MacGyver: Wrench – The Ghost (Review)

Lucas Till as MacGyver

MacGyver this week offers up a personal antagonist that focuses on making Mac’s life interesting.  “Wrench” is an explosive episode featuring a bomber called “The Ghost.”  As Halloween episodes go this one did at least reference the holiday via the mention of a party, but The Ghost is not a phantom returned from the dead, merely an explosive’s expert for hire from MacGyver’s past.

We are treated to a flashback to Afghanistan a’la  The Hurt Locker where Mac relives that moment when The Ghost killed his friend and mentor with a bomb.  In  typical Hollywood fashion, the mentor; Charlie Robinson, is a new father who is talking about all the awesomeness of being responsible for a new life… Boom.

Mac only learns about Charlie’s last moments years after the fact, via a recording made by The Ghost of his mentor’s last moments. The bomber is almost one step ahead of Mac and his team throughout the episode.

Amid the explosions and false clues, MacGyver has flashbacks to his training and Charlie imparting the necessary wisdom to survive defusing different explosives.

The Ghost targets a diplomatic meeting by using an NYPD van wired with explosive. The rigged van is also set up to be a boobytrap, presumably, aimed at MacGyver.

As Mac and his team rush the van, Jack opens the back doors in time to see The Ghost at the front of the vehicle. Dalton leaps into the van and steps on a steel plate in the floor. The plate makes a clicking sound.

Jack has triggered a bomb with his body weight and he must stand still until Mac can defuse the mechanism. Just as Mac starts to defuse cut the wire to the detonator, he remembers that his adversary never uses just one bomb.

It was the double explosive technique that killed his mentor.  With’s Jack’s help Mac finds the second bomb and he must defuse this new explosive device before stopping the one Jack is standing on.

Using his trusty Swiss Army knife, Mac rigs a wrench on a cord and removes the detonator.  He also uses the wheels from a hotdog vendor’s cart and some electrical tape.

MacGyver saves Jack’s life.

(Kudos to George Eads for his reactions during the bomb in the van scene. He looks varying degrees of frightened, uncomfortable and nauseous throughout his ordeal. His nervous grin while confessing that he was “freaking out a little,” was brilliant.)

The episode ends with Mac visiting Charlie’s daughter and fixes her doll. He and the girl then have “afternoon tea” with the repaired toy.

MacGyver may yet evolve into something more than a tepid re-imagining of the original ’80’s series.  The show thus far has a “by the numbers” feel to it.

For an action adventure series the violence is, more often than not, downplayed.  This episode offered more in terms of pyrotechnics, each bomb has a lot of flames,  which makes the explosions look quite impressive.

However, something about the show has failed to mess completely.  It still feels too much like a series aimed at toddlers.  Granted, the bits and bobs that Mac puts together to “save the day” are impressive to a huge degree it is nothing not seen before.

(Since the original MacGyver ended in 1992, Burn Notice and Michael Westen was on television from 2007 to 2013 concocting devices from scratch.  Had Westen never hit the scene, this show might have felt more unique. Because of this, CBS’s second coming of MacGyver feels slightly stale.)

Lucas Till is started to feel more MacGyver-ish as the show progresses.  He and Eads have a good chemistry, which helps somewhat, but after pushing Sandrine Holt’s character out of the box with the “strong female character template” firmly in place, she did very little in this episode.

(Which is fair enough, the show is actually about MacGyver and not Patricia Thornton. If it were the series would be very different and have a different title; “Thornton.”)

This is a series that could do so much more but instead relies on formulaic plots and focuses perhaps too much on the attempted familial aspect of the team.

Show creator Peter M. Lenkov may have more tricks up his sleeve and the series could actually mesh properly if they drop the clichés and the “by the numbers” plot devices.

We want to love MacGyver. The character is an old favorite that deserves another spot on the limelight. We will keep watching in the hope that this show turns things up a few notches. ‘

The series airs Fridays on CBS. Stop by and see what you think. Is this comparable with the original or does it have to try harder?


Guest Starring Emerson Brooks as Charlie Robinson.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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