Sunday, December 31, 2023

Magnum P.I.: Series Finale, on NBC

The corruption of one of Hawaii’s governors should not surprise anybody. In this instance, he has been thoroughly compromised by a highly organized blackmail operation. However, Magnum and Higgins must first work another case before they can get to the blackmailers in the back-to-back episodes that conclude the fifth and final season of Magnum P.I. this Wednesday on NBC.

Initially, “Ashes to Ashes” starts out as a tragedy. TC Calvin’s firefighter girlfriend Mahina is quite distraught over a death she was not able to prevent. To make matters worse, the victim’s niece has fallen under suspicion, but Mahina is convinced she is innocent of Uncle Moku’s presumed death-by-arson, so TC calls in a favor from Magnum.

Thanks to some legwork accompanied by snappy romantic banter, the he and Higgins quickly determine the body was not Uncle Moku, but rather an already deceased corpse stolen from a nearby mortuary. That means the real Moku could still be alive, but he would necessarily be in grave danger.

“Ashes to Ashes” features some solid procedural stuff, but the secondary storyline, chronicling “Kumu” Tuileta’s first day volunteering with Rick Wright at a veteran’s helpline is far more memorable. As you might expect, events take a dramatic turn in the tradition of
The Slender Thread. Magnum P.I. is (or rather was) one of the few television/streaming shows featuring veteran characters who are not solely defined by their PTSD. However, in this case, the PTSD storyline is handled with sensitivity and empathy. It is also a great feature spot for series regular Amy Hill as Tuileta.

At one point in “Ashes to Ashes” Magnum and Higgins cut some legal corners for the sake of justice that will have repercussions in “The Big Squeeze.” Unbeknownst to them, they were recorded by henchmen working for Sam Bedrosian, a returning villain from four episodes ago, who uses it as leverage against the detectives. He needs them to solve the murder of the man responsible for his blackmail operation. Obviously, they cannot involve the cops, but their friend Det. Gordon Katsumoto catches wind of it anyway.

Patrick Fabian is impressively sinister as Bedrosian, especially by network villain standards. It is also a good reminder of politicians’ fundamentally evil nature. This is the final episode and you can tell showrunner Eric Guggenheim had the luxury of going out in the manner of his choosing. There is a spoonful of closure in “Big Squeeze” that should satisfy fans, but there is plenty of room to bring everyone back for a Peacock TV movie, or some other reunion project down the road.

Magnum P.I.
was a scrappy show that survived the pandemic and one cancelation. It was also refreshingly veteran-friendly. Much like the original, it periodically devised ways to get Magnum into his dress Navy Whites, which are almost as iconic for the character as his Hawaiian shirts. It is too bad Magnum P.I. is ending (especially for Hawaii’s state economy) but it ends with two strong episodes. Recommended for series fans and anyone who enjoys NCIS and related franchises, the final two episodes of Magnum P.I. air Wednesday (1/3) on NBC and stream the next day on Peacock.