The Phoenix Foundation's Willis is working at a wasteland test site at a location where a small town once stood. MacGyver arrives to meet with him and finds a note attached to the site's sign. It contains a tape cassette, and MacGyver plays it as he drives into the contaminated wilderness were the town once stood. Willis talks of how the land is contaminated as a result of over-development by the city's construction company, and the same thing will happen to Maple Ridge if developer Andrew Bartlett has his way.
Willis is in the field doing tests when he stumbles into an area of ground eroded by water. He sinks into the quicksand-like mass, and MacGyver arrives to hear his cries. Thinking quickly, MacGyver attaches the winch cable from Willis' truck to his belt, plays out the entire line, turns on the winch, and runs out across the field to grab Willis. When the cable goes tight, it pulls MacGyver and Willis back to safety.
Back at the laboratory tent, Willis has them undergo decontamination and then plays a video showing that the Bartlett development project is contaminating the water in the aquifer level, a contamination that will spread to nearby Maple City and erode the ground other both areas, causing their eventual collapse. MacGyver goes over the EPA report, which doesn't support Willis' claims, but Willis thinks Andrew may have paid off the agent. Willis has set up meeting between MacGyver and Andrew.
Andrew meets with his two children, Scott and Laura. They brief him on the Phoenix Foundation's efforts and Andrew dismisses the foundation as nosy do-gooders. He tells his children to be there for the investors' meeting that he's holding at the construction site later that day, and then tells Scott to dress in a suit and tie and make himself presentable. When Scott complains, Andrew tells both children that they have to dress to impress, and that all of the training and education he's provided them is so that they could always show others that they're special. Laura assures her father that she can take care of MacGyver. However, once in private, Laura admits to Scott that she's having second thoughts about their plan to oust their father from the company. Scott blames their father for driving their mother to drink and figures the only way they can ever have anything of their own is to take it from Andrew.
MacGyver goes to the trailer officer at the Bartlett City construction site and finds Laura and Scott there. Scott leaves on an errand while Laura sounds MacGyver and quickly realizes that he has ecological concerns. Scott calls from his car phone and Laura secretly signals him to put their plan in motion. She has MacGyver take her to a local bar for lunch and takes a look at the EPA reports. She insists that their valid but MacGyver tells her he plans to talk to the EPA agent. Laura signals a waiter who tells MacGyver there's a call in the back room. When MacGyver goes to take it, several local Bartlett workers beat him and leave him. Laura comes back and warns that the workers think their jobs are at a risk. MacGyver refuses to drop his investigation and goes to meet with the EPA agent.
Later, MacGyver goes to the investors' meeting. When Andrew sees him, he speaks highly of their artisan wells and insists the water is natural and safe. He then talks privately to MacGyver, who warns that the city won't be pure once Andrew 's company is through with the area. Andrew dismisses him as an ecological do-gooder but MacGyver insists he's trying to prevent a disaster that will destroy Andrew's city. The CEO notes that he hasn't broken any laws and all the paperwork is properly filed out. MacGyver is forced to agree but notes that the EPA agent manipulated the results by testing after a heavy rain of uncontaminated water, and that he received a new car a week after he made his report. He asks Andrew to give him two hours to make his case and if the CEO is still unconvinced, MacGyver will drop the issues. Andrew agrees and tells MacGyver to meet him later, unaware that Scott has been listening in.
MacGyver arrives at the trailer office to pick up Andrew, who is berating his daughter for failing to handle MacGyver. Once the two men leaves, Scott tells Laura that everything is ready for them to dispose of their father. She's shocked to learn that Scott has attached a bomb to MacGyver's van and set it to go off when the odometer rolls over to 55 miles.
As they drive through the wasteland, Andrew is shocked at the devastation and admits that MacGyver might be right. The odometer hits 55 and the bomb goes off, knocking the van upside down off the road. Andrew breaks his leg and MacGyver manages to pull him to safety before the gas tank explodes. As MacGyver tends to his wound, Andrew insists the attack must have been aimed at MacGyver since his company is family-owned and nobody would stand to gain.
At the trailer office, Laura disposes of the incriminating evidence and Scott decides to drive out and confirm that their father is dead. He insists that his sister come with him.
As MacGyver tries to get Andrew to the Foundation lab tent, the CEO continues to lose blood and is in critical condition. Forced to travel through the wasteland that resulted from construction, Andrew accepts that what MacGyver has been saying about his development project is true. MacGyver finally has to leave Andrew on the road. He builds the fire and then goes on ahead to the lab tent to use the radio to call in a helicopter. As MacGyver prepares the fire, Andrew finally wonders if his children were the ones responsible for the bomb.
Scott and Laura get their car stuck in the mud and are forced to continue on foot. Meanwhile, MacGyver gets to the lab tent but discovers that a nearby storm is interfering with radio transmissions. Looking around, MacGyver spots the air tunnel that Willis uses for soil erosion tests. He removes the fan and uses a folding table as the support for a framework of ropes that he puts together. MacGyver then attaches the ropes to sheets cut from the tent wall, fastens them to the backpack, and adds on the exhaust fan and motor.
Scott and Laura find the van and follow the blood trail. They spot the fire and call out to their father. He comes to see them and sees that Scott is prepared to shoot him, and realizes that they betrayed him. Scott complains about how their father always pushed them and that they've had enough. Andrew insists that he did it to make them tough but Scott accuses him of just trying to prove himself because of his poor childhood. Laura, having second thoughts, tries to convince her brother they've gone far enough. Scott ignores her and stop her brother. They struggle and the gun goes off, killing Laura. Shocked, Scott nonetheless aims and shoots his father in the side.
At the lab tent, MacGyver hears the gunshot. He turns on the motor and starts running to provide enough liftoff for the engine breeze to catch the parachute-like contraption attached to the backpack and let him lift off in the crude ultralite.
The wounded Andrew begs Scott to give it up. Laura, having second thoughts, tries to stop her brother. They struggle and the gun goes off, killing her. Scott blames his father for her death and prepares to finish Andrew off. MacGyver swoops down out of the sky and knocks Scott down, and then circles back and grabs Bartlett. They fly away as Scott fires a few futile shows and then collapses to the ground.
Later, Andrew calls a press conference to announce that he's shutting down the construction project and that he plans to stand by his son, who has been indicted for murder. Andrew insists that it was an accident and he doesn't hold Scott responsible. As MacGyver and Willis watch, Andrew announces that he will set up a memorial trust in Laura's name to finance a family counseling center where families with problems like the Bartletts can go for help.