Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
MacGyver returns home with some microfilm intel after a memorable escape involving a coffin turned jet ski in East Berlin. He goes to a safe house to deliver the information to Pete, but the house is anything but safe as it has been commandeered and booby trapped to the max by Quayle, a flamboyant international criminal whom MacGyver brought down once before. MacGyver escapes from the house, only to return once he learns that Pete has been captured, and he tries to lure Quayle out in the open for a final showdown.
MacGyver is the only blemish on my records, gentlemen. ~Quayle
Love the scene in the beginning where Quayle is talking to the three guys at the table. We just saw them in Silent World, and I hadn't realized until Mark mentioned it in the comments that they were the same actors as this episode. It works much better here as they are shrouded in darkness with the music escalating to match the escalation in dialogue between Quayle (played masterfully by Christopher Neame from the Holy Rose episodes) and the three bad guys. In particular I like the guy on the right - awesome voice and cool accent.
You know I don't like to critique the actors too much because I'm an empathetic guy and don't like hurting people's feelings. But it's hard not to mention a particular performance in this episode that stands out to me as possibly the worst performance in any MacGyver episode. That's all I'll say on that.
Makes a moving cart out of a battery, rubber bands, and a blender, and adds the upper half of a suit of armor on top.
Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
- Nice little opening gambit in the beginning where MacGyver breaks out of East Berlin in a coffin turned jet ski, and he adds a fun little flourish on the jet ski once he's out of range.
- Strange scene as Karen pulls her car up on a crowded sidewalk and rescues MacGyver from some guys who are following him. First off, who are those guys, and shouldn't they have done more to stop him from leaving? Then it's funny how MacGyver gives Karen an extra long, unnecessary kiss. And when they get to the mansion, he adds, "I thought I knew all the pretty girls in the office." Kids, don't try that at work. For better or for worse, early season 1 MacGyver took self-confidence to new heights.
- 10:42 - not sure what that is on Quayle's head. Maybe it's a nest.
- 10:50 - it's the second episode for the Pete Thornton character (the first was Nightmares); in fact, MacGyver still calls him "Peter." We learn about how the first time Pete met MacGyver, MacGyver pulled him out of quicksand and put him on a camel. This is a good lesson for young screenwriters not to throw in meaningless origin-story dialogue too early in a series because you can't change your mind later on down the line. Though in this case, the writers do change their mind later and just don't care about the contradiction (in "Partners" during Season 2, we learn that Pete and MacGyver meet for the first time in a taxicab when Pete is chasing Murdoc).
- Some great banter between MacGyver and Quayle, first when MacGyver is telling everyone who Quayle is and then in the kitchen when MacGyver is making fun of him, but Quayle doesn't seem to get the joke. I particularly like when MacGyver turns to Pete and says, "Security leak a little bigger than you thought?"
- 23:00 - MacGyver gives Karen another long, gratuitous kiss. The man is out of control.
- 30:11 - the headfirst dive over the hedge from the opening song.
- 36:13 - "My daddy used to say, you can't hit what you can't see!" Really, MacGyver? My daddy? And why was MacGyver carrying a bucket and a box of powder into the hallway before the guns started firing? Mighty convenient. And how does the powder turn into smoke with no other discernible ingredients? And the room's not that big - couldn't Quayle still hit them if he moved his big red lights around the room quickly? And then they run out of the room - why didn't they just do that to begin with instead of sticking around and making a smokescreen? Definitely didn't ask these questions in fourth grade.
- To rig a house with this much electronics and surveillance would take years.
- 40:13 - MacGyver asks Karen for a mirror and then she makes a comment about how she doesn't want to look in a mirror. Then he looks back at her with a wry smile and bobs his head slightly for a few seconds. He is totally out of control.
- 40:34 - Shot from the opening credits of the wires and screw.
- 43:04 - Oh dear, more kissing. Please make it stop.
- "Gosh, Quayle, and all this time I thought you were just...scum."
- 45:23 - nice shake.
- "Yes, I think we've plugged the leak. Quayle, that's right." Quayle is the leak? Doesn't the leak have to be someone who works for your organization? Was Karen the leak? I'm confused.
- "Where were we? Oh yes, solving a puzzle."
Enjoyable episode with an exciting opening, a memorable villain, and a creative plot. On the other hand, there are some signficant issues with the acting as alluded to above, and there may not be an episode where MacGyver is more insufferable. In general, I'd say that arrogance is one of my least favorite traits, and while I often enjoy MacGyver's swagger (you'll see a little swag in my top 10), there's a fine line between endearing and annoying in his Season 1 attitude. In particular when he gets around women, his "charm" is debatable. Nevertheless, I still enjoy this episode, though I probably enjoyed it a bit more when I was 10. Next up, an episode with the opposite effect that has grown on me over time.