I've never seen Michael Crichton's "The Andromeda Strain", so I'm not clear on how derivative this episode is in comparison to that book and film. Perhaps I were to see the film or read the book, it would result in me knocking this episode down a notch or two. But being ignorant to the content of Crichton's novel save for word-of-mouth, I choose to keep this episode on a pedestal. The opening scenes with a forest full of dead animals were eerie and mysterious, accentuated the pending napalm strike after MacGyver's tumble. The middle scenes were perhaps a little too slowly paced, but I was intrigued by the intelligent dialogue from Dr. Milhouse as she described her noble motivations for stretching the boundaries of scientific ethics with this organism. Her arrogance was her ultimate downfall, and I appreciated her epiphany moment in the heartbreaking scene where she bid adieu to her dog and came to accept her own pending demise via old age. The grand finale escape from the underground lab was on par with the intensity level of the whole episode, which goes down a classic episode even if it was largely lifted from a 20-year-old novel.
Ratingswise, MacGyver's first post-football season outing in January 1988 posted a season-high 15.4 rating, setting the stage for a ratings boost in the second half of the third season, desperately needed with the disappointing numbers posted in the season's first half. Particularly helpful to MacGyver's cause was the meltdown of CBS's comedy lineup that would occur in early 1988. "Kate and Allie" dropped significantly from its top-15 heyday while lead-out "Frank's Place" never did catch on, allowing MacGyver a second-place berth in the timeslot for the later months of the season. NBC's "ALF" and "Valerie's Family" still owned the hour though, inexplicably scoring top-20 ratings.