This was MacGyver's first episode on Wednesday night and its highest-rated episode to date (15.9 rating and comfortably in second place in its slot), and it's easy to understand why ABC selected this episode to introduce to Wednesday viewers. Even though the lethal injection storyline isn't exactly an original, it's never been executed as well as it was here on MacGyver. Competent young actress Tammy Lauren was brilliant as Lisa, the intelligent teenage runaway whose desperate condition parallels that of MacGyver. Helping each other at their lowest points, MacGyver and Lisa are able to save each other from a devastating future. The stakes were high for both of these unlikely allies...and both delivered for one another. The acting was solid throughout, particularly by Richard Dean Anderson who shined for the first time in the series in "Nightmares", and even though some of his dialogue was cheesy, actor Robert O'Reilly (who played Curt Nielsen) has terrific sinister appeal as a nasty 80's bad guy and the scene where he administered the lethal injection was simultaneously funny and breathtakingly intense.
The narrow escapes and MacGyverisms were terrifically executed throughout, with the retrieval of the antidote in the sewer standing out as one of MacGyver's all-time best scenes. One reviewer suggested the scenes with Lisa in the slum were a little slow, and that's a fair point...but I thought it helped raised the overall stakes of the story to develop Lisa's character and show that her situation was little better than MacGyver's (not to mention that it set the stage for the wicked cool TV tube explosion). Writer James Schmerer proved his value to the series with this script, which stands out for me as a masterpiece.