MacGyver

Season 6 Episode 20

Trail of Tears

2
Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Apr 26, 1991 on ABC

Episode Recap

MacGyver and Willis are at a trial where Barry Whitecloud is representing the Lakota tribe in a bid to stop New Plans Electric from running electrical lines across their reservation lands. The NPE attorney, Samuels, makes his closing remarks and points out that the treaty shows that the reservation lands end where Black Stream Creek does, and the power lines on Bitter Flats to the southeast don't cross Lakota lands. He notes that NPE called MacGyver and Willis to support the contention that the power lines don't give off electromagnetic radiation harmful to the environment. He concludes by asking the jury to stop the injunction and let NPE proceed, so that their owner, Everett Johnson, can open the new plant in a few days.



Barry gives his summation, noting the irony of the white man wanting to abide by a treaty for once. However, while he insists there's some kind of scandal involved, there's nothing he can prove. Barry warns the jury that by the time scientists can prove the wires give off harmful radiation, it'll be too late to do anything. In conclusion he tells the jury that Bitter Flats has been the Lakota's holy lands for centuries. The judge gives the jury their instructions and tells them that they can only consider the environmental damage.



A short time later, the jury finds on behalf of NPE. Willis complains that Samuels twisted his testimony to prove their case. MacGyver apologizes to Barry, warning that they were subpoenaed and had no choice but to testify. Barry isn't interested in his offer of Foundation resources to make his case and file an appeal, and accuses them of trying to ease their consciences. He explains that he used to work for a white man's law firm but all he ever did was get justice in the white man's system. Now he's considering going back to work with them since the Indians can't find justice in the same system. MacGyver insists on staying to look further into NPE and Willis promises to send him back all the information the Foundation has when he gets back to Los Angeles. As they talk, a man in a suit listens in and hears MacGyver's plan to stay.



Barry goes into the restroom and finds an old Indian man waiting for him. The Indian says his name is Standing Wolf and says that Barry has to take action. Barry isn't interested but the Indian elder stares directly into his eyes.



Dick Russell, NPE's head of security, meets with Johnson. He was the one listening in to MacGyver's conversation and tells his boss what he heard. Johnson warns that there's a chance MacGyver can discover something that will reveal that the Lakota tribe owns Bitter Flats. He tells Russell to dispose of MacGyver.



The next day, MacGyver goes to the NPE construction site, unaware that Russell and his assistant are following him. MacGyver spots Barry lurking the site, wearing fatigues and carrying a rifle. MacGyver approaches him and Barry explains that he had a vision that directed him to destroy the site. MacGyver realizes that Barry is planning to blow up the site. Barry shoves him down a hill and then follows him, dropping his rifle. The construction site blows up behind them, and they're both forced to flee when Russell and his man open fire. Russell takes Barry's rifle and figures that Barry got his C-4 from a local source. He places a call to trace the supplier.



As they head through the woods, Barry tells MacGyver who Russell works for and explains that he's heading for the cabin of his friend, Phil Crow. He's unaware that Russell has already traced the C-4 to Crow and is heading there by motorcycle.



As they go to Crow's cabin, Barry explains that Standing Wolf is an Indian spirit that visited him in the form of a man. He took Barry to Bitter Flats, took the form of a wolf, and showed the lawyer a vision of an Indian boy dying after exposure to the power lines. Realizing the danger, Barry plans to do whatever is necessary to stop NPE.



Russell approaches Crow's question. The Indian spots him but Russell claims Barry is meeting him there and shows Crow Barry's rifle. Crow drops his guard and lets Russell in.



As they approach the cabin, Barry and MacGyver argue the merits of terrorism, with MacGyver insisting it settles nothing. They get to the cabin but Crow doesn't greet them. Inside they find him dead, shot at close range with a rifle. Barry gets some detonators and tells MacGyver that he's hidden the C-4 in the woods. MacGyver figures NPE knows about something he could learn that would stop the construction, and encourages Barry to fight NPE inside of the system. Barry doesn't believe it, noting that Russell would have ambushed them right away. The security chief comes in and says that he wanted to make sure Barry's fingerprints were all over the cabin. He shoots MacGyver in the stomach with Barry's rifle and then draws his own revolver. He plans to frame Barry for the murders of MacGyver and Crow. Russell's assistant arrives outside, distracting Russell and giving Barry the chance to escape. Figuring that MacGyver is dead, Russell and his man go after Barry. They lose him in the woods and go back to Crow's cabin, only to discover that MacGyver has managed to slip away. They go after him and MacGyver hides in an abandoned mine shaft. They fail to find him and go back to report to Johnson.



