My Year With The A-Team: Season 3, Episode 3 – The Bend in the River, Part 2

The team in jungle captivity

“Mr. Coffin was sensational throughout. Way better than Mr. Peanut, who was also briefly considered for the role.”

I’d like to apologize for my outburst at the start of our last recap. While the calendar is an increasing concern for your humble A-Team recapper, there’s no reason to think that this project won’t end on time, with me holding a large bag of money and standing on a pile of my enemies.

Here’s a metaphor that should explain what I’m getting at: years ago, when I was teaching, I took part in a workshop about handling drug issues in the classroom. The important thing, we first year teachers were told, was to deal with such situations with seriousness and compassion – get the drugs out of school, of course, but also find a way to help the kid who was using. Above all, we learned, we shouldn’t panic – in fact, they said, one new teacher had witnessed two students in a marijuana sale under their desks during class, and instead of confiscating the drugs and sending the students to the proper authorities, she yelled “OH MY GOD,” ran out of the room to get the dean and came back, to find the students had stashed the drugs.

We all found this funny, except for one colleague who confessed that she was the teacher who had panicked, and so everyone ended up looking bad by the end of the workshop. Three of them tried heroin before the first coffee break. But I think of it now, as a reminder that even though I’m in a serious situation with the timeline of this project, I shouldn’t run out of the room screaming “OH MY GOD” and should instead confiscate the drugs. And then not make fun of myself for panicking while in a roomful of first year teachers.


The Bend in the River – Part 2

Wild Guess Preview: When we left off, the A-Team was somewhere on the Amazon, trying to save Tawnia’s stringy boyfriend from Mr. Coffin, the ferocious ocean pirate. But Coffin confides in Hannibal that he is not the dread pirate Coffin, that he inherited it, and that the real Coffin had been retired 15 years and was living like a king in Patagonia. And Hannibal is intrigued…

B.A. chokes Richard Moll

And that’s for “Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn”!

The Recap: Hannibal said at the end of part one that getting locked up by Doyle, the evil white guy, was a great way to meet up with Brian Lefcourt, and that part is true. But there’s a problem: Brian is wearing striped pants. Hannibal also thinks there’s something fishy going on further down the river with Doyle: B.A. says there was construction material on Bobbie’s barge… “and those guys ain’t building no church!” Sick of waiting, Hannibal taunts the guard, Richard Moll, until he gets so riled up he accidentally takes the co-star role in “Galaxis,” – er, actually he takes Face out of his cell and starts roughing him up. Face’s strategy here is pretty clever: he tricks Richard Moll into walking near B.A.’s prison cell, and the big man starts choking the other big man with the rope around his wrists! Murdock, still in prissy film director persona, is “directing” the action from his cell. “Get me that kid with the gold around his neck, he’s fantastic. Who’s his agent?” By the way, Murdock is wearing a shirt that says “God, Guns and Guts made America… let’s keep all three.”

Murdock's 'God, Guns and Guts' t-shirt
Actually, Murdock makes America great. Can we keep him?

Face tries to burn the ropes off his wrists over the campfire, but Bobbie Cardena shows up and offers him a knife – so she’s on the good guys’ side again? Soon everyone is free, though Bobbie is reluctant to say what Doyle’s building downriver. Bobbie also says El Cajon won’t bother them if they cross the bend in the river again, though she won’t say why. Brian convinces his nervous guides to come along by giving one of them Tawnia’s St. Christopher medal to eat. That’s two he’s eaten, and as he walks toward the boat he marvels at the vast array of gold around B.A.’s neck… for a second. A well-timed “don’t even think it, sucka” puts an end to that dream.

B.A. pushes Chipate

Hey, don’t knock the head, man.

But Hannibal doesn’t want to go back downriver; he wants to go up to find out what Doyle’s doing. And Brian wants to go find that whole lost city of gold thing he was talking about in part one. So they hike through some heavy brush until they find a huge skull-looking display, so they’re either at Colonel Kurtz’s camp or at what’s left of Benson’s Wild Animal Farm. Actually, it’s Chipate, the guardian of the lost city and its secrets. Murdock instantly becomes savant and remembers that the “one who can unseat Chipate” can find its secrets, and that means you have to be stronger than the guardian. Have at it, B.A.! He scoots the thing several feet – I guess the team has never heard of helping – and there are runes underneath, painted into what looks like the logo for Kinder-Care. Brian is in ecstatic awe as he walks through stock footage- I mean, the lost city.

Oh hey, there’s Doyle for the first time in a while! He’s chatting with Brian’s guides- apparently Doyle had them tag along so that Brian could lead him to the lost city. But when Doyle asks them to take him there, they’re reluctant. Doyle threatens to kill them and that makes them less reluctant. Doyle is so excited about the city that he doesn’t notice his face is falling off.

