Season 2 of Magnum P.I. offers more of the same as it did a year before: guns, explosions, and Magnum owing people favors. That is not to say that the show isn’t entertaining; however, there is nothing earth-shattering about it. It’s not a must-see show, but if you should happen to see it, you won’t be disappointed. For my part, I am a fan and did enjoy all twenty episodes of the second season. To its credit, this season does spend some time trying to add depth to the secondary characters that Magnum tends to lean on, like T.C., Rick, and Katsumoto. There is also a long-awaited crossover episode with the recently departed Hawaii Five-0 series. Despite not deviating much from its established template in the first season, the Jay Hernandez-led series continues to remain one of the CBS staples, even after being moved to the Friday night slot, which can sometimes serve as the kiss of death for a show.
Picking up after the events of last season, Magnum continues to be a gladiator for the little, usually at the expense of his wallet. After his illegal mission in Myanmar, his relationship with Katsumoto, and by extension the Honolulu Police Department, is irrevocably fractured. He is also awaiting an answer from Higgins regarding his proposal for her to become a partner in his private detective agency. Complicating her answer is an offer from MI6 to rejoin the agency. This subplot plays out for several episodes as she tries to consider which offer is best, while Thomas does everything in his power to sway her in his direction. The inevitable and completely predictable conclusion of this subplot fortunately wraps up within a couple of episodes. It is then replaced by the banter of the two characters as they argue over how to run the business, Higgins wanting it to at least turn a profit and become legitimate, and Magnum wanting to continue to wing it and engage in questionable practices.
Magnum’s way keeps bringing him into the orbit of Katsumoto, who refuses to forgive Magnum for lying to him and essentially using him. This subplot brings an element of intrigue to the show, as it tends to complicate Magnum’s ability to help his clients without the support of HPD. Granted, it goes without saying that Katsumoto would eventually have to forgive him, but I was glad that they dragged it out a bit. The show continues in the monster-of-the-week format, though there one antagonist does make two appearances this season; first he is only mentioned, but the second time we get to see him. I would tell you what actor played him, but twists are limited in this show, so let’s save that one.
In regards to Magnum’s most loyal friends, there is some character depth this season for them. For the most part last year the only emotional context they got was when a situation affected a veteran. This year both T.C. and Rick deal with heartbreaking situations. T.C. is confronted by a former love who moved on, while Rick deals with the disappointment in his father figure who was introduced in the first season, Icepick. When it came to these situations, I believe the Rick situation had more emotional resonance because it brought everyone together to help Rick, but they didn’t bite their tongues when confronting Icepick for getting him into that situation.
Speaking of emotional context, my favorite episode (“Say Hello to Your Past”) of the season actually saw Magnum and Higgins in the secondary role in favor of Kumu. In this episode, Kumu is abducted by a man that was shot and framed for the murder of his wife. It is a poignant story about second chances, that ultimately helped her confront her own past.
However, the main thing that I’m sure everyone wants to know about is the will-they-or-won’t-they relationship between Magnum and Higgins. This season saw some strides towards the will-they column in the form of a green-card-marriage storyline. Brass tacks, Higgins finds herself on the verge of being deported, and Magnum offers to marry her so that she can stay in the country. Not a terribly original storyline, but one that could lead to what can ultimately be seen as a foregone conclusion. While you can guess that it was not followed through on, Magnum does manage to perform a gesture that ensures that he wouldn’t have to be without his partnership with Higgins.
The breakout star of the season was hands-down Bobby Lee, who played a recurring character on the show by the name of Jin. Jin was a pickpocket whose activities on multiple occasions brought him into contact with Magnum and gang. He was annoyingly funny and stole the show every time he was on screen. I also can’t forget about that long-awaited crossover episode (“Desperate Measures”), which felt a bit incomplete as it starts in the Magnum show, but concludes in the Hawaii Five-0 series, so naturally he have to watch the other series to get the conclusion. So as I said, even though the series doesn’t really break new waters in its sophomore season, it is still an entertaining way to spend your time.