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 a bucket.

Used mop handle glued to the
top of pail floating in a basin of
water to draw the attention of a
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.
  • The boat chase scene uses footage from the 1981 movie ‘Race For the Yankee Zephyr’ which was filmed on the Shotover River in Queenstown New Zealand.  The river is famous for it’s thrilling high speed jet boat rides.
  • 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.



State Mental Hospital 
Los Angeles Veterans Affairs
158 Patton Ave,
Los Angeles, CA
Statue of Alexander Karsov
Lenin Statue
Smolnyi pr-d, 1,
St Petersburg, Russia


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