My Year With The A-Team: Season 2, Episode 22 – Curtain Call

Hannibal face to face with Decker

“Now I know what to do if an amoral military colonel should trap me in my garden.”

We are a household of projects, and the spousal counterpart to this little A-Team endeavor is a major vegetable gardening operation that my wife says she can no longer honestly describe as gardening; she now calls it “small-scale agriculture.” Virtually every seed sowed has now turned into a giant plant, and we’re turning every last bit of our yard into planting space as fast as possible.

Notice how I now say “we”? Yes, I’ve been corralled into the Carlson City Farm project, but I want to make sure I’ve still got time for my beloved wisecracking fugitives. So I’ve started applying what I’ve learned from the A-Team thus far to my vegetable growing. Take Hannibal, for example: the man always has a plan – sometimes unorthodox, yes, but a plan all the same. We’ve been thinking hard and planning out our next steps, and they pay off, believe me. I also find I’m using dynamite as a gardening tool more than last year. Face has taught me to find supplies wherever I can – we scrounge newspapers from the neighbors and compost from the coffee shop, and use it all in the yard. I’ve developed a positive, protective attitude toward the growing plants, based on Murdock’s example from his escapades in “plant therapy,” and, thanks to B.A., I’ve got like ten underprivileged kids following me around and doing some of the menial work. It’s top-notch, and I owe it all to the team. Educational TV at its finest!


Curtain Call

Wild Guess Preview: With Decker (finally) hounding them at every turn, the A-Team has to hide out in an Ohio prison. They beat back a threat from the prison “boss” – not through the usual punching, kicking and grenading, but by leading a prison theater production of “Mame.” (Murdock’s Rosalind Russell impression is one for the ages.)

Murdock is wounded

This time it’s not too much milk that’s to blame.

The Recap: Here’s hoping this season finale is a little less maudlin than the last one. Decker is hot on the trail of the A-Team, who are themselves hot on the trail of journeyman infielder Royce Clayton. Oh wait, it’s actually someone called Russ Clayton, and he never played in the big leagues. Apparently this made him bitter, because as Hannibal lectures him about whatever bad thing he’d done before the show started he pulls out a gun and takes a shot. “Watch out, Colonel!” yells Murdock, who dives in front of his leader and takes the bullet. Murdock insists it’s just a “puncture wound in the old fuel tank,” but it’s actually a little more serious than that. Also serious: Decker is in sight. Time to make tracks in the awesome van. “Looks like we’re too late, Colonel,” says Decker’s right hand man. Not quite, says Decker. “There’s only one road in and one road out of this area… the A-Team’s not going anywhere.”

Danny Wells and George Wyner help Face

What’s the matter, Colonel Sanders? Are your leopard-print pants CHICKEN???

The team is, in fact, trying to go to a hideout until they can shake Decker, and Face scams a beauty, a nearby hunting lodge frequented by two tax accountants. They’re played by George Wyner, who you know as Colonel Sanders from “Spaceballs,” and Danny Wells, aka Luigi from “The Super Mario Brothers Super Show” (I watched a lot of TV once) so we’re not exactly talking tough-as-leather backwoods types here. Face, however, presents himself as “Bear Claw Jones,” a grizzled, Kurt Russell-goes-without-shaving-for-an-hour-looking hunter who’s after the mythical “Ol’ Luke” and the equally mythical reward money. The tax dudes swallow this yarn whole and wander off to go find the bear, freeing up the cabin for the team. Good scam, though having to see George Wyner in leopard-print pants will put me off eating for about six weeks.

The rest of the team drives up and they make Murdock comfortable, but Hannibal’s worried about the wound getting infected. The nearest hospital is forty miles away, too far with Decker on the hunt, but Hannibal, perusing the map, notices a ranger station only fifteen miles away. He sends Face and Tawnia to head to the station and grab their medical supplies. They’ve got to hurry, though, cause Murdock’s already getting Pac-Man Fever, or maybe a regular fever. The dialogue is unclear here.

