Season 4 Episode 8

Ma Dalton

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jan 23, 1989 on ABC

Episode Recap

MacGyver returns to his houseboat after an Arctic Circle mission and discovers that his friend Jack Dalton has moved in and is assembling an ultralight glider in the living room. Jack's mail arrives and one package holds a photograph of his father Jack Sr. standing with his flight crew in front of a bomber. The note accompanying the photo is signed "A Friend" and says that Jack Sr. died in Korea. Jack explains that someone has been sending him his father's personal effects over the last four days. His mother put him up for adoption when he was a baby and never met his biological parents. MacGyver figures that Jack's mother is responsible and insists they track her down.

At the Phoenix Foundation, Pete traces the bomber from the photo and learns that Jack Sr. died in the line of duty saving his entire crew. The military records show that Jack Sr. had a wife, Francine, and one child born in 1951. More recent records show that Francine has been on the run for three years after jumping bail after an arrest for a million-dollar stock swindle. Her boss, Arthur Bandel, has been fighting to keep the case out of court ever since. MacGyver suggests they contact the bond bailsman, Marty Ricco, and see what he knows. Jack is reluctant to pursue the matter but MacGyver convinces him to try and find his mother.

At Marty's office, the bondsman informs them that Bandel's case is finally going to trial in two days. If Francine doesn't show, he loses his $100,000. He gives them Francine's arrest record, which shows she called a Sam Greer on the night she was arrested. Greer owns a bar, The Wingman, and Marty provides the address. MacGyver recognizes Greer as a member of Jack Sr.'s flight crew. Marty offers them the commission if they bring Francine in. Once MacGyver and Jack leave, Jesse Colton, the bounty hunter who has been tracking Francine, visits Marty. He warns Marty that he intends to bring in Francine, any way he can. Marty suggests that he follow MacGyver and Jack. Once Marty and Jesse leave, Marty's secretary calls Bandel and tells her what she's heard. Bandel tells his men Dave and Ken to capture Jack. Once he has Jack, Bandel plans to use him as leverage to get Francine to bring him the evidence she has against him.

At the Wingman, Jack and MacGyver spot the bomber photo on the wall and confront Greer. He admits that he's the one who has been sending Jack his father's personal belongings. Greer claims that he wasn't sure how Jack would react so he sent the items anonymously. MacGyver doesn't believe Greer could have found Jack on his own. He notices an older woman watching them from an upstairs office. Jack and MacGyver go up and find the woman playing poker. She initially denies being Francine Dalton, but finally admits the truth. She insists she has nothing to be ashamed of and Greer contact Jack on his own. Jack angrily leaves and MacGyver appeals to Francine's conscience. She reluctantly explains that she's trying to make sure Jack stays away from her because if Bandel discovers she has a son, he'll use Jack against her. MacGyver says he understands, but Francine needs to make Jack understand.

Outside, Jack is in the alley when Dave and Ken capture him. As they drive away, MacGyver arrives and tries to stop them but almost gets run over. Francine knows who they are and realizes Bandel has Jack. As they prepare to go after Jack, Jesse arrives and captures them both. He handcuffs them to the floor of his van and prepares to collect the reward. When MacGyver tries to explain the situation, Jesse could care less. As Jesse drives them away, Francine warns MacGyver that if she disappears, Greer will go the Justice Department with her evidence. Once that happens, Bandel will take revenge by killing Jack. MacGyver grabs a tire iron but needs to get Jesse out of the van. Francine tops Marty's offer by $10,000 to convince Jesse to let her go. He pulls over and calls Marty to see if he'll sweeten the deal. While he's gone, MacGyver unscrews the handcuff bolt from the floor and they drive away.

Bandel's men take Jack to their employer's office building, and Bandel explains that despite how she helped him with the stock swindle, she's now too dangerous to leave alive. Jack warns him that his mother could care less about her son.

MacGyver and Francine get back to The Wingman just in time to stop Greer from reaching the Justice Department. Francine explains that her plan all along was to appear in court and present her evidence against him, stored on a computer disk. MacGyver points out no choice but to make the trade. Francine gives in and calls Bandel, offering him a trade. He agrees but tells her to come alone to his office the next morning to make the switch.

The next morning, MacGyver sneaks onto the grounds and tries to open a maintenance shaft. Jesse has followed him there and demands that MacGyver turn over Francine. MacGyver explains that Francine is trying to save Jack but Jesse doesn't care. MacGyver manages to get close enough to disarm him and then tells him that Francine will appear in court and Marty won't lose his the bail money. MacGyver tells Jesse to help or stay out of his way and Jesse agrees to help him. He blasts open the maintenance shaft grille and then goes to dispose of the guards.

Francine enters the building and takes the elevator to the fourth floor where Bandel has Jack. MacGyver holds onto the bottom of the elevator and then goes up to the next floor above Bandel's. Meanwhile, Francine meets Bandel and hands over the disk. As she waits for Bandel's man Ken checks the disk, she tells Jack that she only said what she did to keep him away so he wouldn't be in danger.

MacGyver cuts the building's power and Bandel sends Dave to investigate. MacGyver turns the power back on and goes out to the roof. Meanwhile, Ken discovers that the computer disk is password-encrypted and Bandel threatens Jack, forcing Francine to turn over the password.

On the roof, MacGyver knocks out Dave and locks him in a closet, then goes back downstairs. Ken accesses the disk and checks to make sure the information is all there. Francine explains to Jack that she couldn't handle the stress after her husband died and she had no choice but to give Jack up for adoption. MacGyver cuts the power and Bandel sends Ken to investigate. MacGyver drops the roof hatch on the thug when he comes upstairs and then climbs down the interior of the glass-lined lobby. Bandel figures that Francine brought someone and forces her and Jack to come with him out of the building. Jesse arrives and tries to capture Jesse, telling Bandel he doesn't care if she's alive or dead because he gets the bounty either way. Jack and Jesse back Bandel up against the wall and MacGyver jumps down to disarm him. MacGyver recovers the disk and suggests that Jesse give Jack a few minutes alone with his mother.

Later, Jesse collects his bounty and goes on a long-awaited vacation to Hawaii. He sends a postcard to MacGyver thanking him for his help. MacGyver, Jack, and Francine celebrate at Greer's bar and Francine says that after three years, she plans to take advantage of her freedom and take some time to be a mother to Jack.