This review contains spoilers.
'I Witness' is a nice, novel ending to what has generally been a very good season. Borrowing the idea from the 1950 film 'Rashomon', it is fun to see Rick, T.C. and Higgins each give a different account of the robbery at the Club – with each of them trying to make themselves out as the hero.
Other than the opening scene, in which Magnum wakes up in the middle of the night to watch a baseball game on TV, the entire story takes place at the King Kamehameha Club. Other than two brief scenes outside of the Club, there is no location work, with the bulk of the story being set in the Club's 'Rainbow Room', making it's first of a number of appearances, and which is built on a sound stage rather than being shot on location. The producers seemingly liked to make a location-light story at the end of the season (in that sense it is very similar to the third season's penultimate episode 'The Big Blow'), presumably to save costs after an expensive season.
Although he does appear in the linking pieces, the episode is another of the season's 'Magnum-lite' stories (see 'Smaller Than Life', 'A Sense of Debt' and the excellent 'Holmes Is Where the Heart Is').
Anyway, the story itself is very fun, with each character's varying recollection of what happened, and the varying details of each one. It's amazing how the series could go from high drama in one episode, to daft comedy like this in another, in such a smooth transition.
The revelation of who the inside man is – none other than Keoki (Patrick Bishop), a recurring barman since the start of the second season – is quite a surprise, and very unexpected. Saying that, re-watching the episode, they do make a point of pointing him out to the viewer a number of times prior in the story, in case anyone has forgotten who he is.
The ending is also quite strange, as they find that 'Rusty' – who everyone thinks has passed out from too much alcohol – has actually been murdered. Another similarity to the end of the third season, when (in 'Faith and Begorrah'), Rick and T.C. witness an unexpected murder.
When I first saw this episode, I really liked it, and would have probably given it a solid 10 out of 10. Coming to re-watch it to review, I still really like it, but I found that, with knowing what to expect, I enjoyed it very slightly less. But I still give it a very reasonable 9.5.
Fourth season overview.
The fourth season can in many ways be considered 'third season: part two', as it mostly has the same high quality of story, and a very polished feel. Maybe it is no surprise that many fans consider the third and fourth season to be the series' 'golden era'.
The season got off to an amazing start with the classic 'Home From The Sea', which is my all-time favourite episode. Other highlights include 'Letter to a Duchess', Christmas-set 'Operation: Silent Night', 'Let the Punishment Fit the Crime' (which some don't like but is a favourite of mine), and the Higgins-centric 'Holmes Is Where the Heart Is'.
After they were played by different actors in the third season, D.A. Carol Baldwin (now played by Kathleen Lloyd), and Rick's underworld contact Ice Pick (Elisha Cook) became settled in the series as recurring characters.
We also met old-school P.I. from St. Louis, Luther Gillis (Eugene Roche), who was introduced in 'Luther Gillis: File #521', and reappeared in 'The Return of Luther Gillis'. Liked by some, loathed by others, Luther would go on to appear once or twice in every following season.
Also with the season, there are several 'Magnum-lite' stories – 'Smaller Than Life', 'A Sense of Debt', the aforementioned 'Holmes Is Where the Heart Is', and to some extent, 'I Witness'. While it was great for the other three stars to get some screen-time, some efforts came off better than others (some people detest 'Smaller Than Life').
Although there is generally a high quality of episodes in this season, there is also a noticeable dip. 'No More Mr. Nice Guy', 'Rembrandt's Girl' and 'Paradise Blues' may each have their fans, but personally, I found them to be quite weak, and made the season sag a little. (I'd name the dull 'Paradise Blues' as one of my least favourite episodes of the show's run).
Maybe the season wasn't as 100% solid as I remembered it, but it is still a very good year overall, and some might say, the last truly classic 'Magnum' season.