Decker, meanwhile, is tightening his squeeze on the nearby area – he’s got people searching quadrants, people sealing off roads, people searching cabins, and so on. One of the soldiers notices blood on the ground, and they realize someone on the team’s been injured. So they’re going to check the hospital and the ranger station. Can nothing be easy for the A-Team?!? Decker gives a creepy monologue about how the A-Team is as good as they come: “They think as one… feel as one… and act as one.” He says having a wounded man breaks that unity, “and that will be their undoing.” Uh oh.

Back at the cabin, B.A. is quite upset about Murdock’s blood loss, as is Hannibal. B.A. reminds us that he and Murdock are the same rare blood type – “made me talk crazy, but he saved my life.” The camera zooms in on Murdock’s face… and we get a flashback? We relive the hilarious blood transfusion from “Black Day at Bad Rock.” And now another flashback? Hannibal and Murdock hovering out of prison way back at the start of season one? And then a clip of Murdock flying the unconscious dude out of the hillbilly compound in South Carolina? Murdock flying a helicopter with his “Captain Bellybuster” hat, Murdock crashing a plane into Venezuela… It’s like Murdock’s Greatest Hits – or maybe just Murdock’s life flashing before his eyes. It’s a clip show apparently, but by God, it’s a Murdock clip show, so it’s the greatest clip show ever made. Murdock has a lucid moment and implores Hannibal to leave without him, but Hannibal says “we go out together, or we don’t go out at all.” Aww. “You heard the man, sucka,” adds B.A. “We’re a team.” Then he tilts his head, and… we get another flashback montage? It’s a short one, with a couple of great Murdock/B.A. moments. B.A. is touched by the memory of throwing Murdock and his lobster vibes into the ocean, and he tucks Murdock in under a blanket.

The van is on the move. Tawnia’s worried about Murdock, but Face says he’s tough: “like a piece of rawhide… one that’s just gotten out of therapy.” And now Face is flashing back! Jeez, no shyness about clips on this show – not that I’m complaining, mind you, when I get to see Murdock do his British officer scam from the Season 2 premiere a second time. We tune back into the present, and Face notices Decker and company are at the ranger station. He’s going in anyway.

Decker’s men happen upon the cabin, and all they find are George Wyner and Danny Wells, back from their hunting trip – Hannibal and B.A. anticipated these search parties, so they’re carrying Murdock to a new hideout in an abandoned mine. Hannibal’s chief concern apart from Murdock is the risk of not making an escape that humiliates Decker – “it’s so damaging to his psyche.”

Face steals a first aid kit

Decker’s men are easily distracted by references to salted, cured meats.

Face sneaks up on a guard, says “salami?” and punches him out, so as to steal his uniform and grab the supplies. (Salami?) Tawnia’s convinced it won’t work, but Face says “people very seldom look at what’s right under their nose.” He walks into Decker’s HQ, walks two feet from Decker himself, and walks off with the first aid kit – nobody notices a thing! Decker tells the guards at the cabin that the team couldn’t have gone far, but the soldier recalls that they’ve been in this situation before – and now Decker is flashing back, to the “Range Rider” episode where he cornered the team at a dockside warehouse and a few other close calls. But he says “this time, it’s checkmate” – because Decker’s put a homing beacon inside that all-important medical kit!

Boy, this seems like a serious situation, even for the A-Team – Murdock’s hurt, Decker’s got them surrounded, and now he’s got a tracking device to find their exact location. But it’s not the only time Decker’s tried a tracking device… wait… I think I’m flashing back…

Face and B.A. drop by the mental hospital and pick up Murdock – only he’s not Murdock, he’s “Range Rider,” a masked cowboy mime; his trusty horse, Thunder, will be played by the invisible dog Billy. Decker’s men are, of course, at the hospital too, but they’re fooled by Face’s crafty simulation of Murdock in bed covered by blankets (Ferris Bueller must’ve watched this episode before his day off) The team sneaks away in the awesome van, only one of the Decker guys attached a “homer” to it, and they follow as the team meets up with Hannibal and their David Cassidy-ish client, Daniel Running Bear, at a dockside warehouse.

