In which there’s only one Howlin’ Mad Murdock.
We open on a woman practising her sharpshooting on some glass bottles, hitting the target every time. Her father, who runs a travelling show, comes over and they wonder why the A-Team is bullying them into selling the show to a man called Mason. The dad wants to take the show to Europe but can’t with the team threatening them.
This odd state off affairs is soon cleared up with the so-called A-Team show up in a basic black van which cheap imitations of Hannibal, BA and Face get out of. They hit the daughter and then the father when he tries to protect her, saying that Mason’s final offer is $10,000.
Over at an LA bar, Face is working his magic on a lady friend when he finds the bar’s usually friendly staff turn on him. He’s no longer welcome there due to a story in the paper accusing the A-Team of turning from the good guys into the villains the military have always said they are. BA gets a similar cold shoulder from the kids on the basketball court, who no longer want to associate with him.
Meeting up with Hannibal, the team decide that despite the risk of it being a trap from the military they have to go and clear their names. Face head over to the VA to spring Murdock, who’s room has flooded and is furious that his name isn’t mentioned in the paper as being part of the A-Team.
Meanwhile, Colonel Lynch is back on the scene, having been given one final chance to capture the A-Team. He even has a Sergeant inside the travelling show watching out for their arrival.
There isn’t long to wait, as the show’s owner meets with two new acts – a cowboy (Hannibal) and a Native American (Murdock). I’ll say this clearly now, Murdock should not be dressed as a Native American. Yes, the point is he is in disguise (not playing a character) but it’s wrong and his use of common Native American tropes for laughs is wrong too.
Face joins the show as a clown, but BA refuses to wear a disguise and works shovelling manure in plain sight of Lynch. The Colonel is cautious though, having only seen BA he can’t be sure if Face and Hannibal are there.
The Fake Team are back and, in a dramatic upswing, they send a truck hurtling down a hill towards the packed show. Seeing the danger, Hannibal leaps onto a horse and rides out to meet the truck, jumping onto the back of it and climbing into the cab to stamp the breaks just in time.
With a dramatic flourish, Hannibal reveals the truth to the show’s owner and his daughter: “We are the A-Team.”
The Fake Team report their failure to Mason at his recording studio and he’s not pleased. He needs to own the show to use its European tour as a cover for his drug smuggling operation.
Back at the show, Lynch’s spy (played by future Red John Xander Berkley) spots Face and reports into the Colonel. There’s only Hannibal left to locate before Lynch can strike.
The Fake Team stalk the show master as he stops at a shop and threaten him, but when he turns around it’s Hannibal. The rest of the real A-Team appear and fight off the fakers, with Murdock displeased there’s no knock-off version of him. The boys deliver the defeated thugs to Mason’s studio, shooting out the window of his recording booth. Despite Hannibal’s threats, Mason stands firm in his plans.
Face is making the moves on the daughter, but Hannibal interrupts pre-smooch to talk through Mason’s plans. They realise he only become interested after the show booked their European tour and the drug smuggling operation begins to dawn on them. Knowing that Mason has a band, Hannibal predicts that if he can’t buy the show, he’ll destroy it and organise his own tour.
They’re on a roll as BA next brings out the spy and they force him to tell Lynch that Hannibal will be arriving at 2 pm. The Colonel tells his MPs to surround the show so he can finally capture the A-Team.
After a brief montage of setting up defences at the show, Lynch pulls a surprise by attacking early. The van burst past the MPs, who give chase along the country roads and force the van to drive into a waiting truck. Lynch orders the truck locked and driven straight to the nearest army base.
Watching from above, Mason sees the defenceless show and heads towards it. There’s another surprise though as Hannibal’s waiting for him with the rest of the team. The final battle begins with the two teams shooting at each other, and Mason’s men falling foul of rope traps and Murdock shooting explosive fireworks from his bow and arrow. The A-Team swiftly win the fight, and Hannibal even convinces Murdock that he should remain the secret member of the team, rather than announce his membership to the world.
At the military base, Lynch unlocks the truck in front of his superiors only to find the show’s owner and his daughter inside the van. Despite Lynch trying to arrest them, they’re set free and the van is ordered to be impounded. Two MPs drive it out of the truck before gunning the engine and speeding off- revealing themselves to be Murdock and BA, with Face and Hannibal laughing in the back seats.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes. First, he’s a cowboy looking for work at the show, then later impersonates the show’s owner to trick the Fake Team into attacking. We also get someone disguised as Hannibal.
Does BA get on a plane?
Should someone be dead?
No. There’s plenty of gunfire, but the battle at the showground is non-lethal.
Showdown! is a real mixed episode, with some interesting ideas that aren’t fully capitalised on. The Fake Team is a great setup and you wonder if the A-Team are working for the wrong side. The mystery is gone in a few seconds though when we see them turn up to threaten the show’s staff.
There are lots of small moments to enjoy too, particularly Murdock complaining that no-one knows he’s in the A-Team. The scenes with Face and BA losing respect are great too, highlighting the great reputation they have with everyone other than the military. Of course, it’s always good to see Colonel Lynch return and for a moment it looks like he’s got them. It’s just a shame the episode lacks a great villain and set-piece to tie it together.
Let me know what you think by joining the conversation on Twitter.