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UPDATE: The Friday, February 1 episode of MacGyver did indeed have George Eads' Jack Dalton say goodbye to the team and exit at the end of the broadcast. He went off to join the U.S. government's new task force to lead the hunt against Kovacs. It was a heartfelt, emotional farewell. Jack got to live to see another day, so it's possible the character will return at some point down the road ... if George Eads elects to return. He's the one who wanted to leave.
MacGyver just set up how Jack Dalton will be written off the CBS show. At least, that's how it looks. George Eads plays the character, and he asked to leave the show after after an on-set issue during filming for Season 3. All we knew was that he'd be leaving and his final episode would air in 2019. Now, the promo for the February 1 episode appears to reveal how the character of Jack will exit:
Well, if that plays out as advertised, it certainly shows how Jack will leave. He's being set up to "lead the hunt" on a terrorist, and this open-ended new mission may be his last. We see George Eads' Jack talk to Lucas Till's Angus "Mac" MacGyver, saying Jack invited Mac there to "say goodbye to a good friend." The promo ends with Jack in uniform, slow-motion walking away.
George Eads had reportedly asked to be released from his long-term contract multiple times, saying he wanting to leave Atlanta and return to his daughter in Los Angeles. He had some kind of on-set altercation this past October, leading him to leave the set. When he returned, he reportedly asked to be written out.
As fans have noted, this is not the first time George Eads had an on-set issue, leading to his departure from a CBS show. He left CSI after 15 seasons, one season after an on-set problem with one of the writers. It seemed like he might quit, but he took a leave of absence and came back for another season before being written off.
George Eads is a popular actor, and he was a draw for many fans on both CSI and MacGyver. He's had good luck with CBS that way, but also clearly some bad luck with a few clashes and earlier-than-expected exits.
Hopefully MacGyver doesn't feel the need to kill off Jack in this "final mission." We don't need another Clayne Crawford Lethal Weapon situation. Same for Patrick Dempsey leaving Grey's Anatomy. Did they have to kill off Derek? Fans aren't privy to everything that happens on set, so when they lose a favorite actor any which way they tend to just get upset and blame the show.
In this case, Jack may get a hero's exit from MacGyver, as opposed to being killed off or exiting in ignominious fashion. It's kind of like how Criminal Minds wrote off Thomas Gibson's Hotch. There was on-set drama -- another altercation with one of the show's writers -- but they didn't kill off the character, they came up with a good reason for his exit. They also left the door open for the character, which ... is that something they might do for Jack as well?
MacGyver Season 3, Episode 14 is called "Father + Bride + Betrayal." Here's the official synopsis from CBS:
We'll see exactly how MacGyver says goodbye to Jack Dalton -- temporarily or forever -- when Season 3 continues. It looks like the big exit airs next Friday, February 1 at 8 p.m. on CBS, but let's wait and see how it plays out. Here's what else is playing on the small screen this 2019 midseason.