Friendships become bittersweet in this week’s episode of MACGYVER. “Wire Cutter” has the team chasing time, both literally and figuratively in the fourth installment of the rebooted series. With some solid focus on the emotional development of our characters, the series is starting to rise above its choppy, sterile first two episodes.
“Wire Cutter” really honed in on the characters – particularly notable is Patricia, the team’s boss, who normally sits on the sidelines and barks orders over a phone while sitting in an office somewhere in LA. In this week’s episode, she jumps into the thick of it, going alone on an intelligence-gathering mission to help track down a deranged ex-Soviet colonel bent on restarting the cold war. But she isn’t just getting a piece of the action – she’s seeking revenge for the death of Lieutenant Bannister, an agent who was brutally murdered after Patricia sent her on a solo mission. Throughout the episode we get a peek into the way Patricia’s mind works – she’s no longer some aloof, robotic boss we only see when she has instructions for the team, she’s a real person with regrets and guilt, and frankly, she’s a badass.
Riley gets a small piece of the action in this episode as well, “Donkey Kong-ing” a couple of barrels down a stairwell upon unsuspecting Russian cronies chasing after her. Meanwhile, Mac and Jack get a glimpse of what their future might look like when they have to team up with an ex-Soviet scientist and his handler to deactivate a fifty-year-old atomic bomb.
Overall, the series continues to improve upon its rough beginnings. This episode did not include as much macgyvering as previous episodes, and most of what Mac did macgyver seemed less pronounced and less exciting in comparison to the real character development we’ve been given. This episode spent a lot of time subtly examining Mac and Jack’s friendship through the lense of the soviet scientist and his handler. Patricia had her own story arc with the guilt felt from Lt. Bannister’s death. And Riley grows attached to the soviet scientist, visiting him at his retirement home after their adventure is all said and done.
There was even far less logic jumping in this episode, though the way they deactivate the bomb at the end is a bit dicey. Really, my only complaint still is that I feel nothing from Mac. This episode had the rest of the team finding out that Mac is still conducting searches for his ex-girlfriend, Nikki, on the internet. They hold an intervention for him, and he promises to let it go. To let her go. Jack is upset with Mac for hiding this fact from him. Mac eventually apologizes and explains that he didn’t want to hurt Jack or get him in trouble. But we don’t feel any of this. When it comes to Mac and his ex-girlfriend, we don’t feel anything at all.
The story moved pretty quickly this week. After the whole team returns from a mission abroad, Mac finds himself in the middle of an intervention that his roommate and best friend, Bozer, coordinates. It seems that Bozer has discovered that Mac has been running searches for Nikki, the ex-girlfriend that Bozer believes to be dead. He gets Patricia, Riley, Jack, and an old mutual friend (and one of Mac’s previous girlfriends) involved. This creates tension when Jack realizes that Mac has lied to him about continuing to search for Nikki. There’s no time for confrontation, though, because Patricia gets word that a ex-Soviet Russian coup might be in the works.
The team assembles for debriefing and meets Lt. Bannister via video call. She’s somewhere in Russia investigating a strange discovery that’s under lock and key. With the help of Macgyver’s instructions, she’s able to break the lock and the team realizes they’re dealing with an old nuclear bomb. One that was supposed to be decommissioned at the end of the cold war, but somehow slipped through the cracks. Before Lt. Bannister and the team can decide what to do, though, the ex-Soviet colonel barges in and kills Lt. Bannister right on video, with the entire team watching.
With the old warhead in enemy hands, the team has to move quickly. Patricia takes on a solo mission gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of the warhead and the colonel. Meanwhile, Mac, Jack, and Riley track down an ex-Soviet scientist and his handler, who might be the only two people who can deactivate the bomb. With their two guests in tow, the team heads to Russia, but there’s still some speed bumps they have to jump over. First, they have to find a special type of computer to talk to the bomb. It’s an antiquated machine that Russia ordered destroyed at the end of the cold war. The ex-Soviet handler, however, still has one intact that he hid away. They just have to make a pit stop at his old Russian home.
Once there, Mac has to macgyver a portable battery for the machine, which only runs on a power cord. Anticipating that there won’t be any outlets wherever the bomb is, Mac essentially transforms the machine into a laptop. Before the team can be on their way, however, the colonel’s cronies attack, and after a panicked chase through an underground tunnel, the team’s guest scientist is kidnapped.
At a loss for what to do, the team and the handler meet up with Patricia to find the location of the warhead. Unsure how they’re going to deactivate the bomb without the scientist, they realize they have less than twenty-four hours to find and stop the bomb, scientist or no. They discover the location of the bomb and with it, the scientist and the colonel. Turns out the colonel has been collecting Uranium for years, and wants the scientist to build him more warheads, so he can start and finish the cold war on his terms.
The team rescues the scientist and Patricia hunts down the colonel and avenges Lt. Bannister’s death. Mac and the scientist deactivate the bomb just in time, but not before the handler is shot and killed. It’s a bittersweet end as the scientist and the handler make amends and say their final goodbyes. It drives Mac to apologize to Jack for keeping his obsession with finding Nikki a secret. Patricia, too, must face a bittersweet ending after avenging Lt. Bannister’s death. When they get back to LA, she takes Jack for moral support as she breaks the news to the Bannister family of their daughter’s death. The episode ends with Riley and the now lonely ex-Soviet scientist bonding in his retirement home.
When will we see more of Nikki, and will we finally feel something for Mac when it happens? Will the show continue to smooth out its kinks and find a balance between action and emotion? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually looking forward to finding out in next week’s episode!
Season 1, Episode 4 (S01E04)
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.
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Tasha Cerny | Contributor