And so with "Specimen 234" we're back to normal.
Normal for nu-MacGyver = Jack acting stupid. Pointless subplot: Billy + Riley. Lots of MacGyverisms that flash by so fast you can't tell what Mac is doing half the time. Dumb-ass opening DIY that ends on an unresolved note.
Basically, the episode backslid on whatever development they had given Jack the last few episodes where he showed up. He was almost a sentient human being. But now, not so much. Oh, and everyone has heard that George Eads is leaving the show, right? So this probably isn't his last hurrah. But if I were given to wild speculation, I'd say the goofy brain-dead Jack Dalton was the one Eads preferred to play. And when they tried to turn Jack into someone with some kind of intellectual believability, Eads didn't like it thus giving us the stories of him blowing up at a staff writer. Between that and his daughter in LA, he decided to drop out.
Or maybe it's the reverse: the creative team wanted to portray Jack as an idiot, and Eads couldn't take it anymore. But that's just my story and I'm sticking to it. And I'm feeling muucchh better now.
Speaking of DIYs, we start with one of them. Mac and Jack are locked up in the cage of what we find out is literally nowhere. They engage in a bit of badinage so thick you could wrap wounds with it, and for some reason there's a dog outside the cage. And for some reason it has the key to the cage. There's also an explosive hooked up to the lock, which seems to have no bearing on the whole "J&M are locked up" thing. Even if they had the key, they'd have to deal with the explosive.
But they don't get the key. The dog runs off with it, and the camera drops back... and back... and back... revealing that the two men are in the middle of nowhere. And that's it. We never find out if they get out. The episode just proceeds as if the DIY never happens. Mac does make a grappling hook out of the sole of his boot and his belt. But it doesn't work because the dog runs off with the key before Mac can hook it. The DIY seems to exist only to "spotlight" George Eads. Why any actor would want to be spotlighted acting like a moron, I have no idea.
Then it's on with the real episode. Riley is off vacationing with Billy (Lance Gross). He's gotten a Bentley from a bail-jumper and they're driving cross-country for some reason. It's never explained. They stop off for BBQ, and the car gets stolen. Riley and Billy have a mini-adventure where they trail the car, lure the chop shop mechanic out of his garage, drive the car out of the garage, and Billy reveals he's taking Riley to see her grandmother Delores who she's never seen since Elwood walked out on his wife. And that's it. Tristin Mays and Gross make a cute couple, sure. But that's it.
The real, real plot is that the CDC asks Phoenix to investigate the disappearance of a lethal, highly contagious virus. There's also a subplot with Leanna (Reign Edwards) where she's starting to move into Mac and Wilt's place, and she tosses Jack's month-old sandwich out of the refrigerator, and this causes Jack to overreact (and Eads to overact) wildly. The rest of the episode, she sits in the war room and does laptop stuff because Riley isn't there. Glad they got her onto the show.
The trail leads to a RV, and the thief Luca (Rod Hallett) conveniently leaves a video of him injecting himself with the virus. Fortunately, it has a 24-hour incubation period, which doesn't sound that dangerous to me. But it's convenient for the plot so go with it.
Luca also said he was heading to Romania. So the trio go to Romania and discover Luca used a disguise to "disappear" from the airport security cameras. Mac does something which is no doubt incredibly smart and highly technical... if they bothered to explain it. As it is, Jack and Wilt get some supplies from a nearby grocery story, Mac mixes it in the parking lot, and the result is a chemical that when he sprays it on taxi head rests, reveals which one Luca used. I guess the chemical Mac brewed reacts with something in the hair dye Luca used to become blonde, turning the appropriate head rest red. That's just my speculation, because writer Lindsey Allen doesn't bother to explain any of this.
The taxi driver tells our trio which house he drove Luca to. When they get there, they discover the house belongs to a photo-journalist who looks a lot like the disguised Luca. It turns out thejournalist was going to the party of a businessman (??) named Dorin Ionescu, who owned the mining company where Luca's brother Geoffrey died.
The trio gets there and break into Ionescu's house with a MacGyverism that is actually clever: some kind of inflatable pillow that Mac uses as an air wedge to open up a door. That's how you do MacGyverisms: you have Mac rummage in the garbage, he finds an ordinary everyday item, and he explains what he's doing as he does something with it that it wasn't intended to do. You don't have your teammates get chemicals, you don't use a belt as a grappling hook which is Spycraft 101.
They get inside and Jack picks a fight with some guards to act as a distraction. Luca is taking photos of Ionescu (who sabotaged the mine to get the insurance, and killed Luca's brother in the process) and starts turning pale, meaning the virus has incubated. To avoid touching him, Mac hits him with a big camera case, wraps him in a tarp, shoots him with a sedative, shoves him in a closet, and tapes another tarp over the door to prevent contamination.
In the end, everyone heads back to the lab. Leanna gives Jack a replacement sandwich, and Mac convinces Jack he's infected. Because hypochondriac-shaming is fun!
And that's it. It's not a bad episode unless you hate Jack. Unfortunately, I hate Jack. And he shares the name of a character on another show where I had the exact opposite reaction. There I initially hated the character at first and grew to like him. Here, I initially liked Jack or at least didn't mind him. But his aggressive stupidity just grates like fingernails on a chalkboard. Yes, irony can be pretty ironic sometimes. And hey, what can I say? The current show image makes Lucas Till look like Lloyd Bridges in Airplane! So it's time for an Airplane! reference.
Riley is sidelined. Matty is sidelined. Leanna is sidelined. Wilt is along for the ride but doesn't have anything to do and contributes nothing to the plot. It's the kind of episode which makes you wonder why they took the Team MacGyver approach. Even Jack isn't really that necessary: he kicks in a few doors and has a fight sequence at the end. Which is one of the reasons that I dislike Jack as an element on the show. On old-MacGyver, Mac would have come up with some kind of clever distraction with pop rocks, or firecrackers, or a pan of slowly-filling water which would have fallen over when MacGyver needed the guards drawn away. Here... Jack punches people.
So the episode is below average. Good parts: the air wedge and the Riley/Billy thing, which worked on the strength of the two actors. Bad parts: everything else.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Dec 1, 2018