MacGyver Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Toothpick

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Mac just can’t get over his ex-girlfriend Nikki, and in MacGyver Season 1 Episode 5, he believes that he has tracked her down in Portugal. She’s a step ahead, of course, but she leaves him a mysterious key.

He doesn’t have time to ponder the key, because Thornton calls to summon Mac & Jack (™) to Germany. Their mission: protect a woman named Katarina who is ready to testify against her boss, who is selling arms to “America’s enemies.”

She’s on a night train from Berlin to Frankfurt, and Mac, Jack and Riley explain that the agent she was supposed to meet at the train station is already dead and that her boss has arranged her murder as soon as the train arrives.

Stopping a Train - MacGyver

Also, did I mention that Mac is trying to get over his ex? I didn’t think that the Damsel in Distress was his type, but alas Mac starts to feel a connection to the Fräulein with the terrible dye job.

Meanwhile, Thornton once again seems to have teleported from Los Angeles. It only takes four-ish hours from Berlin to Frankfurt on a train, but she makes it from LA to Frankfurt (10+ hours on a plane!) while the train is still en route. (I know I should get over it, but it takes me out of the story).

When Thornton arrives at the train station (without backup, of course!) she draws a gun on a random assassin-type, which sparks a gunfight with the janitor. What?

I get that the writers need her to make these terrible decisions in order to further the plot and increase the urgency for the team on the train, but there was really no reason for her involvement in the first place.

Back on the train, the arms dealer learns about the Frankfurt snafu and drops in an eight-man tactical team onto the train from a helicopter. Luckily Riley can track each of them on her computer by following their cell phones.

Mac turns an electric shaver into a taser so that Katarina can defend herself while she’s hiding in the bathroom. He then teams up with Jack to take out a few baddies on another car, while the ladies team up to take out they “bogey” trying to get into the bathroom.

Good job, girls!


Also, Mac jams a baddie’s gun using the plastic toothpick from his Swiss army knife (hence the name of the episode.) If you think that’s impressive, a few minutes later, Mac’s badass boss walks into the arms dealer’s headquarters (which I thought was in Berlin?), shoots out the screen at the front of the room and threatens him. Unnecessary, Thornton.

On the train, Mac and Katarina stop to have a heart-to-heart while being chased and Mac pulls her in for a kiss so that the baddie will pass them. I believe that trope is reserved for two characters who have more than half an episode of chemistry, but maybe Katarina will return later in the season?

Anyway, the kiss throws Mac off his game, as the baddie tries to knock him out. OK, so he’s not thrown off by much, as he uses his belt to whip the bad guy in the face and still has the presence of mind to steal a fork so that he can jam the door between cars. For his final trick, he uses a mini torpedo (I think?) to fend off another bogey.

At this point, the rest of the baddies ascend into a helicopter and the train starts to accelerate. The gang discovers that all the safeguards have been removed and the train cannot be stopped.

You can't hack a hole


They move all the passengers into the final three cars and Mac figures out a way to cut through steel (sorry, I can’t explain this one) to separate the cars from the speeding engine. It works! Except Mac and Jack end up on the wrong side, and they continue toward Frankfurt.

Mac saves the day again, climbing beneath the train and essentially throwing it in reverse.

Welcome to Frankfurt!


The episode concludes with our hero in Nikki’s apartment (again) trying to use the key she left him in Portugal. Will she ever stop toying with him? Finally he puts in on a string around his neck. Stay tuned...

Even though the majority of this episode took place aboard a train, it crammed in a ton of action. Mac’s trusty Swiss Army Knife made several appearances, and the hacks were clever. Thornton just needs to stay back at the Phoenix Foundation so she can’t screw up another mission.

What did you think of this episode? Do you think the show is starting to find its rhythm five episodes in? Am I being too harsh on Thornton? If you need to catch up on the first season, you can watch MacGyver online now. See you next week! 

  • Worst green screen in history when the train door opens while it is in motion?
  • They should lose the sweeping generic overhead shots of LA when they go home -- it’s too close to reality show filler. CBS, stop trying to be Bravo!
  • Setzen Sie auf Ihre Hose: That’s how you say “put on your pants” in German, according to Google translate.

Toothpick Review

Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (29 Votes)

Megan King is a staff writer for TV Fanatic.

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MacGyver Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

Welcome to Frankfurt!


You can't hack a hole