Season 5 Episode 8

Black Rhino

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Nov 13, 1989 on ABC
out of 10
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54 votes

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Episode Summary

MacGyver heads for Africa after finding out that Billy, the youngest of the Colton brothers, has decided to take on deadly rhino poachers single-handedly. However, when he gets there, he finds an even bigger plot unfolding: the poachers are smuggling drugs in addition to killing rhinos. Now MacGyver and Billy must stop the poachers before they can escape the country.moreless

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  • Despite over-the-top preachiness on the animal rights issue, the solid and unusual story delivers with a successful hybrid of this series' political/social drama themes and its action-adventure roots.

    Producing an episode about the African poaching trade always struck me as a particularly ambitious and groundbreaking undertaking for episodic television, and it helped that the execution was as pitch-perfect as this episode pulled off. Cuba Gooding, Jr. was outstanding as ever playing the youngest and least-prepared Colton brother in way over his head trying to take down the godfather of the rhino horn poaching trade. His presence boosted an already soaring energy level even higher for this episode. Scriptwriter Paul B. Margolis really delivered with this story, and even though the preachiness on the animal rights theme hit fever pitch at times, it would be hard for even the coldest-hearted social Darwinist not to feel a lump in his or her throat when Kate has to shoot the rhino whose horn was removed via chainsaw by a poacher. He managed to thread the need perfectly between traditional action-adventure and the more political and social themes this series was now taking on with regularity. Acting was strong throughout, and the final energetic scenes where MacGyver and Billy rode down the manmade flume dazzled, as did the "poetic justice" final scene where Ladysmith fell off the bridge and was impaled on a pile of his own rhino horns. This episode was rock-solid, but I still cringe a little bit at the end when Billy uncharacteristically professes to donate his reward money to "saving the rhinos".moreless

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Kate: You take the old highway to the dam. You can find it on the map. You'll get there ahead of us.
      MacGyver: Yeah. Then what?
      Kate: Then.. think of something. You're awfully good at that, I've noticed.

    • Mabuto: (to MacGyver) Be careful, Sir. Africa is like a sleeping lion: very beautiful, when left alone.

  • NOTES (2)

    • The episode features the following message at the beginning: "This story contains a scene depicting an injury to an animal. The animal and the injury are simulated." A $40,000 animatronic rhinoceros was used to simulate the injury. The ending has a voiceover from Richard Dean Anderson describing the plight of the black rhino, and The Ark Trust awarded this episode a Genesis Award for raising awareness of the issue.

    • The German episode title is "Erbarmungslos", meaning "Merciless". The Finnish episode title is "Sarvikuonot vaarassa", meaning "Rhinoceros in Danger". The French episode title is "Sur la piste des rhinocéros", meaning "Tracking Rhinoceros". The Italian episode title is "Cacciatori senza scrupoli", meaning "Hunters without a Conscience".