These are the original episode synopses which are listed with the Background Bible document. This document has circulated on the internet and been sold on Ebay. We can’t prove that these are authentic, but it seems reasonable that they could have been first drafts for the episodes. One copy of this document seen on Ebay had an issue date of April 1986, which would have been around the time season 2 was in planning.
Name: Fire Mountain
STATUS: Made as Final Approach, but modified
MacGyver leads a small group of troubled dropout teenagers on a wilderness expedition, runs into heavy trouble — when the mountain they’re climbing erupts.
MacGyver has to lead his diverse group through a hell of firestorms and lava flows, past fumaroles and deadly gas — and teach his hostile charges the necessity of working together…not only to survive, but to rescue a trapped local resident.
Along the way, MacGyver will 1) teach his terrified kids how to walk barefoot on white-hot lava, 2) use volcanic gases to loft a balloon, 3) turn a high-pressure volcanic vent into a cannon and 4) blast their way to safety by literally mixing fire and water…with explosive results.
The story begins with:
MacGyver leading a small group of teenagers on an expedition to high-country, as an experiment. It’s a try at reaching kids who are beginning to go over some private edge, into the land of the lost and a chance to get them away from the city, away from their sorry lives, into open mountain air. A chance to reach them. To let them reach into themselves.
Three seventeen-year-old kids:
BILLY STODDARD. Out of dirt-poor hardscrabble Texas cotton country, comes to LA with his mother and four sisters. Father dead. Life tough. A street brawler and a gang member. Looking for trouble. Guaranteed to find it.
LINDA MARINI. Her father was somebody anonymous and forgotten in a long line. Her mother is a part-time waitress, occasional hooker, full-time absence — and Linda’s only role model. The dirty past as tragic prologue.
JIM AGUILAR. Not Latino — Indian. And resentful about it. His father is an alcoholic; his mother died when he was eight. His father rambles on about blood inheritance; he wants to forget it, even as he resents the Indian stereotypes with which he lives.
The reason for this long-shot expedition?
Jim Aguilar and Billy Stoddard tangled, at a Tine Foundation sponsored Teen Center, over Linda. Maybe her fault; she flashes what she had; it’s her only measure of self-worth. Or maybe it was just anger boiling up. Either way, it erupted; MacGyver dove in and broke it up. But everyone realized there’d be future mayhem unless they broke the cycle.
That’s the idea of this expedition that MacGyver volunteered to take on. We see a glimmer of possibility, as the kids react in awe and begin to scramble up majestic Eagle Mountain.
Halfway up, they meet PAWNEE. It’s what he named himself, in honor of his history as Indian Fighter, Frontier Scout and the World’s Oldest Mountain Man who claims to be one hundred and nine. Probably pure braggadocio, but Pawnee is old, wiry and tough. Claims he has a secret gold cache, a glory hole, hidden on this mountain. The boast is enough to evoke a furious response from Jim: mocking disbelief from the other kids. But Jim’s reaction is slightly skewed, and when they reach their campsite, two-thirds up the mountain, MacGyver takes him aside and encounters something strange. Jim wasn’t just angry; he was afraid. He’s picking up strange vibrations. Troubling feelings. Somebody else’s memories; somebody else’s forebodings. Trouble coming.
He’s ashamed, but with MacGyver’s understanding — he doesn’t dismiss second sight, the vision of that primitive mind within all of us. He begins to get through to Jim when they discover another kind of trouble. Linda, frightened, tells them that Billy Stoddard got the notion that old Pawnee might really have hidden gold. And has gone after it.
MacGyver takes off to stop him — intercepts Billy on the mountainside — there’s a struggle — and then Jim’s forebodings take shocking, gigantic shape.
The mountain moves.
Heaves like a living creature — and we are in the first throes of a major volcanic eruption!
And that’s the arena in which we’ll play out our story, our people.
MacGyver has to bring the band of teens down the mountain safely — as it erupts. Along that terrifying trek, Jim finds himself — enough to take off, to rescue Pawnee, stubborn beyond sense. Going after him, one is hurt — and MacGyver has to pull the kids into maturity enough to manage a survival trek through a landscape in hell and succeeding.
Out of the heroic common effort, there is a breakthrough. No guarantees — but some hope. They’ve accomplished something. And for Jim, his ancestry has touched him in a way that links him to his blood, his roots. And his future.
The Background Bible also includes synopses for 6 stories:
Blood Money (never made)
Fire Mountain (made as Final Approach, but modified)
Labyrinth (made as The Human Factor)
The Cure (never made)
The Eraser (made, but modified)
The Hard Way (never made)