Season 3 Episode 19

The Endangered

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM May 02, 1988 on ABC

Episode Recap

MacGyver is trailing two men who are stealing government secrets. He follows them to a bar but one of them spots him and approaches him with a gun. MacGyver tries to improvise a distraction with two glasses of rum and a book of matches, but the man open fires…

On a seaplane flying to the Chinook National Park, MacGyver finishes telling the pilot that the man's gun jammed. MacGyver admits he was lucky he survived. One of the park rangers, Karen Miller, is waiting for MacGyver. The two of them know each other intimately: they went to college together but when she wanted a commitment, MacGyver moved on. Now Karen works as a park ranger. She brings her back to the rangers' cabin and he notices a pair of men's boots. She explains they belong to her boyfriend, fellow ranger Sam Sheehan. She tells MacGyver that she's told Sam all about their time together in college, and she insists that now they're just friends.

That night, MacGyver is laying awake when Sam comes in, and listens as he goes to bed with Karen. The next morning, Karen takes MacGyver out to see the endangered bears. They talk and MacGyver admits he doesn't know how long he wants to stay and that his brush with death has forced him to think about what's really important. Karen talks about the primary grizzly in the area, Badger, but they discover that three poachers have shot and killed the bear and are escaping in a truck. Karen gets to the road and prepares to shoot and MacGyver, panicking, stops her. She tells him she was just going to shoot the tires. They go back to the ranger station and Karen admits that she can't do her job while she's there. She tried to be with him before, but every time she tried to be what he wanted, he moved on to something else.

MacGyver reluctantly decides to leave and goes to the nearby town to wait at a restaurant for the seaplane. When he goes to wash up, he hears the owner Skip negotiating with two of the poachers. When Skip complains that he doesn't want bear meat, they rough him up until he pays for their delivery. MacGyver hides in their truck as the poachers, Wyatt and Ed, drive off into the woods. They park in the national park and go to meet their partner Earl. MacGyver searches their truck for identification and then takes the distributor cap.

The poachers are shooting out in the woods and Karen hears the gunshot. She goes to investigate and runs into MacGyver. He tells her he's immobilized the poachers' truck and has found a spot to ambush them. She agrees to let MacGyver help. However, as the poachers come back to the truck, Wyatt spots footprints. They don hunting masks and split up, and Ed and Earl circle around. Karen emerges to confront Wyatt and MacGyver realizes the other two are missing. Before he can intervene, Ed shoots at Ken, hitting her in the side. Ed considers shooting them but Wyatt says they need to leave. Ed agrees, takes Karen's tranquilizer gun but leaves the darts, and tells MacGyver not to follow them.

Once the poachers are gone, MacGyver tends to Karen's wound. The poachers get back to the truck but discover they can't get it to start. Ed figures they have no choice but to take out any witnesses and bullies Wyatt and Earl into going with him.

MacGyver gets Karen toward a nearby help station. They come to a stream and MacGyver loosely attaches a bandanna to a branch and throws it downstream. They then head upstream. The poachers arrive and spot the bandanna, but soon realize they've been tricked when they cross the stream and don't see any footprints. They continue upstream, following MacGyver's footprints.

Karen collapses from blood loss and MacGyver goes back. He attaches one of the tranquilizer darts to a branch, then pulls it back with a piece of string. He sets the distributor cap on a rock nearby. When the poachers find it, Wyatt figures that means MacGyver is willing to let bygones be bygones. Ed doesn't believe it and smashes the distributor cap. A panicky Earl walks away, trips the string, and the dart knocks him out.

As the rangers begins a search, MacGyver gets Karen moving again, promising her that he won't leave her. Meanwhile, an increasingly angry Ed figures out a shortcut to the help station. He and Wyatt get there first, sabotage the radio, and set up in a hunting blind. Wyatt realizes they're in over their heads and starts to leave, but Ed warns him that he'll dump the bodies on his land if Wyatt doesn't help him.

In the woods, MacGyver builds a signal arrow out of branches and paints it bright yellow with limonite. He and Karen get to the help station but MacGyver spots the hunters. He hides Karen in the woods and then builds a makeshift dart gun out of the elastic from Karen's coat and an empty flashlight barrel. Next he rigs a coat on a branch to spring up when a book of matches burns through the string holding it in place. When the coat comes up, MacGyver nails Ed with a tranquilizer dart. Wyatt tries to run but the rangers arrive and arrest him. Sam, leading the rescue, takes Karen from MacGyver.

Later, MacGyver is preparing to leave on the seaplane and Karen comes to see him off. He realizes that she's found his place and the two embrace as friends.