Season 4 Episode 12

The Challenge

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Feb 27, 1989 on ABC

Episode Recap

MacGyver is volunteering at the Challengers Club, an inner-city youth shelter, and helping owners Cynthia and Booker Wilson keep the place working on a minimum budget. As Booker tries out MacGyver's improvised exercise machine, his wife warns him that they have a council meeting in two hours to get the funds to keep the Club going.

Ray Collins, a local teen, comes out of a print shop owned by Larson and goes to owner's van. As Ray gets in, Larson and his two men, Smiley and Frank, come out and accuse Ray of stealing the van. They start pounding on the van and Ray drives away. Larson sends his men after Ray and then calls over a policeman and tells him Ray is heading for the Challengers Club. Larson's men follow Ray to the club where the teenager takes refuge. The policeman arrives and explains that Larson has accused Ray of stealing his van. Despite Booker's objections and Ray's insistence that he's innocent, the policeman takes him into custody.

At the police station, Booker and MacGyver go to get Ray out of jail. Booker warns that Larson has been trying to get the club shut down for years, claiming it's a criminal hangout. Jenkins, the officer handling Ray's case, says that she can't release him because his mother's in the hospital, Booker and Cynthia have enough kids in their custody already, and Ray has no other guardian. Booker convinces MacGyver to look after Ray. MacGyver agrees, but Ray isn't interest in having him help out. As they Leave, Larson tells Smiley and Frank to make it appear that Ray has run, and then make sure that he disappears for good.

Ray goes back to the club and starts hitting the punching bag. When MacGyver tries to get answers, Ray argues that because he's white, he can't understand. Ray goes outside to play basketball but Smiley and Frank show up and intimidate him. Ray runs off and MacGyver gets outside after the men leave.

MacGyver checks with Ray's friend Rico and learns that Ray went to the billiard hall where his old gang is. MacGyver gets there as Ray tries to buy a gun from the gang's leader, Breeze. Breeze wants him to come back to the gang and sell crack but Ray refuses. The gang leader gives him the gun anyway, saying he'll collect on his favor later. However, when he spots MacGyver, Breeze figures he's the Man and takes the gun back. Ray tells MacGyver to leave, and MacGyver agrees if Ray beats him in a game of pool. If MacGyver wins, Ray has to tell him everything.

At the council meeting, Booker admits that the kids at the Club are former criminals and the product of broken homes. However, without the Club they'll have nowhere else to go.

At the club, MacGyver beats Ray at pool thanks to his knowledge of physics. Ray insists that anything he says won't change anything, and that hate is the only way he can respond. MacGyver warns that the cycle of hate has to end somewhere.

Larson responds to Booker's speech by claiming the Club harbors the teenage criminals in the neighborhood and he's there on behalf of the honest hard-working citizens who don't want "those people" ruining the neighborhood. He hints that Booker is a racist and argues that prison is the place for criminals, not a youth club. Larson hands out a petition from the community as Ray and MacGyver arrives. MacGyver convinces Booker to let Ray talk. Ray gets up and says that he was a ganger until Booker caught breaking into the Club. Booker put him to work and end enrolled him in a job-training program. Finally, Ray explains that he went to Larson's print shop to apply for a job. Larson wasn't interested until Ray said that he went to the Challengers Club. Larson then gave him the keys to the van and told him to drive it to the back of the shop. Larson and his men then came out and accused Ray of stealing the van and chased him to the Club. Larson denies it but Ray insists it's the truth and apologizes if he's ruined the Club's chances of being refinanced.

While Booker and Cynthia thanks Ray for his speech, the council approves the financing. Larson goes back to his store and tells Smiley to capture Booker. That night, Booker is driving back to the Club when Smiley and Frank smash into his car. When Booker checks out the damage, the two men grab him, plant a bag of crack cocaine in his car, and take him away.

Ray and MacGyver are at the club when a detective comes in to tell Cynthia that they've found Booker's abandoned car, with damage on the rear fender caused by a car with blue paint. They also found Rocket Brand cocaine in the car and suspect that a gang came after Booker because of his anti-drug position. Once they're gone, MacGyver asks Ray to check on the streets and see if he can find which gang uses Rocket Brand. Ray goes to see Breeze, who isn't interested in helping. He tries to convince Ray to start selling again, but Ray insists that drugs just another form of slavery. Impressed, Breeze reluctantly agrees to help.

At an abandoned warehouse, Larson and his men string Booker up by his arms and prepare to kill him. Booker says that they can't murder an idea and tells Larson to do his worse.

Rico and the others have no luck finding Booker. Ray meets with MacGyver to tell him that the Demons were carrying Rocket Brand, but discontinued it a couple of weeks ago and never had trouble with Booker. MacGyver figures someone is setting Booker up and gets Rico and Ray to show him where the Demons hang out. MacGyver goes to the abandoned warehouse and discovers Booker tied to a chair, his throat cut open.

The next day, MacGyver and a sobbing Cynthia watch as the police take Booker's body out. The detective checks out the crime scene and suggests that it might been a gang-style execution. He notes to MacGyver that Booker had more Rocket Brand crack in his pockets and suggests that Booker might have been selling drugs to raise money for the Club. MacGyver doesn't believe it and asks for the Rocket Brand label from one of the bags.

Ray makes contact with the Demons, who insist that they were framed. MacGyver checks the label with alcohol and determines that it was printed on an offset printer. The Demons use a photocopier. Figuring that Larson printed the label in his shop, MacGyver sends Ray to get the police while he goes to the print shop. In back he finds Smiley's car, the same color as the paint chips on Booker's fender. MacGyver takes out Smiley and Frank, and discovers they were delivering copies of a white supremacist newsletter.

Going inside, MacGyver finds Larson working on his newspaper. When MacGyver tells him that they have enough evidence to put him away, Larson goes for his gun. The two men struggle and MacGyver disarms the racist. When he asks why Larson brutally murdered another human being, Larson dismissively says that Booker and all the blacks are animals. Furious, MacGyver prepares to beat him but Ray arrives with the police and convinces him to stop. The police take Larson away while Ray and MacGyver embrace in relief and sorrow.

Later, the Phoenix Foundation donates funds to finance the Challenger Club and provide them with a new physics laboratory: a pool table. As Cynthia and MacGyver look on, Ray brings Breeze into the club. Cynthia says that there'll always be a little bit of her husband there.