Monday, September 3, 2012

MacGyver Mondays: "Slow Death" (Season 1, Episode 19)

Sorry it's late, folks. But I suppose it's not THAT late. Enjoy!

Title: Slow Death
Airdate: 4/2/1986
My Age at Airdate: 2 years, 8 months, 17 days
Episode Type: Hostage, Hijacking, Didactic (I may stop putting this one if MacGyver keeps teaching lessons every episode ;-) )

Y'know, a lot of people say reading these MacGyver Monday posts is like a slow death. STOP LAUGHING! :)


A train is rolling by. At the wheel is a Hispanic man with VERY large glasses. Ok, maybe not Hispanic. I immediately regret saying he was Hispanic.

So between looking at some of the passengers on the train, we are seeing a bunch of guys pulling sticks of what appears to be dynamite out of boxes and loading them near the tracks. I suddenly remember this episode, I think.

Now MacGyver is racing along the side of the train in the back of a taxi. All the passengers are looking and laughing at him. The engineer refuses to stop the train for a bit and then he gives in. With basically no further argument than "C'mon! Please?"

Mac is friendly with everyone and particularly to a young girl who is staring at him. He does a little magic trick. Wait, no. Not a magic trick. He's making her a doll. Awww :) What a sweet little moment.

Ok, they're still loading explosives onto a bridge.

And Mac finishes the doll. The girl smiles widely.

The two factions are about to meet. The bandits are communicating by flashing sunlight with mirrors.

This one-armed Englishman (I KNOW he's English. He has an English accent.) is asking Mac if he wouldn't like something to drink with his sandwich that he's ordering in the dining cart. Bourbon and rye, perhaps. And MacGyver, being MacGyver, orders a glass of milk. He's so wholesome!

An awkward left-to-right-handed-handshake is given. Then the train lurches and the guy I guess goes to catch himself with his right hand and stumbles. Mac catches him and says that a recent loss of limb can be hard. A lady also tries to console him  but he says that he's a cripple and she's black and neither is a case for sympathy and storms off. Mac apologizes to her and she says that she noticed her color a long time ago. Very intense race stuff already in this episode.

They introduce themselves and sit down to eat.

Meanwhile, the guys with the explosives are now unspooling fuse line. This attack is taking FOREVER. But I guess you have to get all the characters on the train introduced.

Mac tells the Lady that he has hijacked proof of an illegal arms deal and so he's rushing it out of the country in the hopes of preventing a war. But I think she doesn't believe him. 

Now we're on this American couple and the guy is trying to get the girl to say that she loves him. But she's reluctant to. 

This episode might be the most complicated yet.

Wait no. They met in Spain, hit it off, and now are about to return to America and he wants to marry her. Whoa. He convinces her in half a speech. Geez. This is the train of effective arguments.

And still the terrorists lay their explosives. You know, the way things are going, they could probably just ask for whatever they want. The people on this train are easily convinced.

Lefty comes back to Lady and apologizes and then they're ok (this train!)

So I guess the last characters we need to talk about are this mom and her daughter. Or, put another way, this woman and her mom. Her mom is snooty and says things like "kids of your generation have no respect" and even MacGyver refers to her as a dragon to be slain. 

This episode is very heavy on the characters, isn't it? Also, I have remembered what the title refers to and it's pretty cerebral. I'll let you know when we get to it.

Now a guy blows a goat horn and two guys on the train draw knives and guns and hijack the train. They shoot the conductor. Lefty says that he's a doctor and he should tend to the guy. The hijacker says that shooting him was an accident.

You couldn't show this episode on TV, I don't think.

Dragon Daughter offers to help Lefty and Dragon Lady (her mom, if my code is too intricate) says that she'll only be a hindrance, but DD shakes her off and goes to help.

The guy that shot the conductor says that they are not bandits. Mac asks what they want. And Quick Draw replies that they are looking for two men on that train. And that it's a matter of justice. They want to execute these men.

MacGyver: A man puts a gun to my head and tells me he's not a terrorist, I take it with a grain of salt

So, Lefty is talking to Quick Draw about the status of the conductor and Mac is doing something with salt. And a seltzer bottle. And some olives. 

Quick Draw walks by to go the sleeping cart, Mac drops the jar of olives on the floor. When Quick Draw pauses to berate him, he hits the seltzer with his elbow, it goes into the bowl of salt and the salt/seltzer combo goes into Quick Draw's eyes.

Mac grabs a jug and runs out and two other terrorists follow him onto the roof of the train car. He pours a line of the liquid that's in the jug (local moon shine: tastes and burns like kerosene) along the length of the car and, as the terrorist reach the top of the ladder, lights it. He manages to light a match on the top of a moving train, so I KNOW the train is magical. 

The flame races towards the terrorists and they both leap off the train.

Mac goes to the engineer's compartment and tells him what's up. The engineer tells Mac that they are being followed on foot but that they'll never be caught. They just have to make it past the bridge up ahead and they'll be out of bandit country. The bridge is the one that they've been loading with explosives for the whole episode, btw.

The engineer picks up speed, confident in his train.

A guy on a horse has a gun ready, another guy has a detonator ready. The gun guy fires, the detonator guy detonates. And detonates. And detonates.

