My Year With The A-Team: Season 4, Episode 23 – The Sound of Thunder

The A-Team and Fulbright come up with a plan

“How the crap did Cassandra from ‘Wayne’s World’ just beat up the A-Team?!? “

Season finale time! We’re on a roll here, folks: season one took us nine weeks, while season two lasted a disappointing sixteen. Season three was even worse – nineteen long, painful, difficult weeks. But in season four we got it all together – the whole 23 episodes in just shy of eight weeks. Which is good, because there’s just one week left for season five. I’m ready. Are you ready? You bet you are. As Hannibal might say, hit it, B.A.!


The Sound of Thunder

Wild Guess Preview: The team gets hired on to help a mom-and-pop group of storm chasers, who claim that a big corporation is trying to take over all the tornadoes in Kansas. First, there is no such corporation, it’s just another storm chaser named Greg, and he doesn’t have a problem with the other folks. The mom and pop group confess that they just wanted somebody to come over and watch the Weather Channel with them. A confusing season finale.

The Recap: Hannibal is having dinner with a French girl, Michelle – they’re at a night club with the flashy name of “Night Club.” Michelle claims she wants to hire the A-Team, that she’d do “anything”… again, she’d do “anything” for their help. Hannibal: “I have a friend, Face, who’s never gonna forgive me for this, but I don’t operate that way.” Fine, she says, “I like you whether you help me or not. And I do not wish to be alone this evening.” By the way, Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” is playing on the jukebox at Night Club. Hannibal says he has a phone call to make, and then they can go somewhere and fool around.

Hey, General Fulbright is at the same bar! He follows Hannibal into the men’s room, only Hannibal switched the signs on him and he ends up in the ladies’ room instead. When he comes out, Hannibal grabs the general’s gun. “Smith, I’ve been looking for you,” Fulbright says. “In there?” Hannibal cracks as he leads the general out of the club. Michelle looks for Fulbright but finds Face instead, and they all drive away to sort out the situation.

B.A. dunks Fulbright

Wet and wild with Bull Fulbright – about as exciting as it sounds.

They end up at a hot tub somewhere (I assume this spa is named “Spa” or “Hot Tub”), and B.A. repeatedly dunks Fulbright to fry any homing bugs he might be wearing. Fulbright’s acting squirrelly, even for him, and Hannibal wants to know why. “I wanted you to go on a mission,” he says. What? Then he says “Colonel Morrison” and everybody’s ears perk up. “He’s the officer you claim sent you on the mission to rob the Bank of Hanoi. The mission that you got locked up on.” The team says Morrison’s been dead since 1972, but Fulbright says he’s alive, a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and that the government is ignoring the info to avoid a diplomatic fracas with Hanoi. Fulbright says he and Morrison were friends, and since Morrison is “the only one who can prove your innocence” maybe they could work together. Face thinks it’s a ruse, but Hannibal wonders if they can afford not taking a chance on clearing their names and winning their freedom.

Murdock is Captain Spaulding
One night Murdock shot an elephant in his pajamas.

Speaking of freedom, Murdock is demanding a large dose of freedom at the VA hospital. (He’s wearing a shirt that says “Everything comes to an end”; does he think the show isn’t going to be renewed?) Then, somehow, the power goes out. The orderlies start up a room check, and all they find in Murdock’s room is a stuffed Murdock doll. “He did it again!” one shouts, and they run out. Actually, Murdock was inside the stuffed Murdock doll, and he just walks out and meets up with the team, who was knocking the power out to begin with. Hannibal tells Murdock about the mission, and adds that once Fulbright sees him with the rest of the team, “your cover is blown for good.” “Not to worry, Colonel,” he says, and puts on a Groucho glasses and nose piece. “I can’t believe it. Murdock is part of the A-Team!” he says. Murdock says his name is “Captain Spaulding,” but Fulbright isn’t fooled. Drat. They do have a funny moment where Murdock, who’s pretending not to know the others that well, refers to Faceman as “Man-Face.”

Hannibal smiles at Fulbright
Any bets on who drew the Easter Egg on the wall of this high-level military plane?

