This two-parter originally aired as a single full-length feature episode, and gave Thomas (Tom Selleck) even more background for his character. It originally aired 5 November, 1981 and was written by Bellisario.
While working on a divorce case, Magnum thinks he spots someone from his past on a passing yacht, and it shakes him to his core, because he always believed that she had died.
Instead he finds himself absolutely convinced that the woman he truly loved, and married, on his last tour in Vietnam is still alive, and has just arrived in Hawaii.
Rick (Larry Manetti) and T.C. (Roger E. Mosley)don’t believe him, but when they see the pictures he took, and that Higgins (John Hillerman) shares with them, they too become convinced that Michelle (Marta DuBois – Princess Koji from Tales of the Gold Monkey) is on the islands.
But there are forces standing in Magnum’s way as he tries to hunt her down, forces that aren’t afraid to reactivate his Navy enlistment, and even promoting him to Commander. These forces are overseen by the oh so nefarious Colonel Buck Greene (Lance LeGault), who uses McReynolds (Jeff MacKay) to try to keep Thomas in line.
It seems there is more going on than just a lost love coming to Hawaii. Michelle is traveling with her husband, Vietnamese General Nguyen Hue (Soon-Tek Oh), and his right hand man, Colonel Ki (Clyde Kusatsu), and are there to negotiate with the American forces for the return of American POWs and KIAs. Ki is also there to ferret out an intelligence source known only as The Tiger, and he begins to suspect Michelle.
This is a great episode, well-crafted, one that shows the friendship between the lead characters, and how the war still haunts them, especially during their visit to Hawaii’s Little Saigon.
It features sacrifice, betrayals, and loyalty, and is probably my favorite episode to date on the re-watch.
I love how the banter between Higgins and Magnum simply falls away, when either one of them is in need, and then there’s no stopping them as they will lay their lives on the line for one another.
The flashbacks are well-constructed as well, though I think I would have kept confirming the revelation that Michelle really was Michelle back a little further in the episode, by showing her, and then slipping into a flashback, you confirm that right from the off, instead of letting a little doubt build.
Still, I quite like this episode a lot, and I like the episodes that deal with the gang’s personal lives, because yes, you’re going to get the laughs and the humour that we’ve come to expect, but, by episode’s end, the characters are going to be different, which is saying a lot for episodic television of the early 80s. That usually didn’t happen, everything had to be back to status quo by episode’s end, but for those who followed the series, they could see the differences from week to week.
And it’s a whole nother week until I can watch more!