Pete and MacGyver are at the docks to take over the handling of a rare Chinese artifact, the Ming Dragon, from Commissioner Chu of the government. Pete assures Chu that MacGyver is a troubleshooter but they're not expecting trouble. They're unaware that a blonde woman, Tanya Lyaschenka, is watching them via binoculars from a distance. Chu shows them the Ming Dragon as a security guard approaches the woman. She knocks the man out with a few martial art kicks, and then pries open an elevator door and shoves him to his death. She then removes a homing pigeon from her bag and releases it. It flies to a coop at the home of Nicholai Kossov, who has encountered MacGyver in the past. He reads the message, which confirms the Ming Dragon has arrived. Kossov's superior, General Racoubian, assures Kossov that MacGyver will be dead by the time they leave.
At the exhibit hall, Pete has his man Pettigrew demonstrate the security precautions the Foundation has put in place to protect the Dragon. Chu wants to know MacGyver's opinion on the security systems. MacGyver has them demonstrate the laser shield, and then uses cleaning powder to highlight it and get through the grid. He then uses his Swiss Army knife to open the high-density glass display case. Pete enhances the security system and increases the security inspections, and MacGyver suggests they wire an alarm into the pressure plate where the glass fits. Chu appreciates MacGyver's help, and then notes he's concerned by the security guard's death. Pete assures him all signs indicate it was an accident, but Chu warns that the repercussions if anything happens to the Ming Dragon would be most serious.
Pete assures MacGyver that they'll be working around the clock to get the security system upgraded by the next night. As they leave, MacGyver notices someone but she steps out of sight and MacGyver dismisses it as his imagination. MacGyver has a surprise for Pete: the Amazing Sheldrake is performing at the exhibit hall. It's Jack Dalton, performing as a magician. He invites them to his show that night. MacGyver is watching as Jack performs, unaware that Tanya is meeting with one of her men. Backstage, MacGyver meets with Jack and explains why he's there. Jack invites himself to the reception and they go outside. MacGyver spots the same woman again and recognizes her for sure as Lisa Kohler. He goes after her as Tanya looks on, but loses Lisa when she gets into an elevator. MacGyver says that Lisa died... and he killed her.
MacGyver checks at the hotel but there's no one there under Lisa's name. He figures he imagined it. When Jack asks for an explanation, MacGyver explains that Lisa was his contact to an underground resistance group on the Baltic coast. They fell in love and became engaged, but Lisa insisted on going along with MacGyver to blow up a weapon depot. It would have been her last mission, but they had to split up to plant the explosives. Alarms went off and MacGyver escaped as the plant blew up. He was forced to watch as Lisa was shot down running for the escape boat. Jack assures MacGyver it wasn't his fault and tells him to get a good night's sleep for the party the next day. MacGyver goes back to his room and remembers himself and Lisa together and how he gave her his engagement ring. He then discovers an envelope in his room: a note from Lisa saying to meet her at the ferry the next day. MacGyver goes there and they embrace. She explains she was badly hurt but survived the gunshot. Lisa was sent to a prison camp where she met Nicholai, a KGB agent who was sent there after a mission failure. Nicholai kept her alive and she married him. Now she needs MacGyver's help, and explains that Nicholai is Major Nicholai Kossov. MacGyver remembers Kossov from Hungary where he escaped from him. Lisa explains that they both want to defect.
MacGyver tells Pete about Lisa's story, but Pete is skeptical that Kossov has changed. He wonders if MacGyver is giving Kossov, with the Russian delegation, a chance because of his feelings for Lisa, but agrees to help. The Russian delegation, lead by retired ex-general Racoubian arrives. Tanya, Lisa, and Kossov accompany Racoubian. Introductions are made and Jack butts in, hitting on Tanya. Chu joins them while Jack hands out invitations to his afternoon show. MacGyver meets with Kossov outside and Kossov admits that he knows MacGyver still loves Lisa. He begs MacGyver to help Lisa no matter what, and says that in prison he learned to cherish freedom for himself and Lisa. MacGyver wonders how he got Lisa out of the camp and Kossov explains that he forged records to hide Lisa's past. MacGyver, touched, tells him to be there with Lisa and the rest of the delegation at Jack's magic show.
At the show, Jack performs and calls Lisa and Tanya up to the stage as volunteers. Racoubian insists they go up and Jack has Lisa lay inside of a cabinet. Jack levitates the cabinet while MacGyver watches from backstage. He gets Lisa out and they slip out the back while Jack has Tanya open the box to reveal that Lisa has vanished. Tanya demands to know where Lisa is while Jack takes his bow. She shoves past him and runs backstage, while Kossov goes after her to supposedly stop an incident. Racoubian slips away and calls his men who are waiting outside. Kossov goes outside and spots Lisa and MacGyver making their escape. He tackles Racoubian's men but they quickly subdue him as he begs MacGyver to get Lisa away. Tanya arrives and opens fire as MacGyver takes a nearby motorcycle and leaves with Lisa.
While Racoubian and his people head to a helicopter pad, Tanya gives chase in a van. MacGyver tries to lose them on the docks. He makes a jump to a departing ferry and successfully lands, waving to Tanya as they depart. Tanya assures her men that they have them, and then makes a call to Racoubian saying he needs to intercept them by helicopter. Meanwhile, MacGyver offers Lisa coffee, and she admits she's worried about Kossov. MacGyver assures her that he and Pete will get Kossov out. Racoubian arrives and gives Tanya directions to intercept them. MacGyver is forced to go off into the woods and then divert toward the window. With gas running low, MacGyver drives into a logging plant. The motorcycle runs out of gas and they run for a boat but Racoubian and Tanya corner them. MacGyver activates a log lift and they get on as it moves up to the top of a tower. Riding boards, MacGyver and Lisa escape on a conveyer belt past Tanya and into the saw room. Tanya spots them and pursues as they head for the van. However, Racoubian spots them and cuts off their escape.
Racoubian confronts them and MacGyver notes they've attracted a lot of attention. The ex-general admits he'll have to kill them and MacGyver suggests they make a deal. Racoubian takes out two jeweled collars. He puts one on a post and demonstrates that it explodes upon any unauthorized attempt to open it, or if he activates it by remote. He puts the other collar on Lisa and explains that MacGyver must deliver the Ming Dragon to him before 2 o'clock the next afternoon. If MacGyver does anything else, Racoubian will set off the charge. He and Tanya depart by helicopter, taking Lisa with them.