MacGyver Season 1 Finale Recap: Grade the Reboot's Freshman Run

MacGyver Recap Finale

CBS’ MacGyver wrapped its freshman run on Friday night with a finale that served up few MacGyverisms yet delivered some dramatic stakes for a character who pulled the trigger on their first kill.

In fact, if you were to ask me the highlight of the hour, I’d point not to any pyrotechnics or vexing villain but to Tristin Mays’ performance, as Riley recoiled from shooting The Client at close range, during a struggle for a gun. It added up to just a few moments, but it was a bit of character work that the show didn’t have to slow down for amid all the mayhem, but it did. And that was nice.

The larger overall schism somehow felt “small” to me, as a locked-up Murdoc (the always-compelling David Dastmalchian) sent a well-tutored prison pal (played by Mark Sheppard, of course) to don a latex mask and infiltrate the Phoenix complex. As the team members initially split up, and with the building’s grid hacked, the idea perhaps was to ask, “What if Jack didn’t have Mac? What if Riley didn’t have computer access?” But I was frankly distracted by Bozer’s plight, seeing as how he got pretty badly stabbed by “Dr. Zito”  — a callback to the original series, where he was played by Sheppard’s actual fatheryet was never tended to by anything close to a medical expert. And yet after 40 minutes of lying supine, merely clutching his wound, he didn’t pass out (or worse) but instead had the strength to get to his feet and walk down the hall to trigger the sprinklers (and thus melt the baddie’s mask, which you knew was going to be stolen the minute Bozer showed it off/mentioned its one liability. #ChekhovsProsthetic).

While separated from Mac, “JackGyver” got to jerry-rig his own fertilizer bomb. Once the gents were reunited and struggling to get to the level below (this place has nine basements?), Mac did a cool hack which blew a shortcut through the floor, though his and Jack’s simultaneous “rappelling” into the freshly created chasm was a bit too tidy. At the end of the day, if you happen to watch both Scorpion and MacGyver, you may find yourself asking, “How much ‘Oh, come on!’ can I accept from CBS every week?”

Mac & Co. of course emerged largely unscathed (save for Bozer’s belly and Riley’s psyche), while a final twist suggested that Murdoc is poised to escape his supermax holding pen using no more than a page ripped from a confiscated book. Oh, and the cold open allowed a glimpse at some of the infamous Cairo mission, which apparently went so sideways the boys take that day off work each year — though not this time.

I never really paid much mind to the original MacGyver, so don’t have that to hold up for comparison/any great reverence. I watch the new version probably every third episode two out of every three weeks (updated after a formal hand count conducted Saturday morning; 14 of 21 episodes) — not quite as regularly as its lead-out Hawaii Five-0. I find the five-person cast a bit claustrophobic, and I’m on record as not being a fan of new boss Matty Webber (despite the similarities of our names!), who to date has barely offset her barking of orders and intolerance for tomfoolery with any warm-ish or semi-playful moments (or even any spycraft brilliance). I have, though, come around on Bozer since my original “B-” review, and the sweetness between him and Riley always plays well.

I’ll check back in during Season 2, maybe as often as I did this go-round, but what about you? And what tweaks would you hope to see?

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