McDougal appears in the first episode of the series, having killed several soldiers with water alchemy and creating a wall of ice before being confronted by the Elric Brothers. He is defeated by the Elrics and arrested but escapes using steam from a puddle as a diversion. Hoping to enlist other alchemists in his plan, he unsuccessfully tries to convince Solf J. Kimblee to join and retreats back into Central.
When confronted by Roy Mustang, McDougal douses the Flame Alchemist in water to halt his fire alchemy. He returns to the transmutation circle he started with and activates it, setting off other transmutation circles around the city. This results in a massive ice wall leading him directly to Central Command. The Elrics battle him again and manage to get the upper hand, wounding McDougal. At a last resort, the alchemist uses his own blood to create a spear to divert them while questioning if they know what truly is happening at Central Command. Escaping them, he retreats down an alley and is confronted by Fuhrer King Bradley. He attempts to kill the Fuhrer and fails when the homunculus draws out his sword and slashes the Freezing Alchemist down.
With this in mind, it is hinted that he was aware of Father's plot of the Nationwide Transmutation Circle. He did not, however, seem to know about the Fuhrer's true nature, seeing his final attack resulting in his own death.