In this week’s episode of MACGYVER – honestly guys, I don’t even know. “Metal Saw” is a mashup of what feels like barely-threaded action speckled with an earnest try at human emotion and character relationship. In other words, this show has no idea what it wants to be. Is it a procedural? Is it an action show? Is it Chuck? Or is it Mission Impossible? I’m so confused I’m not even 100% how the title of the episode connects to the actual story.
As harsh as that may sound, this episode was still a step up from last week. There was a genuine effort at creating a B-Story that had nothing to do with guns and explosions and everything to do with character development. Our characters enjoyed some banter, and we got a dose, if ever-so-small, of how this team actually cares about each other. But the basic setup of the show is still the same: one small win after another, so we never really feel like there’s a true challenge for MacGyver. There’s no failure, so there’s no true stakes and the audience can’t relate.
We were given brief character interactions followed by long sequences of guns shooting and cars chasing. Interactions so brief, in fact, that at the end, when Jack’s long-time love (we’ll get to that) says, “I tried to tell you,” and he nods knowingly, as if he understands he’s missed his chance (well that died quickly) I sat there, racking my brain for when exactly it was that she ‘tried to tell him,’ and my answer? Some time after it hit the editing floor.
There are so many logic loopholes in this show it’s starting to look like the first sweater I ever crocheted. I mean, I’m ready to give this episode an ‘A’ just because it doesn’t try to convince me that MacGyver can out run a jet plane taking off from the runway. But even in this episode, there are just some strange things: Mac’s narration doesn’t quite match what’s happening or going to happen – he’s quite the unreliable narrator, Patricia somehow gets from LA to South America with backup in less than eight hours, and miraculously arrives just in time to rescue Riley from the local police who apparently can’t get anywhere faster than an international airplane.
But the show’s worst sin is still MacGyver’s macgyvering. Despite there being several DIY’s throughout the episode, only one was semi-interesting and surprising. While rescuing Jack’s former partner and love, Sarah, from a South American hospital-turned-prison (because what good is a hospital in the middle of the jungle anyways, really) Mac macgyvers a pair of night-vision goggles out of items he finds in the abandoned morgue. That was the first original idea MacGyver has had in the show so far. And something I’ve noticed related to this that really bothers me – why does Mac only use his skills to break into places? Wasn’t the original MacGyver all about using his skills to get out of situations? Perhaps this is the unforgivable sacrifice that had to be made in order to make room for Mac’s team of friends, but honestly, it’s ruining this otherwise just mediocre show.
Okay, I’ve save the summary for last because telling you how this story played out in a logical sense just might be more difficult than watching it.
We open on Mac and Jack speeding down a road in what looks like Forrest Gump’s Vietnam. We’re supposedly in North Korea, which we’re supposed to be clued into by the American rock song playing over the radio in what I presume is Korean. They’re gunning it, while being tailed by two militant vehicles gunning them. Patricia and Riley watch from a satellite video in a living somewhere far away. Over radio, Patricia reminds them they have to keep the precious cargo alive. But when Mac and Jack are finally cornered by the men chasing them, Mac decides they have to improvise. They hand their precious “cargo” over to the men with guns – a half-naked man who is apparently a notorious hacker and U.S. spy. And, just when you think, “Okay, so now they spend the rest of the episode trying to recapture this spy,” Mac and Jack fistbump! Like they’ve known all along this was the plan – what?
So while we’re sitting on this side of the screen, waiting to get some answers about where that opener was going, Mac is back in LA and is still not over his girlfriend-turned-villain-turned-fugitive. Like a creepy obsessed stalker, he visits her apartment everyday, looking for clues, despite the fact that, according to Jack, the FBI has turned her apartment over dozens of times. Meanwhile Riley has started attending parole meetings with her parole officer, who she convinces she’s in a committed relationship to get him off her back. Riley recruits Mac’s roommate, Wilt, to play the part of her boyfriend. He agrees, and asks for her real number. She tells him that for every meeting he helps her successfully convince her parole officer that she’s fine, he’ll get one digit of her phone number.
Halfway through the episode, we finally get to the real story: Jack’s former partner and the girl that got away, Sarah, has been kidnapped while spying for the CIA. She’s gathered a lot of intelligence on an arms dealer, and now he wants her dead – just as soon as he finds the dirt she has on him. Using Riley’s god-like reign over computers, they find that Sarah is in a secluded, abandon hospital. Using his lackluster skillset, Mac breaks into the hospital and rescues Sarah. Sarah takes the four to the apartment where she had been subletting from a little old man, Louis. Unfortunately, they find that Louis has been tortured to death. Suddenly this mission is no longer about getting the intelligence on this arms dealer and delivering it and Sarah safely back to America. This is about revenge.
Mac, Jack, and Riley all agree to go with Sarah to try and capture the arms dealer. Riley goes to an internet cafe where she begins to upload the intelligence file, but the internet is slow and it’s going to take several hours. Meanwhile, Mac, Jack, and Sarah stake out the base camp of the arms dealer. Mac macgyvers a distraction, and the three wind up in a car chase with the arms dealer, who sails over their vehicle off of some very conveniently placed tree stumps – like seriously, way too convenient.
With another Macgyver invention (if you could call it that) Mac throughs together camouflage netting and wrenches and stops the arms dealer from getting away. Jack tries to comfort Sarah after she angrily bursts out at the cowering arms dealer. Patricia lightly slaps them all on the metaphorical wrist before telling them she’d do the same thing, and then they go home to LA, where Mac visits Nikki’s apartment again and lo-and-behold, finds her passport hidden away in a spot that even the FBI couldn’t find after several sweeps. Meanwhile, Jack discovers that Sarah has a fiance (she tried to tell him!). Finally, the team is all together and they’re about to go enjoy some hamburgers, possibly the only thing that still makes perfect sense in this silly show.
Season 1, Episode 2 (S02E02)
MacGyver airs Fridays at 8PM on CBS
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.
Tasha Cerny | Contributor