For this mission, I won’t use any machine guns or grenades, I’ll stick to fluids. I’ll defeat them with water, stale 7-UP and a bit of Face’s hair gel.

There are many, many distractions in this world, each of them aimed at keeping an erstwhile A-Team recapper from doing his work for the people. Not a day’s gone by, for example, that attractive persons haven’t tried beating down my door, wanting a piece of the action. Or maybe it’s creditors beating down the door. One of the two, certainly.

The point is, there’s always going to be a distraction, and I have to avoid them if I want to develop any self-discipline. So far the only trick that’s worked is playing a little online mahjongg before I start a recap. It focuses my mind in a way that other tricks (memorizing The Law of the Sea Treaty) don’t seem to do. The one catch? I’ve hit the mahjongg wall, so to speak; I’ve found the place between the levels I can complete easily and the levels I can’t complete no matter what I do. And my focus has been giving way to massive, Hulk-style uncontrollable rage, and it’s hard to write about TV when your focus is on destroying every piece of computer technology you can find.

Maybe the lesson is that I’m just easy to distract. Or that some things can’t be overcome, like one’s nature. Or the f___ing 53rd f___ing level of f___ing mahjongg.

Water, Water Everywhere

Wild Guess Preview: Sea World has fallen under the evil spell of Big Ralph the Sea Lion, who rules the tank with an iron flipper. A group of frightened dolphins uncovers Ralph’s plan to sell the more rebellious animals to Huey Lewis and they hire the A-Team to do something about it. Murdock, who spent all of last week’s episode channeling “lobster vibes,” teaches a starfish to fly a helicopter, while Hannibal, Face, B.A. and Triple A join forces with some honked-off jellyfish in time for a big final fight scene. It’s just like “Thunderball,” only not.

Hannibal in a bearded disguise
Takin’ it to the streets!

The Recap: The title may say water, water everywhere, but it looks like people, people nowhere again. We’re in Deadman, another one of these small towns where some rustic power-mad guy terrorizes the four residents. The town does have a hotel, and ok, there’s at least two people, one of whom is carrying boards around. He also has a mechanical left arm, so maybe he’s Luke Skywalker. There’s also wealthy bully Frank Gaines and his cowboy hat, both of whom enter into the hotel and hurl taunts at the dude with the mechanical arm and his two cohorts, each of whom has a disability of his own. Gaines badly wants to buy their property, but they’re not interested, so he tries to scare them a little, prompting one of the hotel guys to say “we all got PhD’s in scared.” So there’s your daily dose of “huh?” Gaines leaves, but signals his thugs to drive over and beat up the three guys. Some woman wanders in and says in a very, very formal tone. “Stop it!” This oddly breaks up the fight right away, but the thug says the guys will have to “go back to the VA for repairs” and then pulls the wheel off the one guys’ wheelchair. That is LOW, man.

Wait, did someone say VA? That’s where Murdock lives, and he’s friends with these guys, who were also in Vietnam. Also on hand: Hannibal, who’s pushing the wheelchair, disguised as an orderly. Murdock says his friends will be glad to help, but the dudes aren’t sure Murdock has any friends: as the one guy says, anyone who “carries Wee People around in his belt is gonna lack a little credibility.” But Murdock insists, and they say ok, we’ll be back in Deadman in a couple days. Hannibal reveals his true identity and says the A-Team will be there too.

B.A. smashes a rifle over his knee
Make ’em by hand, BREAK ’em by hand

And there’s the awesome van! Triple A has been doing some research, and says Gaines’s company owns tons and tons of acres around the town of Deadman, but he can’t develop them because the only large water source nearby is on the hotel land. They drive up into town and decide to confront Gaines, with a few machine guns on hand. Gaines is inside next to a pool table, where he says he admires the three vets so much he’s sad he’ll have to have them killed. What kind of a villain is this? Hannibal asks if Gaines believes in the Western code of honor, like “never shoot a man in the back.” Gaines says he surely doesn’t. Hannibal says “good, neither do I,” and smacks him right in the gob. Then he takes Gaines’ handcrafted rifle, which he claims cost him $20,000, to B.A., who says “Make ’em by hand, break ’em by hand!” and he snaps it over his knee! A big fight breaks out and the thugs don’t do so well. Gaines is unhappy. “You’re a real long way from home, pal,” he tells Hannibal. The thugs drive away. B.A. remarks that they may have been “too stupid to get the message.”

Just a ways on down the road, a water truck pulls up, and the driver meets with a Gaines-inspired blockade. He turns back, just like the Soviet ships turned away from Cuba. And that’s not all Gaines has cooking; he puts a giant fire pit in the middle of the road, with a funny sign about how water helps when you need to put out a fire, signed the “Sebago Environmental Leadership Lobby.” Get it? SELL? SELL? The man may be evil, but he’s funny. Then he shows up and shoots out one of the windows and one of the tires on the van, both of which are really, really bad ideas, and says the dudes should take his original lowball offer or he’ll burn the entire town down. Then he leaves. Hannibal says he’s got a plan, so don’t worry. “Sounds like the jazz to me,” says B.A.

