MACGYVER Review: “Corkscrew”

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Just when I thought had really hit its stride, it keeps getting better. “Corkscrew” takes the lone-wolf elements of MacGyver that were so great about the original and worked so well in last week’s episode, cleans up the rough edges and amps up the stakes. This week it’s not MacGyver who’s ultimately in trouble, but it’s MacGyver who has to save the day.

I gotta say, this show keeps surprising. Eight episodes in, and I think the writers are still playing with the format. For a show that so clearly wants to have a defined structure as an action procedural, that’s surprising. What’s even more surprising is that each time the show gets a formatting adjustment, it gets better. Let’s face it, typically if a show still didn’t know quite what it wanted to be eight episodes in, it would lose its audience. It’s hard to relate to a show that never allows you to keep a certain level of expectation. But MacGyver hasn’t alienated its audiences. In fact, I think the show has become more enticing to watch with every new episode.

"Corkscrew" -- When MacGyver comes face to face with Murdoc, an international assassin hired to kill him, Mac must defend both himself and Bozer, armed with only a corkscrew and paper towel rolls. Also, Bozer feels completely betrayed when he finally learns Mac's true identity on MACGYVER, Friday, Nov. 11 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: David Dastmalchian guest stars as Murdoc, MacGyver's nemesis. Photo: Guy D'Alema/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Perhaps this is because it started off so badly. Maybe the bar was set so low with those first two episodes that there was no where to go but up. Maybe not, I’m not sure. Either way, I’m glad it’s only improved with every episode.

Before I dive into the actual workings of this episode, there are two things I’d like to point out, that might be a symptom of MacGyver being a CBS show, and might not. First, I’m very happy that this week’s episode had Riley making the ultimately save-the-day move. When Patricia is shot and can’t help take the hitman down, Jack runs off to help Mac, and my first thought was, “Great. Another episode where it’s just the two guys, saving the day.” But then Riley goes with him and uses her incredible hacking skills to actually tip the scale of power in Mac’s favor. Since Mac is obviously the lead, and Jack is his righthand man, it’s easy to just have those two saving the day every episode. What’s harder is staying true to that team element that this show wants so badly to deviate itself from the original, and giving the women some legitimate screen time and girl power. So good on Riley for being her own superhero.

"Corkscrew" -- When MacGyver comes face to face with Murdoc, an international assassin hired to kill him, Mac must defend both himself and Bozer, armed with only a corkscrew and paper towel rolls. Also, Bozer feels completely betrayed when he finally learns Mac's true identity on MACGYVER, Friday, Nov. 11 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. David Dastmalchian guest stars as Murdoc, MacGyver's nemesis. Pictured: Tristin Mays as Riley Davis. Photo: Guy D'Alema/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The second thing is Patricia. It seems like we’ve only ever gotten one episode where Patricia is actually doing something in the field. This week’s episode has her out with the team looking for the hitman that’s after Mac, but you don’t actually see her doing anything. And then she gets shot. Patricia seems to be the odd man out. The expendable one. Why is that? She’s their boss, she has all of this incredible wisdom and skill and we never get to see it. I know what makes Mac and Jack and Riley special, what makes Patricia special? If there is one serious plot point this show has been missing that would make it so much better, it’s Patricia.

Now, given the suspicious seed Nikki has sown in Mac’s head by the end of the episode – that’s right, Nikki’s back, guys – perhaps there’s more of a season arc, plotty reason why we haven’t spent that much time getting to know Patricia or see her in action. Maybe she’s supposed to be a bit distant from the rest of the team because she’s a part of something bigger that Mac just hasn’t realized yet. Or maybe we’re supposed to think that, and that’s why we haven’t seen much of her yet. But in my mind, this is all the more reason why she should get more screen time!

"Corkscrew" -- When MacGyver comes face to face with Murdoc, an international assassin hired to kill him, Mac must defend both himself and Bozer, armed with only a corkscrew and paper towel rolls. Also, Bozer feels completely betrayed when he finally learns Mac's true identity on MACGYVER, Friday, Nov. 11 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. David Dastmalchian guest stars as Murdoc, MacGyver's nemesis. Pictured: Justin Hires as Bozer, Lucas Till as Angus "Mac" MacGyver. George Eads as Jack Dalton. Photo: CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

This episode had a LOT of plot development. When an untrackable hitman is hired by Nikki to kill Mac, the team goes on a wild chase to capture the lethal man. Unfortunately, the team keeps trying to leave Mac behind in the safety of Phoenix’s headquarters, and it nearly costs them all of their lives. The big serial plot advancement, though, is Bozer. Mac’s cover is blown when the hitman goes to Mac’s home to kill him, and Bozer is there instead. Naturally, it’d be pretty hard to keep a secret like that after a man comes into your home to try and kill your best friend.

But the other big development is Nikki. After the team brings down the hitman that Mac thinks Nikki hired, he runs into her and her team – surprise, there’s two girls and two guys, mirror much? – unexpectedly at a diner. Nikki tells Mac that she didn’t hire the hitman, and that she’s not the one he should be concerned with. She tells him that he shouldn’t believe everything Phoenix has been telling him, and she warns him to be on his guard, because whoever hired the hitman isn’t going to stop until Mac is dead.

So, will we find out that Mac’s whole life is a lie? Maybe the show is pushing itself towards the whole lone-wolf, secret agent thing after all. I’ll be here next week to find out.

TB-TV-Grade-A

Season 1, Episode 8 (S01E08)
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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