Hannibal and Fulbright have made a deal that no one is out of sight from the others at any time; that way, no one gets accused of sneaking off to narc on the others. As if it wasn’t weird enough to have Fulbright hiring the A-Team, B.A. agrees to fly to Vietnam, because “if this Morrison guy can clear us, you guys won’t have to be knocking me out no more, for none of these crazy capers we’ve been going on.” They scam a military plane and soon they’re flying over stock footage of Vietnam, landing about “ten clicks” from Hanoi. B.A.’s proud of himself; he made it through the whole flight! Well, almost – Face says he blacked out for a small section of the trip “from Kansas City to Manila.”

Scenes from the A-Team's Vietnam flashbacks
Now boarding for the depressing and creepy part of the season finale; all others re-read “Cowboy George” or something

Face scams them some hotel rooms at the Hanoi Sheraton; since they’re in Vietnam and since it’s a season finale, the guys start having flashbacks to the war. Face is first, though only for a single, creepy, sepia-toned moment; then it’s Murdock, whose memories are set to “Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire. Then Hannibal starts to remember being on patrol during a napalm bombing, and Face remembers newsreel footage of actual combat… geez, they’ve done flashbacks on this show before, but this is positively creepy. Hannibal dozes off to thoughts of his complicated past… and when he wakes up, he realizes something’s wrong: “where’s Fulbright?”

Tia Carrere, Vietnamese commando
I MUST DESTROY WAYNE CAMPBELL

The general is being driven by bike to a house, and his driver is Tia Carrere! He knocks and tries to open the door, but it’s empty. And then Tia pulls out a gun! Hannibal yells “Fulbright! Hit the deck!” as she starts shooting, and Murdock does a flying tackle on her. But she uses a couple of quick martial arts kicks on H.M., and then tosses him, judo-style, into a tree. Face and B.A. follow as she runs off, but she kicks both of them and climbs up the side of a building to escape. How the crap did Cassandra from “Wayne’s World” just beat up the A-Team?!?

Now the team is angry at Fulbright. “Morrison has nothing to do with why we’re here, does he?” Hannibal asks, and Fulbright admits Morrison was a ruse. “I did what I had to do,” he says… “for my son.” Son? Yep, Fulbright had a ladyfriend during the war, and according to the letter and photo he got, he has a son, but he couldn’t go through official channels to find him because “in this country, I’m a war criminal.” The team sort of softens at this point and though they don’t actually say it, they tacitly agree to help. Fulbright senses this, because he says “As much as I wanted and needed you to go on this mission with you, I never thought you were innocent – until now.” He leaves, and the team formally decides to help the guy. “I’m out for the weekend anyway,” Murdock says. So there you go.

Fulbright’s only lead on the son is a woman called Mi Lin, who lives in the village of Dai Kung. She really doesn’t want to help Fulbright – speaking of Chin Tu, the baby’s mother, she says “you ruined her life! You left her with an American baby!” Fulbright says he didn’t know until the son sent him a letter, begging to come back to America. “The general has no son,” Mi says. “Chin Tu had a little girl.” Say what? She pulls out a photo and shows Fulbright – it’s Tia Carrere! She’s Fulbright’s daughter! And her character’s name is Tia, too!

Tia lives in the next village over, with Wayne and Garth, so the team quickly tracks her down; Murdock and Face grab her off a walkway and carry her off in a wicker basket. I guess that’s what being kidnapped by Pier 1 Imports must be like. Tia doesn’t like being tied up because it’s making it hard for her to finish killing Fulbright, but Hannibal says maybe she could just talk to him and give him a chance to explain the situation. “I know enough!” she says. “I know what he did to my mother – how he used her, lied to her, and left her.” Hannibal says “it was a strange time,” and that even though Fulbright did, in fact, leave the mother, he didn’t know about Tia. “You two are going to have a talk,” Hannibal says, “and when that’s done the two of you can do whatever you want.” “I will listen to him, and then I will kill him,” she says. “Or I will introduce him to Rob Lowe.” Ok, I made that last part up.

Vietnamese troops capture Fulbright
If captured by foreign troops, saying “I was once roasted by Shecky Greene” appears not to help.

