I guess some missions are so nice you go on them twice. Or maybe the A-Team is on a Mobius strip and the end is the beginning?

Well, this is it. One last episode on the last day of a year with the A-Team. And it’s been a pretty interesting year, good and bad. I gained a lot of self-discipline, lost a lot of sleep, told a lot of jokes, laughed at a lot more. I lost a pretty amazing dad, but soon will have a pretty amazing baby boy (yes, it’s a boy, we found out for sure last week). And- geez, I sound like Sam Elliott at the end of “The Big Lebowski.” Let’s just say: I dreamed this project up because I thought it would be fun, and that I might learn something. And that’s exactly what happened. I love it when a plan comes together.

Thanks for reading.

Without Reservations

Wild Guess Preview: Stockwell needs an insider in the up and coming sport of competitive eating, so that the Soviets don’t extend their sphere of influence to Nathan’s Hot Dogs. The team has to spend the weekend at Coney Island scarfing down dogs and riding the Wonder Wheel until they’re sick as dogs. Also, they bump into The Warriors, who are back from the big gang meeting with Cyrus.

The Recap: Yes, for those who are wondering, this episode was filmed before “The Grey Team” and was intended to be aired first, so while it’s the last episode it’s not really the last episode. It’s sort of like how “Let It Be” was the last Beatles album released, even though “Abbey Road” was the last recorded. That’s a metaphor you can enjoy for years to come.

Or wait, maybe this is like the A-Team’s “Rubber Soul,” because this opening scene is from “Holiday in the Hills,” way, way back at the beginning. I guess some missions are so nice you go on them twice. Or maybe the A-Team is on a Mobius strip and the end is the beginning?

Stockwell is happy to have the team back in Virginia, because he has another mission for them, one that they haven’t done already. B.A. protests: “I ain’t rescuing nobody tonight, I got a football game to watch!” The general says the “Stockwell incentive plan” encourages more missions in less time to get the pardon more quickly, but the team continues protesting so he gives them a week off instead. Hannibal bargains him up to two weeks off with no surveillance, and Stockwell heads out.

Murdock walks in; he needs to borrow a white shirt from Face for his new waiter job. The money’s not great, but the food is free, and so he invites everybody out for dinner. Each of the guys begs off; B.A.’s watching football, Hannibal has a date, Frankie and Face are… unable to come up with excuses. So they go out to eat.

Murdock serves Face and Frankie
The red vest means Murdock can wait tables, and I think he can also host TV golf coverage.

Murdock insists the food is “real good.” Face says wait, didn’t Murdock said the food was excellent? Murdock: “It’s real good.” Ha! Murdock is the only waiter on tonight, but he loves it: “I was raised in a pizza joint,” he says. Most everyone is at home watching football, but there are a few customers, including Joey, a Robby Benson-looking guy at the bar who keeps hitting on the boss’s daughter. There’s Steve and Robin, a nervous couple at another table. And there’s Officer Tommy, picking up a pizza and comiserating with the restaurant owner about burglars in the neighborhood. Finally there’s a thin wormy guy comes in to eat with Joey, who’s been casing the joint so it can be burgled. The staff, he says, is “just an old man, some goofball waiter and this great looking chick in the kitchen.” Murdock notices their guns as he takes their drink orders, so he drops by Face and Frankie’s table and tells them to keep an eye on the dudes. They agree to help, but Frankie has a question: “where’s my salad?”

Face follows Joey into the bathroom; he sticks some gum under the faucet, so when the dude comes out and tries to wash his hands, he makes a mess. Face “helps” Joey by giving him a towel and stealing his wallet. Is this whole episode in the restaurant? This is like the A-Team performing an episode of Fawlty Towers; Lord Melbury should be here any moment to take the best table in the house. Face suggests finding Officer Tommy, but Murdock says there’s no time; they’ll have to deal with the burglars themselves.

Face gets shot
Et tu, some guy in a restaurant?

The team follows a plan worked out by Face: he returns Joey’s wallet, at which point Murdock accidentally-on-purpose spills a beer on him. Then Frankie punches the guy. And then Face gets shot? I don’t think that was in the original plan. Lou, a large bald guy at another table, just up and shot him? Anyway, Faceman slumps to the floor; Murdock says they need to get Face to a doctor, but the bald guy says “nobody leaves, the hit goes down as planned.” Oh, he’s with Joey and the wormy guy, and they’re not robbers. “When the Attorney General arrives,” Lou tells the restaurant owner, “you seat him at the front table, near the window.”

B.A. orders a pizza from Murdock
B.A.’s headphones are noise-proof and fool-proof!

