Monday, August 27, 2012

MacGyver Mondays: "Ugly Duckling" (Season 1, Episode 18)

Mac faces his most powerful enemy: A sarcastic teenager
Title: Ugly Duckling
Airdate: 3/12/1986
My Age at Airdate: 2 years, 7 months, 24 days
Episode Type: Computer Hacking, Self-Esteem, Didactic

Alright, I seem to recall that this episode is NOT about MacGyver caring for a young waterfowl. I think that it might be a metaphor. But we'll see.


We open on a storage facility. A man is guiding a truck that is backing up. Uh oh. The truck is full of USAF missiles. So the two guys are unloading the missiles while a bunch of black-clothed figures are belaying down from the roof.

One of the trips and suddenly the guys are alerted to the ninjas (because what else could they be?) presence. The ninjas drive off with the truck.

Cut to the end of a drum solo at a happenin' club. MacGyver is there watching the band and looking about 25 years older than everyone there. Oh. Except the band and the two obviously bad guys that are watching the band. The camera keeps looking at the saxophonist. This might be because he's soloing, but I bet it's also because he's a character in this episode. The band finishes and the saxophonist walks over to MacGyver. They're friends!

Saxy is apparently a professor who has detected a glitch. He is a mentor of a student (just like he was for MacGyver) who broke into the Defense Department's mainframe or something. Mac just wants to talk to her.

Saxy wants assurances Girl Student won't get in trouble and then he'll meet with them.

So then Saxy is walking outside the club and a car speeds up and the two bad guys get out and try to get Saxy. But Mac comes out and they have to shoot at him instead (Stormtrooper Aim, natch). Mac sets off a car alarm while Saxy struggles with the two gun-wielding thugs. And of course he gets shot. He has a very emotional and touching death scene. But he does, in fact, die. And the camera flickers in and out of focus while the couples watching all around them hold each other.

Mac debriefs with Pete. Apparently the thing that Saxy designed/tested makes Surface-to-Air missiles into programmable weapons with pinpoint accuracy.

So Mac has to go find Girl Student before the bad guys AND the government find her.

Now the two bad guys are debriefing. Mustache and Balding. Wait. Mustache is Balding's boss. He sends Balding after MacGyver assuming that Mac will find Girl Student for them.

Girl Student comes in. She looks kind of like Corey Feldman. She has an attitude. It's mostly the hair that makes her look like CF. I always confuse Corey Feldman and Corey Haim. 

They're back at Girl Student's house. Her Mom is there. Mac tells what she did and Mom is appalled. She's very proper.

There's a knock on the door. GSMom goes and answers it. Two men identify themselves as Defense Intelligence and Mac comes over to inspect their ID's. He shows them basically the same disdain and attitude that GS has been showing him. And I think it's pretty ballsy to come over and deal with them when he's a guest in their home, but I suppose he is sort of an expert or something.

The DI guys want to take GS downtown to ask some questions. Mac and Mom advise her to go. And they take her.

So now they're asking her questions. They're trying to play hardball and it's working. They want to know how she broke in. She asks to use the computer in the room. She reaches a password prompt screen and asks them what the password is, explaining, with attitude that it will save time. HAHA and then it just goes to a READY screen. She types in ACCESS MISSILE DATA INVENTORY.

So basically, she has gained access again. If the only thing keeping her out was the password, then she's not showing them anything about how she broke in, is she?

Ok, so there ARE further restrictions. It's not as simple as all that.

Meanwhile, Mac is arguing with Pete (who is wearing THE BIGGEST GLASSES EVER) and he offers Pete a deal. He'll find out how she broke in AND what the glitch in the system is, if Pete can get the DI guys off her.

So now GS has (off-camera, of course) gotten through the security restrictions. While the DI guys freak out about the hassle of the security breach, she hacks into the computers in the building and starts messing around with the printers and the elevators and the door security and everything. And then the Fire Alarm. And then she hits the power. And she's gone :)

She's a pink and I like her.

Now we're in the Farmhouse with Mustache and wait I assume is a Texan. Texan wants a demonstration of the guidance system. He doesn't know what the target is yet but he will figure it out.

GS comes back to the lab and Mac is working on the computer. I can tell that he likes her and that she reminds him of himself.

MacGyver is trying to break into her computer. Trying different passwords. Trying to get to know her to try to get her password out of her. She's super sensitive about her self-image.

He types in UGLY DUCKLING and that's the correct password. She says "That's mean." But the really interesting thing that Mac brings up is that it's HER password. It's not him saying that she is. It's her.

He tells her that she's special and that she should feel good about it.

