In which BA experiences a total eclipse of his fears.
We open on a cargo plane forced to land in South America when one of its engines fails. In worse luck, the pilot, Robbie, navigates to an airstrip only to find that it belongs to the local military. They drive out to meet him and, to make things even worse, uncover a stash of cocaine hidden in the cargo.
The A-Team are soon on their way to meet the pilot’s cousin Judy who has asked them to help. Face isn’t pleased as they’re taking on too many charity cases and the family have no money to pay them. Robbie’s father is no fan of the team’s actions either as a proud veteran of World War II and Korea, but Hannibal asks him not to judge them without the facts. The father asks for the same in return – he’s certain Robbie wasn’t knowingly smuggling drugs, he’s a veteran too with a Purple Heart. The mission won’t be to break Robbie out of prison in Venezuela but to find the real villain behind the drug smuggling operation.
Murdock’s trying his best to act straight, reading a book titled Abnormal Psychology, prompting Robbie’s mum to ask if he’s a psychiatrist. “No ma’am, I’m insane” he replies. She also has an impact on Face when she asks if his mother sent him cookies while he was in the army. As an orphan, the mother/son relationship hits home with Face who announces they’ll be taking the case for free.
The team’s first lead is Robbie’s shady partner, Al Jackson, who runs the cargo company. Robbie’s cousin tags along for the ride, pointing out Jackson who gets immediately threatened by BA into revealing Robbie knew nothing. Hannibal assigns Murdock to impersonate Dick Nash – the next pilot due to fly out, with BA warning him there’s no time for invisible dogs or bug friends this time.
As Hannibal and Face discuss how they’re going to get BA on the plane this time, Judy reveals she can hypnotise him. She settles on the trigger word “eclipse” and BA is out light a light. As the plane’s getting ready to take off, the police arrive and Hannibal tackles Jackson, threatening him to tell them nothing. It’s unusually vicious for The A-Team but seems to work as Jackson keeps silent.
When they land in Columbia, for some reason they decide to wake BA up inside the plane. He’s predictably furious and immediately sent back to sleep. Hannibal, Face and Murdock wisely decide to leave and allow Judy to wake BA up when they’re at a safe distance.
Murdock heads to find the next cargo load, meeting Lance Henriksen (who played Bishop in Aliens among many other things) who starts to load the next shipment with him. Meanwhile, Hannibal and Face break into the office where it turns out they smugglers keep detailed records of their operation – revealing drug king Winston Corless is behind everything. Amy gets a mention as they discuss a reporter friend of hers who got killed for getting too close to Winston.
Back on the airstrip, Lance Henriksen’s friend turns up and reveal’s he has met Dick Nash before – and he’s black! Thankfully, the rest of the team turn up just in time to fight off the crew and board the plane to escape – with BA once again getting the “eclipse” treatment.
Although the team have all the information they need, Winston is in Columbia, which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US so is out of their reach for now. Hannibal has a plan of course – Murdock will crash the plane in nearby Venezuela, wander to a Hospital, Winston will (somehow) hear about him, the bad guys will come to grab Murdock and force him to take them to the plane and they will fool them into crossing the border.
One problem, Murdock will need a black eye to make the crash seem realistic (sure Hannibal, that’s the one flaw in this plan). BA is happy to oblige but Hannibal stops him as he’ll break his jaw and Face gets the job.
Amazingly the plan works, and we cut to Winston’s office. Lance Henriksen and his friend from the airstrip lie about being attacked from behind earlier but explain that the good news is they have found the pilot in hospital. The two grab Murdock and his “Doctor” (Face with a moustache and glasses) and bundle them into Winston’s car.
Meanwhile, Hannibal changes a sign to the Venezuelan border from 5km to 15km while BA and Judy make the plane look like a crash site.
Before Winston can track the plane down, the local Federales arrive and Hannibal is forced to drive it away through the jungle to escape. Two very flippable jeeps give chase, shooting at the plane with BA firing back from the side door. The first jeep only veers into a tree but thankfully the second flies into a full flip onto its roof – with all passengers surviving.
Winston pauses in front of the vandalised sign and – in case we weren’t following – says out loud that “we still have 15 kilometres to go”. What a sucker!
At the crash site, the plane is now missing so Face and Murdock need to improvise to track it down. You’d think the plane-seized hole in the jungle would help but neither they nor the Federales seem to have much luck finding it so Hannibal directs them through duck calls.
Everything comes to a head at the plane when the army and Winston’s men arrive at the same time. One of the men punches Face in the… well, face… which knocks off his disguise leading the henchman to exclaim “ this guy’s a phoney!”.
Hannibal and BA back them up with some gunfire, but when Face runs out of ammo and asks BA to “throw me clips” he falls asleep. Thankfully the Federales win the battle and the team present them with evidence of Winston’s drug operation – revealing that he’s now in Venezuela. Hannibal pretends to be from the DEA, which seems to go unquestioned.
Back at the farm, we learn that Robbie is to be released and Winston is in custody. Robbie’s parents have rounded up $15,000 but there’s no charge for this one. BA confronts the team about his blackouts and frequent flying – which Robbie’s father suggests Judy can help with her hypnosis. Hannibal tries shouting “eclipse” but BA has been deprogrammed and we freeze on BA swinging his fist at the Colonel.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
No. He pretends to be a DEA agent later on but only has a badge to show for it.
Does BA get on a plane?
Yes, many times! This time he’s hypnotised into falling asleep when hearing the trigger word “eclipse”.
Should someone be dead?
Yes. The second jeep that flips should not have left any survivors as it didn’t even have a roof.
In Plane Sight is another brilliant episode of The A-Team, thanks to its unusual setup and payoff. Rather than helping out an underdog business, the team are hired to rescue a pilot framed for drug smuggling. Even then, they don’t take on the obvious mission of breaking him out of jail but are tasked with breaking the entire drug operation.
It’s always fun to see the team thinking on their feet, especially when overseas where there’s no opportunity to recruit the locals or create a weapon from the contents of a shed. Splitting the episode into two halves (first investigating the drug lord, then bringing him to justice) keeps things moving at a great pace. Plus, we see more of BA on a plane that the time he got trapped inside one at takeoff. Highly recommended.