I know this is absolutely not the case, but I’m starting to feel as though each MACGYVER episode has been tailor-made to address the issues I discussed in my review of the preceding episode. Case and Point: I complain about the show never having an obstacle Mac fails to conquer, MacGyver starts putting roadblocks in Mac’s way. I complain that the macgyvering isn’t interesting or unique, MacGyver starts making more than parachutes and bombs. This week’s episode, “Wrench,” was no different.
Last week you might recall I fussed profusely over the fact that I feel nothing from Mac. Despite how much Lucas Till as MacGyver has grown on me, he’s been giving me nothing, particularly in reference to his ex-girlfriend-turned-villain, Nikki. Sure, Mac has friends and a little chosen-family in this new reboot, yet he’s been so distant it’s been hard to relate to the character, let alone understand how in the world he has friends and why.
“Wrench” addressed these complaints. Well, not directly addressed them, but you get my point. My guess is that if Mac’s lack of emotion was so obvious to me, then it was just as obvious to the writers, and they knew it had to be fixed. And so intensely did they fix it that at one point Mac even sheds a tear. (It is as trope-y and cliche as it sounds, but it’s also a sad story worth his tears.)
Granted, Mac crying in this episode doesn’t at all mean we’re really going to feel any emotion towards Nikki in the future, but it’s a nice step forward. We’re starting to see the layers behind Mac, to discover who he is and what really drives him. To see how his friendships really drive his actions. The picture that’s been painted in this episode is that of a hero with a slight martyr complex; Mac feels like he has to put himself in harm’s way to keep his loved ones out of it. He also personally takes responsibility when any of his loved ones are in danger, whether he had anything to do with putting them in a dangerous situation or not.
This ties into the characterization that last week’s episode formed of Mac. If you recall, we learned that Mac takes personal responsibility for Nikki’s actions, even though there was nothing he could have done to realize what or who she was and stop her before she got away. Mac just really likes to take responsibility for things.
So it’s nice that we’re finally starting to know the characters within MacGyver, and that it’s not all just shallow good guys vs. bad guys and blowing things up and deactivating bombs. Though, literally, this week’s episode was all about deactivating bombs. But it was intense, and emotional, and lives we’ve come to care about were actually at stake, so it was a very good episode. Not to mention, the bomb-maker is referred to as “The Ghost” – very Halloween relevant.
The episode opens on Mac, Riley, and Jack being buried alive in a military-grade jeep, which means the glass in the vehicle is bullet proof, and they haven’t been able to break it so that they can dig their way out of the mound of dirt that’s being dumped on top of them by a deranged foreign president. Mac tells us in voiceover about how his inability to help loved ones in danger is one of things he fears most. But this isn’t one of those times. Using the airbags in the vehicle, he macgyvers an explosion that breaks the bulletproof windshield glass and allows the team to escape.
Back in LA, Mac gets called to New York by an old friend who needs Mac’s expert opinion on a bomb he’s been put in charge of deactivating. The friend has suspicions about the bomb-maker, and Mac is the only other person in the country who has had experience with the man he suspects. Mac takes a look at the bomb – it looks pretty crude, but some of the material used does suggest the man Mac’s friend suspects. Mac deactivates the bomb and then takes a closer look – inside the bomb is another bomb, and deactivating the first bomb has just activated the second bomb!
With only two minutes on the clock to find a safe place for this explosion to go off without hurting anyone, Mac dumps the bomb outside in the sewer, pulls a dumpster over top of the manhole, and parks a car next to the dumpster to keep it in place. The explosion is still so strong that it sends the dumpster and car flying through the air, but everyone is still alive and safe. However, safe for how long, Mac isn’t sure. What he is sure about is that his friend’s suspicions have been confirmed: this is the work of The Ghost – a notorious bombmaker who Mac has a past with.
With the clues that Mac was able to uncover from the bomb before it exploded, they realize that The Ghost installs a digital camera into all of his bombs so he can watch as his victims try to deactivate his work and then get blown up in the process. Riley uses this information to track The Ghost down to an apartment, where they catch him off guard. He gets away, but they get their hands on his computer, and Riley downloads a lot of information from it while Mac attempts to deactivate the bomb that has of course been placed and activated inside The Ghost’s computer.
Amongst the information that Riley uncovers is a folder of videos of The Ghost’s victims going back ten years. Mac finds the video of the man who trained him in the army to deactivate bombs. Mac has always felt as though it was his fault this man died, because Mac was supposed to be the one who went in and cleared the building where the bomb went off. Mac never knew what happened because his trainer’s mic cut out before the explosion happened. Watching the video, Mac is able to see exactly what happened, and hear exactly what this man’s last words to him were.
Finally knowing how his friend died renews Mac’s vigor to find The Ghost, who is targeting the UN Peace Talks happening that day in New York. After they are sent on a false trail to a warehouse where The Ghost tries to fake his own death, Mac doubles down at the convention center where the Peace Talks are happening. They find the fake police truck The Ghost has hijacked with a bomb, but The Ghost gets away as Jack, who – like an idiot – makes to chase The Ghost through the truck and steps on a weight-triggered landmine. But Mac can’t just deactivate the mine while Jack stays put (because if Jack takes his weight off of the mine it will explode with enough force to take out the entire city block) because the bomb is the exact same setup that killed Mac’s friend and trainer ten years ago. Mac knows there is another bomb that will be activated if he simply deactivates the landmine. Once they find it, Mac has to deactivate that bomb first, without actually setting foot inside the truck. Thankfully he is successful, and then he’s able to deactivate the landmine and Jack, as well as the peace talks, are safe. Unfortunately, The Ghost gets away, but that’s a story for another day, I’m sure.
Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
MacGyver airs Friday 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