A Chinese girl takes a taxi from the airport to MacGyver’s houseboat on the docks. She’s unaware that Zhao and his man are following her. Inside, MacGyver is working on a precise bit of electronics: fixing Pete’s digital alarm. The girl comes to the door and introduces herself as Su Ling, MacGyver’s overseas foster daughter. She explains that she recently graduated and is attending college in Los Angeles. MacGyver offers to put her up until her dorm room is ready. Pete leaves for the night as MacGyver prepares a meal for his guest. Su Ling gives him a backscratcher that he mentioned in a letter from when they first wrote, and she thanks him for everything he’s done for he.
Zhao reports to his superior, Peng Chow, and reports that Su Ling hasn’t made contact with any students, but met with MacGyver. His assistant Yang is watching the houseboat. Peng Chow notes that the Chinese student dissidents are setting up a new fax network and Su Ling has the numbers. For the time being, Peng Chow wants Zhao to watch her so she can lead them to her collaborators. The next morning, Zhao returns to the docks just in time to see MacGyver and Su Ling depart. Yang follows them while Zhao searches the houseboat.
MacGyver drops Su Ling off at the campus but once he leaves, she slips away. Yang follows her as she meets with a student, Wing Lee, and they exchange identification signs and countersigns. Yang takes photos of the two of them together while Su Ling explains that she didn’t bring the list until she was sure it was safe. She also has something else for him that she’ll bring with her tomorrow. Meanwhile, Pete returns to MacGyver’s houseboat with news as Zhao and his assistant Toy search the place. Pete sees that the place is torn up and Toy attacks and knocks him out.
MacGyver returns and revives Pete, who can only describe the men as Chinese. Pete explains that Su Ling isn’t registered at the college. He checked with Immigration and she’s there on a visa issued from Hong Kong, not Mainland China.
At the Chinese consulate, trade liaison Peng Chow watches the student protestors outside. Zhao reports that they didn’t find the list. Peng Chow knows about MacGyver’s association with the Phoenix Foundation. They have a report on Wing Lee, who seemingly has no connections to the fax network. Peng Chow figures that Wing Lee’s a member of the new underground and tells Zhao to get more information on the student.
Su Ling returns to the houseboat and MacGyver and Pete ask why she’s lying. She claims they misunderstood but they realize she’s stalling. She finally explains that she’s not Su Ling: her name is Mei Jan. Su Ling was her roommate and Mei Jan learned everything about MacGyver from her time with Su Ling. She explains that her comrades at Tianammen Square sent her to America for protection. After Su Ling was killed by a government soldier during the protests, the Chinese government plan to capture and execute her. She shows them where she hid a videotape of the Tianammen Square massacre.
Zhao and Toy grab Wing Lee and threaten his family in Beijing unless he cooperates.
Mei Jan explains that she used Su Ling’s papers to get to America. She plans to deliver the tape to her contact. The new fax network phone numbers are hidden inside the backscratcher on a scroll. She notes that if the Chinese government knew she had the tape, they would have killed her immediately. MacGyver assures her that people will see the tape. The next day, MacGyver and Mei Jan go to see Wing Lee at the college. They notice that Wing Lee is nervous but he dismisses it as paranoia. He tells them he’s found a safe place for Mei Jan to hide. MacGyver leaves her with Wing Lee and he takes her to a van. Zhao and Toy are waiting for them and Wing Lee apologizes for being a coward. They capture her and take the tape.
A guilty Wing Lee goes to the houseboat to meet with MacGyver and Pete and tell them what happened. Pete warns that the Chinese consulate has diplomatic immunity and offers to call the U.S. government. MacGyver warns that doing so will warn the Chinese government. He figures they need to assure that Wing Lee’s mother is protected. They use Mei Jan’s list of numbers to send a message to the Chinese underground to get Wing Lee’s mother to safety.
At the consulate, Peng Chow and the others watch the videotape but dismisses Mei Jan’s claims that the students were unarmed. They demand the fax number list, then destroy the tape and imprison Mei Jan so that they can interrogate her at length later. MacGyver arrives outside and spots the security cameras. When a delivery van enters through the gate, MacGyver climbs over the wall and gets on top of it. He jumps to a fire escape and slips into the consulate, only to find an armed Zhao waiting for him. They wonder why he bothered and offer to let him go if he can get the list from Mei Jan. MacGyver refuses and they take him through the kitchen to the basement where they lock him up with Mei Jan. They give him until that evening to get the phone numbers or they’ll dispose of him once and for all.
MacGyver tells Mei Jan that they made a copy of the tape and Pete is distributing it. He starts to work on an escape.
Peng Chow and Zhao learn that the news stations have the duplicated tape. Zhao says that only MacGyver and Wing Lee know they ever had the tape in the first place, and they can use Wing Lee’s mother to keep him silent. Realizing their superiors will have them executed for their failure, they start to destroy all of the incriminating evidence. Meanwhile, Pete and Wing Lee get word via the fax network that Wing Lee’s mother is safe.
MacGyver attaches a metal pipe to a vise and twists out the vise until the lock on the door breaks. They go upstairs and knock out Toy, then slam the doors into Zhao and Yang as they come to kill them. MacGyver and Mei Jan run up the stairs to the roof and MacGyver jams the door behind them. MacGyver spots a radio antenna and a satellite dish. He has Mei Jan cut off about 200’ of cable while he pulls down the antenna. Outside, Pete and Wing Lee arrive and organize the protestors to announce that Mei Jan is inside. Wing Lee speaks to the protestors, which demand Mei Jan’s release.
MacGyver ties the cable around a chimney then signals Peter to go around the side. He tosses the cable to Pete and has him tie it to a van. He then bends the end of the radio antenna into a hook. He and Mei Jan stand on the extensions and slide down along the cable just as Zhao and his men break down the door. The protestors cheer as Peng Chow looks on, frustrated.
Later, Pete informs everyone the consulate staff have been recalled to China. They get word via the fax network that Wing Lee has been safely smuggled out of China.