The engineer brings the train to a halt. A whole band of guys on horse and foot with guns and stuff approach.

Meanwhile, a guy we've seen a couple times, but who hasn't had a character establishing mini-scene with MacGyver, stows a briefcase in one of those drop down bunks that trains have. Like in North by Northwest.

Mac rigs the (WARNING: complex train jargon ahead) train-starter-thing to shock anyone but him or the engineer if they try to start the train. Also not being shocked: anyone who sees the bright copper wire wound around the starter thing.

So the fat guy with the gun tells his guys to bring all the westerners out of the train.

Lefty and DD are still tending to the conductor and when Quick Draw tells them to get out, Lefty shames Quick Draw into letting DD stay. There's kind of a romantic theme playing.

Fat Tony talks to the Westerners. He talks about how his villagers all pitched in to buy medicine from two Westerners for the children of the village. The medicine didn't work and 26 people died, including Fat Tony's son. But he doesn't know who the two Westerners are. He tells all the Westerners that they will not have food or water until they find out, among themselves who the two guys are.

So, two guys, one of whom is the shady who hid the briefcase and the other whom we haven't met before come up to MacGyver saying that they need to find these guys. Now, I'm no TV genius, but that seems suspicious, no?

Romeo (the guy who got the girl to agree to marry him before) wants to steal a horse. Juliet is freaking out, but Mac comes over and consoles them both, but he also tells them that no one is going to miss them for a week, so they're on their own.

Lady (I didn't want to call her Black Lady, but I think that distinguishes her more) comes and finds MacGyver. They have some sweet chat.

Lefty and DD are still treating the conductor. Lefty has brought soda to keep the conductor hydrated. And also he brings some charm. It's soul-baring time, folks. He also talks about ghost pain, which is a fascinating aspect of amputation, to me.

DD asks Lefty how he lost his arm. He got it shot off by a shotgun wielding maniac. Yikes. That's awful. He's so brave.

She bares a little soul. And then they kiss.

Black Lady and Mac are talking about this whistle Mac has made from a spigot of some sort. It bugs the horses. Look for it later.

Mac and Black Lady give Fat Tony grief about the wounded conductor. He tells them about all the people that died. But they make the point that death won't bring his son back.

The sun is up. And they're still sitting there. Mac is saying inspirational stuff about mornings. They go inside the train.

Juliet is sleeping, but Romeo gets up. He thinks no one sees him, but Shady Guy is watching him. He sneaks off the train and goes under it, army crawling along the length. He's getting pretty far. He gets out and starts to run. Shady Guy yells at him, Fat Tony comes towards him with a gun. There's turmoil. But then Mac comes and like jump kicks into a guard and runs in between Romeo and Fat Tony and blows his whistle. This pretty much calms things down.

Everyone's outside of the train now and The Other Shady Guy points the finger at Shady Guy for calling attention to the escape attempt. He says that maybe he was trying to draw attention away from himself.

Shady Guy's accent is ALL OVER THE PLACE, PEOPLE.

Mac suggests that they should look in his compartment. He pulls down the bunk and finds the briefcase. And it's lots of money. Shady Guy says that the money is his and that he hid it because he didn't want them to steal it. But Fat Tony confirms that they didn't pay in paper money, but rather in gold. So Shady Guy was just a Red Herring! Gotta love red herrings.

This whole situation has given Mac an idea. He's constructing a lie detector from a blood pressure cuff and an alarm clock (naturally. what do YOU make your lie detectors from?)

He's hooking Romeo up to it. Everyone's watching.

So when the alarm goes off, it's a lie. He demonstrates with Romeo. He declares his love for Juliet and the alarm goes off. Mac tells Fat Tony that that was love, not lying.

Fat Tony says that he intends to have the two men administer the medicine/poison to themselves, killing themselves.

Mac says he won't condone murder. He makes Fat Tony agree to accompany them to Rajmir (I'm not sure how to spell it) where the culprits will stand trial.

Other Shady Guy doesn't trust Fat Tony. MacGyver responds that he does trust him and that Other Shady Guy should go next. He asks Other Shady Guy if he sold the poison. OSG doesn't even say anything, but the alarm goes off. He leaps from his seat and the other conductor (the young British one that I didnt even think to mention!) pulls a gun and gives it to OSG. OSG runs off and Mac follows. OSG shoots at MacGyver but (stormtrooper aim) misses. He runs into the steering compartment. Mac takes off his shoe and throws it onto the roof.

But OSG isn't fooled. He punches MacGyver, but then he tries to start the train and gets shocked and killed.

Fat Tony asks Lefty to be the Village Doctor. DD offers to join him. Dragon Lady questions her sanity, but she stands up to her. And Dragon Lady is pleased and proud. Aww. She offers her help if they need anything.

And then the non-Westerners come back and the little girl gives Mac the doll back.


Hmm, the phrase "Slow Death" didn't appear at all in the episode, that I noticed. I thought it was part of something MacGyver said about revenge or harboring anger or something being a slow death, but I guess I was wrong. So I'll say it.

Harboring vengeance or anger in your heart is like a slow death, kids. Don't do it.

See you next week!!!


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