A number of people felt this was the best MacGyver episode of all, particularly the science geeks who respected the clever barricades in the contest. I actually conned my high school physics teacher into showing this episode in class...and she liked it so much she made a copy to show to future classes. And there was much to like. Larry Dobkin and Andrew Sabiston played their respective roles as the hard-nosed workaholic professor and the burned-out college student amazingly well. The extent to which absentee parenting contributed to David snapping was overemphasized, but the building suspense of the episode's second half, in contrast to the fun of the first half which felt more like a really good afterschool special, really makes this episode shine. The attention to detail in regards to the science also shows that an impressive amount of research went into this episode before the first scene was filmed. A true MacGyver original that stands out as a shining example of how badly screwed this series was by the television industry which never recognized its quality come Emmy season.
This one starts harmless enough, Macgyver travels to his old college where he is to judge the annual physics "barricade" contest. He meets up with some of the contestants including David who is under immense pressure from his father, the physics professor, to do better in school and win the contest.
Quickly we find winning the contest is everything to David. He has been working on the project for months and has resorted to drinking and drugs to help cope with the pressure. His girlfriend, Janice, lets Macgyver know he needs help but his father will not heed the warnings...and is a believer that "pressure turns coal into diamonds".
Unfortunately for David, all his work is in vain as another student cheats and gains a huge advantage on him. The loss brings David into a further mess and leads to a final scene where the whole campus and neighborhood are threatened by a bomb he made. The episode does get a bit preachy, hammering the themes of "being there for your kids when you need them." A minor annoyance, and it's still clearly the second best season 3 episode after Widowmaker.
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