In the mine, MacGyver sees a fire and an old Indian: Standing Wolf. He passes out and wakes up later to discover Standing Wolf performing a ritual on him. The Indian pulls the bullet from MacGyver's chest and then admits that the whole thing could be MacGyver's dream. Standing Wolf isn't sure why MacGyver is there. He takes him outside and they find themselves at Bitter Flat, in the future where the NPE electrical towers have already been built. There's a stream that wasn't there in the present. As MacGyver approaches it, Standing Wolf transforms into a wolf and drinks from the stream. Looking up, MacGyver notices that the towers are giving off an eerie red glow. He also sees an Indian boy in the middle of the stream, dead and glowing with the same red energy.



MacGyver wakes up back in the mine shaft. Standing Wolf has returned to his human form and agrees that what MacGyver saw wasn't about violence. The Indian suggests that Barry count coup by striking his enemy with a stick and humiliating him, and MacGyver is there to make sure that Barry realizes the truth. He tells MacGyver to rest and then lies down himself.



The next morning, MacGyver wakes up and discovers that someone has bound his wound. He spots a nearby first aid kit and wonders if he did it himself in the middle of his dream. However, MacGyver discovers someone has placed a medallion with an eagle feather on it on him. Finally, the long-dead corpse wolf lies on the ground where he saw Standing Wolf lay down the previous night. Looking around MacGyver finds the bullet from his wound resting on an old wooden case. He opens the case and finds mining tools and old maps of the area dating back to 1894 that belonged to the mining company. Examining the map, MacGyver discovers that they show where Black Stream Creek flowed a hundred years ago: east of Bitter Flats.



Barry gets the rest of his C-4 and plants it at the new power plant. He slips outside as Russell and his assistant arrive. MacGyver gets there and spots Barry, and tells him what he's found. Barry doesn't believe it will stand up in the white man's court but MacGyver insists that the lawyer misinterpreted the vision, and its intent was to show him the correct path of taking coup. Barry is intent on killing Johnson in revenge for Crow's death. When MacGyver realizes the explosives are in place and refuses to back down, Barry slugs him and leaves. MacGyver goes to the plant but Russell captures him and ignores his warning that there are explosives inside.



Nearby, Barry prays to the spirit of his grandfather. He notices Russell locking up MacGyver and Johnson arriving with a camera crew for the publicity tour of the plant. Russell locks MacGyver up in a shed and has his man stand watch, while he briefs Johnson on the situation. Johnson orders him to kill MacGyver once the tour is over. He then goes to meet with the busload of school children who have arrived for the tour.



MacGyver uses a high-pressure air pipe and a broom to break down the door, knocking Russell's assistant unconscious. He runs into the plant, unaware that Barry is behind him. MacGyver runs into Russell and manages to lock him into a closet, and then runs into Barry. Barry agrees to warn the kids but then plans to kill Johnson. The tour comes by and Barry tells the kids to get out. MacGyver tries to get through to the lawyer, insisting that violence isn't the way and the vision was intended to tell Barry to turn away from murder. Barry refuses to believe him, until he sees one child that has stayed behind out of curiosity. It's the Indian boy from his vision. He tells MacGyver where the bomb is. MacGyver needs a cotter pin to defuse it but one isn't available. Thinking quickly, he uses the eagle feather as a replacement and stops the timer with less than a second to spare. Meanwhile, Barry prepares to shoot Johnson. He runs at the CEO screaming… and then taps him with his bow. The boy laughs, realizing that Barry has counted coup on his enemy.



Later, MacGyver meets Barry, who has been released without bail and is awaiting his trial. Thanks to the Foundation's satellite photography, the stream's original location has been confirmed. The mining company forged the plans back in 1894 and later became NPE. Johnson knew about the fake plans and was prepared to kill MacGyver to keep them secret. Now the DA is filing charges against him for conspiracy to commit murder in the case of Phil Crow. Barry invites MacGyver to witness his first sundance in a year. As MacGyver thinks about it, he and Barry see Standing Wolf walking away into the forest.
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