Season 2 Episode 12

Family Matter

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jan 12, 1987 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • Another classic episode of Macgyver.

    This is another classic Macgyver episode. One of the things I really like about it is that it introduces us to Pete's ex-wife and son for the first time. I also like that Macgyver invents/does several cool things in this episode,like: Making bombs out of bamboo polls and swamp gas,making a dummy of himself to fool the bad guys,etc.

    Here's the plot:

    Pete Thorton's ex-wife (Connie) and son (Michael) are in Louisiana for an archeological dig. (i.e:digging up old pottery,etc). But while out in the country,they are suddenly grabbed by 3 men. It seems that the whole trip was organized by these men from the start,so that they could lure Pete's family in to their trap.

    Pete is sent a copy of a tape the men made of his family captured. They tell him to come to Louisiana and to come alone if he wants to see his family again. Pete wants to go alone but Macgyver insists that he will fly down before Pete,so he can be there for backup. They then work out a plan: Mac flies in ahead of time,and goes into the country with a motorcycle equipped with a electronic tracker. Pete wears a watch that broadcasts a signal,so Macgyver can follow where he's going. Once Pete gets into Louisiana,he follows the men's instructions,and meets them at their designated point in the middle of the country. He gets into their car,and as they're driving away,Mac follows on his motorcycle (He knew where Pete was going to meet them ahead of time). The men then make a vehicle switch,and make Pete change all his clothes just incase he has any transmitters on him. Mac works around this though: He straps Pete's transmitting watch to the bottom of bad guy's vehicle so he can continue following them.

    After following them for several more minutes,Mac ends up at the edge of a swamp/river where a fisherman sits. He begins talking to him,and it appears that he will be helpful. He introduces himself as Obadiah Moss,and he tells Mac that he saw Pete going up the river with two men. He then agrees to let Mac use his boat/skiff to go in search for them. And Mac does. But as he's heading up the river,he knows something isn't quite right-he had asked where he got his fishing flies from. Obadiah had told him he tied them himself,and Mac could tell they were store bought. Mac then concludes that Obadiah has "sold him up the river." (This is also confirmed when Obadiah radios the bad guys)

    Back to Pete: Pete is taken to a building where his family is being held. One of the first questions he asks is if they know who's behind this. He doesn't have to wait long for an answer. It's a man Pete worked with 3 years before: Frank Bonner. Frank tells them why he's doing this: Pete supposedly killed his wife and son 3 years before,and now he wants revenge by killing all of them.

    Macgyver is still heading up the river,and Obadiah has notified Frank Bonner,to tell him Mac's coming. Macgyver isn't about to just walk into their trap,so he builds a dummy of himself inside the boat and then jumps out onto the shore. Frank's hit men then blow up the boat using a missile launcher,and they think they've killed Mac. Mac lures one of the men over to the shore,knocks him out,and puts on the man's uniform so he can blend in better without being noticed.

    As all of this goes on Frank decides to explain his story to Pete and family. He claims they were working together 3 years before,helping to set up a town in a foreign country. And that's when Pete "killed" his family. But now we hear Pete's side of the story: They were setting up a town,but they got caught in an un-expected guerrilla raid. Pete would have been able to protect Frank's family except for one thing: Frank had embezzled company funds that were supposed to be used for intelligence purposes. It ends up it wasn't Pete's fault at all,it's just that Frank has been placing the blame on Pete. Pete tells him this,but he won't listen. Frank still insists on killing them.

    Back to Macgyver: Mac has knocked out one more of Frank's men,and is putting a plan into action: He finds a donkey engine outside,and attaches a piece of rope to one end,while attaching the other end to pole that will pull out the barred window where Pete and family are being held. He then sets a fuse that will blow up a jug of gasoline to distract Frank and co. The plan works at first: Frank hears the explosion,and locks his hostages back up in their room. Mac starts the donkey engine,and it pulls the whole wall out of the room. But just as they're escaping,Connie trips and falls,and only Mac and Michael escape (for the time being anyway).

    Next,Mac puts a new plan into action: He and Mike make bombs out of bamboo polls and swamp gas. Once they've done that,they return to Frank's "headquarters" to get Pete and Connie out. The plan works. All of the men (including Obadiah,who Mac gets to knock out) are taken down,and everyone is safe. But,Mike is now holding Frank at gunpoint (using the gun Frank dropped),and threatens to shoot him because he was going to kill his mom. Mac and Pete are able to convince him not to though,and Mike drops the gun. All's well that ends well.

    The epilogue then ends the episode on a light note as all four characters are back at Mac's apartment in Los Angeles, about ready to eat a new Cajun dinner Mac picked up the recipe for when he was down in Louisiana. But,Mac puts too much Tabasco on it,and it blows up in a fireball. The closing line for the show is-"Why don't we send out for,cheeseburgers?"

    I hope you enjoyed this review. Thanks for reading! =)
  • Uncharacteristically dark tone and cool setting are somewhat undermined by lackluster villain logic.

    Even as a boy, I remember being taken aback by the dark and occasionally vicious tone of this episode, where Frank's seething hatred towards Pete was expressed in no uncertain terms. The sinister way in which reveled in killing Pete's family while Pete watched was kind of disturbing for a normally lighthearted series (at least in seasons one and two) such as MacGyver. Nonetheless, the Louisiana bayou setting and overall atmosphere were established well, and the scene where the motorboat was nuked by the bazooka featured some fantastic pyrotechnics. The swamp gas bombs contained in bamboo also played out well. Furthermore, Pete's strained relationship with his family was conveyed well, and both Connie and Michael's characters were generally likeable. My biggest disappointment, however, was that Frank's outrage wasn't rooted in a serious grievance. It would have been preferable if an actual mistake on Pete's part had resulted in the tragedy that befell Frank's family, but when Frank told his story, it was abundantly clear that Frank's own malpractice (if not outright treason) resulted in the deaths of his own family....and the fact that he would even think of holding Pete responsible for their deaths seemed far-fetched and unsatisfying. In my opinion, this episode didn't live up to its potential.