Season 1 Episode 17

To Be a Man

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Mar 05, 1986 on ABC

Episode Recap

MacGyver is sent in by jet over the Pakistan-Afghanistan to recover classified data from an early-warning satellite that crashed across the border. Pete Thornton and his team monitor MacGyver's progress while the Russian forces spot MacGyver on radar. They radio him for identification but he fails to respond. They open fire and destroy the jet, unaware that MacGyver has ejected and is parachuting down to earth.

In Afghanistan, a boy, Ahmed, sees the explosion. His mother, who is struggling with a local bandit named Khalil, also hears the explosion. Khalil orders Ahmed to get his horse so he can rendezvous with his men to investigate the jet's crash. Ahmed defiantly tells the bandit that Khalil is not his father. Khalil angrily shoves the boy aside and Zia draws her son to one side.

MacGyver hides his parachute and proceeds toward the satellite as the sun rises. Khalil meets with his fellow brigands, who work for the Russian lieutenant in charge of local operations. They spot MacGyver making for the satellite atop a mesa and cut off his only escape route. MacGyver disables the bobby trap on the data capsule just as the soldiers open fire. MacGyver quickly assembles a hang glider out of parts of the satellite and its landing parachute, then tries to fly to safety. The soldiers open fire, tearing the glider wings and wounding MacGyver in the right arm. He manages to land in a nearby river where Ahmed spots him. One of the bandits tries to ride MacGyver down, and MacGyver knocks him out with an improvised sling. Ahmed gets MacGyver on the bandit's horse and takes him back to his house. As they go, Ahmed explains that he's helping MacGyver to get revenge on Khalil and his men, who killed his father, a resistance leader.

Khalil finds the downed bandit and kills him for his failure. Meanwhile, Ahmed brings MacGyver home but Zia is less than thrilled to have him there. Ahmed explains how he saw MacGyver fly and Zia reluctantly agrees to take the American in for one night to take care of his wound.

Khalil arrives and Ahmed boasts that he's found someone to replace his father and defeat Khalil. Khalil kicks down the door and MacGyver fires a cylinder of butane gas at him. Khalil falls back through the door and accidentally shoots himself.

The Russians are repairing their armored car and the captain in charge of the operation hears a report from the sergeant. The captain wonders why MacGyver is there, and suspects he came to mobilize the resistance against the Russians.

After disposing of Khalil's body, Ahmed gives MacGyver the bandit leader's whip. He expects MacGyver to whip him because he tried to use him to dispose of Khalil. When MacGyver refuses to beat him, Ahmed asks if he can teach him how to fly. Zia sends Ahmed to send away Khalil's horse with its distinctive silver bridle. Once the boy is gone, she prepares to cauterize MacGyver's infected wound. When MacGyver wonders how she knows so much about bullet wounds, she admits that she's treated many wounds since the Russians have come. MacGyver passes out from the pain.

Ahmed sends the horse away but keeps Khalil's silver bridle. He returns to the house and hides it under his bed. He wonders if MacGyver will say because they need him but Zia warns that it isn't likely.

The next day, MacGyver starts to get his appetite back and discovers that Zia has dressed him in her deceased husband's clothing. Meanwhile, the remaining bandits find Khalil's horse and notice the missing bridle. They report to the Russians, who figure the resistance ambushed Khalil and killed him.

MacGyver helps around the house and uses his talent to repair the faulty water pump. Impressed, Ahmed asks him to stay and the two embrace.

At the Russians'; base, the captain tells his sergeant to find MacGyver and quickly so that he can get out of Afghanistan and back to Russia.

Zia accidentally wakes up MacGyver, who tells her that he has to leave the next day. As she talks about Ahmed and how he's found a new father figure, she starts crying and says that it's hard for her to say goodbye. The next morning, Ahmed spots the Russians approaching the house. MacGyver hides in the hay outside and rigs a rope around a support post for a roof overhang. Khalil's lieutenant barges into the house and demands food, then spots Khalil's bridle under the bed. The Russian sergeant approaches the hay and MacGyver drops the overhang on him, then knocks him out. MacGyver then knocks out the bandit with a shovel and checks on the sergeant. Ahmed insists that they shoot the Russian but MacGyver refuses and tells the man to run away. Ahmed doesn't understand why MacGyver didn't finish off his enemy and MacGyver says that it wasn't necessary. Now Zia admits they have no choice but to abandon their home and flee across the border. MacGyver assures her that there's transportation waiting for him that they can use.

The sergeant reports back to base where his captain demotes him to patrol duty and tells him to find MacGyver or be court-martialed for incompetence. The sergeant take the newly-repaired armored car and leaves to find the American.

MacGyver, Ahmed, and Zia escape in the sergeant's abandoned jeep but other soldiers spot them and open fire with a bazooka. They finally score a hit, crippling the jeep. As the soldiers close in, MacGyver takes Ahmed up into the rocks and pours water in the cracks by a boulder. He uses a fire extinguisher to freeze the water, causing it to expand and widen the cracks. When the soldiers arrive, MacGyver pushes the boulder onto their jeep.

MacGyver starts to flee with Zia and Ahmed, but the sergeant is waiting for them. However, he tells them where the border is and smilingly warns MacGyver that the next time, he'll drop a roof on the American's head. Ahmed realizes why MacGyver spared the sergeant's life earlier. They head for the border, with just enough time for two men to say goodbye.
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