If you caught trailers prior to tonight’s Magnum P.I., you’d be forgiven for thinking “Extracurricular Activities” was another comedic episode. While there are definitely lighthearted moments, this week takes things in a decidedly different direction than last week’s fantastic showcase of the comedy stylings of Jin.
The episode begins with Magnum playing frisbee with a group of young college kids. Despite only being on campus for a day, he already has a nickname, M Dog, and is invited to a toga party later. Thankfully Higgins is an adult, and keeps her free-spirited boyfriend on a short leash. They’re not at college for fun, after all, they’re here to investigate an allegation against one of the dean’s professors.
Sam Brody is a professor and bioengineer researching crop resilience. There’s lots of rumors swirling about him coercing sexual favors for research positions at his lab. The dean doesn’t want to ruin the man without proof, so Thomas and Higgins head out to find what they can. Higgy starts her usual hacking routine, but runs into an unexpected roadblock. The professor’s devices are all heavily encrypted. Meaning Thomas and Juliet are going to have to go back to school and surveil him the old school way.
As for the rest of the team, they have a different extracurricular in mind. T.C. and Gordon are heading out for a father / son camping trip with their boys, after raiding La Mariana for supplies. Rick complains, as expected, and manages to whine his way onto the trip. Mostly for a chance to get some much needed sleep after dealing with his newborn for several months. Since they’re already taking so much food and supplies, T.C. and Gordon agree to let him come along.
Back at college, Juliet sits in on a Brody lecture, and overhears two girls gossiping about how one of them is on a first name basis with the professor. Then when one boy named Travis starts offering high-minded opinions, Juliet proves him wrong and accidentally embarrasses him. Later she goes to apologize, and realizes Travis may be the one circulating rumors about his professor. Mostly because he’s salty about not getting the research position, which he insists Brody only gives to attractive young women. Which is why he’s not trying for Brody’s open research position. Though Travis did overhear Brody making time with someone in his office the other night, who he thinks is a girl named Kelly.
Meanwhile Magnum heads to Brody’s office to get to his phone and upload some spyware. He’s pretending to be a repairman and gets in effortlessly, though the hack is a bit more complex. In order to access the phone, he makes an artificial fingerprint and starts the upload. As he twiddles his fingers, he gets a call from Juliet about how class is out and Brody’s heading back to his office. Problem is, the upload is taking forever. So poor Magnum has to hang from the window frame outside as Brody mills about. Fret not, he’s able to sneak back in without breaking any bones. And with the spyware in place, he finds texts from Brody about having company over, along with a cringy winky face emoji.
Magnum and Higgins do some surveillance from a vehicle parked close to Brody’s house, and find Travis was wrong about one thing. Brody isn’t interested in Kelly, he’s hot for a student named Helen. He’s about to get smoochy with the girl (apparently this isn’t their first tryst), when he mentions that the rumors about him means he has to give the research position to someone other than her. That ruins the mood, and Helen leaves, pissed. Our intrepid investigators thus decide to get Helen’s side of the story.
Back in the woods, it’s an awkward camping trip. Rick is playing pack mule, as Gordon forces the group to look for a rugged campsite, not one of the cushy, pre-made ones. Dennis is proud he got into Michigan in the fall, and when T.C. suggest Cade ups his college preparation, it’s clear Cade’s hiding something from his adoptive father. On the plus side, Rick brought a portable generator, which Gordon and T.C. think is too easy.
It turns out, Cade wants to enlist in the Marines, just like his adoptive father. T.C. isn’t happy about that, and just wants his boy to be safe. It dampens the mood, and T.C. is mopey. Gordon tries to lighten things with a deck of cards, but nobody wants to play. Then the next morning everybody other than Rick is exhausted. Turns out, Rick’s a bit of a snorer. He wants to make breakfast as recompense, just one issue—their generator and food are both gone.
Higgy continues to pretend she’s a transfer student, and talks her way to Helen’s table. Unfortunately she doesn’t get anywhere with her. Thomas has more luck finding a past assistant named Lydia who apparently killed herself 4 months ago. When they talk with Lydia’s mother, they discover she lost weight, couldn’t sleep, spent nights at the lab and didn’t talk with anybody. Magnum manages to get access to Lydia’s phone for answers.
Juliet has an old MI6 contact try and remotely figure out what’s happening with her faulty spyware, just as Magnum discovers Lydia was being blackmailed. A month before her death, Lydia met with the blackmailer in a cafe on campus, which happens to have cameras. And to my surprise, they didn’t show Professor Brody blackmailing the dead assistant. No, the blackmailer was Helen!
It gets worse—Higgy’s contact confirms that the spyware issue was that two different spyware programs were running on the same system. Which means Helen is a Chinese spy, not just a lovestruck student. She shows her true colors by pushing Brody to give her the position again, and he refuses. So she asks again with a pistol to his forehead.
In the woods, Rick and T.C. find a homeless man with all their food and generator. Him and his son have been living in the woods for months, and our team feels sympathy. So Rick loans the stuff to them until they don’t need it anymore, and it’s clear T.C. comes to a realization about Cade as well. He has to let his boy follow his own instincts, since he’s a proven survivor.
Though Brody resists, Helen decides to go the hard route and knocks him out, using his fingerprint to access his terminal and copy all his data. She wants to use his study of crop resilience to create deadly pathogens to use against China’s adversaries. With the mother lode in hand, she heads for the Chinese consulate, and it’s an epic race to get there before her. First in cars, and then with Higgy and Helen jumping on motorcycles. It seems Helen might get there first, until Magnum comes in and sideswipes the spy to the curb.
It ends with Brody resigning, though the dean is unwilling to bring all the facts to the surface. She’s clearly a political animal, and Thomas and Juliet aren’t happy she’s hiding things for expedience. But at least they can tell Lydia’s family how and why she killed herself, stressed to the max being forced to work for a spy. As for T.C., him and Cade finally talk, and he realizes he has to let his boy do what he wants. Overall a solid and well-written episode of Magnum P.I.