Hannibal and the three dudes make a phone call
“We’ll help you, once you reenact my favorite scene from ‘WKRP in Cincinnati'”

Hannibal’s plan appears to be subterfuge; Gaines’ phone rings and Jamie, one of the three dudes, says he wants to do things “the sensible way,” so I guess they’re pretending to sell. Murdock and Face, meanwhile, head over to the local water station, which is odd since I thought this town didn’t have any water?!? Face pretends to be some kind of water engineer; Murdock is his foreman, “Corky Duke.” They love saying that name, they say it like five times. It’s kind of a fun name to say, actually – here, you try it with me! Corky Duke! Now try it with a long “r” sound, like the name was coming round the corner to the finish line. Corrrrrrrrky Duke!

Face and Corky Duke
Here’s Corrrrrrrky who’s scammed most everywhere, from Ecuador to old Times Square…

Anyway, Face and Corrrrrrrky Duke! say there’s a problem with the water going to Frank Gaines’ ranch, which is a perfect cover for the problem they’re about to cause with the water going to Frank Gaines’ ranch. Face scams the water operator on duty while Murdock, I mean, Corrrrrrky Duke!, shuts all the water down. So now Gaines can’t get any water in his wet bar. That’s when the team bursts in and says it’s time to make a deal. Gaines wants to fight, but they say no. They have the StageCoach’s proposal: they’ll buy Gaines’ 50,000 acres for three thousand bucks. As Face notes, that’s about what Gaines’ family paid for it when they took it from the Native Americans. Gaines tears up the check, and Hannibal is sorry to see him do it; the thugs come back in to escort the team out of the ranch, but the team starts doing this funny bit where they suggest tactics in number code. What about a 45A? Or maybe a 38, or a 32? They settle on B.A.’s suggestion of 22, which is punching all the opponents and then throwing them behind the wet bar. Not a bad plan! “22 always works,” says Hannibal. “We rehearse.” B.A. gets revenge for the van damage by shooting out Gaines’s wet bar glasses and his rifle case.

But wait! Gaines says he doesn’t even have to fight, because it’s only a matter of time before the vets and their hotel dry up because of the water issue. Or, he could always burn it down. It’s nice to have options. Hannibal mocks the speechifying. “Ever try the lecture circuit?”

Hey, there’s Triple A, remember her? She scammed some blueprints of Gaines’ compound from the hall of records, and so Hannibal has a plan to “borrow” some equipment. That night the van drives over to some warehouse, where Hannibal says they have exactly 91 seconds before the security car makes its rounds and spots them. Face picks several locks and Murdock cuts power – I think it’s already been at least eight minutes – and the van sneaks into the garage just before the security guys show up. They appear to steal some fire hoses before the scene dissolves into the next day and the obligatory preparation montage. Face steals away from this to spend a little heart to heart time with the woman who’s the only other person in town. She asks why they do what they do; “surely you’d be better off going your separate ways.” He sadly does not respond “don’t call me Shirley,” and instead says that they’re really all better as a team than as individuals. “I think something special is happening here, Wanda,” he says. Except that her name is Amanda. Oops. She doesn’t seem to mind. So what monstrous, destructive thing did B.A. build today? It’s a very Rube Goldberg-style water well! And the water comes up from the ground and everyone is happy, except for Gaines’s thugs who are watching from a ways away. B.A. is so happy he’s doing a little dance. No kidding, he’s dancing.

The well means the vets have their own water supply and can wait Gaines out indefinitely. Gaines says ok, we’re going back there. Why not just all go there and not keep bumbling back to the ranch every ten seconds then?!? So they prepare, but they don’t get a montage. They do show them loading gasoline into their trucks like eight times, so it must be important. Hannibal, too, is prepared, but he says he needs a tank, which he asks Face to go find. There are four people in town, plus a ranch, and they just discovered water, and they’re going to find a tank? Face manages to scam a large septic truck, which is close enough, and Murdock is laying out some firehose along a line – wait, we’re getting a second preparation montage? The vets tell Hannibal they don’t know how they can repay the team. Hannibal says “we’re just making a small contribution to freedom… each of you has already made a great one.” How sweet!

Hannibal's water gun
So they spent two-thirds of the show trying to find water in a desert town, so they can spray it at guys?

Gaines tells his boys “let’s go,” which is odd because they were all going and they had to stop so he could tell them to go. Then they drive into downtown Deadman, and they spread the gasoline they loaded into the trucks all over the hotel. The team is watching; Triple A is even taking pictures. Then, just as they light the building on fire, Jamie turns the water pipe to full blast and the team and the vets start pummeling the thugs with water from the hoses. That’s right, water – no guns, no grenades, just H2O. I sometimes wonder if Hannibal doesn’t secretly give himself limits on these missions, just to see how good he really is. “Alright, this time I’ll defeat the evil crime boss, but without bullets. I’ll only use vegetables.” Or, “for this mission, I won’t use any machine guns or grenades, I’ll stick to fluids. I’ll defeat them with water, stale 7-UP and a bit of Face’s hair gel.” Hannibal tells Gaines and his men that if anything happens to the vets, Triple A’s pictures go to the District Attorney and to the press. “Now get out of town,” he says. And so the soggy sons of bitches head for the hills, and our heroes are happy. They have a little party at the newly restored hotel, where everybody drinks a toast; B.A. drinks milk, and Murdock sprays an eyedropper of milk into his Wee People pouches. And a slightly odd but enjoyable episode draws to a close.

Murdock salutes the thugs
I think this means “I don’t like you, thugs”

Pretty good, on the whole. I sure liked the three guys they helped, and Gaines was an unusual but strong villain. Sadly, it also seems like the writers have run out of ideas for Triple A. I started to write up a list of things she could do in future episodes, but I got distracted and just copied down safety instructions from Elmer’s glue.

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