And he wants the restaurant to be all normal, meaning Murdock has to collect himself and get back to work. Luckily B.A. walks in, and he needs “a pizza for the second half.” He sits down with Frankie, who tries to hint that things are going askew, though he can’t say it outright because Joey is sitting at the next table with his gun drawn. Murdock grabs a pizza for B.A.; he tries to slip a napkin that says “call the cops – held hostage” in there, but Leo intercepts it. He manages to miss another message, though: when B.A. brings the pizza back home, he and Hannibal notice the word “HELP” written in anchovies.

The pizza says 'HELP'
This pizza needs somebody. Not just anybody.

Hannibal realizes they can’t just burst in and start shooting with all the civilians around, so after a little surveillance, he calls the restaurant to get the lay of the land. Murdock picks up and talks in code; he says “the specials are three” tonight, but “stay away from Villa Pecka, it doesn’t look too good.” He also lets Hannibal know that the Attorney General is going to be there at 9. The colonel radios to Stockwell that there’s a hostage situation underway, but he refuses the offer of a SWAT team because it would be too visible. “We’ll handle it,” Hannibal says. First they have to handle Officer Tommy, who wants to know why they’ve been sitting outside the restaurant for so long. They make like they’re confused tourists and drive away, but they spot Frankie’s car and pull over, cause Hannibal has an idea.

Hannibal pretends to have a head wound
Head on. Apply directly to forehead. Head on. Apply directly to forehead. Head on. Apply directly to forehead.

Hannibal’s idea is pretty clever, as usual. He knocks on the back door: “there’s been a terrible accident,” he tells the thugs. They’ve set Frankie’s car on fire, and B.A.’s pretending to be dead underneath it. The wormy thug grabs the fire extinguisher and puts out the first, but B.A. arises and smacks the guy. Then he knocks Lou out and enters the kitchen. Murdock, meanwhile, has notices a little mace container in Robin’s purse; he hides it in a bowl and drops it off at Frankie’s table. Then he and Frankie stage a little ruse to get Joey’s attention, and Frankie maces him. Three for three. Oh, three for four; Officer Tommy comes in and takes the daughter hostage. “Nobody’s going anywhere,” he says. Oh great.

Officer Tommy takes a hostage
Don’t move, or so help me, I’ll wander around talking to myself some more

Officer Tommy grouses to Lou about his payoff, but still he unties the thugs and wanders out. Now all of the teamers are hostages, and there’s ten minutes left before the Attorney General shows up. And Face is getting sicker. Hannibal gets Joey all riled up; he mentions how the AG is working on a big mob indictment and these thugs must work for one of the bosses. Joey threatens to stab the colonel but Hannibal says “do it” because he knows there’s already more trouble than they can handle. Lou has to calm Joey down.

Hannibal checks on Face in the kitchen (he’s not good) but he has an idea. “Stand by,” he tells Murdock. When the thugs tell the team to put Face behind the bar, Hannibal sneaks over to the oven and turns the gas on. Then, after a few minutes, he lights his cigar and throws it into the kitchen, so the Attorney General’s limo pulls up just as the restaurant goes up. Joey goes down, Murdock smacks Lou with a metal pizza tray and the teamers punch the thugs down for good. Murdock won’t stop punching Lou, in fact; Frankie has to restrain him. Murdock’s loyalty to the guys is so sweet! B.A. gets the van to take Face to the hospital. And he and Frankie run off to grab crooked Officer Tommy, just in time to tell the AG what’s going on.

The 'GET WELL FACE' pizza
Sorry, Mark Pearsall, but this tops the “SLAYER” pizza you made for us back in high school

Hooray, Face is ok! He’s back home; he’s weak, but “it only hurts when I breathe.” Frankie notes that Face hit on two nurses while he was under sedation. Only two? Murdock and Gina drop by; Murdock has on an “almost fini” t-shirt, just in case you wondered whether this was supposed to be the next to last episode or not. Gina says the restaurant is packed, now that her father has been known for “single-handedly saving the Attorney General’s life.” Apparently even Stockwell has made a reservation! And Murdock’s made a special “GET WELL FACE” pizza. Ew, says B.A.: anchovies again? Murdock explains that Face likes anchovies, as does himself. B.A.: “Nobody likes anchovies!” He tosses the pizza away.

A weird episode. No camp at all, very moody, one setting, a little creepy. But a very interesting one nonetheless; everybody has something to do, and it’s an unusual twist on the whole show.

And that’s the series. Wow, every episode. I miss it already. Maybe I should just start from the beginning. Yeah, a little Mexican Slayride is just what I need! So we start off in San Rio Blanco, a normally quiet Mexican town that’s under siege by a a Tommy Chong-looking dude and his posse of Jeeps…

Previous episode: Season 5, Episode 12 – The Grey Team