mouse,” is really nothing new, except this time it’s Magnum’s con man friend Jin (Bobby Lee) who brings the game to Magnum.
Written by Gene Hong and directed by Roderick Davis, the episode was if nothing else, very entertaining as Magnum and Higgins tow around Jin in order to find a woman with a price on her head. Jin, who hears about the hit while cooling his heels in jail, tells Magnum and Juliet about it and asks them to find the mystery woman before she is killed.
For a typical episode, this week’s offering was funny and fast-paced, with a sweet ohana style ending — yet this was billed as the Winter Finale, as “Magnum P.I.” is going on a strange mid-season hiatus. For a “finale,” the episode missed the mark as it didn’t leave us with a cliffhanger to anticipate its return. Still, fans are anxious to know when “Magnum P.I.” will come back to Friday nights. The show is going off the air in order to make room for “MacGyver” which takes over the 7:00 pm slot as “Hawaii Five-0” slides into the 8:00 pm “Magnum P.I.” slot starting Feb. 7.
OUR FRIEND JIN
Hands down, the best part of the episode has to be the return of Bobby Lee who has played Jin in two other episodes, “Honor Among Thieves” and the Halloween episode, “Make It ‘Til Dawn.” While Jin is sort of a pathetic mess, it’s hard not to love him. He’s like a more adorable version of the awkward kid who always wants to hang out with the cool kids. We also got to know a little more about Jin, like when he shares with Higgins that he started stealing to help take care of his two sisters, one who went on to be a nurse and the other a teacher. It helped Higgins to start seeing Jin as a decent guy versus just a petty criminal.
But the killer scenes had to be between Jin and Katsumoto when the detective gets Jin to look through some booking photos for a suspect in the shooting. When he sees his own photo he asks Katsumoto, “Can I retake this photo, but from a different angle? My good side?” When Katsumoto later lets JIn re-take the mug shots, all while giving Jin his signature deadpan look, it was another moment that helped to elevate the episode into a far more entertaining hour.
PLAYING CAT AND MOUSE
When Magnum and Higgins visit Jin at Waiawa Correctional Facility, his buddy Rocky (Johnny Rey Diaz) tells them about overhearing a fellow inmate discussing a hit on a civilian, but only about where and when it will happen. Jin asks Magnum and Higgins to take the case — as well as bail him out of jail. Together, they make it to the park where the hit is supposed to go down, just in time to join a small party, where the bartender Ko (Hawaii actor Leon Sheen) is shot. Magnum and Higgins figure out that it is Ko’s sister, Ana (Joy Osmanski) who is really the target and they spend most of the episode looking for her while the hitman, Kinny (Francois Chau), tries to kill her.
While chasing Ana and dodging Kinny connects us to the theme of “a game of cat and mouse” it didn’t really give us anything more to sink our teeth into. Even the reason why the hit was called on Ana — she witnessed a local real estate mogul make a payoff to an underworld fixer — just was sort of anti-climactic. While it’s fine to have episodes where we are just entertained, there seems to be something missing.
Perhaps it’s a want for cases that mean to them than it just being about helping the underdog or folks who can’t help themselves. Sure, those are worthy and help to show how decent our heroes are — but we’re dying for cases that tell us more about Magnum, Higgins, Rick, and TC. Cases that let Katsumoto connect more with Magnum and more about Kumu (Amy Hill) and about Hawaii. And cases that continue to connect them with Five-0.
WE WILL SURVIVE
The episode wraps up much like it started — with the gang all together. At the start of the episode, everyone including Kamekona (Taylor Wily) and Chef Roy Yamaguchi (who played himself), met Magnum and Higgins in the wine cellar at Robin’s Nest to play poker. After Magnum and Higgins save Ana, with a lot of help from Katsumoto, they all joined together at Rick’s La Mariana for Karaoke Night.
Higgins may have stolen the show with her cover or Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” which she first tried to recite during the poker game before Kumu’s flush beat Magnum’s straight. But when everyone joins TC on stage for a rousing rendition of “I Will Survive,” it seemed as if they were sending a message of solidarity as they face several weeks of being off the air. And we’re sure “Magnum P.I.” will survive — as much as we are anxious for their return.