Magnum, P.I.

Season 6 Episode 17

Way of the Stalking Horse

2
Aired Unknown Feb 20, 1986 on CBS
9.0
out of 10
User Rating
29 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Way of the Stalking Horse
AIRED:
Magnum unwittingly leads a hitman—who hired him under the pretense of looking for his father—to his victim.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • After unwittingly leading a hit man to his mark, Magnum becomes obsessed with finding the assassin and exacting revenge.

    8.0
    "Way of the Stalking Horse" is one of the first Magnum episodes where the background music significantly detracts from what is going on onscreen. Obviously, most music in the series is dated, except perhaps the theme song--which is indisputably timeless. Unfortunately, "Way of the Stalking Horse" truly has the action, plot, and acting to make it one of the better Magnum episodes--but the music is so grating it is impossible to rank the episode among the best.



    Another new and unsuccessful feature introduced in this episode is the montage where both Magnum and Driscoll are shown recuperating from their gunshot wounds. A doofy tune plays without dialogue as repetitive scenes cut between Magnum in the hospital and Driscoll toughing things out in a seedy motel. This film technique is reminiscent of Rocky IV, when footage alternates between Rocky training the "good, old-fashioned" all-American way, and the Russian, with his team of scientists and syringes full of steroids. Hmm... who's the bad guy here?



    "Way of the Stalking Horse" is a Magnum episode that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory--all the elements of a great episode are there, but poor post-production decisions really fouled things up.moreless
  • Magnum thinks he's got an easy case when a seemingly meek and mild insurance salesman hires him to find his long lost-father, but the man is actually a hitman, using Magnum to find his latest victim. Possibly the best episode of the season...moreless

    10
    This review contains spoilers.



    You might have gathered from my previous review, the terrible 'This Island Isn't Big Enough...', that I consider that episode to be one of the worst of the entire series. Well, from one of the weakest, to one of the best – 'Way of the Stalking Horse' is firing all cylinders, and stands not only the arguably best episode of season six, but one of the best of the entire show's run.



    First things first, I like the opening trailer – it hardly gives anything away about the episode, and – other than one shot of hitman Driscoll firing a gun – does not spoil any of the plot twists for the first-time viewer. The opening trailers on some other series of the era often spoilt major plot twists, but thankfully MPI seldom did this, leaving the story as a surprise.



    Anyway, things start of light-heartedly enough, with Magnum, T.C. and Rick playing baseball on the Estate and breaking a window (or so we assume from the smashing sound). The first act seems pretty average and routine, as Magnum searches for the insurance salesman's long-lost father; it is not until the end of the first act, when the salesman turns out to be a hitman, that the story takes a much grittier turn.



    Magnum coming close to death is a forerunner to the closing episode of season seven, 'Limbo', where he seemingly meets his maker.



    A good scene is when Magnum returns to the guest house, only to find T.C. waiting for him; for me, this sort of scene shows how Magnum was closer to T.C. than Rick; I think if the same scene had been done with Rick in place of T.C., it wouldn't have worked so well.



    The rest of the episode is quite dark and moody, as Magnum becomes hell-bent on tracking down Driscoll. Magnum – both the character and the series – was maturing, and is reflected in much darker stories like this.



    I also like how Magnum and Driscoll's tales intertwine and parallel for the rest of the episode, with Magnum healing himself on the same dingy hotel bed as Driscoll had done, and using the same street contact, 'Mary Elizabeth'.

    One thing I did feel though, was that if Driscoll was such an elusive hitman, why did he wait around to bump off Magnum to stop him from identifying him – he could easily have just made his escape and never be seen again. But that's only a minor plot quibble.



    All-in-all, this is an excellent story, and quite possibly the best of the sixth season. It also gives the series a darker, edgier feel, which would continue on into many seventh and eighth season episodes.moreless
Clu Gulager

Clu Gulager

Theo Wolf

Guest Star

Morgan Stevens

Morgan Stevens

Dan Wolf

Guest Star

Marta Kober

Marta Kober

Mary Elizabeth

Guest Star

Elisha Cook Jr.

Elisha Cook Jr.

Ice Pick Hofstetler

Recurring Role

Kwan Hi Lim

Kwan Hi Lim

Yoshi Tanaka

Recurring Role

Glenn Cannon

Glenn Cannon

Dr. Ibold

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Magnum: (narrating) After the first time I was wounded in Vietnam, I'd noticed a weird series of reactions to being shot. I'd wondered if anybody had ever written them down like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' "Stages of Death". First, there's denial. Then comes a giddy kind of relief, shock and surprise at still being alive. All the senses working together in Technicolor and Hi-Fi at the joy of actually having survived. And then, the paranoia sets in. If it's happened once, it can happen again. Suddenly, every sound is an approaching enemy, every smell a lethal gas, and no way of knowing whether it's a mind game, or a clear and present danger. And no way of stoping the heart racing, the palms sweating, until the paranoia stage has slipped into revenge.

  • NOTES (3)

    • The German episode titles are "Mordvertrag" ("Murder Contract") and "Der gekaufte Killer" ("Hired Killer"). The French title is "L'esprit de la revanche", meaning "Spirit of Revenge". The Italian title is "L'impostore", meaning "The Impostor".

    • A sound effect to listen out for: Near the beginning of the episode, when Magnum hits the baseball and we hear it breaking one of the Estate's windows, the sharp crashing sound of glass was one of several effects used to make up the sound of Airwolf's turbos engaging. This sound effect had previously been used, to similar effect, in the third season episode "Squeeze Play".

    • When Magnum is in a coma in hospital, we see delirious sequences of his friends talking to him. One of them is Kathleen Lloyd as Carol; although she normally receives Special Guest Star credit for her appearances, she goes un-credited for this small cameo appearance. Also of note in this sequence, as well as seeing T.C. in Vietnam uniform, we see Rick with white suit and moustache, as seen circa 1979 in the fourth season episode "Dream A Little Dream".

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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