Episode: “The Gauntlet,” season 1, ep. 4
Original air date: Oct. 21, 1985
Mullet Status: In the earliest stages of being. Overshadowed by his female love interest’s poodle perm.
This week’s opening sequence is brought to you by the people who believe that “They” want to build a “mosque” on “Ground Zero,” as Mac outwits a group of Middle Eastern (presumed) terrorists to retrieve a map of the U.S. affixed with sticky notes (presumably) identifying locations for (presumed) attacks.
Our All-American hero deftly sneaks past a turbaned man seen wrestling with a camel and steals laundry from a woman dressed in a jilbab before outrunning the locals–who communicate in a series of throaty, spittle-filled yells–before making his escape on a hot air balloon. The only thing missing was a belly dancer serving a platter of hummous. Why don’t “them Arabs” just shoot at the balloon as Mac makes his painfully slow getaway? Well, they do. Once. And then they watch as Mac shimmies up the ropes and fixes the hole in the balloon by duct-taping the map over it.
The entirety of the sequence–all 9 long minutes of it–MacGyver gives a running monologue dedicated to his love of cartography.
Plot Synopsis: Next, it’s on to Anywhere, Central America, where the natives’ dark facial hair, ruthless guerrilla soldiers and animalistic sexual urges make an ideal target of MacGyver’s tiresome brand of xenophobia.
An American publisher sends Mac into the jungle to fetch spitfire photojournalist Kate–a “frisky friend,” according to IMDB.com–and bring her home safely to the United States and away from those mongrels “down there.” Things get complicated when Kate insists on one final mission; get photos of a secret weapons exchange between the corrupt local general and an American arms dealer. Mac accompanies her and, obviously, they are captured. After a quick escape, they are on the lam and making a run for the Mexican border in order to turn the photographic evidence over to the proper authorities. And also, to get some nachos.
Outmatched Opponent(s): MacGyver’s old nemesis, Dave Ryerson (John Vernon). A grossly inefficient arms dealer with crooked sunglasses and a jaunty white Panama, Dave is easily outsmarted at every turn, but does a mildly convincing job of acting as though he “rather enjoys this little game of cat and mouse.”
Love Interest: After sharing a dinner of roasted lizard around a crackling campfire, fugitives Mac and Kate get down to something approximating business in the least erotic foreplay ever captured on film. When Mac goes in for the “kiss”–a dry, closed-mouth affair–his face is that of a man who has been asked to give his grandmother a tongue bath. One can only imagine that as he robotically moved his body atop this human woman, Mac went to his “happy place” and thought of his true fantasy lover –
Tools of the Trade:
– In what amounts to either lazy writing or a budgetary shortage in props, Mac devises a good portion of his projects using camera straps and camera bag straps taken from Kate.
-A compact from Kate’s purse, used to create a para-scope that Mac uses to – you know what? This is just too stupid to explain.
-Plastique (“silly putty with a bang”) and a camera wire to create a bomb “distraction.”
-More “distractions” in the form of barrel bombs (wooden barrels filled with gas) and other debris rolled down a hill to the still-as-statues Central American army henchmen. This allows Kate and Mac to hide in another barrel that rolls into the river where they dodge 100s of bullets to make their escape to Mexico.
– “It’s been said the best company you can have is a map.” – Mac
– “The great thing about a map is it can get you in and out of a place in many different ways.” – Mac
– “It just goes to show; a good map will always get you where you want to go.” – Mac
– “Have you met my friend Jackson? Andrew Jackson?” – Mac as he uses a $20 bill to bribe three Central American police officers out of raping a young woman in the open street.
– “You know, you could stand to lose a few pounds,” MacGyver to Kate as he carries her toward a group of opposition guards. When, moments later, Kate clocks a soldier and knocks him unconscious, the pair of runaways share a tender moment, which Mac cuts short by grabbing Kate, putting her in a headlock and giving her a noogie. Dipshit.
– “It’s time to get this party started!” – MacGyver before launching his plan of attack.
– “Welcome to Meh-he-co, do you have anything to declare?” – A Mexican border guard in sombrero, atop a burro, as Mac and Kate emerge from the river that divides Mexico and Somewhere In Central America.
Important Life Lessons:
If MacGyver takes your atlas into the bathroom for a few minutes to “inspect it where the light is better,” let him keep it. The pages are just going to be stuck together, anyhow.
Rental Rehab review by Tricia