While “Dead Ringer” sadly leaves Apollo and Zeus out of the story, it was another very solid episode of Magnum P.I. season 5. It actually featured one of the more complex cases of the entire season, and also does a great job of evolving the relationships of the cast. And even though it doesn’t tread new ground on the Greene case, it’s very much worth watching.
Now that Rick and T.C. suspect Magnum and Higgins are a couple (which they very much are), Rick is acting a fool. Early in the episode Thomas makes coffee for Higgins and flirts, ready to go in for a deep kiss, when Rick barges in acting weird. Higgy retorts with “Rick, are you having a stroke?”, which was pretty hilarious. He responds saying he’s going to be at work, and conspicuously mentions he’ll be gone all day before heading out. Juliette picks up on the weird vibe but lets it go and spends some quality time with Thomas. Afterwards, she throws some stacks of bills at him, which makes him uncomfortable. Luckily the money isn’t for “services rendered”, but a new case. And it’s a weird one.
For one thing, they don’t know who their new client is. All they know is they’re being paid to investigate a man named Jack Hill, who the client suspects is a murderer. They have no return address either, which makes Higgins all sorts of uncomfortable. She says they need to know more about their client first, but Thomas responds saying the only way to do that is to start gathering evidence. So Juliette tackles the envelope, while Magnum goes to check out Jack Hill’s residence.
Though their research shows Hill is a model citizen, that’s only the surface layer. He’s actually an ex cop. Magnum climbs up the side of his house and leaps in through an ajar window, taking photos as he strolls around. Objects of interest are a photo of a woman, many jars of peanut butter, and appendectomy notes on the fridge. It looks like Magnum hasn’t found much of anything, but then Higgins calls, and they trade notes. Turns out, she tracked the DNA of the person that mailed them the case and can tell it belongs to a red-haired woman. She also found the envelope was mailed from King’s Medical. Given the appendectomy notice, that becomes the next target of their investigation.
At the hospital, they find the client is named Dr. Sally Cates. She overheard something alarming while Jack was under anesthesia. He muttered “they’ll never find her body”. While the doc was afraid she could lose her job over passing along the info, she nevertheless is worried someone is in harm’s way and cooperates with the investigators. They find out that Jack apparently left the HPD before his pension kicked in, which is also pretty shifty. While they don’t have an in at the HPD anymore, Magnum knows just the guy to hassle—Gordon Katsumoto!
Gordie is having a tough episode. He starts out rehearsing for his hearing later that day, and tries in vain to comfort his son. When Thomas and Juliette show up a couple hours before the hearing, he thinks it’s moral support. Magnum assures him it’s about a case, and Gordon indeed remembers Jack Hill. 7 years prior, his wife had died suddenly of an aneurism, and Jack fell apart. Started acting crazy and violent, and it was discovered he was seeing an escort when she complained to HPD about his behavior, which led to his being let go. The pair thank Gordon for his help and go to talk with the escort.
Meanwhile, Rick spends most of “Dead Ringer” being more of a goofball. He floats theories with Kumu and T.C. about how Magnum and Higgins are a couple, but Kumu tells him to let it go. Later he wants to plant a baby monitor on the premises to prove his suspicion, but T.C. and Kumu shoot that down. T.C. tells Rick it’s not about them; his weird behavior is about something personal.
Speaking of our intrepid duo, they meet up with the escort, Amber. And after being eager to join a threesome with them, they indicate they’re not her next client. She wants to clam up, but they ask about Jack. Amber tells them he always had her dress up the same way and wear the same perfume. It wasn’t about sex, but just about her company. They quickly put the pieces together and realize Jack was having Amber dress up as his dead wife. Then when Amber decided to change her hair, Jack went thermal. But the problem is Jack probably didn’t stop with her, since he was muttering about never finding a body under anesthesia. So they do more research on missing women and find a likely woman who also resembled Jack’s wife and worked at a place called Coffee Talk.
At Coffee Talk, Magnum and Juliette start chatting up the owner, a man named Abe. Turns out, the missing woman, Jenny, was his daughter. She closed one day and never showed up the next, and when HPD found her car burnt in the forest, they reached a dead end. Abe strongly suspects his daughter is dead. Even though his life fell apart that day, including his marriage, he wants the investigators to find his daughter so she can be put to rest. Without further leads, that leaves one course of action: talking with Detective Childs.
Katsumoto puts on a brave face in the courthouse, but it’s clear the stoic cop is worried. Then his son Dennis shows up for moral support. Gordon is brought in, and it’s a tough trial. They don’t want to accept that he was doing what he had to do. For his part, Katsumoto is about to read prepared remarks but instead speaks from the heart. He talks duty and family, and he isn’t contrite, but blunt and honest.
At HPD, Childs isn’t eager to help without more proof. But Magnum plays on his past, when he helped put away dirty cops in Oakland. Wouldn’t he want to do so again? So Childs helps out and visits Hill’s house, convincing him to chat at HPD. He gives a master class in manipulation and pushes all the man’s buttons. Hill finally relents and says he’ll tell everything, but asks for protein first. Childs gets him some snacks, and Hill picks a peanut-laden bar and starts chowing down. He talks for a little while, but then starts spasming on the floor.
Turns out, that peanut bar was a suicide attempt, and it worked. Childs is furious about being conned, and Magnum and Higgins are worried they’ll never solve the case. Until Thomas remembers Hill’s house was packed with peanut butter, which doesn’t make sense given his allergy. Which could mean that Jenny is still alive.
Childs and the team rush through the house, at first finding nothing. Then Thomas helps find a hidden door, and thankfully Jenny is alive and well, if traumatized by her situation. The episode ends with Katsumoto getting a call that he’s gonna be a cop again. He celebrates at Rick’s bar with everybody, and Rick and T.C. pull Magnum aside to ask about him and Higgins. He can’t hide his joy any longer and tells his oldest friends. And then it ends with him and Juliette sharing a PDA, and her realizing their secret is out, but being happy about it. Overall a really solid episode, and hopefully a sign of things to come in Magnum P.I.