In Russia, MacGyver meets with Pete Thornton, who is surprised that MacGyver is there. MacGyver knows that Pete took a Soviet ID and took off from Russia on his own, and figures he's in trouble. Pete admits that Alexander Karsoff, a Nobel peace prize nominee, died three days ago during an interrogation to find out which American agent he was in contact with. Pete was the agent, but he was working with Karsoff to move letters from political prisoners to their relatives. Pete's learned that the authorities are going to arrest Alexander's daughter Maria and has come to rescue her. MacGyver insists on helping and Pete agrees, but asks MacGyver to wait while he contacts Maria alone. MacGyver agrees, but as soon as Pete has left for Karsoff's nearby cabin, MacGyver goes after him.
Pete meets Maria, who warns that she's been ordered out. He explains that he's there to get her out before she's arrested, but then hears a car pulling up. Three secret police officers approach the house and Pete tells Maria to answer the door. They order her to come with them. Pete shoves them off the porch into the lake and runs for it. MacGyver grabs a potato and jams the car's exhaust pipe, then joins them as they head to a nearby dock with a motorboat. Maria pilots the boat away and the secret police pursue in another boat. MacGyver cuts up a blanket and uses the strips to create a mass of fuel cans and life jackets, which he tosses over the side to jam the pursuing boat's jet intake. They get to shore and Maria thanks them for their help, then tells them that Alexander isn't dead: he's being secretly held in the state mental hospital. The authorities plan to kill him as soon as any outcry dies down. Maria refuses to leave with Pete and plans to get her father out, and Pete and MacGyver volunteer to help.
The trio drives to the mental hospital and Maria goes to the local village to carry out her part of the plan. Pete impersonates a doctor and takes MacGyver to the hospital, claiming he's a schizophrenic. Dr. Petrovitsh, the hospital administrator, meets with Pete and Dr. Suvarin, the doctor in charge of "handling" political prisoners, is the political officer for the hospital. Suvarin allows Pete to observe but insists that MacGyver be treated under their rules. Suvarin takes MacGyver to Ward K where a political prisoner, Yuri Demetri, warns that MacGyver will have to do what Suvarin says. When Suvarin threatens him with punishment, Demetri starts acting insane. Another prisoner, the Chess Master, invites them to play and Suvarin takes away the man's board. MacGyver grabs the board and starts raving. Suvarin calls in the orderlies who quickly subdue him, while Demetri gives the Chess Master his board back.
Petrovitsh shows Pete around the facility and makes it clear she disapproves of drugs. An orderly informs Pete that MacGyver went out of control. Pete visits his friend and tells him he's located the psychotropic drugs. However, there's one hitch: he only has one set of drug picks and he'll need them to break into the drug cabinet. MacGyver tells him he'll get his own set of lockpicks and reminds Pete to free him.
That night, MacGyver explains to Demetri that he's there to find Alexander. Demetri doesn't believe he can free him but the Chess Master tells MacGyver that Alexander is in Ward 0. Demetri reluctantly explains that Ward 0 is directly above them and supposedly empty. MacGyver removes a light bulb from a lamp, breaks the glass, and removes the tungsten filaments to make a lockpick and get the door open. Demetri creates a diversion and involves the other prisoners. MacGyver discovers that Ward 0 has a guard. MacGyver covers a bucket with caulking compound treated to form a glue-like substance, then lures the guard inside. While the guard discovers himself stuck to the bucket, MacGyver slips by him and into Ward 0. However, the guard spots him and sounds the alert. Another prisoner, Lopat, comes to MacGyver's aid and subdues the guard. Meanwhile, Demetri and the others start rioting in their ward. MacGyver gets to Alexander's cell and gets the door open. However, the guards close in and MacGyver has nowhere to go. Lopat attacks the guards when they arrive, giving MacGyver time to get Alexander out.
As the guards deal with the alerts, Pete opens the drug cabinet. The guards subdue Lopat and return him to Ward K as the other prisoners applaud. Suvarin prepares to painfully subdue Lopat and the Chess Master starts rattling off medical dialogue. Suvarin threatens to destroy his chess set but settles for telling the Chess Master not to touch it until he gives him permission. As MacGyver gets Alexander out of his cell, Pete leaves the room with the drugs but drops a packet. He hides as Suvarin walks down the hallway, then gets away. Suvarin notices the door is unlocked and spots the packet on the floor.
MacGyver returns to the ward, alone, and tells the supervisor that he slipped through a window. As he distracts the man, Demetri smuggles Alexander into the ward and hides him in a screened bed. MacGyver explains that Maria will pass as a local girl and get a job working in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Pete is talking to Petrovitsh when Suvarin arrives and shows them the drug packet he discovered. It contains a powerful psychotropic and Suvarin accuses Pete and Petrovitsh of stealing it to sell on the black market. He puts them under house arrest and they have no choice but to comply.
The next morning, Maria arrives and is put to work. Suvarin visits Ward K and tells them none of them will be allowed out for exercise until they find Alexander. He shows them the stolen drug packet and figures MacGyver isn't insane. MacGyver claims to be a KGB undercover agent but Suvarin doesn't believe him. The Chess Master knocks him out with a chessboard and the other prisoners attack and subdue the guards. Demetri leads MacGyver to Pete and Petrovitsh. Once they're free, they go to the kitchen and give Maria a mild psychotropic. She slips it into the staff's tea. Once they're affected, MacGyver and the others arrive and reunite Alexander with his daughter. Petrovitsh agrees to go with them and they release all the prisoners. However, Alexander refuses to leave: he plans to use his second chance to speak to the people.
Later in Moscow, Pete gets the word out and people assemble in a park to hear Alexander speak. Alexander insists that Maria go to the U.S. so she can't be threatened to force him to comply. He thanks Pete and MacGyver for their help, and Maria says goodbye to her father. They watch as the people see Alexander and celebrate his return.