In which we meet the union of cabbage cannon construction workers.
Labor Pains (and I use the American spelling only out of dedication to accuracy) opens with Decker chasing the A-Team van at high speed. The whole team are on board, and Hannibal is having a great time of it. The van somehow gains some upward momentum and bursts through a billboard, with Decker following suit. Surprisingly, the MP car doesn’t flip or crash and continues the pursuit. Unfortunately for him, there’s a bridge out up ahead and, under Hannibal’s orders, BA hits the gas and makes the jump (in an impressive bit of stunt driving). It’s a bridge too far for Decker, who pulls up rather than taking the leap.
Stopping in a nearby town for food and shelter, the team split up. Hannibal, Face and BA head to a shop where they find two customers being refused service by the owner. It seems that local tyrant Jarrett is not only paying terrible wages but also preventing his workers from buying enough food, all while he plans an extravagant BBQ.
The team intervene and all seems smoothed over until Jarrett’s right-hand man Cross shows up to pick a fight. The team prevail of course and Cross (played by the villain from Rambo: First Blood Part 2) skulk back to tell their boss.
Later, at the team’s hotel, we see shadowy figures breaking in but when they reach a bed, they find only pillows. The team step out to find the two shoppers from earlier, who’ve come to ask for their help (in the most suspicious and comically misleading way possible).
They explain their fellow workers are on strike against Jarrett’s low wages and he’s trying to starve them into submission. The action is close to failing as workers and their children are getting sick from the lack of food. Hannibal realises that the workers hold the cards if they can last a little longer – unless Jarrett’s crop is picked soon it will spoil and he’ll lose a lot of money.
To help, the team head to the BBQ to liberate some food from the guests. Hannibal uses the occasion to dress as a chef, albeit one who d carries a machine gun rather than a whisk. Amy supervises some guests into loading the food into the van, while Face ensures all the guests are aware of Jarrett’s methods. As a final flourish, they take owed wages from Jarrett and Cross’s wallets – leaving the change of course.
For their next act, the team hit Jarrett’s fields across the area with leaflets organising a ballot on a new union. Back in the town, Cross throws a grenade (easily available naturally) through the office window. Hannibal is on hand to ask Amy why she put the poster up on one of Jarrett’s buildings and not theirs, much to Cross’ dismay.
Jarrett is getting desperate and sends Cross to threaten one of the mothers into revealing where the union vote will take place. To save her son from harm, she gives them what they want.
BA and Face have a sweet conversation about Face’s talent for scamming people after he trades his shoes for some farm equipment. Face admits that Hannibal taking him under his wing probably saved him from getting into trouble later in life.
At the barn where the union meeting will be held, we enjoy a lengthy montage of a new machine’s creation. As ever, it’s full of excellent hand acting from people who definitely aren’t Amy, BA, Hannibal or Murdock. In one moment, we get a part passed between four people without any of their heads in shot.
When Jarrett, Cross and their men show up we get what might be the best bit of engineering in A-Team history – the cabbage cannon. Face fires cabbage after cabbage from the machine, knocking over Jarret’s men and defeating them.
A broken Jarrett is informed the union vote passed unanimously and a legal representative will be along to make sure things run smoothly – so there’s no shutting it down once the team leave.
In the final moments, Murdock alerts the team – via Ouija board – that Decker is closing in. Thankfully Decker likes to have his sirens on, so we get a warning from the real world as well as the spirit realm. BA fires up the GMC, blasts through the streets and we freeze on the van bursting through the same sign as in the opening.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes. He’s briefly a chef at Jarrett’s BBQ before stealing the food.
Does BA get on a plane?
No, but the van gets some serious airtime.
Should someone be dead?
No. There’s nothing lethal in this episode, no car flips and as amazing as it is, the cabbage cannon is decidedly harmless.
Labor Pains is a great episode of The A-Team. Putting the team on the side of farmworkers being pushed to starvation by their greedy boss is a classic set up. With the workers unable to pay, it’s also good to see the team taking on work just to help – with no hope of a profit.
The two villains, Jarrett and his dirty-work doer Cross, are both excellent and play off each other well as Jarrett gets more and more frustrated. With one holding power over the workers as their boss and the other a physical threat, there’s plenty for the team to contend with.
We also get an unusual way of solving the problem. The team use the law to their advantage by unionising the workers but still find time to make one of the best weapons of all time in the cabbage cannon.
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