MacGyver

Season 5 Episode 20

Rush to Judgement

1
Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Apr 16, 1990 on ABC

Episode Recap

Former Gold Medalist and sportscaster Wyatt Robbins was attacked in his car by a mugger and his wife Lisa shot dead. Based on Wyatt's testimony, a black man and ex-convict, Curtis Danby, has been brought to trial for the murder of his wife. The community is up in arms with white and black protestors gathered outside the courthouse. As newscasters such as Jake Baron are playing up the racial tensions for ratings, community figures such as Reverend Roy Thatcher, leader of the Committee for African-American Justice, are speaking out against the supposed injustice.



In the courtroom, MacGyver is a member of the jury listening to Danby's defense attorney, Monroe, asking Wyatt why he and Lisa were in a rundown area of the city. Wyatt explains that his wife's friend Sandra Masters, a department store heiress, had invited him to attend a charity event for a halfway house for convicts. They had stopped at an intersection when a man came to the side of the car and fired, hitting Lisa. Wyatt went after the man, was shot in the arm, and blacked out. Later, the police brought Danby in and Wyatt identified him from a police lineup. Monroe argues that due to a broken streetlight, Wyatt couldn't have clearly seen Danby's face. The assistant DA, Bigelow, argues that there was a working streetlight nearby and has Wyatt reiterate his identification of Danby. Danby bursts out in anger and the judge orders Monroe to get control of his client. The judge ends the trial for the day and warns the jury that they're sequestered, and shouldn't watch the news or discuss the case among themselves.



On the bus back to the hotel, two of the jurors discuss the case anyway over MacGyver's objections. One man has already decided that Danby is guilty, while another notes that they weren't allowed to go to the intersection and view the crime scene. That night, MacGyver tries to sleep but is bothered by thoughts that he doesn't have all the facts. He goes outside past the marshal on duty and walks to a nearby pop machine. MacGyver fakes it taking his money, opens the case with his knife, and removes two cans. After leaving some money, he triggers the timed release mechanism and gives one can to the marshal. Once MacGyver is back in his room, the pop machine starts dropping cans out onto the floor. When the marshal goes to investigate, MacGyver slips past him and out of the hotel.



At the intersection, MacGyver notices how the streetlights are positioned and which ones are burned out. An elderly woman knocks a flowerpot off of her window sill, almost hitting him. She invites him in and introduces herself as Mrs. Jones. Her only roommate is a canary, Arvon, who she talks to constantly. MacGyver notices that she has a clear view of the intersection from her window. Mrs. Jones doesn't want to talk about what she saw, but claims that Arvon saw the entire thing. According to her bird, a bald African-American man ran attacked the Robbins couple, tossed something shiny into a nearby storm sewer, and then ran away. Mrs. Jones admits that the police asked around but weren't interested in hearing that contradicted their version of the shooting. MacGyver goes to the storm drain and finds the murder weapon.



Pete is at MacGyver's houseboat watching the news when MacGyver slips in to find him. MacGyver asks Pete to call Monroe and tell him that the murder weapon is in the sewer. Pete is shocked to hear that his friend violated the sequester order, but MacGyver insists that the jury wasn't being told the fully story. They go to the crime scene and MacGyver recreates the night of the murder. They both realize that it would have been impossible for Wyatt to get a clear view of the murderer because the streetlight would have been behind the killer's head, casting his face in shadows. Pete agrees to tell MacGyver about the gun and the new witness.



Back in court, Monroe calls Mrs. Jones as a witness. She insists on testifying via her canary, and Monroe convinces the judge that she's doing so to make herself feel safer. The judge allows it and Mrs. Jones describes what she saw. Monroe has the police recover the gun and enters it as evidence, and confirms it's the gun that killed Lisa Robbins. Finally Mrs. Jones testifies that the man she saw was bald and confirms that Danby wasn't the killer. Monroe asks the judge to dismiss the case but Bigelow asks for the source of the new evidence. The judge also wants to know and Monroe identifies Pete as the person who brought forth the new information. When the judge asks Pete to explain how he came upon the new evidence, Pete refuses to talk. The judge threatens to hold him in contempt and MacGyver finally stands up to admit that he went to the crime scene. Bigelow asks for a mistrial but the judge is satisfied that MacGyver didn't tell any other juror what he found. He orders an alternate juror to step in and puts MacGyver under arrest on contempt charges.



