MACGYVER Review: “Screwdriver”

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Secret agents, moles, and spies, Oh my! On this week’s , “Screwdriver,” the ex-girlfriends return to do double-duty for Mac and Jack, and the surprises they have up their sleeves will…surprise you. In actuality, there’s a lot of things going on in this week’s episode that should make for exciting twists and turns, with a big reveal at the end, but what the episode delivers is a lackluster performance that still doesn’t know how to balance drama with action.

I was actually rather disappointed with this episode. I think perhaps my theory stands that any episode where Nikki is involved just seems to fall flat. And no matter how many times Mac makes out with her, I still don’t believe their chemistry. Oh, by the way, this is all probably spoilers if you haven’t watched the episode yet.

The episode starts out fine enough – in fact, the teaser this week was actually pretty interesting, and thank goodness a step away from the usual car chase or shootout. Jack gets caught and interrogated (on purpose) to then be saved by Mac right on cue. It was trope-y in the most extreme way, but hey, at least it was interesting and different from the typical story choices made in each episode.

"Screwdriver" -- Using a screwdriver and bug spray, MacGyver must find the U.S. government mole who is leaking classified intel to the organization that is trying to take down The Phoenix Foundation. Also, Sarah (Amy Acker) returns to help with the mission, and Nikki (Tracy Spiridakos) reappears, but Mac can't tell which side she's on, on MACGYVER, Friday, Jan. 6 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Justin Hires, Tristin Mays, Lucas Till, George Eads. PHOTO CREDIT: CBS © 2016 CBS. All Rights Reserved.

When that mission is over, Mac and Jack are called back to headquarters where Sarah – Jack’s ex-girlfriend (aka the one that got away) – has some interesting news for them: she’s found Nikki. She’s assembling a stealth team to track and capture her, and Sarah wants to recruit Mac and Jack because of their familiarity with Nikki. They of course agree, but not before Sarah and Jack get in some awkward quips about Sarah’s upcoming wedding. It’s as uncomfortable as it sounds, considering in the last episode the two were in together, neither felt comfortable admitting there were still feelings there. Now, however, it seems as though the two can’t stop arguing about their potential compatibility.

With all that awkwardness going on, the team plus Sarah make their way to the stakeout point where, sure enough, they’re able to apprehend Nikki. But she has some shocking news for them as well: she’s not a rogue agent turned dirty at all, she’s actually a deep, undercover spy trying to sniff out a mole from inside the government. This mole has been feeding the organization Nikki’s gone undercover in information to help take down Phoenix.

Mac, Jack, and Sarah aren’t ready to believe her – obviously it could be a story to throw them off balance while she makes an escape. So they have Riley and Bozer do a little research offsite while Mac, Jack, and Sarah go along with Nikki’s plan – for now.

"Screwdriver" -- Using a screwdriver and bug spray, MacGyver must find the U.S. government mole who is leaking classified intel to the organization that is trying to take down The Phoenix Foundation. Also, Sarah (Amy Acker) returns to help with the mission, and Nikki (Tracy Spiridakos) reappears, but Mac can't tell which side she's on, on MACGYVER, Friday, Jan. 6 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.Pictured: Lucas Till. PHOTO CREDIT: CBS © 2016 CBS. All Rights Reserved.

The information they continue to verify all seems to align with Nikki’s story, until they turn up at the meetup point where the government mole is supposedly supposed to show up, only to have the mission – an unofficial, undercover mission, mind you – come to a crashing halt when Patricia shows up with back up to escort the team back to Phoenix and arrest Nikki.

Of course Mac and Jack are kicking themselves about ever for a second even considering trusting Nikki again, until Riley and Bozer show up with the answers they were able to uncover. Turns out Nikki’s story was right – there is a government mole. And to that effect, someone did show up to the meeting point just as Nikki promised – Patricia. Ipso facto, Patricia is the mole! What??? All the tables are turned when Mac and Jack return with Nikki to confront Patricia with their own set of military-equivalent stormtroopers to apprehend her.

"Screwdriver" -- Using a screwdriver and bug spray, MacGyver must find the U.S. government mole who is leaking classified intel to the organization that is trying to take down The Phoenix Foundation. Also, Sarah (Amy Acker) returns to help with the mission, and Nikki (Tracy Spiridakos) reappears, but Mac can't tell which side she's on, on MACGYVER, Friday, Jan. 6 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: David Dastmalchian, Justin Hires, Tristin Mays. PHOTO CREDIT: CBS © 2016 CBS. All Rights Reserved.

But even after Patricia is arrested, Nikki tells Mac that her job isn’t over yet. She was commissioned to take down the entire organization, and she won’t stop until that job is finished. So she has to go back undercover and she won’t be around for Mac to kiss and pretend that there’s chemistry between them. Okay, maybe I paraphrased that last bit a little more than usual.

Here’s the thing I can’t figure out with this show. The plot points are there. The action, the character development, the twists and turns, the secrets. It’s all there and ready and willing to be used. Yet episodes like this, which should be grossly compelling and leave me counting down the days until I can find out the next clue in the story arc, are incredibly dull. Is it the performance? The execution? The story itself? Perhaps a combination of these things. Of course, there have certainly been signs of some lazy writing on this show – sequences are reused and tropes are laid on thick – but for the most part, the show has continued to improve. But this episode just didn’t hit. Not to mention how illogical it seems that Patricia would be the mole. Of course we haven’t gotten to see her in action too much, but without her, Phoenix Foundation would not be a thing at all – why is she trying to help take it down? Perhaps we’ll get more answers in the next episode. And perhaps as well, it will be more entertaining to watch.

TB-TV-Grade-B-

Season 1, Episode 12 (S01E12)
MacGyver airs Fridays at 8PM on CBS

Read all of our reviews of MacGyver here. 
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Tasha is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from Kansas, when she’s not writing about or watching TV, Tasha is searching for the best BBQ place in LA to fill the KC BBQ hole in her stomach.
Keep up with all of Tasha’s reviews here.

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Still quiet here.sas

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