Actually, Fulbright’s getting introduced to some people, but they’re Vietnamese soldiers, leading him away in handcuffs on their boat. “Search the village and find the white-haired American and the girl!” the Vietnamese troop leader says. “I want them… preferably alive!” (“Now I believe we’re back,” Face says.) But the white-haired American has a plan: he asks Tia to run back to her house and distract some of the troops combing through her village. She objects, of course, but Hannibal says they’ll have to get Fulbright back first, “whether you want to kill him or hug him.” So she leads the soldiers on a little chase so the team can punch and kick them soldiers – or, in B.A.’s case, throw one in the river.

The soldiers take Fulbright to a little hut on the river. The team follows, and Tia does a little recon to find out who’s in there. The nasty Colonel Sien and a few Vietnamese guards, and they’re messing Fulbright up and asking all sorts of tough questions, including a bunch about how Tia’s been working with Fulbright all along. But Bull protects Tia by saying they can torture him all they like, but “I’ve got no daughter!” He also adds “Drop dead,” but that sort of goes without saying.

Tia swims back to the team, shaken up that her dad is actually a decent guy. The team busts in just as Sien is about to use a fire-roasted sword on Fulbright’s face; they subdue the soldiers and untie the general. They leave the hut just as more Vietnamese guys show up in a helicopter – Murdock and Face grab onto the legs of the chopter and gain control. But as Hannibal and B.A. load Fulbright into the thing, Colonel Sien gets up, aims and shoots Fulbright in the back! Then he shoots Murdock in the shoulder! “We might not make it to Texarkana,” says Howlin’ Mad, “but I think we’ll make it to the plane.” Hannibal makes sure of that, by blowing up some oil drums, and possibly Sien.

General Fulbright doesn’t look so good. “Last time I saw you,” he tells Tia, “you were trying to kill me! Oh, you’re so pretty,” he adds. Then he turns to Hannibal. “Smith,” he gasps, “you and your men are good soldiers. I’m glad we ended up on the same side.” And he dies? What the hell? They fly off. Holy crap was that depressing.

B.A. in a fancy boating outfit
B.A. has been touched by his Vietnam experience – and clothed by J. Crew, apparently

The team is back in America, hanging out next to the awesome van and Face’s Corvette. Apparently Face took Tia shopping in Beverly Hills, to the tune of two thousand dollars. “I will pay you back, Face,” she says quickly. “I will repay all of you for what you’ve done for me. You will see I won’t be just an extra burden to you.” Is she joining the A-Team? Hannibal’s not sure about that – he says they brought her from Vietnam because the government would be hunting for her all the time… and “that’s our situation here.” “Besides,” Murdock adds, “B.A.’s got a terrible temper.” “I DO NOT!” B.A. replies. But Tia says she has no home in America, and besides, they snuck her into the country illegally, so she’d be caught and deported by the government anyway. “Maybe you can stick with us ’til we figure something out,” Hannibal says. Tia likes this and wants to celebrate. “Can we go to those nightclubs Face told me about?” “NIGHTCLUBS?” B.A. says, disgusted. Fine, Face says, let’s just get something to eat.

They get ready to drive out, but first Murdock pulls Hannibal aside with a somber question: “Before we went back,” he asks, “did you think about it?” “I remembered it,” Hannibal replies, “but I didn’t think about it.” Wow, that’s the end of the season.

Holy crap, that was intense. But a good intense – unlike the season 1 finale, which aimed for the same vibe, this episode got the “serious A-Team” formula right. It’s not a typical episode by any stretch; there’s very little wisecracking and somebody actually died for once, but it underscores the character of the team, that these guys are, as Fulbright put it, “good soldiers.” Speaking of good soldiers, Jack Ging is tremendous in this episode; at first you can’t help but think Fulbright is leading them into a trap, but you start rooting for him pretty quickly, and by the time Fulbright gets killed, you’re sorry he’s gone. The only bummer part is that they never got to pursue the A-Team-plus-Tia Carrere angle, as she ended up back on “General Hospital.”

All right then. One more season, one more week. It’s going to be great.

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