May 29, 2018
MacGyver “Thief of Budapest” (part 3 of 3)
MacGyver explains that the watch contains valuable information. Reena responds by rubbing some of her drink onto his lips, then kissing him, which she claims is Gypsy lie-detecting magic or something. He remains robotic and impassive throughout, and wipes his mouth off when she’s done. Man, that’s cold.
Reena asks what kind of information is in the watch. MacGyver takes a hairpin out of her hair, then bends it into a tiny loop and dips it into her drink. He holds the pin in front of the watch face, where the spies’ names are written, and we’re supposed to think that the droplet of liquid held in the loop is acting as a magnifying glass. However, the names are clearly legible without it, so the whole thing is completely pointless. And… really? They just wrote the names on the front of the watch? That is not subtle. That is not creative. I expected better from a Cold War double agent, I really did.
As they try to discuss terms (MacGyver asks if Reena accepts plastic; she gets really offended for some reason), there’s some kind of commotion outside. They go to the door and see that Kossof and Messik, the only government agents in Budapest, are searching the bar. Reena announces that since MacGyver can’t afford to buy the watch, she’ll give it to him as a gift. In other words, if he takes the watch and fucks off right now, she might not get arrested.
So, MacGyver (well, actually a stuntman who looks nothing like him) climbs out the window and down the roof. He’s then met by Yana’s brother, who’s a taxi driver now. As they drive away, Yana pops up in the backseat and announces, “So, you owe us for helping you, right? We want to go with you to America! America! The US of A! Clint Eastwood! Coca-Cola! Girls just wanna have fun!” Yep, 10-year-old girls love Clint Eastwood.
MacGyver gets annoyed, and Yana’s brother looks very embarrassed, but won’t tell Yana to stop asking. After a minute, MacGyver groans and gives in, asking Yana’s brother to help by getting mechanic’s overalls for everyone. They’re going to steal some racecars. Yay!
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Next day, we’re back at the park from the start of the episode, where the motor rally is taking place. Not only is it the same place, it’s the exact same establishing shot. Note to aspiring directors: if you’re planning to recycle a shot like this, don’t have a nun walk right in front of the camera. They’re sort of hard to miss.
MacGyver and Yana’s family arrive in the taxi. They’re dressed in overalls; some red, some white, some blue. Wow, these people really love America. Yana sneaks off and steals a policeman’s radio, while MacGyver and two of the guys walk over to the signal box that controls the traffic lights. They hide MacGyver behind some newspapers, and he opens the box, then jams some pieces of a cut-up Visa card into the timer controls, while VOing about how a credit card “can get you out of a jam”.
Across town, Messik and Kossof discuss the fact that the taxi has been found at the park, then jump into a police car. Meanwhile, MacGyver and the others climb onto a car transporter and steal a bunch of Minis: one red, one white, and one blue. I’d say this was another bit of American patriotism, but the actual reason is so very much weirder. Go on, try and guess it. You’ll find out if you’re right in three paragraphs.
Messik and Kossof pull up in their police car, so MacGyver and the others drive off through the park, followed by a crowd of policemen who just appeared from nowhere. They get away, while the police are all stopped at the traffic lights (which have gone mad due to the bits of credit card stuck in the controls). Seemingly the whole city is brought to a standstill.
And then the police somehow get through the traffic jam, and there is a stunt-filled car chase.
There are two ways to include a stunt-filled car chase in a TV show. One way is to spend a lot of money hiring stunt drivers, getting cars, and renting appropriate locations, and then spend lots of time and effort shooting difficult and demanding scenes. The other way is to put your characters in three appropriately colored Minis and steal a lot of footage from The Italian Job.
Guys, I wish I was making this up.
So, yeah. Everything in the next few minutes, except for occasional short close-ups of the characters in their cars, is taken from the movie. What the fuck? I mean… it’s not even like this is just some chase scene from some random movie. It’s one of the most iconic car chases ever. How did they think people wouldn’t notice?
Also, I feel kind of stupid recapping this bit, because pretending these scenes were actually scripted as part of this episode is like colluding in the madness.
So yeah. They drive down an alleyway! A policeman smashes through a wall! They drive down some stairs! Through a shopping arcade! Past a restaurant! Yana’s brother steals a chicken! Into an underground tunnel! Past lots of soccer fans! Onto a rooftop! Jumping from one building to another! Down some church steps!
Past suspiciously Italian-looking buildings, Italian flags, and a great deal of Italian signage!
There’s a brief interlude where MacGyver duct-tapes the stolen police radio to Yana’s transistor, which is playing some godawful elevator music, and then ties it to some helium balloons so it will transmit to all the police cars in the area and stop them from communicating. It’s notable only because we go all of about 20 seconds without any second-hand footage. Also, even the characters think the music is terrible.
And… we’re back. Past a Fiat factory! Across a river! Through some sewer pipes! One of the police cars slips into the water, and the policemen shout angrily in Italian!
Eventually, the cars arrive at the Austrian border, and smash through the checkpoint. The border guards just wave their arms ineffectually. After a minute, one of them tries to shoot at the gang, but by then they’ve reached the Austrian side, so Kossof jumps out of his car and stops him.
“MacGyveeeeeer!” shouts Kossof. MacGyver sarcastically faux-salutes him, or else flips him the bird. I’m not sure which.
Shortly afterwards, MacGyver emerges from the Austrian border guard’s cabin, and tells Yana’s family they can go to America. Yana’s grandfather weeps with gratitude, as only a stereotypical elderly foreigner in a TV show can.
Yana’s family wanders off to celebrate their imminent arrival in the Land of Clint Eastwood. Yana comes over to MacGyver. “You’re leaving us now,” she whispers. MacGyver says he has to go, and gives her his knife as a keepsake. It would be much more touching if he didn’t probably have boxes of them back home. She tearfully gives him a big silver medallion she’s been wearing all episode. And then he picks her up and kisses her on the lips.
Yeah, simpler times.