Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Magnum P.I.'s Tim Kang Breaks Down Gordon's Heartfelt Plea to Rejoin the Force

And reveals a behind-the-scenes story you won't want to miss

Max Gao

[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of Magnum P.I. Read at your own risk!]

Gordon Katsumoto (Tim Kang) is back on the case on Magnum P.I. After losing his badge for breaking a convict out of prison in order to save his ex-wife, Beth (Shawna Christensen), who was being held hostage, the detective of the Honolulu Police Department made his case in front of the disciplinary board that was convened to determine his future in law enforcement.

Following a heartfelt conversation with his teenage son, Dennis (Lance Lim), who decided to skip his trigonometry class to give his father moral support, Katsumoto urges his fellow officers to put themselves in his shoes and recognize his commitment to the police force. "You don't know me—and not just you. My son says that I can be scary that way," Katsumoto says off the cuff. "It's hard to tell what I'm thinking. I'm not a guy who opens up easily. But the job, that always came easy to me, more so than anything else—being a husband, a father. Those things had a much steeper learning curve, I guess, because it requires a vulnerability that I've never been comfortable with.

"I always felt most at home when I was doing my job, so I put it first above everything, including my family. I just started to make things right when those bastards took my ex-wife, the mother of my child," continues Katsumoto, whose impassioned speech is enough to get him reinstated. "Even if it means giving up the job, I'd do what I did all over again."

On a recent Wednesday morning in Hawaii, Kang sat down with TV Guide to discuss Katsumoto's reinstatement at the HPD, his relationships with his teenage son, ex-wife, and protagonist Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez), and the episode this season in which he suffered a hilarious wardrobe malfunction.

Tim Kang, Magnum P.I.

Tim Kang, Magnum P.I.


What do you think prompts Gordon to speak from the heart at his disciplinary hearing, and what does that speech reveal about what he has learned during his time away from the police force?
Kang: Initially, what's going through his head is the words that he heard from his kid five minutes earlier in the hallway. I think that's sort of what gives him pause, because [Katsumoto] really knows how he wants to do things, he knows how he wants to approach an investigation and certainly how to approach this issue of getting his job back. But talking to his kid really stuck in his head.

And I think during the course of that speech that he gives to the review board, he reveals why he got into the job in the first place, right? Thus far, he's been by the book, he wants to just clear cases and get them off his desk, and [law enforcement] became a machine for this guy. It's like, one [case] came in, one went out. It was just an assembly line of trying to figure it all out, but I don't think that was why he got into law enforcement in the first place. He got into it simply to help people—that was it—and I think he gets back in touch with that reasoning.

How much of Katsumoto's self-identity do you think is tied to his job as a police officer? Could he realistically work another job, or do you think policing is his vocation?
Kang: He's found his calling, right? And I think to a certain degree, he's realizing in that moment that he can do other things and still fulfill what his skill set will allow him to excel at. I think it's in that moment that he realizes that policing isn't the be-all, end-all for him, like he's not just gonna sit on his butt and watch ball games all day if he can't be a cop. I think he's expressing that a little bit during that speech... [Laughs.] But he's also expressing the fact that, "This is what I know to do. I know how to be a cop and I am good at it, so you'd be crazy not to bring me back." He certainly makes that argument well.

As a father of a teenager yourself, what have you enjoyed most about playing out that relationship with Lance?
Kang: [Laughs.] That's a great question! It's a thought that has crossed my mind. My daughter is 13 years old, so we're just starting that kind of journey and starting to butt heads a little bit and that kind of thing, but Dennis is on the other side of that. He's potentially off to college, he's a grown-up, and I'm just now starting that with my daughter. It's been interesting to see what [the writers] come up with for a father-son dynamic—the situations that we're in, and the butting heads of the father and the son. I have a girl, [so] it's different, but as far as the parental side of it, that part is very similar. It's interesting because doing the scenes with Dennis is kind of giving me a glimpse into the future, like, "Oh okay, this is how it's gonna be with Bianca." [Laughs.]

What is the state of Gordon's relationship with Beth? Will we see more of Beth this season?
Kang: I don't know about the second part of your question. But look: Beth is the mother of his child, and he will always love her no matter what, so I think that's something that is kind of a given for Gordon. I think it's one of those things where, "However we end up, whatever situation we're in, I will always have your back. Whether we're together, not together, I'm always gonna have your back. That's it." And I think that whole experience did serve to strengthen that idea.

