MacGyver “Thief of Budapest” (part 2 of 3)

Sometime later, Yana’s family are in some kind of prison camp in the countryside, being marched out of a prefab at gunpoint. They’re followed by Messik and Kossof. “They confessed to everything, and to nothing. They tell a lie and lie about lying,” says Kossof. So… they said what, exactly? “Gypsies,” growls Messik. “They’re trying to protect the girl. She’s family.” Yes, what a strange thing for them to do.

Also, they’ve somehow found out MacGyver’s name. They decide to hold Yana’s family prisoner while they keep looking for him. Kossof wants to start torturing them, but the hitherto Gypsy-hatin’ Messik doesn’t like the idea, so Kossof says he’ll torture them tomorrow instead. Which means they’re obviously going to get rescued first.

Caption contributed by Ms. Avery

“And then, we’ll go kick some puppies!”

Yana and MacGyver are watching from the bushes a short distance away, and they spot her relatives, who have apparently been sentenced to… outdoor carpentry? Yana starts whistling, presumably some sort of super-secret Gypsy whistling signal, and MacGyver shushes her. Her father hears her, but when he tries to investigate, one of the prison guards starts being a jerk to him. Ethnic slurs and death threats are bandied about, and fisticuffs ensue.

“Why do they hate us?” asks Yana. MacGyver replies, “Some people are scared of anybody who runs free.” Ack. I mean, clearly the writers mean well here, but… Gypsies are not wildlife.

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MacGyver surveys the area with his binoculars. There’s a huge pile of old furniture and planks and stuff outside the camp, and on the pile he notices a strip of wood with lots of lightbulbs attached to it, like they have around dressing room mirrors. Because apparently the prison camp has been renovating its dressing rooms recently.

“Yana, you say the supply truck gets here about five?” he asks. Unless she spies on local prison camps as a hobby, it makes absolutely no sense for her to know this. Anyway, he checks his watch; it’s ten to five.

A minute later, MacGyver is hiding behind the junk pile, tying two planks onto the piece of dressing-room-mirror-lighting (there has to be a simpler term for that). “This doesn’t make any sense to me,” Yana complains. MacGyver tells her, “Think of it as a lightbulb sandwich. And I hope they swallow it.” That is not an explanation. It only makes things more confusing. It is the opposite of an explanation.

MacGyver "Thief of Budapest" (part 2 of 3)

So, Yana hides beside the road leading into the camp, and when the supply truck gets near, she uses a string to drag the planks-and-lightbulbs contraption (because I refuse to use the term “lightbulb sandwich”) into its path. When the truck driver goes over it, it makes a loud noise, so he stops and gets out to investigate, and MacGyver sneaks into the back of the truck.

Once inside, he conveniently finds a spare prisoner’s uniform, along with some cans which someone has very clumsily labeled with the Hungarian words for “sugar” and “salt”. Although, seeing as everyone in the MacGyververse speaks English, it probably would have made more sense to label the cans in English too.

The truck goes into the camp, and the prisoners start unloading it. MacGyver casually climbs out, carrying a mop and bucket, and strolls over to a table with a car battery on it. He pours the liquid from the battery into a handy empty can he finds, then carries it off hidden in his mop bucket. Once he finds a discreet corner to work in, he takes out the acid, the sugar and salt, and a can of what I think is supposed to be ant poison, but the hand-drawn ant on the label only has two limbs, and really looks more like a sea monster.

MacGyver "Thief of Budapest" (part 2 of 3)

He makes up a mixture of salt, sugar, and sea monster poison, then puts it in the bucket, and covers the top of the bucket with his handkerchief. He pours some salt onto the handkerchief and then pours some battery fluid onto that. (I assume it’s some kind of time-delay mechanism, but it isn’t explained in any detail, lest we all start dismantling our car batteries and making bombs.) Meanwhile, he VOs about how this is a modified version of his mom’s chili recipe. I don’t think his mother would be too pleased to hear her cookery compared to low-level terrorism; for one thing, it’s insulting, and also, it doesn’t particularly make sense.

He then ambles over to where Yana’s family are apparently building a house. He quietly introduces himself and says he’s here to bust them out. “How do we arrange this… leaving?” asks Yana’s grandfather. His English seems to have deteriorated severely since morning.

