'Magnum P.I.': Jay Hernandez on Emotional Midseason Finale and Magnum & Higgins' Next Step (Exclusive)

The star of NBC's action drama breaks down Sunday's finale to Part 1 and previews the second half of season 5.

Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Sunday's season 5 midseason finale of Magnum P.I.

Magnum P.I. has a few questions to answer when it returns for Part 2.

On Sunday's season 5 midseason finale, titled "Charlie Foxtrot," the team was put through the wringer -- and then some -- after they were confronted by a formidable old foe they thought had long been out of the picture. With T.C. in the hospital recovering from his injuries (the extent of which is still unclear) and Rick having a close call with death (to the point where he even recorded a final video message to Suzy telling her he loved her), there was a lot to unpack by episode's end. 

"We're going to resolve a lot of these issues, a lot of these outstanding things that we set up in the ninth episode," series star and executive producer Jay Hernandez told ET of the jam-packed hour. "We like to do a lot of action-heavy stuff for the finales. It's fun for the fans, it's great to shoot. But also, for hardcore fans, the important thing is knowing that T.C. is going to be OK  and also knowing where Magnum and Higgins end."

Though the episode ends on a relatively quiet note, several questions remain -- notably, will T.C. gain back feeling in his legs? And will Suzy ever find out about Rick's video message? Where do Magnum and Higgins go from here following this harrowing experience? Following the end to the first half of season 5, Hernandez hopped on Zoom to break down the midseason finale and offer an early preview of Part 2.

ET: Now that you've had half a season under your belt on NBC, did you feel any difference in the storytelling that you were able to tell on the show? 

Jay Hernandez: Yeah, it's funny you say that. I feel like there were moments where I'll be reading a script and I'm like, "Oh, OK, yeah, we can go there, I guess." I feel like they've given the writers a little bit of freedom to push the boundary a little bit more in terms of some of the stuff that we're doing and even some of the language, to be honest. Just ever so slightly a difference. But the thing about coming onto a new network is it was obviously shocking, but the amount of support that we got in and of itself was shocking. The reception was so great. They put us out there in a way that felt really wonderful. It really rewarded the fans for being there and for coming and following us to another network. I was just shocked by the level of support that they gave us. It was really, really great.

It's been interesting watching the response to their relationship and development of that through the eyes of the audience, because it felt like something that they wanted for a long time. But also it changes in some ways, the show. It wasn't risky, but it was definitely something that we had to do properly and make sure we didn't make mistakes with. So I think that's another element of the midseason finale that people are curious about. 

Before we get into the midseason finale, going off what you just said about Magnum and Higgins, has the evolution of their relationship been satisfying for you to explore? Did anything surprise you in terms of their journey in regards to their romance?

I'm always conscious of it and I feel like there have been moments where it felt to me like the writers forgot about it. Because think about this. If you're in a relationship with someone, even if they're a bada** private detective and very capable of doing pretty much anything, that's your partner. Some of these scenarios, originally Magnum will say, "All right, you go that way and see what happens." I would be more inclined to protect my partner. So there have been those moments where I have to reassess with the writers Magnum's motivation for doing things. So that's been interesting, a sort of new development, and keeping that relationship honest. Those few moments where Magnum and Higgins are not necessarily on the case, but together and engaging in each other, I think those things are important too because then it lends honesty to that relationship outside of servicing the case of the week. I think that stuff is really important and making those moments honest is important for myself as an actor and this character, but also for the audience.

At the end of the episode, T.C. has no feeling in his legs and his future is kind of up in the air. Where does this leave the team with T.C. battling this new challenge?

Watching that journey is going to be great. I think Stephen [Hill] has done some really great work in this last season and there's some even more wonderful character work that we get to do with Stephen in the second half of season 5. I feel like sometimes those B-stories are a little more interesting than the case of the week. You get to delve into character and that's exciting for an actor to play. I think it's really engaging and fun for the audience to see the internal stuff that's happening. And to be honest, I wish Magnum could get more of that stuff. But yeah, I think we're going to see some really great stuff out of Stephen in the next installment of season 5.

What can you tease in terms of what that journey might look like for him and what hardships will we be seeing him go through?

We go back to that brotherhood and there's some really great moments with Rick and Magnum letting T.C. know they're going to be there for him. So I think seeing that journey and the fear of the unknown, because at this point we don't know what's going to happen with T.C. And then further down the line, we don't know what's going to happen with how it plays out. I don't want to spoil too much, but Stephen has done some really great work and you guys are going to really enjoy what happens with the character. And in addition to this complexity, there's a person that comes into his life in the next installment that, as an actor, he did some really great work with. It's going to be really, really fun watching T.C.'s journey for the rest of the season.

Zack Dougan/NBC

Rick, too, goes through a very harrowing ordeal in this episode, even going so far as filming that video message to Suzy. He deletes it at the end, but Magnum did watch it. How does that dynamic play out knowing that Magnum is aware?

It's like Magnum, he's a sage, I think. He's got to deal with these things. He's got to internalize them, got to find some way to make them work or massage them and get the people in his life to guide them in the right direction. And I think handing Rick the phone, it's a subtle way of Magnum letting him know that, "I know what's going on and I'm here for you." I think in terms of Magnum's behavior, there's subtlety there and it's never heavy-handed in terms of how he's dealing with people. It was a simple way, without words even, to say, "I'm here, I love you, I support you. Whenever you need me, give me a call." That's kind of the way I see those moments.

Does that cause Magnum to think about his relationship with Higgins in a new way or how they're approaching that next step, if they are?

From my perspective, Magnum, I see how he functions, how he operates and have described him like this to the writers: He's like water. He flows. He doesn't force things. And in terms of their relationship, he's given Higgins a pathway to engage with him, but he never forced her to do anything. He's allowed her to do things that he believes she wants to do. So he's allowing her to become the person that she wants to be. And part of understanding what that was knowing that she had this wall up and it's OK to take it down. In terms of a relationship and it progressing to potentially another level, I don't think Magnum would ever force that. It would have to be something that came organically, in my mind, probably from Higgins, not Magnum.

What words would you use to describe Part 2?

I think we're always going to have that action. We're always going to have that heart. I think one of the important things to the audience is that connection, that bond that they all have and that sense of family. One of the reasons why the show works is because there is a lot of negativity out there. There's a lot of rhetoric, there's a lot of ugliness and this show, in a small way, is a counterbalance to that. And it feels like family. It fills that connection. Everyone's fighting for each other and fighting for people who are suffering or in a position of having less or be manipulated in a way that is detrimental to them. So Magnum and Higgins and the crew all spend their days trying to do good out there in the world. I think that's one of the qualities that people really like about the show and the characters. Obviously that's an element that we're going to continue through to the rest of the season alongside having a lot of fun.