Today is a sad day. Not only does it mark the end of Magnum P.I., but it also marks the end of my time writing at The Workprint. But fret not, it’s on good terms and the site will be great without me, and features many talented writers. And while I’m sad to leave, it’s fitting I do so with the Magnum P.I. team. So let’s get to the meat of the penultimate episode of the series, titled “Ashes to Ashes.”
It all starts with a blazing fire, and Mahina and her fellow firefighters arrive to deal with the conflagration and save anyone inside. Or at least, search and rescue is the goal, but things quickly get complicated. Mahina thinks she spies someone in a bedroom, but moments later the ceiling starts to collapse, forcing Mahina and her team outside into the fresh air. There, just as she’s catching her breath, a frantic woman arrives trying desperately to get inside, saying her uncle’s truck is parked outside, and she’s worried he’s trapped in the burning home.
While I expected the story to stay there, it instead cuts to another tale. Kumu is helping volunteer at a Veteran’s Help Line with Rick, and going by the name of Tammy. Apparently, operators don’t use their real names, just to be safe. At first, Rick is annoying her with procedure, and Kumu is eager to get started. But you know what they say, be careful what you wish for. Turns out, Kumu’s story will be just as harrowing, though perhaps less convoluted, than the main storyline.
It’s been a few days since the fire. Even though T.C. is in a great mood, making breakfast, dancing, and talking about the future, girlfriend Mahina is in a dour mood. Her team found traces of accelerant in the home and it looks like the man she saw died in the fire. Worse, the woman that was trying to get inside, named Halia, is now on the hook for manslaughter, since she’s a contractor, and had been living in the house her uncle died in. They even suspect she lit the house up for insurance money. All this is taking Mahina to a dark place, so T.C. does what any supportive boyfriend should, and calls his buddy Thomas to help out.
Magnum and Higgins talk with Halia and learn that she had been raised by her uncle, and even inspired by him to go into the contractor business. They’re pretty certain she’s not just playacting, and so they ask for anybody who might have a grudge against her since perhaps that’s why her uncle was involved. She says she had a jealous and controlling ex she just broke up with, so the duo goes to talk with Brian, who is trying to sell a home. And though he’s twitchy and waspy as hell, he seems legitimately surprised to hear about Uncle Moku’s death. Though he can’t do much to prove his innocence, other than a corporate retreat, he does mention a few days ago he saw a strange man outside her house, smoking a cigarette.
T.C. and Mahina look over the crime scene for clues, and Mahina is still really overwhelmed. She blames herself for not saving the old man. Thankfully, they do find something that could provide some answers – a discarded cigarette right where Brian saw the man smoking.
Cut to a cheery montage of Rick and Kumu answering phones, many of which are irritating, including one asking about a veterinarian instead of a veteran. Just as Rick leaves to grab some lunch, Kumu gets another call. The man is breathing heavily and his number is blocked. All Kumu can get at first is his nickname, DJ. She’s flustered, but things get worse when DJ admits he’s not going to hurt himself because he already did. He took a bunch of pills right before he called. She does her best to keep him talking and finds he was discharged 6 years ago, feeling depressed and useless. But when DJ recognizes Kumu is reading from a script, he angrily hangs up, leaving the poor woman aghast.
Back with the main case, Magnum gets a DNA hit off the discarded cigarette and finds a man named Henry Carson. He seems clean, but he has a son who’s in lockup. More suspicious, Higgins finds that Henry’s phone has been turned off since the night of the arson. When they track his phone ping prior to being turned off, they find a hardware store. They suspect they’ll find some accelerant Henry bought, but no such luck. Instead, Thomas spies a building across the way – a funeral home. Knowing that embalming fluid can be used as an accelerant, they make their way inside.
It’s quickly apparent the funeral home was recently broken into since there are some boarded-up windows and a new lock on a door. They talk about how they want to meet their maker, and to nobody’s surprise, Higgins is a fan of the tidiness of cremation, while Magnum prefers burial. Before that conversation can spiral too much, the man who runs the home pops in. His name is Randal, and he looks eerily similar to George Santos. He claims there was no break-in, but eventually cracks and admits the only thing that was stolen was a body. One that sounds eerily similar to Uncle Moku. Thinking that perhaps something strange is going on, Thomas and Juliette ask Gordon to put out an APB for Henry while they look for answers.
Back in Kumu’s nightmare, Rick is running the audio from her session and hears train tracks from an elevated train. Just then, another blocked number comes in, and it’s DJ again. He wants to spend his last moments talking with her, so Kumu gets real and tells DJ her birth name. He can’t pronounce the Samoan version, so he goes with Kumu. DJ is recently divorced and just lost custody of his child. Worse, he says his son thinks he’s a monster, which might mean he’s a burn victim. Then they hear a bell, and they narrow his location down to Chicago.
Thomas and Juliette talk with T.C., Mahina, and Halia about their suspicions and find a connection. Halia says her uncle worked on a prison compound where Henry’s kid is being held. Cut to 3 hours earlier, when Dominic picked a fight with a man and shivved him, earning a spot in lockup. On purpose. Men are in the vents trying to find him, and poor Uncle Moku is being forced to direct them with a map of the facility, at gunpoint. Magnum normally would loop in Gordon and HPD, but he’s worried that if anything interrupts the escape attempt, Moku will be instantly killed.
Back with Kumu, she’s trying her best to keep DJ talking. He talks about his child and asks her if she thinks that he’ll be able to forgive his father for committing suicide. Kumu says she’s not sure, since her own life was devastated by the suicide of her father when she was only 10. DJ admits he thinks he made a mistake, but it’s clear he’s running out of time. Luckily right before he can check out, EMTs are heard on the line, and they confirm he still has a pulse before taking him away for treatment.
The final confrontation involves Higgy tracking the uncle to an abandoned warehouse. Normally this would be where Thomas and her do something heroic to save the day, but things don’t play out as expected. They draw guns on Henry and his accomplice but are at an impasse. They ask that Moku get released since he did what was asked, but the accomplice is ready to start shooting. To my great surprise, Henry ends the standoff by shooting his partner in cold blood, saying he just wanted his son back.
It all ends with a heartfelt reunion between Moku and Halia, and Rick and Kumu visiting her father’s grave. Definitely an emotional episode. While I usually prefer Magnum P.I. for the comedy and banter, “Ashes to Ashes” was a very solid episode. Don’t go anywhere yet, since my review for the very last episode of Magnum P.I., “The Big Squeeze,” is next!