We know Rick (Zachary Knighton) and T.C. (Stephen Hill) are happy about Magnum and Higgins (Perdita Weeks) becoming a couple, but I was hoping to see the reactions of Katsumoto and Kumu (Amy Hill). How does Gordon feel about his friends taking that next step in their personal lives?
Kang: I always thought that it's so not on his radar. I kind of feel like he does know what's going on, but I don't know that he does, you know? [Laughs.] It could be one of those things [where] you have no idea that the people that you work with, who are closest to you, are hooking up. Kumu, on the other hand, obviously, she does [know]. We've gone into that a little bit, I think. But if he found out, honestly, I don't think he would care either way. Katsumoto is not fueled by love or the mushy stuff in any way—it's none of his business. He'll back away slowly and walk out of the room.

Well, let me ask you this: What do you think it will take for Katsumoto to admit that Magnum might be his best friend?
Kang: [Laughs.] Gosh, I think it would take an act of God for that admission to ever, ever happen. I think that's the cool thing about the relationship, and I think that's the cool thing for me and our audience. It's kind of that "will-he-or-won't-he" or "will-they-won't-they" on a friendship level between Katsumoto and Magnum, right? Are they ever really gonna overtly be like, "Yeah, what's up, bro?" I don't think that will ever happen.

Tim Kang, Magnum P.I.

Tim Kang, Magnum P.I.


You did seven seasons on The Mentalist before Magnum P.I. How has your attitude towards policing changed or evolved in your time on those shows? Is there something you particularly enjoy about the procedural genre?
Kang: When I started The Mentalist, we definitely had a boot camp, and we had technical advisors and real L.A. County sheriffs and LAPD and SWAT guys and all these guys coming in, and we hung out with them. So you start to appreciate [that] it's a thankless job. My cousin is also a San Francisco police officer, so I understand it from that perspective, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for these guys and girls. So it's one of those things where I come at it with that respect.

But for me, as far as playing it in Hollywood, it's been an interesting journey. I feel like I enjoy it, and I've been doing it for a little while. I enjoy the opportunity to, as accurately as I can, represent what these men and women go through. But as far as the big picture of just Tim the actor, Hollywood likes to put us in a box. If we find something that we're good at or can do for a little bit, we tend to fall into that [role] more than once. It's been a blessing the entire way—The Mentalist was a blessing, Magnum is a blessing—and I can't speak highly enough about the experiences that I've had with both shows.

Looking back, do you have a favorite episode or storyline from these first five seasons?
Kang: Katsumoto coming to grips with the death of his sister, and there was a really great scene at his sister's grave. We were, at that point, bringing in some of the back story, and we filled in some of the blanks with that scene as to, potentially, why he is the way he is. We all have regrets as human beings, we all have things in our past that come back to haunt us, and they continue to affect us to this day. We all have those things, and that was just a window into one of [the ways] Katsumoto's history has affected [him], and it was really fun to play. It was really wonderfully shot, and that kind of sticks out in my head.

Do you have a funny behind-the-scenes story that you'd be willing to share with fans?
Kang: One of my favorites, and it's in recent memory, was when we were shooting Episode 3 of this season, when Katsumoto was the bodyguard for the K-pop singer. During one of the scenes, I split my pants wide open—it was just like a "Hello world!" kind of thing—and we only had that one pair of pants. And we weren't even close to finishing the scene, so I had to continue on with my butt hanging out that entire rest of the scene. [Laughs.] So that was a funny, interesting and memorable moment.

The fans will have a field day with that story. [Kang laughs.] What can you preview about where Katsumoto goes from here and what's to come in the rest of the season?
Kang: I think we are gonna see him evolve quite a bit, actually, and get more windows to look through into who this guy really is. There's a little bit more of his back story in the episodes to come. I gotta say, generally, there are fantastic storylines, we have great people that have come into the show. I'm excited for the rest of this season, and it's gonna be a lot of fun.

Your co-stars, Jay and Zach, have recently gotten into directing on the show. Would you be open to taking on that kind of role behind the camera as well?
Kang: Sure, we've had discussions about it. It's definitely on my radar as something that, eventually, I'd love to do. Perdita, actually, is starting to direct her episode today. So I'm super excited for her, I'm pulling for her, she's gonna kill it. Zach just finished yesterday directing his [episode]. So it's been a lot of fun watching them go through that process. I saw Jay go through it last year, and obviously one time this year. And at some point, maybe. We'll see what happens!

Magnum P.I. airs Sundays at 9/8c on NBC. Episodes stream the next day on Peacock.