Hannibal’s on his own with a tummy full of poisoned milk. If you don’t know he’s a vigilante, it sounds like a the plot of a Little Golden Book.

Five months down on our little project! That’s a pretty big feat in itself, given my attention span, but it’s also a bit of a wake-up call in that the halfway mark is just a month away. This piece is number 34 on our list. There are 97 or 98 episodes, depending on how you count some of the two-parters, and that means I’ve got a ways to go to be on track by July 1st. Let’s just say I won’t be at the beach much (again) this summer. And with that, we’ve got work to do…

Deadly Maneuvers

Wild Guess Preview: An evil chiropractor, twisting and contorting and manipulating his victims’ spines until they turn into servants of the dark? It’s true, this odd but compelling Halloween episode features Hannibal disguised as Horst, a Eurotrash wunderkind of chiropractic who can’t tolerate competition, and B.A. as the very unwilling patient with a kink in his neck bigger than the Mall of America. Did I also mention the evil chiropractor is played by Jim J. Bullock? Ok then.

Douglas Kyle, the best mercenary money can buy.
I’m Keyser “Hard To Kill” Soze. And I can cook, too.

The Recap: Wow, it’s one of those rogues gallery meetings where a bunch of rich mustachios get together and say things like “Gentlemen, it’s time we put a stop to the accursed A-Team, once and for all!” They’ve decided to all chip in and hire Douglas Kyle, a sort of Steven Seagal/Kevin Spacey lovechild who, we are assured, is “the best mercenary money can buy.” Kyle immediately demonstrates his evil bonafides by presenting a slideshow; it’s about all the devious men he’ll hire to kill the A-Team, thugs-for-rent who blow up buildings in Belfast or scare the crap out of civilians in Cambodia. “I get in and I get out,” Kyle says, forgetting that his mission is to exterminate the A-Team, not infiltrate a place. You’d think “the best mercenary money can buy” would be a little quicker on the uptake, y’know?

Speaking of quick, Hannibal is putting the team through some heavy duty training! He’s making Face, Murdock and B.A. run an obstacle course while shooting machine gun rounds at them. Hannibal says the last two missions have been sloppy, so they’re getting back into shape; Face even has to do an extra couple of miles in and out of town because he’s been lagging behind. B.A. is hilariously confused – “Whatever happened to lunch?” – but he’s pacified when a milk truck drops off four giant crates of the good stuff. Why did we need to see this? Because the milkman is actually one of Kyle’s guys, doing a little recon. He drives away, spotting Face and saying “we can go on him right now” into his walkie talkie. And do they ever go on him: they send a woman with a red convertible right over to get Face’s attention. I say “woman,” but since there weren’t any women in Kyle’s slideshow, we must assume this is one of the henchmen in drag. Anyway, the honeypot (maybe the Belfast bomb person?) lures Face to a motel and a Merlin Olsen type guy knocks him out.

Murdock and B.A. take a milk break

Geez, thirsty much, guys?

Hannibal is worried that Face has been gone so long. B.A. suspects it’s Decker, though he may not be thinking straight because he drank like seven gallons of milk and he’s feeling a little funny as a result. Nonetheless, he and Hannibal take the awesome van and drive to town, where a hayseed tells them that Face met up with a girl and “picked up some takeout and took off, like they’re going on their honeymoon or something.” Good heavens. Murdock, meanwhile, goes looking for Face away from town, but all he finds is a cute puppy dog who looks hurt. “Ol’ Doc Murdock” promises to help, but Kyle’s thugs surround him and the dog runs back to Kyle. I point out again that there were no dogs listed in Kyle’s slideshow, so this is clearly the guy who set Cambodia on fire dressed as a dog.

Hannibal and B.A. have stomachaches

Poisoned milk stomach is like a storm, raging inside you…

So two down, and two to go! And the latter two have located the red convertible, which has the license plate “KOOCHY.” “Koochy or no Koochy… this could be a Decker trap,” says Hannibal. What? They burst into the motel room and find the lady, who says “all I know is they wanted me to pick him up and bring him here” for a payoff of $8,000. Hannibal realizes there’s no info to be had here, so he and a doubled-over B.A. head back to the van. Hannibal says he doesn’t feel so hot either – “like a gut full of razor blades” – and so they’re off to seek medical attention.

Murdock is getting thug attention at Harper’s Dairy, the same place that brought over the milk earlier. It has a paramilitary operation running alongside the dairy cows, with guns and jeeps and camo uniforms. If it feels like there are a lot of militia groups on this show, remember that in 1983 California there was one paramilitary operation for every 600 citizens. The dairy owner, Harper, is reluctantly going along with Kyle’s scheme; he asks when his dairy workers can work again, oh and also could Kyle set his wife and daughter free? Nice priorities there, pal! “Just do your job,” Kyle says.