As MacGyver waits with Danby, they watch a newscast about how the police have determined the gun was bought at one of Sandra's department stores. Further, a motel clerk has recognized Sandra from the news and identified her as a regular at his motel, where she was having an illicit affair with Wyatt Robbins. Danby thanks MacGyver for his help but observes that the police aren't in as big a hurry to release him as they were to arrest him in the first place.



Wyatt and Sandra meet at one of her department stores, and he worries that they look guilty. Sandra insists that they haven't done anything wrong and asks to see him. Wyatt says that he can't forget Lisa and puts an end to the affair. Once he leaves, Sandra goes to see one of the ex-convicts, Lawrence Groden, who works with the store's guard dogs. She tells him to get rid of Mrs. Jones.



The judge drops the charges and secretly thanks MacGyver for helping make sure an innocent man wasn't convicted. MacGyver goes to see Bigelow, who is now ready to arrest Wyatt. The assistant DA tells him that she's filed a restraining order to keep him away from the case. When she points out that he didn't play by the rules, MacGyver insists that it's the system that's flawed and that now she's letting public opinion influence her decision to arrest Wyatt. When she says that nobody would have believed Mrs. Jones, MacGyver objects, noting that the jury should get to decide, not the prosecuting attorney. Before they can continue the discussion, Bigelow receives a call: Mrs. Jones has been found dead.



MacGyver, Pete, and Bigelow go to Mrs. Jones' tenement as her body is taken away. Baron is at the scene, playing up the case for the ratings. Bigelow still plans to arrest Wyatt and leaves. MacGyver figures that it's all connected to Sandra's department stores and has Pete check the records on the convicts who reside at Sandra's halfway house. They discover that only one ex-convict works at the department store where the murder weapon was purchased: Groden. His MO for killings is the same as the man who shot Lisa.



MacGyver figures that they can get Wyatt to help. He goes to see the sportscaster at a bar and explains that he wants to get at the truth, and he doesn't believe that Wyatt is guilty. Wyatt admits that the police may have pressured him into identifying Danby as the shooter even though he wasn't as sure as he claimed on the stand. MacGyver wonders if Sandra is responsible and Wyatt remembers how she wanted to continue their affair even with Lisa dead. They come up with a plan to panic Groden into revealing himself.



MacGyver and Wyatt go to the department store, unaware that Sandra knows they're there. They check out the loading area and Groden sees them. Thinking that Wyatt has recognized him, Groden makes a break for it. He hides in the basement and when MacGyver and Wyatt come after him, he attacks them. MacGyver manages to disarm him but Sandra arrives and prepares to shoot them. She admits she wanted Wyatt for herself and paid Groden to kill Lisa. MacGyver shoves a wheeled cart at her, knocking her down and giving him and Wyatt the chance to run.



Groden unleashes the dogs and MacGyver uses perfume to cover his scent. He grabs more bottles and puts them on his and Wyatt's coats, and then puts the coats on mannequins stored in a cage. When the dogs arrive, they attack the mannequins. Groden and Sandra arrive and mistakenly believe the dogs have killed MacGyver and Wyatt. Groden goes into the cage and MacGyver knocks him out. Wyatt grabs Sandra while MacGyver closes the door and locks the dogs in.



Later, Wyatt and Danby are both released. As they leave the courthouse, Baron is there to question how the system could have gone so wrong. MacGyver responds by blaming Baron by rushing to judgement in their quest to get ratings. When Baron claims MacGyver is against freedom of the press and that he's glad most Americans don't agree with him, MacGyver observes that there might be more people who agree with him than Baron thinks.
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