Come to think of it, even Colonel Lynch tried using a homing device from time to time, and they always backfired on him, too…

Triple A is still stuck with Blustery Joe, and she wants to check in on Murdock at the mental hospital. She goes into his room and listens to his answering machine greeting, which I guess is useful. Meanwhile the military cop drops in too, and Mitchell is mad at him for blowing their cover. But luckily they’ve put a tailing device on her car. She drives to Yavin 4, and – oh, I’m getting confused again.

In fact, the only time a tracking device has ever really paid off on this show is when the A-Team used one to find the Teasdale heiress:

Hannibal puts on some kind of faux-Cockney disguise and makes the money drop to a… skinny ninja? Is it really a ninja, or more of a luchador? It’s a dope in a ski mask, let’s settle on that. He takes Hannibal’s gun and goes off to check the briefcase with two other dopes in ski masks. Aha, but the gun has a tracking device on it! And the rest of the team is tracking this tracking device, so they can make the drop AND follow the thieves. Murdock’s so happy he does a Paul Lynde voice, just for fun. Face says “this job is gonna be a piece of cake.”

Hannibal performs delicate microsurgery

Hopefully there won’t be a preparation montage where they turn a welding torch into defib paddles.

What a recap of an episode that was… er, uh, what? Where was I? Sorry, must have tuned out for a second back there. Anyway, things aren’t looking good for our favorite crazy fool hiding in an abandoned mine, so Hannibal goes looking for Face and Tawnia and the first aid kit. Murdock starts calling out for B.A., but he says “don’t you ‘B.A.’ me, fool” and has a second flashback, this one of the “Beast From the Belly of a Boeing” episode where he and Murdock subdue hijackers on an airplane. After the flashback, B.A. lays it all down. “Come on, Murdock! I ain’t gonna let you die – you’re my friend!” Luckily Face, Tawnia and Hannibal are back with the first aid kit, and since Murdock is too weak to be moved, Hannibal’s gonna have to take the bullet out himself. But time is really tight this time – Decker’s only five miles away. Hannibal yanks the thing and cleans the wound up just as the MP cars reach the van.

Face orders Decker's man around

“As ordered, man who looks just like the man we’re looking for.”

And now… endgame. Decker tells the team to show themselves, so Hannibal gives himself up. “Looks like you won, Colonel,” says Hannibal. They all head into the mine, where everyone’s pretending that Face is wounded – they’ve got Murdock’s face bandaged up to go with the gunshot wound. Decker says to move “Face” to the A-Team van for no particular reason, and then asks Hannibal why he didn’t fight his way out. Everyone heads back outside except for two soldiers, who have to carry “Face” back to the van. The real Face has changed back into that Army outfit he stole, and he tells one of the two soldiers to head on up, that he’ll take care of “Face.”

Hannibal makes a last request: he and the team want to ride with “Face” in the van, since “he might not make it.” Decker grunts his assent, and they all pile in, followed by Real Face and the soldier carrying “Face.” Then the real soldier gets tossed to the ground as the van peels away; Hannibal shoots out Decker’s tires for good measure. Decker’s almost smiling, he’s so mad.

Murdock talks with Decker

“Do you know where you are? You’re in the jungle, Decker!”

Back at the VA hospital, Murdock appears to be in good health, or good enough to use his funny German accent on a visiting Decker. The embittered colonel walks away, frustrated yet again by the A-Team slipping out of his reach, but Murdock calls out to him, “Don’t go… I need you!” As Decker leaves Murdock sings and dances his way over to the rest of the team, who’s been watching from behind a tree. Hannibal has to offer Decker props this time: “I give him an A for effort… but an F for results.” Yeah! Murdock asks B.A. to let him out of the straitjacket, but B.A. says “No way, fool.” Murdock is confused: didn’t B.A. just say they were friends? “I don’t remember none of that. You’re just a crazy man, seeing things that ain’t there.” Then he turns toward Hannibal, winking, and we get one last montage for the road, of Murdock pushing a furious B.A. in a wheelchair to the tune of the song “Opposites.”

Now that is how you end a season of The A-Team! The storyline is worthy of a cliffhanging season finale, but much truer to the spirit of the show than last season’s moody ‘Nam flashbacks. And now I know what to do if an amoral military colonel should trap me in my garden.

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