It’s the season finale, full of surprise and spies, in this week’s episode of MACGYVER, “Cigar Cutter.” In a gratifying success for the show, the episode was fun, entertaining, and satisfyingly complete in it’s storytelling. Any bits that were slightly mysterious or confusing were logically explained within the episode, and serious jumps in logic or expectations were pretty much non-existent. For a show that started it’s season with the expectation that audiences would believe MacGyver could outrun a plane lifting off from a runway, we’ve come a long way. This episode proved that when MacGyver viewers are assumed to be smart enough to understand the logical threads that get us from point A to point B to point C, without needing to over explain, and not assumed to be dumb enough not to care (or notice) really unrealistic plot points of action, the show can be done well.
Another strong point working for the episode was the opportunity afforded to each character, based on the plot’s fallout. While Bozer is almost fatally wounded, he still finds a way to outsmart the enemy and help save the day. Jack is able to prove that he’s smart enough to pick up tricks from Mac, and Riley isn’t just brains and a computer keyboard. The woman is a straight-up, hardcore fighter, and she wins battles when it means life or death. Maddy also comes to shine, and we finally, finally get to see her in action, freed from the daunting and somewhat monotonous task of giving commands through a screen. Turns out, she’s an incredible shot, and she doesn’t put up with fear or taunting. All in all, she demonstrates exactly why her character was assigned the lead role at the Phoenix group. Even I want to be Maddy when I grow up. The woman is amazing.
What’s also nice is the tie-in and nod to Cairo, which was mentioned in the pilot, most likely as a throwaway joke. However, that detail has become more and more crucial to the overall plot as the show has progressed, and in this episode, we finally get to see the climatic point right before everything goes bonkers in Cairo. What’s slightly unfortunate is that this teaser, being a flashback, is so different from the normal format of the show that it takes a few minutes into the first act before the notation that the teaser was a flashback to Cairo really sinks in. It’s not a big deal, seeing as the point obviously gets across to the viewer before the episode is over, but it does detract somewhat from the main goal of the episode, which is to catapult us straight into a crazy, action-filled plot to take over Phoenix, kill Mac and friends, and steal back the biological weapon that Nikki tried to sell off in the first episode.
Why this Cairo teaser really detracts from the episode, though, is that it doesn’t actually tell us how Mac and Jack escaped once everything went balls-up. Perhaps this is because this season finale episode expects audiences to assume that this episode is more or less exactly like Cairo (Mac even mentions it a couple times, as does Jack). And while that’s likely the true and straight-forward explanation, there’s still slight room to wonder if maybe what happened in Cairo is tied more closely to Nikki and the Organization’s plans than we’re supposed to believe at this point; that would mean spoiling important details being left for season two if we saw how Cairo played out exactly. Maybe this theory is a stretch, but I wouldn’t put it past the writers.
With this season finale, MacGyver chose to take a less frequent finale episode choice, and leave the show’s biggest bad guy – the Organization – unsolved and mysterious. Instead, the season finale went after Murdoch, an arch nemesis only second to the Organization and Nikki in Mac’s book. It was a bold choice, leaving all of the bigger questions we’ve been asking about Mac since the beginning wide open. What’s happened to Nikki? Where is she, and why has none of the threats and warnings she’s mentioned come to full fruition? Or did they when Patricia was revealed, and I’m just too slow to realize it? Either this show has some vague ambiguities, or I’m not smart enough to pick up what Mac is laying down.
Either way, why is it that Murdoch becomes enemy number one, revisiting Mac and the team – not by choice – but then afterwards, by attempting to have them killed? If the Organization has infiltrated Phoenix, where is Patricia, and why hasn’t she resurfaced as some evil-doer wreaking havoc and revenge on Phoenix in person? Obviously, a lot of questions have been left for season two, and I hope – hope, hope, hope – they will be answered. But when it comes to MacGyver, nothing is set in stone.
Season 1, Episode 21 (S01E21)
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.
Tasha Cerny | Contributor