Murdock is a witch doctor
And he still wants a hula-hoop, too

Brian is happy there’s lots of skull pieces around Del Rio. Face is disappointed that said skulls aren’t plated with gold or encrusted with jewels; he should also be disappointed in his short-shorts, frankly. Hannibal is elated because the city walls have perimeter defenses; I’m putting five bucks down that this ancient city also has a welding torch and some grenade launchers. And so it’s time for an old-school ancient city-style montage, as the team and friends use the same arsenal of weapons as the Ewoks to head off Doyle and his men. Murdock briefly gives up the film director persona to try on an indigenous mask and sing the Chipmunks hit “Witch Doctor.” “Keep your mind on your job,” B.A. admonishes him, “or I’ll walla-walla-bing-bang YOU!”

Doyle’s men arrive – gotta give him credit, unlike the dozens of villains that came before him, Doyle’s actually taking on the A-Team with more than three henchmen. So they fight. B.A. drops a giant pillar to scare some guys, Bobbie and Face have sort of slingshot/catapult-type things, they have some trees that spring back and smack thugs into the river, there’s a net that hoists some of the dudes. Not bad for a little fuzzball! Doyle is even launched into a moat or something, and Hannibal runs over to smirk at him. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with,” says the unbowed Doyle. “I’m dealing with a 200 pound sack of manure, who’s gonna have a hard time crawling out of that hole,” says Hannibal. He instructs said sack of manure to take the team to see what he’s been building.

The team sneaks upriver and sees exactly what he’s been building: “a nuke-ular reactor,” as Hannibal says. And that’s not all they see: two guys walk up to each other and share a Seig Heil salute! B.A. can’t believe what he just saw: “Nazis! Hannibal, they’re Nazis!” Doyle says they’re the “New Reich… strong, able, undefeatable.” Hannibal hates Amazon Nazis, and decides to take them out. There are a lot more Nazis than A-Teamers, which is a big problem. But Bobbie says she can get the extra manpower they need through her father. Her father?

B.A. has a cannon
Metaphor?

Oh hell yes, it’s Mr. Coffin! At Bobbie’s urging, El Cajon and his men join forces with the team, though Hannibal and Face can’t quite believe Bobbie is the fruit of Coffin’s gun-toting loins. “The world is full of wonders,” Hannibal laughs. We get a second preparation montage, as Cajon’s troops gather weapons; Brian is out, since his leg is injured, but Bobbie is in; they’re bringing Doyle along, too, for fun.

“You didn’t get a building permit from our executive offices, pal, we’re gonna have to close you down!” That’s what Hannibal tells the Nazis when they arrive at the nuclear construction site. “Who in hell are you?” asks the Nazi. “The A-Team!” Hannibal shouts with glee, and the gunfight begins! Nazis are fleeing every which way, Jeeps are exploding and flipping over – Face tosses one Nazi over a railing, Murdock sneaks up on a guy who was just shooting at him (very Chuck Norris-style) and another Nazi gets shot in the butt – no exaggeration, they even zoom in on his hinder! The lead Nazis make a beeline for their escape chopper, but Murdock and Hannibal toss them them out, and as they fall one Nazi turns to the other and says “I’ve always loved you.” (Just kidding. “Blues Brothers” joke.) The copter lands, Nazis are rounded up, and all they have to do now is head back home on El Cajon’s boat… which immediately starts falling to pieces. Hannibal laughs and says he loves it when a plan comes together. Then he and El Cajon giggle together like the end of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

Hannibal and El Cajon are buddies
Dual catchphrase: they love it when a plan comes together with a trick wooden leg

Now everyone’s at El Cajon’s camp, and it’s time for a wedding – Mr. Coffin is going to marry Brian and Tawnia! It’s a lovely ceremony, conducted mostly in Spanish, and everyone’s happy (though B.A. doesn’t make goofy faces at the camera the way he did during Face’s fake wedding in Season 1). Afterwards El Cajon tells his daughter, Bobbie, that he’s starting to dig Face and wouldn’t mind having him in the family too, if she knows what he means. “I will do my best,” says Bobbie, and Face immediately starts wondering how to wriggle his way out of the relationship. Murdock, back in film director mode, tells Coffin the wedding ceremony was beautiful, but in the process he inadvertently smacks Coffin’s leg, which sends a bullet flying toward B.A. This, of course, sets B.A. off, and he chases Murdock down a pier while Murdock yells “cut!”

And so ends the brief but entertaining Tawnia Baker Era of the show. As a two-parter it took a while to get going, but was entertaining when it finally did – I would’ve shrunk down the Doyle angle a lot and had the team find the Nazis at the end of part one, rather than cramming them into the back half of part two. And a big thumbs up to El Cajon – Mr. Coffin was sensational throughout. Way better than Mr. Peanut, who was also briefly considered for the role.

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