A MacGyver Community
ABC (ended 1992)
And so, we're back from the holiday hiatus with "Mac + Jack". The "cliffhanger" with Sam being resolved before the opening theme. Not surprisingly, she isn't dead. Which doesn't say much for Murdoc's assassination skills, but oh well.

Besides, there's adventure ahoy. Barely does Mac and Jack walk in the door but Mac smells chemicals and realizes that the house is booby-trapped with a bomb. He tells Wilt not to come in because he set off the bomb... so why didn't Mac and Jack set off the bomb? Other than IITS, I guess.


But apparently entering the house wouldn't set off the bomb. Or maybe it would, since the first 15 minutes are taken up with Mac determining that the house is wired. But oh well, on with the bomb defusing. It turns out that The Ghost from last year's "Wrench" is back, and looking for revenge. I get the impression that he's part of Murdoc's hit squad of assassins that Murdoc was gathering this season. And it's all tied in with Murdoc shooting (and not killing?) Sam. I guess we'll find out.

Mac eventually finds the bomb beneath his house. Even though there's a camera, there's no wireless signal going out. So Mac deduces that the bomb is a distraction for an even bigger bomb located somewhere in LA. Wilt, Riley, and Charlie Robinson from "Wrench" go out hunting for it and eventually find it in the back of a garbage truck. Wilt proves his usefulness by demonstrating that he can open and drive a garbage truck. The two bombs are hooked together so they have to be defused precisely at the same time, so Wilt has to drive the truck to Mac's house so they're close enough that Mac can MacGyver a pair of laser-pointer-triggered cutters to cut both wires at the same timinstantaneously. It all goes according to plan and once again the day is saved.


Interspersed with this are flashbacks to when Jack and Mac first met in Afghanistan. Mac was an EOD soldier defusing bomb, and Jack was assigned to protect his back. They initially don't like each other, but eventually becomes the bros that we know and love. Well, know, at any rate.

It's an exciting episode, but you can't really go bad with terse bomb-defusing scenes. The episode "homages" the original's ”Countdown" even more than "Wrench" did, since Mac and Charlie have to defuse the bombs simultaneously. Which was kinda what Mac and the liner's officer Carole had to do in that episode.


Although again, we're left wondering if the fact that the bomb can be defused means that The Ghost intended for it to be defused. If you really want to blow up half of LA with a bomb, why make it so... well, easy? Put motion sensors on the truck bomb, for starters. I suppose that's a trope of bomb-defusing TV shows and movies everywhere, but it still seems kinda dumb. Unless it's deliberate. But right at the moment it seems dumber than usual.

Or maybe it's all part of Murdoc's cunning Assassination Squad plan. He shoots Sam, so that the team goes to the hospital and waits, so that The Ghost has time to wire up Mac's house and plant barrels of explosive in the foundation. It's kinda complicated, but it works in a convoluted sort of way.

The flashback scenes are the usual "Two guys start out hating each other but come to become buddies" trope. It's okay in a fill-in-the-back-story way, but there's nothing new here. We already know they become buddies, we know they live whatever happens because... well, they're alive in the present. Yeah, we know they're not going to die in the present either since they're the main stars. But it still seems mildly pointless to threaten their lives at least once.


There's also a brief bit at the end where Jack figures out that the numbers on Mac's father's watch gear are geographical coordinates of some sort. Which match what looks like a German concentration camp prisoner's tattoo. And they open the package apparently from Mac's father at the beginning, revealing old World War II German dossiers. So I guess Mac's father was somehow tied in with World War II? I'm not following, but I suppose it'll all be explained in time.


And that's what struck me as weird about the episode. It didn't really do anything. It seemed to be more of a holding episode, as it dropped clues about Murdoc, The Ghost, and Mac's Father. The fall cliffhanger with Sam went nowhere, other than to take Isabel Lucas as Sam off the show. She's no longer credited, so... presumably she has a movie gig somewhere? Regardless, what was the point of bringing her on just to dump her after eleven episodes? Maybe she'll be back, and MacGyver is one of those shows that don't credit people that don't appear. I don't watch enough CBS to know.

It also gave us a pretty redundant flashback. Yes, the interaction between Mac and Jack is probably the best part of the show, give or take a Meredith Eaton or two. But was anybody looking to see a third of an episode dedicated to showing us how they met and became friends?


So overall, "Mac + Jack" was a decent episode just because it was a tense bomb-defusing episode, just like last year's "Wrench". But unless it was the start of something bigger, it just seemed to be a random "Bad guy who we never see sets a death trap, and Mac escapes" episode. I guess The Ghost is supposed to be a shadowy "we never see his face" bad guy compared to Murdoc's flashy public assassin. But the shadowy killer doesn't seem like a good fit for nu-MacGyver.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
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Jan 14, 2018
I don't understand what Murdoc intended to do with Sam. He clearly could have killed her so I am going to think he just didn't. His goal was just to hurt her. But why? It makes no sense. Your explanation about "distracting" the group while Mac's home is wired is a good one but I want the show would have said something.
The worse part of the show doing silly things is that nobody mentions how silly those things are. Nobody is surprised Murdoc terrible assassin just failed to kill Sam. Nobody is surprised that someone has time to wire the entire MacGyver home without anyone noticing (really Matty, put some guards in Mac's home. At least, electronic ones)
I hope Sam is back, there were some unsolved mysteries about her.
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Jan 07, 2018
this show is boring
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