In which the team roll the dice and win two mission for the price of one.
It’s Veteran Vegas Vacation when a group of senior citizens are enjoying a bus trip out to the casinos. Their fun is brought to an abrupt end when one of the casino’s employees radios to a gang that the bus is leaving, full of easy victims. The gang, known as the Scorpions, pull the bus over on a quiet road and take all the cash and jewellery they can find. One man, Max, fights back when the gang take his wife’s wedding ring, but he’s floored with a punch to the gut. The Scorpions warn the passengers not to contact the police, as they now have their identification and know where they all live.
Thankfully, Max manages to contact the A-Team, initially through Mr Lee and then the team themselves when they show up at his house. Hannibal agrees to take the mission and the van heads off to the casino with BA, Face and Murdock all present.
On arrival, the team splits up with Hannibal playing the wealthy (and very lucky) uncle of Face to attract attention and the others scoping out the joint. Murdock spots the employee we saw earlier acting very suspiciously by eyeing up the customers and reports to the Colonel. Face is assigned to flirt with her and she duly offers him a tip – there’s a shortcut they can take on their drive home that will save them an hour.
Out on the road, BA and Murdock hide in the back as the Scorpions chase the van down in their all-terrain buggies. They shoot a tyre out and hold Hannibal and Face at gunpoint for their winnings. Though the boys jump out of the van and turn the tables on the gang, one of the Scorpions throughs a grenade towards the team and they make their escape. It’s only a smoke grenade but it’s clear to Hannibal that their adversaries are tooled up for more than highway robbery.
The team head back to the casino, where Face makes another attempt at wooing the employee – who’s name badge reads L Palmer, but we later learn it’s not a Twin Peaks crossover event and her first name is Lila. She’s suspicious of Face and goes to call the Scorpions. This time, the gang’s leader (who looks like death himself) answers and tells her what happened at the roadside. She’s ordered to keep Face out of the way. He then goes to the rest of the gang and tells them off for their robbery venture as they need to focus on their big mission.
Back in the van, the team trace the call and locate the Scorpion’s base. On their way over though, they’re surprised by more of the Scorpions in buggies and are forced to turn and escape. Their preparation and weaponry confirm Hannibal suspicions that something bad is about to go down.
Meanwhile, Face and Lila share a drink of champagne, which sends the Lieutenant falling unconscious to the floor. Lila’s then ordered to visit her boyfriend Al at the local prison. She does and argues with Al, who’s not happy to be behind bars. In the next booth, Murdock listens intently to their conversation. Outside, he climbs into the van alongside Face, who had seen Lila drug his glass and only pretended to faint.
Face calls Tawnia at the newspaper and asks her to research Al. Turns out he used to be the leader of the Scorpions and is due to transfer to another prison where he’s giving states evidence against the gang to reduce his sentence. Tawnia asks to join the mission, but Face tells her no – perhaps a little put of jealousy as she mentions another man called Ted who did her a favour to get the information.
Returning from the prison, Lila finds the A-Team waiting in her office. She thinks the Scorpions planning to break Al out of prison, but Hannibal sets her straight – they’re going to kill him so he can’t testify against them. Realising the truth, Lila tells the team everything she knows and goes into hiding.
With the mission now to keep Al alive to give evidence, Face procures a coach, which the team montage into an armoured prison transport bus. He drives it to the prison with Hannibal and the two manage to fool the guards into releasing Al into their custody. Neither sees Tawnia, who’s at the prison to try and get a scoop, climb into the bus’s luggage hold.
A few miles outside of town, the bus pulls over to meet BA and Murdock and the four begin to pull down the defences in preparation for the Scorpion’s attack. Hannibal enjoys bringing Al up to speed – his old gang know his secret and are out to get him.
Tawnia shows herself, much to everyone’s surprise, and is given the vital job of sitting in the van and waiting for the attack to end. In fairness, she’s the escape driver as is made up to be included in any form.
The bus sets off on its planned route and its not long before the Scorpions begin their assault. They chase the bus down in their off-road buggies and soon catch up to it, with one of the gang climbing onto the roof. Luckily, there’s a stuntman on the roof wearing Hannibal’s clothes and a bad wig to take care of him and the Scorpion is sent flying over the side into the dirt.
The team managed to flip one of the buggies (which no-one falls out of despite them having no roofs or seat belts) but the gang shoot the bus’s tyres out and it’s forced to stop. BA’s in a mood though and comes out of the door fighting, taking on the gang by himself while Face and Murdock watch.
It’s game over for the Scorpions, who find themselves tied to the outside of the bus with Al locked safely inside and the police closing in. Tawnia pulls up in the van and the A-Team make their exit.
Back at Max’s house (remember him? the man who started this whole episode off), the team get the usual debrief and present his wife’s wedding ring back to her. Tawnia confirms that Al is about to testify and the Scorpions are all going to jail for a long time. Murdock makes a toast to their success and for once BA sees the funny side and breaks out laughing.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
No. He acts as a wealthy uncle but its’ just an accent and a suit so I’m not counting it.
Does BA get on a plane?
Should someone be dead?
Yes. The Scorpion buggy that flips over in the bus chase would have crushed some skulls on impact with no roof or visible seatbelts.
It’s A Desert Out There is one of those refreshing episodes of The A-Team where the mission takes an unexpected turn into deeper territory. This time, what seems like a case of a local gang ripping off casino patrons turns into a prison break plot and an unusual mission to save the life of a gang leader. There are so many twists in this one, I had forgotten all about their client until the final scene.
I would have liked to see more from the Scorpion’s leader Flagg, played by Anthony James – who we’ll meet twice more in future seasons. He has the perfect look for the part and his reveal after we think we’ve met the head Scorpion is a brilliant move by the writers. He’s underused later when it comes to the final battle, but you can taste the fear he instils in his men and you believe he’ll take out Al to stay out of prison.