MacGyver reaches his milestone 50th episode with a whimpering audience response, generating a season-low 11.2 rating...and I'm sure the crew was really starting to get nervous given the soft performance thus far in the season and the new ABC programming executive's indifference towards the modest success of MacGyver. Contentwise, the episode impressed. Even though the airborne jet footage was clearly lifted from "Top Gun", the heavy spyjinks really introduced this Cold War-era themed episode with a spark, particularly the haunting scene that introduces us to the psychic Starkos, played wonderfully by character actor Walter Gotell. The tone lightened considerably with the MacGyver and Nikki banter in the mountains of East Germany, but generally the sexual tension was as well-played as possible in the hands of two capable actors (although most fans and even MacGyver crew members were peeved about the network's insistence on the introduction of a Moonlighting-esque boy-girl detective theme). The adventure rolls at a steady pace until the emotional and brilliantly-directed scenes with Starkos and MacGyver in the Army barracks, and the outrageous climactic scene with the hot air balloon escape.
While I generally share the misgivings by fans on ABC trying to turn MacGyver into Moonlighting (and this episode was the peak of that dynamic between MacGyver and Nikki) and I have to dock a point or two on my overall score for it, it's hard not to applaud the outstanding writing effort by Calvin Clements, Jr. and director Michael Vejar.