MacGyver Recap: I Blame MacGruber


Metal Saw
Season 1 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating *****
Metal Saw
Lucas Till as Macgyver. Photo: Jace Downs/CBS

I am not sure what I want from MacGyver, nor am I really sure what it wants from me. I mean, MacGyver seems nice. It’s kinda cute if you’re into swoopy hair and dad jokes, but it also seems kind of noncommittal. I can’t tell if it wants this to be a serious relationship, or if it would just rather keep things casual. I mean, I don’t mind either way. By virtue of being The Guy Who Is Seeing Recapping MacGyver, I am very clearly down for whatever, but it’d be nice if it were a bit more consistent.

I guess I’m trying to say I have no idea how I’m supposed to feel about MacGyver’s clever life hacks (which I am now calling MacHacks). This is a sticking point for me, because without them,  nothing separates this show from countless other vanilla procedurals with initials like N.C.S.I.J.A.G. MacGyver actually operates at a disadvantage compared to those shows, since it must spend a lot of energy justifying and implementing its inventions. That’s time and energy that could otherwise go towards saucy makeouts, you know?

In other words, I’m not sure if we’re supposed to think these inventions are clever or ridiculous. I blame MacGruber for this.

Before I run down this week’s MacHacks, let’s set things up: The Phoenix Foundation is recruited to rescue Sarah Adler (Amy Acker!) who has some valuable intel on a nefarious Venezuelan gun runner named Barrios. Adding some color to the situation is the fact that Adler used to date MacGyver’s dad-bro Jack Dalton, and he’s clearly not over her.

They get in, they get out, they crack jokes about Uber. And Angus MacGyver makes these five MacHacks, ranked from best to worst:

1. A television remote, digital microscope, and glasses are torn down to an LED light array, an infrared filter, and a microscope screen, which combine to become … NIGHT-VISION GOGGLES. This is incredible. While infiltrating the facility where Adler is held, Mac tells us how much he hates the dark and then the power gets cut and there’s just no way he’s going to make night-vision goggles and then he makes night-vision goggles. I’m positive he skipped like five steps, though.

2. A car battery, jumper cables, and spare change become … A FREAKING BLOWTORCH. This is how Mac breaks into the facility, by the way. It is so patently impossible and ridiculous I couldn’t help but laugh. It is also the prerequisite Egregiously Dangerous Hack of the episode. Please don’t play with jumper cables and live batteries.

3. Car mirrors, tree branches, and magnifying lenses combine to form … AN EXPLOSION OF BULLETS AND SHIT. In the episode’s big pivot, Adler convinces Mac and Co. to not just save her and the intel she has on Barrios, but go all the way and apprehend Barrios themselves. To do this, they have to subdue his personal army. How could they possibly do that? Oh, just by using miscellaneous objects to direct focused sunlight on some ammo supply crates, burning through the wood and igniting the ammunition.

4. Camo netting and some wrenches combine to make … SOME WEIRD MOTORCYCLE BOOBY TRAP. Less goofy and more practical, I guess. When Mac tosses the bunch o’ wrenches at Barrios’ motorcycle, it catches up his tires and sends him flying. It’s very Mario Kart.

5. Gasoline, soda bottles, and and a conveniently indiscernible substance become … FIREBOMBS. In the very beginning of the episode, Mac and Jack wind up in a high-speed car chase while extracting some cyberterrorist from North Korea. Mac siphons some fuel into each bottle, then adds the mysterious substance to make the bombs. This one loses points for lack of clarity.

Here’s the great thing about this episode: The best MacHacks are firmly entrenched on the ridiculous end of the spectrum. If MacGyver chooses to embrace that wackiness, it might very well work.

Here’s the bad thing about this episode: It still wants to play everything straight. Each scenario is constructed to give Mac everything he needs, and the show seems determined to become yet another formulaic CBS procedural.

I want MacGyver to be the Furious 7 of hastily constructed inventions. Everything should be dialed to 11 at all times. Mac should be using the most disparate junk imaginable to build totally illogical things, like a bazooka or a fully operational Sherman Tank. Doesn’t that sound great? I’d love to watch that show. A few saucy makeouts wouldn’t hurt, either.

MacGyver Recap: I Blame MacGruber