It's two-plot time on MacGyver, as "Friends + Enemies + Border" spends a lot of time on Mac and Desi's adventures in Bosnia but also shows Wilt's problems in a booby-trapped car.
In the A plot, Mac and Desi have gone to Bosnia to capture two gangsters. Why they're there and Wilt and Riley aren't, who knows? Them being absent makes as much sense as the episodes when they're along for no particular reason other than that they're main stars. M&D have captured the gangsters already as the episode begins, but are waved down by a farmer. She asks for their help rescuing migrants from a sinkhole. The migrant refugees, four of them, have a wounded border guard shot by the "coyote" who got the migrants out, and now they're stuck in a sinkhole.
Mac and Desi get them out, but they have to go to a nearby clinic to get the guard the help he needs. They get there and Mac makes a vascular clamp out of a pair of forceps. Because he's Mac. However, the coyote and his partners arrive. Desi knocks out the coyote, but the gang leader Daris demands they surrender. Mac makes stun grenades and Desi gives a pep talk to one of the migrants, who is pregnant.
The gangsters get reinforcements and breach the clinic, and Mac and Desi tell the others to get out while they distract them. They toss their improvised stun grenades at the gangsters but run out of places to flee. All looks grim until the doctor and migrants knock out the remaining gangsters.
In the B plot, Wilt goes to pick up James for chemo and uses James' SUV. Its electrical system is rigged with a bomb, and they can't defuse it. Riley gives the news to Wilt and offers to stay with him rather than let him remove his foot from the brake that is one of the bomb's triggers. There are some touching moments when Wilt talks about how he used to try and get Riley's phone number--back in Season 1--and Riley let him down gently. Now she's like a sister to him, and Riley gets an idea. She clones the electrical system of another SUV to Wilt's SUV, and holding down the brake on that SUV makes the first SUV think that its brake is still down. Wilt gets clear and they let the SUV blow up safely.
In the end, everyone meets at Mac's place. Wilt thanks Mac for helping show him that spying (or making masks, or arguing with a robot, or whatever the heck he does in any given week) is the thing he was meant for. Desi confirms Phoenix is sponsoring the migrants for asylum in Austria, and they agree to send money to repair the clinic and replace the farmers' truck. Matty shows up and says the bomb in the SUV is beyond anybody they know of and it must be someone with a personal grudge against James. So we have yet another dangling plot thread to wrap up in the last three or so episodes remaining in the season.
There's no hint of a romantic relationship between Mac and Desi, other than the usual smiles and warming relationship. We find out Desi's family are Vietnamese refugees. Writer Justin Lisson did a couple of season 2 episodes, and has clearly done his homework: we get references to the initial Wilt/Riley relationship, and the Ghost, and Murdoc, and Helman, and James and his chemo therapy. Other than a short called Happy Birthday, it doesn't look like Lisson has done anything else. I'd say that he's found his niche writing MacGyver episodes. Lisson succeeded in not making me want to rip Wilt's throat out, so he clearly has writing and characterization talent. The character is still embarrassing, and if I never hear "Double O Bozer" again, it'll be too soon. But Justin Hires has benefited from George Eads no longer being on the show. And yes, Desi mentions Jack, too.
Riley is all supportive, and Matty is all concerned. Nothing major for either of them. I do like the banter between Riley and Wilt: it's the best part of Hires' performance as well as Tristan Mays'.
Overall, "Friends" wasn't a "great" episode. But nu-MacGyver doesn't have a lot of "great" episodes. And even fewer without David Dasmalchian. There are some minor gripes, like why couldn't they afford Tate Donovan as James MacGyver? He certainly gets mentioned enough: he's conspicuous by his absence. And why are Mac and Desi off without Wilt and Riley? Sure, they don't need them, but they typically don't. But that's all pretty minor stuff. It was an entertaining hour of CBS TV. And sometimes that's all you want.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Apr 13, 2019