Thursday, December 11, 2014

#79: Unfinished Business

Season: 4

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Deborah, an assassin who once became romantically involved with MacGyver in order to get close enough to kill him, gets out of prison with revenge on her mind.  Meanwhile, MacGyver, Pete and Jack are in the woods prospecting for gold.  Deborah finds their location and attempts to settle her old score with MacGyver.    

Memorable Quote:
Just as they were going under, the turtle turned to the scorpion and said 'Why? Why did you do that? Now we're both going to die!'  You know what the scorpion's answer was?  'Because it's my nature.'   ~Pete
Good story Pete.  ~Jack
Yeah.  ~MacGyver

See memorable quote from the episode's denouement.  There's something equally riveting and unintentionally amusing to hear Pete retell a fable about a scorpion and a turtle, and I enjoy Jack and MacGyver hanging on to every word.  

In the opening credits we see "and Kristian Alfonso as Deborah."  Why on earth did they have to reveal that to the audience?  They do such a nice job of preserving the mystery person's identity, and it would have been a great surprise to the audience to see Deborah take off her mask halfway through.  But thanks to the opening credits, it would not have been a surprise at all to anyone who was any kind of a MacGyver fan.  I said the same thing when they revealed Murdoc's appearance in the beginning of Serenity

Best MacGyverism:
A bike which Jack pedals to separate gold from mud, or "concentrate" as MacGyver calls is. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Deborah's not messing around.  Not even one minute out of jail and she's going straight for MacGyver.  
  • Fun scene where MacGyver, Pete and Jack are prospecting for gold.  Though when Pete complains about Jack getting him wet with his bike pedaling, I wonder why he doesn't just move out of the way.  
  • MacGyver mentions a phone at Ellard's Store.  If I'm not mistaken, that's the same store from The Widowmaker.  Cool to think that they're in the same location as that episode. 
  • How can MacGyver sleep at night knowing that Murdoc, Deborah, or any number of criminals from his past could sneak up on him at any time?
  • Deborah's motivations in this episode seem inconsistent with her character in the previous episode where she is the consummate pragmatist, or the Negotiator as she calls herself.  Going off on a revenge mission seems unlike something she'd do, but then again I suppose two years in the slammer can change a person.  And she says that she failed at killing MacGyver because she let her feelings for MacGyver get in the way.  But that wasn't why she failed.  First she got unlucky that the bomb on the boat didn't kill him, and then she got outsmarted by MacGyver in the abandoned building.  It wasn't like she took it easy on him because of her feelings.  Faulty logic, Debbie Downer.
  • I remember watching this as a kid and wondering why she died from falling 100 feet but Murdoc survived falling off the Widowmaker.  

Final Analysis:
While this episode is relatively light on content (given the numerous flashbacks and shots of Deborah running through the woods), it's genuinely suspenseful (even if you know who's behind the mask) with good music to boot.  I'm always in on the nature-related episodes, and Deborah is a memorable villain (I'm putting her #2 on the list behind Murdoc and ahead of Von Leer).  Coming up next, we're in Season 4 for the third straight episode! 


  1. Given that I've been pretty bearish on the other two clip shows I'm sure it'll come as little surprise that this one wasn't a favorite of mine either. There was at least an action/suspense element which means I found it more interesting than "Friends" and the dreadful "Hind-Sight" but I still thought it was weak sauce. The biggest problem for me is something you touched was sad to see the deft, wry, and methodical hit woman Deborah from "The Negotiator" reduced to a masked lurking presence in the woods who whacks Pete on the back of the head. I suppose I can accept that she was so hellbent on revenge that she was unable to rein in that impulse after spending time in prison but suffice it to say I liked her much better as "the negotiator" the season before when she was indeed one of MacGyver's best villains. There were elements of fun to be had here as I also loved the panning for gold scene and the throwbacks to Ellard's store and Pete's "former" cabin in the woods but the second I saw the sign "Whistler's Cliff" it was obvious how this one was gonna end. Pete's telling of the scorpion and the turtle fable at the end also came across as awkward and drawn-out. Just not one of my favorites. Season 4 was my favorite season so you're making me nervous with the third episode in a row from Season 4 coming next, but at least this one and the last one have been among my least favorites from the season. I ranked this one #136.

    1. I figured you'd have this one low - that should be part of my write-up, "What do I think would Mark think?" Hopefully I'll be done with Season 4 for a while after this next one (I only unhide the following row of my Excel Spreadsheet with the next episode when I'm done watching the last one, so it's a surprise to me too to see what's coming next).

    2. Deborah was a good villainess - I thought she did a better job of being a risk to Mac in the first episode of her assassination plotting...but she did a good job in this episode too. Mac's good heart just gave her the "lift" that it took to get her desire to hurt him trumped by her fall. Thanks for the blog post.

  2. Just seen this one again and would put it way over the 100 - I'd forgotten just how much it relied on flashbacks and I just don't enjoy those episodes. Even if the viewer hasn't spotted the actresses' name, its obvious that its a woman doing the stalking from her frame and size. The others make it clear that they've only come out to help with the gold because of the outdoors location but it still seems too contrived and unlikely to me as do the various discussions around the possible identity of the stalker as a vehicle for the flashbacks. I too don't see the sense in Deborah saying she failed the first time because of her feelings for MacGyver - they didn't seem to reduce her murderous intent at all! Did she slash him with her knife at the end - he let her go but then didn't seem to be injured? There was at least some excitement at the end. but basically a lazy episode because of all the flashbacks - maybe they'd just run over budget for this series too.

  3. It really is irritating when they give that away in the opening credits. That would be something to ask the producers perhaps. Its probably required by the actors guild or whatever, but surely there is a way around it.

  4. "In the opening credits we see "and Kristian Alfonso as Deborah." Why on earth did they have to reveal that to the audience? They do such a nice job of preserving the mystery person's identity, and it would have been a great surprise to the audience to see Deborah take off her mask halfway through."

    Yeah you are right!!! They shouldn't of done that! Yeah Mikey is right! Ask the producers. :)

    "I remember watching this as a kid and wondering why she died from falling 100 feet but Murdoc survived falling off the Widowmaker."

    Hahahaha! Murdoc is magical. :)

  5. I'm curious about what really happened at 9:27 mark. It seems like RDA decided to say Dana's line at the last second. Dana is also saying "like the time" when RDA starts talking and says: "wait a minute". Could it be that Dana forgot it was RDA's line and continue talking until he was interrupted by RDA? It wouldn't make any sense if Pete makes reference to a memory he wasn't part of. I really like that moment, and how the scene is "saved" by the three actors and progress as a completely normal conversation.

    1. That's interesting. I just went back and rewatched that part, and it does seem like it probably was unscripted, though I'd say there's an outside chance that it was scripted.