This is a very special episode indeed, and it is difficult to classify. On one hand, it is a tear jerker, because of the death of MacGyver's good friend Earl Stringer (Randolph Mantooth). It plays like a crime drama, and introduces viewers to Stringer's wife, showing how his death affects her. It also shows how it affects everyone who worked with Stringer. On the other hand it fits other classifications: well written, cleverly plotted, exciting, and a series classic. I consider it a classic, because it uses a major theme from the MacGyver series in a whole new way. We've all seen MacGyver disarm bombs, but we've never seen the bomb turn itself back on and then go off anyway. This surprised the heck out of me. First, MacGyver and Earl Stringer disarm one of Prometheus's bombs with only three seconds to spare. We've all seen that. Then, shockingly, the bomb switches back on and goes off, killing Stringer and almost killing MacGyver. Later, Prometheus uses cleverly laid out clues and a freakishly distorted voice to lure MacGyver to an isolated location with another bomb, which MacGyver expertly disarms. Once again the bomb switches itself back on and goes off. However, this time MacGyver cleverly uses the explosion to escape from the room he is trapped in and prevent the murder of Prometheus’s next victim. At the end, we learn the identity of the arsonist and his shocking revelation about why he doing what he is doing. This is perhaps MacGyver's most explosive episode ever, and it cleverly uses the series bomb theme in a whole new way. A perfect combination of psychological suspense and drama.
Much like "Obsessed" the week before, this MacGyver episode, featuring a serial bomber, got off to a rock-solid beginning exploring the rivalry between members of the arson squad (ultimately leading us to suspect Rachel might be Prometheus) and the suspenseful bomb defusal scene in the abandoned slum that killed Earl. The pyrotechnics were quite impressive for 1991 TV. Even though the pace and excitement level waned towards the middle, the stalking scene in the abandoned newspaper office was in keeping with the suspense level of the episode's early stages. Clearly, this episode was channeling the creatively disappointing hit film from the summer of 1991, "Backdraft", but I actually found this MacGyver episode to be more entertaining than that film.
It was not without flaws, however. Boardman's motivation was hard to swallow, especially considering he planned the fire that killed Victoria, and the multiple bomb defusals at the end of the episode got tedious. Plus, there was that universally discrediting element for any episode.....it had Mama Lorain in it. Overall though, it was one of the better efforts of the seventh season.
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