He puts the file on a disk and they go to leave, but uh oh Balding and his partner are there. Mac pins Balding's gun hand and kicks him and locks the door. He runs with GS to the lab and finds a sound oscillator. The bad guys get in right as Mac turns on the oscillator, gives GS some noise-cancelling headphones and puts some on himself. He cranks the amplitude all the way up and the bad guys writhe in pain. He slowly pushes the device towards them and the door.

GS notices that the machine is about to become unplugged. She tries to warn Mac, but, of course, he can't hear her. The plug comes out and instantly the bad guys are back up and surrounding them.

Balding knocks Mac over the head and they take the girl.

He wakes up with a splitting headache. He thinks that maybe GS has left him a clue on the computer. He tells the computer to LOAD DUCKLING and it does and it has the answer to the glitch. It's a frequency. He calls the FAA and has them scan the western United States for that frequency.

--Mac's DXS ID

GS is in the farm house. She has this radio that she put in her pocket back at the lab and she sends a signal on it, but stashes it before the bad guys come in. We have Balding, Mustache, and Cleft Chin.

Mustache tells her that he is going to get the information. He has a syringe of Sodium Pentathol so he can get it from her with or without the injection, it's her choice.

Oh I get it. The frequency she gave Mac was the frequency that she sent her beacon out on. It's like a homing device. So now Mac is watching them from a hill. They're going to do a test firing. GS is understandably upset that they'll be firing in the United States.

They lock her away. And she immediately starts to try to escape. Saxy must be the common link here. She hooks up the prison bars to a battery, electrifying them.

Mac has taken the guard out with Chloroform? What, does he have some WITH HIM at all times? Sketchy.

I guess GS took the jumper cables off the bars before she hooked them to the battery. So now she has one cable on the bars and is slowly touching the other one...and sparks fly. OH. She has a coin in the one she's touching to the bars. It's an arc welder thing like one that Mac has used before this season! It's cool to see it at work again.

Mac and GS reunite and he commends her on getting through a prison bar, but it's too hot to squeeze through. So he goes and finds a spray can (with hydrocarbons ) to cool it down. So then they're out. And chasing after the bad guys in Mac's Jeep.

GS tells Mac that they're communicating via walkie talkies. Then she expresses guilt about having told them how to fix the missiles.

He tells her that we all make mistakes and we have to learn to live with them. She is really grateful for this advice and tells him hesitatingly that he is her first friend. A touching piano version of the MacGyver theme plays in the background.

Mac's the best.

They have the exact same haircut, I just realized.

MacGyver and GS are going to triangulate the radio signals, but Uh Oh her radio is dead. That's ok. They'll use the acid from the cactus that's right by them. Easy Peasy. They're going back and forth coming up with the plan and it's really cool to see their minds working on the same.....frequency.

GS: All for one!
Mac: And one for all! I can't believe you just said that!
--I remember watching this episode for the first time and DYING because of the way he says that last part. It feels real. Like she ad-libbed the "All for one" part and he finished it but it tickled him that she said that. It's a lovely moment.

And then they get to work.

Meanwhile, Balding is getting the missile ready. All they need are the coordinates for the target.

Mac and GS get to work triangulating the signal. They find it and use their watches to calibrate for direction. So they can figure out where the missile is, but will they get there in time!?

Mustache is on the phone with Texan. Texan gives him the coordinates. They're going to take out a bridge. In 27 minutes. The Texan says that traffic should be lowest around when they're going to fire but Mac remembers that a marathon (that he has run in twice (brag)) is being run across that bridge today! Hundreds of people are in danger! They speed off in his jeep.

Now the Jeep pulls up to the site. They only have 12 minutes to figure out what to do.

They're going to use the shotgun that Balding has. They're going to use the mirrors from the Jeep and the lens from some binoculars to harness the sun's energy.

6 minutes to launch.

They have a very clear beam of sunlight focused on the shotgun, heating it up. The gun explodes, and the jeep that it's leaning against goes with it.

Haha. GS takes a moment to marvel at the fact that it worked.

Mustache wonders why the countdown hasn't started and Mac tries to fake it by counting down. But Mustache recognizes him as not being Balding (who has been knocked out by the explosion). Crap. So now Mustache is going to fire the other missile that they have stolen.

So the plan is that Mac and GS need to override the guidance (turning their missile into a heatseeker) and fire it within seconds of Mustache firing his.

Mustache fires his, Mac fires his. The marathon goes on. There are some tense beats and then

BOOOOOOOM Mac's missile hits Mustache's! They did it!

Texan watches and is disappointed.

Now they're in the club that they started at. GS is talking to a boy and looking more like Demi Moore now that she's wearing earrings.

Mac tells her that everything else worked out and that she will basically get her own lab come graduation time, but she keeps looking at the guy she's with. Aww...the ugly duckling has become a swan!

Lovely ending :)

See you next week


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