In which the mission is survival.
In a long-overdue meeting, some of America’s biggest crime bosses meet over a shared problem – the A-Team. Between them, they hire Douglas Kyle, a man with two first names and a team of mercenaries who he introduces by a slide show. For $1 million each, Kyle’s squad will eliminate the A-Team.
Over at the team’s basecamp, the four are running an obstacle course. Well, mostly it’s their stuntmen but Face gets to do the final zip wire himself. Hannibal says they’ve been sloppy lately and need to get in shape. As punishment for coming last, Face has to run the four miles to town and back.
As he leaves, Hannibal, BA and Murdock take delivery of four crates of milk from an elderly delivery driver. While BA carries the crates to the house, we see the driver remove his disguise and reports into Kyle that he’s completed his mission. As a bonus, he sees Face jogging down the street alone and informs his boss they can take one of the team out right away.
A few minutes later, Face flags down a passing Ferrari driven by an 80’s hottie that’s just his type. She drives him to a motel in town and invites him in. Though Face resists, he does agree to a quick drink and follows her inside where he’s captured by another of Kyle’s squad.
Back at base, Hannibal is concerned as Face hasn’t checked in for more than 30 minutes, which means trouble. BA is beginning to feel sick from the milk he’s been drinking but he heads out with Hannibal in the van, while Murdock takes the Corvette to search for Face.
Murdock soon spots an injured dog by the side of the road and pulls over to help. It turns out the dog is also in league with Kyle as it makes a fast recovery and two men pull guns on the Captain.
The two remaining members of the team track down the hotel room where Face was captured. Bursting in, they find the woman packing up with a few hundred dollars in her purse from her role in the kidnapping. Hannibal threatens the woman and learns it’s not Decker chasing them this time but has to leave to take BA to a Doctor.
While they search for medical help, Face and Murdock reunite at a dairy farm owned by Mr Harper. Kyle is keeping Harper’s wife and daughter hostage so he can use the farm to lock up the A-Team as he captures them one-by-one.
At a local medical centre, BA collapses onto a table but before the Doctor can act Hannibal recognises him as the milk delivery driver from before and escapes alone. The Doctor tells Hannibal he won’t get far as he can see the same poison BA took is affecting him too.
The Colonel makes it back to the hotel room to call Tawnia and asks her to contact Doctor Maggie Sullivan in the town of Bad Rock (from the episode Black Day at Bad Rock) before collapsing onto the floor.
Thankfully, Tawnia succeeds and Hannibal comes around to the two women standing by his bedside. Dr Sullivan warns Hannibal that he and BA have been given a sedative – Kyle wants them alive for now. It’s non-lethal but an antidote will help his recovery, which she leaves to go and find.
At Harper’s farm, Murdock and Face use some of BA’s jewellery to cut their ropes. As the next guard comes in to check on them, they knock him down with a chair to the head and Face pins him to the floor by his neck. Holding the guard at gunpoint, Face marches him outside while Murdock helps BA. The area’s booby-trapped though and Face ends up standing on a pressure mine, thwarting the escape attempt.
A recovered Hannibal has Tawnia taking pictures of cows as Dr Sullivan insists she’s coming with him to help BA. Hannibal, now well enough to throw together a quick disguise, drives to Harper’s and demands to see the owner – showing a security guard his catalogue of cows for sale.
Inside his office, Hannibal gets the truth from Harper about his wife and children, and the location of the A-Team. Borrowing a nearby truck, Hannibal drives it straight towards the farm buildings – tying the steering wheel and jamming the accelerated down as he leaps onto a roof. The truck clears out the mines and draws out the bad guys, while Hannibal breaks open the cell door and Murdock compliments his “nice entrance”.
Bursting out, the team take out the guards and shoot Kyle’s tyres out so he can’t follow when Tawnia pulls up in the car to help them escape.
Kyle’s furious and threatens Harper’s family again when the office phone rings. It’s Hannibal offering Kyle the chance to try again – but this time they A-Team will know they’re coming. Kyle doesn’t want to play but is forced to agree when the Colonel reminds him that his paymasters won’t be happy if he fails his job.
Dressed in some neat camo gear, Kyle and his three men begin the attack on the A-Team’s basecamp. Splitting them up, just like has been done to them, Murdock takes out the first man. Face confronts another with a grenade but gets beaten until Murdock comes in to help out there too. BA, of course, fights the biggest bad guy and also struggles until some leaking fuel catches fire and he gets the upper hand.
Seeing his team fall apart, Kyle tries to escape but a well-timed grenade throw from Hannibal sends his jeep into a flip. The Colonel pulls Kyle from the wreckage and manages to time his cigarette perfectly with the jeep exploding behind him.
In the final scene, Harper’s family is safe and Hannibal orders the team to run back to base for more training. Face tries to hitch a ride in the van with Tawnia and Dr Sullivan but BA pulls him out of the van as we freeze-frame.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes. It’s just a bow tie, an accent and a lot of pictures of cows, but his disguise gets him into Harper’s farm to rescue the team.
Does BA get on a plane?
Should someone be dead?
No. For once, we see the impact of a jeep flip when Hannibal saves Kyle from the burning wreckage of his car.
I seem to say this every episode lately, but Deadly Maneuvers is another example of the writers playing with the format of The A-Team. This time, there’s no mission at all for Hannibal to plan – the name of the game is survival.
We’ve seen a similar plot in season one’s A Small and Deadly War where the team had to face another unit with similar training. This time though, the enemy is far more threatening and manage to pick the A-Team off when they’re at their weakest – alone. Ed Lauter (who you’ll recognise from many, many films and tv shows) is a wonderfully deranged anti-Hannibal with a penchant for slide shows. Season two is building an outstanding run of episodes.