Season 4 Episode 16


Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Apr 24, 1989 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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  • My second favorite MacGyver episode of all-time features another ecclectic mix of ingenius storytelling and dark imagery used to maximum creative effect.

    The intangible magic that scriptwriter John Sheppard brought to this series was on full display again with this masterfully crafted gem. Sheppard was clearly thinking outside of the box when he penned this MacGyver original, which maintains a humming energy from beginning to end, relentlessly teases the sensibilities of the viewers with multiple plot twists and the blurred line between reality and hypnosis, and serves up a curious mix of dark imagery that is both haunting and humorous. Bruce McGill turns in his best acting performance on this series as he realizes he's losing his mind due to the brainwash. The scenes in the fun house (why couldn't they have fun houses this elaborate when I was a boy?) were fun when I was 11 and continues to bring out the 11-year-old in me today. I didn't put the pieces together and figure out Pete was the other assassin back in 1989, but probably would figure it out if I were to watch it for the first time at age 29. Whatever the case, it was episodes like this that charted MacGyver into the kind of new and bold territory that kept it interesting to audiences for so much longer than traditional action-adventure shows do.
  • Brainwashed is quite simply a brilliant episode of MacGyver, a series classic. It is one of the darkest MacGyver episodes ever produced, creating mystery and suspense.

    Season 4 is the strongest of the lot and this episode further proves this. Brainwashed is extremely creative and when we get our first look at what Jack is going through it’s clear this episode is like no other. The constant mystery surrounding Jack’s “dreams” and whether MacGyver will figure out what is setting him off and what his plans are add to the intensity of the episode.

    The funhouse scenes are some of the finest in the show’s history and the suspense at this point is at an all-time high. I didn’t suspect Pete had also been brainwashed until MacGyver realised he had also “lost his weekend”. It’s a race against time at the end and the conclusion is a fitting end to this outstanding episode, one of the show’s best.
  • Jack Dalton's finest hour.

    I never thought Jack Dalton added a whole lot to the series as the "goofball" which he played in most episodes. But this one is quite different, as he is the subject of a dastardly hypnotic trance. The whole plot line of why he was chosen as the target to hypnotize was solid. A visiting african leader and his key ambassadors were there for goodwill, and a timely death of the leader would mean one of the ambassadors (our villians) would take his place upon returning. The real brilliance of the episode though is Macgyver interacting with Jack who is suffering from the hypnotic trance they put on him.

    We really don't know how one is supposed to act when being put in a trance, but I found he pulled it off brilliantly. There was no sudden character change when he snapped in or out of it, the transition seemed very natural. This of course led to some very gripping scenes with Macgyver, when it was not clear when he was "in" or "out" of the spell. The scene in the funhouse where Macgyver has one more life than number of mirrors is one of the most memorable in the series.

    The ending was a little weak, with Pete as a "backup" assassin who we never saw get hypnotized, as this also ruins the idea that Jack might be a rare case who is subject to this type of mind control. They probably should have ended it by just walking in and arressting the diplomats, but I still rank it (along with Survivors) as the best of season 4.