Season 5 Episode 9

The Ten Percent Solution

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Nov 20, 1989 on ABC

Episode Recap

Skinheads attack a woman jogging in the park, the third in a series of recent attacks. Meanwhile, Pete is supervising the Phoenix Foundation’s art acquisition program at the Carlysle Auction House. MacGyver arrives wearing a tuxedo for the occasion and soon meets Dr. Laura Sand, the Foundation’s art acquisition expert. As the auction begins, an old man, Sam Bolinski arrives outside. Under Laura’s guidance, Pete bids on a Rubens painting. He finally wins the painting, but Sam bursts in and claims that the painting belongs to his family. The security guards try to take him away, and the painting is ripped in the struggle. As Sam is taken away, claiming that the ERR stole the painting, MacGyver notices that he has a concentration camp tattoo on his arm. The painting’s seller, Lyle Hoggart, calls his superior and tells her there may be a problem. The next day, a Congressional candidate, William Brand, is speaking out against the local rise in crime and promises that if elected, he’ll put a stop to it. At the Foundation, MacGyver insists that there may be something to Sam’s story. They go to meet with Laura, who is examining the Rubens. She says that the ERR is the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, Hitler’s personal team of art thieves that stole hundreds of paintings during World War II. MacGyver goes to talk to Sam at the police station where he’s being held, while Pete goes to the auction house to get the provenance so Laura can check Sam’s ownership claim. Hoggart goes to the Bonaventure Silver Mine and meets with his superior, Madame Brandenburg. He gives her a report on Sam, a concentration camp survivor, and insists there’s nothing that can connect the Rubens to Brandenburg’s funding of her grandson, William Brand. Brandenburg tells Hoggart to eliminate Sam to make sure. At the station, MacGyver meets with Sgt. Gray and arranges an interview. However, as Sam is brought in, a man impersonating a janitor pulls a knife and attacks Sam. MacGyver stops him, getting a cut on his arm for his efforts. When the killer refuses to surrender, Gray is forced to shoot and kill him. Brandenburg meets with her grandson and assures him that there’s nothing to worry about. Brand isn’t so sure and warns his grandmother that if he goes down, she’ll go down with him. As Brand leaves, Hoggart arrives and reports what happened at the police station. Brandenburg tells him to have MacGyver eliminated along with anyone else who can compromise their operation. Hoggart tells the skinheads from the park to find Sam and bring him in. At the Foundation, Laura tells Sam and MacGyver that she found an odd residue on the painting and she’s having it analyzed. Sam talks of how he grew up with the painting and how the Nazis took it from them. She plays a videotape showing ERR operations during the War when the Nazis took thousands of paintings and burned those belonging to the Jews. Among the footage are shots of a concentration camp, and Laura apologizes to Sam. He explains that he was forced to work with the ERR to catalog art pieces, since the alternative was going to the gas chambers with his family. When he saw his family records among the ERR documents, he secretly took them and has held them all these years. He takes MacGyver with him to his house to get the papers. Later, Pete arrives at the laboratory and informs Laura that the provenance indicates that Hoggart’s family purchased the Rubens in 1932, eight years prior to when Sam claims the ERR stole it. While Pete goes to call the Washington archives to verify the information, Laura decides to confront Hoggart and get some answers. She finds him at his realty office and reveals what she knows. Hoggart draws a gun and takes her prisoner. At Sam’s house, Sam is showing MacGyver photos of his family before the concentration camps. The skinheads burst in, knock out MacGyver, and take both men to the silver mine along with Sam’s ERR files. The police get a report on the attack and arrive shortly thereafter. Pete arrives and talks to Gray, who is heading the investigation. Pete confirms that the residue on the paintings is lead sulfide, which is found at silver mines. Gray agrees to start checking the local mines. At the Bonaventure mine, Hoggart takes the files and takes the two men and Laura to Madame Brandenburg. Sam recognizes her as an officer’s wife who plundered the dead at the concentration camps. MacGyver spots a Brand for Congressman poster and realizes that Brand is Brandenburg’s grandson, and that Brandenburg is selling the stolen paintings to finance her son’s campaign. Brandenburg gets word that the police are checking out silver mines and orders all the paintings to be moved while they pack up and move to another location. She then draws back a curtain to show her prisoners Nazi banners and a map of the United States. Brandenburg boasts that they have highly-placed officials in the governments of the five western states. Her organization plans to take complete control of 10 percent of the United States and establish a Fourth Reich. As she has Hoggart take the prisoners away, Sam warns her that they’ll meet again. Hoggart and the skinheads take the prisoners to a mine shaft. Gray is there and tells MacGyver that he has always been one of Brandenburg’s supporters and he was forced to kill the fake janitor at the police station to cover their tracks. Hoggart takes the prisoners to a storage chamber and knocks out MacGyver, and then seals the door and starts pumping in acetylene gas. Once they’re gone, Laura and Sam wake MacGyver up. He reroutes the gas hose into the hollow fire door, lets it fill up, and then ignites the gas with a light bulb. The resulting explosion blows the door open and they escape. At the Foundation, Pete discovers that Hoggart owns the Bonaventure. As his assistant starts to call the police, Pete stops her after he realizes that Gray is a company shareholder. Hoggart sends one of his men to dispose of the bodies. The man puts on a gas mask and goes to the mine shaft. MacGyver knocks him out and takes his uniform and gas mask, and then goes to get the van with the stolen paintings. Laura and Sam are waiting when Sam spots Madame Brandenburg and Hoggart. He goes after them and knocks out Hoggart before Laura can stop him. He then follows Brandenburg into her office. MacGyver knocks out Gray when he comes to investigate. The police arrive, and Pete takes Brand into custody. Sam has obtained a gun and confronts Brandenburg. She dares him to pull the trigger, saying the two of them are not so different after all, Jew and Nazi. Sam considers it, and then decides to turn her over to the police. MacGyver is left to stare at Brandenburg’s map of Nazi occupation in disgust.
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