MacGyver "Thief of Budapest" (part 2 of 3)

MacGyver tells the men to “hang tough”, then hides behind a crate and changes into a guard’s uniform. This is the worst-policed prison camp ever. He then quietly says, “Okay, guys. Get crazy.” There are some guards standing a few feet away, but magically Yana’s relatives, who are much farther away, are the only people to hear him. They somehow know exactly what he means by “get crazy” and immediately create a diversion by pretending to beat each other up.

MacGyver uses the opportunity to discreetly hijack a bulldozer, pretty much by pulling the driver out of his seat and beating him up, which is unusually… straightforward for him. He then ties some barbed wire to the back of the bulldozer, removes the thing holding the steering wheel in place, starts the engine, and snaps off the ignition key so it can’t be removed.

At this point, the battery fluid finally burns through the world’s most resilient handkerchief, and the mop bucket explodes. One of Yana’s brothers shouts, “It’s an escape plan!” and starts beating up one of the guards. The other guards don’t notice because they’ve run off to investigate the explosion. MacGyver gives the bulldozer a push and it rolls across the yard, pulling the barbed wire with it so it forms a barrier, which the guards are trapped behind. It also knocks down the sentry tower, and the sentry slapstickishly falls out.

MacGyver "Thief of Budapest" (part 2 of 3)

MacGyver then steals the supply truck, and Yana’s family climbs onboard. They smash through the gate, and Yana jumps on, and off they go.

“Now, where’s my watch?” MacGyver asks.

“I sold it!” says Yana’s brother. MacGyver looks pissed off, there’s a little musical flourish, and the image freezes as if it were the end of the episode. Only, it’s not the end at all. Weird.

MacGyver "Thief of Budapest" (part 2 of 3)

We next see MacGyver entering a divey-looking bar where inappropriately chirpy folk music is playing. “Yana’s brother sold the watch to another Gypsy,” he VOs. “A fence named Reena. Trendy little joint she’s got here.” Various wizened peasants stare at him. “I see the beautiful people just stopped in to have a quick cocktail before the ballet,” he continues in withering tones. Somebody’s crabby. A middle-aged woman, who may or may not be a prostitute, gives him the eye. He looks deeply disturbed.

MacGyver "Thief of Budapest" (part 2 of 3)

MacGyver walks up to the bar and announces he’s looking for Reena, just as a leather-faced old dude downs a flaming glass of spirits, which seems to utterly horrify MacGyver. So apparently, he’s fearless when climbing cliff faces, or jousting with horse thieves, or building homemade bombs, but he’s terrified of hanging out in dingy Eastern European pubs.

Leather-Face asks what MacGyver wants with Reena. When MacGyver refuses to get specific, another guy sneaks up and tries to attack him. But MacGyver being MacGyver, he just kicks Leather-Face in the chest, elbows the other guy in the stomach, and vaults over the bar. The last part may just be him showing off again.

And then he picks up a jar of paprika, throws a handful of it in the air, and sets it on fire, which is definitely showing off.

“MacGyver!” calls a woman huskily. “I am Reena. Why don’t we talk?” She’s standing on a balcony, in front of a doorway with a red lightbulb hanging over it. Yeah, I think she’s a prostitute too.

MacGyver "Thief of Budapest" (part 2 of 3)

Shortly afterwards, he’s in her room and she’s pouring him a tiny glass of spirits, while he meebles about not being much of a drinker. “Virtuous or suspicious?” she asks. “Happy,” he snaps. Wow, he’s not a very fun guest.

She sort of tries to flirt with him, and he looks acutely uncomfortable and rather baffled, like he’s completely unfamiliar with this form of human interaction. Which is an odd bit of characterization, considering he’s meant to be such a dreamy hunk (and even got some very mild action in the first episode).

He asks about the watch, which is on a chain around her neck, and she says it’s a family heirloom. “I know,” he says. “I know the family that sold it to you.”

This triggers a racist tirade from Reena. “Those stinking Gypsy wolf-rats! If their hides were worth the trouble I’d have them gutted, skinned, and used as rugs.” MacGyver says he thought she was a Gypsy too, and she answers, “I am. Takes one to know one.” Well, that was a confusing bit of filler dialogue if ever there was one. Also, “wolf-rat”?

Multi-Part Article: MacGyver "Thief of Budapest"

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