A Prisoner of Conscience

Episode:  021

Production No.: 40191-021

Airdate: 30 April 1986

Writer: Stephen Kandel

Director: Cliff Bole

Nielsen Ratings:  13.3 rating / 22 share / 2nd (34th overall)



MacGyver and Thornton infiltrate a Soviet mental hospital to rescue a friend who’s being held as a political prisoner. But they find getting out isn’t as easy as getting in.



Richard Dean AndersonMacGyver
Dana Elcar Pete Thornton
Elya Baskin Yuri Demetri
Lawrence Dobkin … Alexander Karsoff
Marvin Kaplan … The Chess Master
Paul Koslo … Dr. Suvarin
Sharon Maughan … Maria Karsoff
Jane Merrow … Dr. Natalia Petrovitsh
Tim Rossovich … Lorbut
Harry Woolf … Supervisor
Stephen Anthony Henry … Stepanov
Austin Kelly … Boris



Jammed potato in car exhaust to prevent the motor from starting

Used Empty fuel cans, life jackets, rope, and a blanket to make a floating obstacle to block the intake of the jet-boat motor

Used filament of a light bulb as lock pick (twice).

Jammed wet cloth in the drain hole of the basin to act as a plug.

Mixed caulking compound with an unknown “hardening agent” to make superglue around the edge of pail.

Used mop handle glued to the top of pail floating in a basin of water to draw the attention of guard so he would come and pick up the pail getting his hands stuck in the superglue.


  • The hut used as the Karsoff’s cabin is seen again in Silent World and Family Matter episodes.
  • Although not taken directly from the movie, the boat chase is heavily inspired by the chase scene in the James Bond movie ‘Live And Let Die’.
  • The character “Yuri Demetri’ appears again in season 2 played by the same actor but appears to be a different character as neither he nor MacGyver seem to know each other.
  • A short clip of the boat chase scene is used in a flashback in season two’s ‘DOA MacGyver’ episode.
  • Wrapping a patient in sheets soaked in ice cold water was a “treatment” used on violent patients in the primitive days of mental institutions. This will be why MacGyver said his body was going numb when he was wrapped in the sheet.
  • This is the first appearance of MacGyver’s “Tornado Punch”



  • What do you mean, what am I doing here? You take an emergency leave of absence, grab a Soviet ID, a map of Northern Russia, and you split. You didn’t even say goodbye to me. ~MacGyver
  • Pete, we’re friends. If you got troubles, I’ve got troubles.  ~MacGyver
  • I’m not laughing ~Pete (chucking to himself)
    Big of you ~MacGyver
  • Change the timing?  ~Pete
    Remember Belgrade?  ~MacGyver
    Don’t change the timing.  ~Pete
    Right. ~MacGyver
  • Where in the hell have you been?  ~Supervisor
    Outside for a stroll. ~MacGyver
    What?  ~Supervisor
    The moonlight. It’s very important to me.  ~MacGyver
  • Tis night. Wolves and owls can see. Men and flowers must wait for the sun.  ~MacGyver



  • During the boat chase, the camera helicopter’s landing skid comes briefly into view as the camera is following the bad guys’ boat. It’s visible in the bottom right corner and is very noticeable.


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