MacGyver goes back to his hotel room after Lisa's abduction and finds Jack using his show. Jack says that he and Pete have been worried since MacGyver disappeared with Lisa after the magic show. MacGyver explains that Racoubian is holding Lisa and Nicholai hostage to force him to steal the Ming Dragon. They can't involve Pete since his career would be ruined if anyone discovered his role in the theft. Jack offers to help, figuring they'll use the Dragon as bait, get the Kossovs back, and then recover the dragon.
The next morning, Pete and Chu leave the exhibition hall after spending the night upgrading the security systems. Chu notices that Pete is worried and wonders where MacGyver is, and Pete explains his friend has personal issues. After they've gone, a delivery truck pulls up behind the exhibition hall and MacGyver and Jack slip off the bottom. They approach an air vent and use MacGyver's Swiss Army knife and duct tape to bypass the pressure switch.
Moving through the vents, they get to the vent above the display case. MacGyver wires a remote-controlled portable winch into the electrical system and then he and Jack climb down into the room inside of the laser grid. They have four minutes and thirty-eight seconds until the guard arrives. They fasten suction cups to the display case and then run a cable from the portable winch. Next MacGyver tries to guess Pete's personal combination for the newly installed lock while Jack stands watch. Going off of Pete's interest in golf, MacGyver finally succeeds by entering Arnold Palmer's birthday. They clamp down the pressure plates and lift the display case using the winch. MacGyver crawls in beneath the case to get the Ming Dragon. However, the suction cups slip, dropping the soundproof display case with MacGyver inside.
With time running out, Jack admits he has no idea what Arnold Palmer's birthday is and wasn't watching when MacGyver entered it earlier. MacGyver breathes on the glass and writes out the combination in the condensation. Jack gets the case open and MacGyver slips out with the Dragon. The guard arrives outside and MacGyver writes a note on a piece of paper. The guard comes in and sees the note, which says "Look up." Unaware that MacGyver and Jack have hidden in another exhibit, he looks up and MacGyver activates the remote winch. The line, set as a snare, lifts the guard up into the air. As the other guards come to investigate, Jack and MacGyver slip by them and escape with the Dragon.
MacGyver and Jack drive to Chinatown, and notice that Tanya and her man Karel have been following them. Tanya demands the Dragon but MacGyver refuses to turn it over until he has the Kossovs. When Tanya refuses to abide by the deal, MacGyver gets out of the car with the Dragon and runs through the streets, mingling with a street parade. Tanya and Karel follow him, and he tries to lose them in a knickknack shop. They miss him and go further into the shop, but MacGyver bumps the wind chimes as he slips out. Tanya sees him with the Dragon and follows, but loses him in the streets when he slips beneath a walking dragon prop. Once they're gone, MacGyver meets with Jack.
Pete and his men are trying to figure out how the Ming Dragon was stolen. Chu asks to talk to Pete in private, and reveals that he secretly installed a security camera. Pete is glad to see they have footage of the thieves… until he learns that MacGyver was the one responsible. Chu demands an explanation and Pete admits he doesn't have one, but that MacGyver must have had a good reason. Chu believes that Pete is involved and wonders if he's trying to start an international incident. Pete asks Chu to keep the theft secret for 24 hours while he tries to get answers and Chu reluctantly agrees.
MacGyver calls Racoubian, who insists he didn't authorize Tanya's actions and will take steps to punish her. However, he tells MacGyver that Nicholai died trying to escape. MacGyver arranges to make the exchange of Lisa for the Ming Dragon at a power plant that night. Once Racoubian hangs up, he chastises Tanya for endangering the plan when they already had MacGyver where they wanted him. He tells her to make the exchange and then kill MacGyver.
That night, Jack keeps watch while MacGyver waits inside. Tanya and Karel arrive with Lisa, who is still wearing the explosive necklace. MacGyver is in an overhead cab and has strung the Ming Dragon up from a winch hook. If he's shot, he'll release the string and the Dragon will fall. He tells Tanya to remove the necklace and she reluctantly complies. MacGyver then tells them to have Karel bring Lisa up. He then instructs Karel to go out on a girder to get the Dragon. Lisa runs to MacGyver, who releases the Dragon just as Karel grabs it. The Dragon (a fake) shatters on the floor and Tanya orders Karel to kill MacGyver. He's in no position to shoot without the recoil knocking him off the girder. MacGyver and Lisa arrive outside where Jack has knocked out the Russian guarding Tanya's man and then removed the distributor cap. They make good their escape, leaving in their car with the real Ming Dragon.
As they drive through the night, MacGyver tells Lisa that Racoubian claimed Nicholai died trying to escape. Lisa says she saw Nicholai an hour ago and Racoubian is lying. They agree to help her rescue Nicholai from the delegation's house. In the morning they sneak onto the grounds. However, Racoubian, Kossov, and Tanya are waiting for them, and Lisa reveals that she's been working with the Russians all along.
Jack and MacGyver are placed in handcuffs. Lisa tells a reluctant Kossov that she wants time with MacGyver alone. As Jack is locked up in the basement, Lisa explains that she was working for the Soviets two years ago and they faked her death. Racoubian plans to publicize MacGyver's theft of the Dragon to break up American/Chinese relations, and then "recover" the Dragon and solidify the Russian/Chinese diplomatic relationship. Lisa admits she did have real feelings for MacGyver. After kissing him, he's convinced. She lets him take her hairpin as Racoubian's men take MacGyver to the basement. Once alone, MacGyver uses the hairpin to open his and Jack's handcuffs, then uses the handcuff ratchet to open the basement door. As they knock out the upstairs guard, MacGyver notices the case with the remaining explosive necklace and takes it with him.
Racoubian and Kossov are packing up the Ming Dragon but the general realizes that it's another fake. He tells them to bring MacGyver for interrogation, but discover Jack and MacGyver have escaped and taken the necklace with them. Lisa claims she had nothing to do with their escape but Kossov doesn't believe her. MacGyver and Jack head for the helicopter but Tanya spots them. She holds them at gunpoint and takes the necklace. Jack manages to distract her long enough for MacGyver to grab her and lock her in a shed.
Jack gets the helicopter going and MacGyver leaps onboard. As they lift off, Racoubian, Kossov, and Lisa come out on the lawn. The men start to open fire but Lisa knocks them down and then runs to helicopter. Jack pauses long enough for them to pick her up, but as they lift off Kossov shoots Lisa in the back. Racoubian tells Kossov to let them go, figuring they have the upper hand since he assumes MacGyver still has the necklace. He activates the explosive device… and the shed containing Tanya blows up.
Lisa lies dying in MacGyver's arm. With her last breath she says that she loves him.
Later, MacGyver has Pete and Chu meet him at the Chinese knickknack shop. Racoubian and his delegation have been sent back to Russia to face punishment for their failure. Inside the store, MacGyver has already told Jack that he switched the Ming Dragon for a cheap souvenir when he hid there earlier. Much to Jack's relief, they find the real statue and turn it over to Chu. MacGyver makes sure that Pete pays a little extra to the owner for the statue.