An evil doc shoots at Hannibal, while standing over B.A.

Insert your Jack Kevorkian jokes here, folks

The thugs’ job is to toss Murdock into their makeshift holding cell with Face. Neither dude is happy about being deceived – Murdock keeps saying “I fell for a dog!” – but they’re confident that their captors will not be able to catch B.A. After all, Face says, “the man’s indestructible.” The indestructible man is, in truth, being helped into a doctor’s office by an also-ailing Hannibal. But because life is sometimes hard when you’re an A-Teamer, the doctor is actually the milkman from earlier in the show! Hannibal gets into a gunfight with the doc and another henchman, and has to make a solo escape in the van.

Hannibal’s on his own with a tummy full of poisoned milk. It sounds a little like a the plot of a Little Golden Book, doesn’t it? He calls Tawnia and asks for the doctor he kissed in the Bad Rock episode, Maggie Sullivan. They race out to find Hannibal, and determine that – surprise – he’s been poisoned. Maggie says she’ll go back to her office and get the antidote.

As for Kyle, well, everything’s going his way right now. He’s got three of the four team members, and the other one’s in trouble; either Hannibal’s too sick to move and he’s a sitting duck, or he’s recovered and will try to save the rest of the team, which means they’ll be able to bring him in. The rest of the team, who I will now call the Harper’s Dairy Three make a daring escape, but Face accidentally steps on a pressure mine and they end up right back where they started. Kyle demands to know where Hannibal is, but Face says he has no idea. Hannibal, he explains, is “a real mystery, a walking riddle.”

The walking riddle is in a field with Maggie and Tawnia, taking pictures of cows. Huh? It’s part of a low-key scam, with Hannibal putting on his best bowtie and posing as “Patterson and Patterson, we sell cows.” He scams his way into Harper’s office; when Harper asks who he is Hannibal pulls out his gun and says “Gandhi… and this is my personal protest.” What a line! Harper explains he’s a victim too, his family’s been kidnapped, so Hannibal has him explain the ins and outs of the farm so he can put a plan together. Then he ties Harper up to throw Kyle off the trail… or something.

Hannibal’s got a plan – sorry, no time for a preparation montage, but blowing up a dairy truck as a diversion is a pretty good consolation prize. Face: “It sounds like World War Five.” B.A.: “Hey man, it sounds like Hannibal!” As the thugs take cover, Hannibal blows a hole in the holding cell roof and meets up with the team, and they all shoot and punch their way toward Tawnia’s getaway sedan.

B.A.'s in a knife fight

You call that a knife? Oh, actually that is a knife

Now nothing is going Kyle’s way, and Hannibal is calling out “little Dougie” for one last smackdown. Some of the henchmen recognize the ruse here and tell Kyle they’d rather go back to dressing up as women and dogs, but since Kyle is a stubborn lunatic they go forward anyway. They drive over to where the team is waiting, and after a long game of cat and mouse in the woods the team beats Kyle and his men down pretty easily. Murdock jumps on a couple guys, Hannibal fires a lot of rounds, Face throws tear gas and B.A. gets into a knife fight with the tall bearded guy, who somehow cuts a hole in an oil drum which wasn’t there a second ago. Then he lights the oil drum and it explodes, but B.A. gets up and knocks him out with two punches. “Close, sucka, but not enough.” Which is the perfect description for most A-Team villains. Kyle decides to run for it in his jeep, but Hannibal has one of his patented flip-over grenades and that finishes things off. Hannibal mocks Kyle: “Next time you think you want to take somebody out, pal, don’t get yourself a squad… get yourself a team.” Then Kyle’s jeep explodes as Hannibal lights a cigar. Hey, David Caruso stole that bit for “CSI: Miami”!

Harper is elated to have his wife and daughter back. B.A. is elated to drink non-poisoned milk! Hannibal is elated because they can start training again; in fact, everyone’s going to run back to base right now. B.A. is not elated by this: “Aw, Hannibal, I got a belly full of milk, man!” Face thinks their recent experience should count against the remaining training, but Hannibal insists: “As they say in Fairbanks, ‘Mush’!” Face tries to sneak a ride in the van, but B.A., who’s running with milk, yanks him out.

That was a hell of an episode! A solid plot, plenty of intrigue and a nice psychotic villain. And it’s probably the most quotable episode we’ve seen so far. I am motivated – I’m just gonna chug a few gallons of milk and then I’m right back at it.

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