In which there’s no time for chilling out, maxing, relaxing or cooling.
It’s the first appearance of Tawnia Baker (but the second of Marla Heasley) as we join her inside a giant supercomputer belonging to private security firm Intermode. She’s researching Colonel Decker and the A-Team but her actions are noticed by none other than Kurtwood Smith (one of the bad guys from Robocop and the dad from That 70’s Show).
Kurtwood reports to his boss who helpfully for us asks if Baker discovered their plan to assassinate a sheikh at 2 pm. We get a timecode on screen in a neat visual cue that will count us down towards the event.
Tawnia pulls up outside a sporting goods store, where Murdock pops out of a bin and holds her at gunpoint. Inside the store, Hannibal, Face and BA are talking about leaving the country – as soon as Hannibal is done as the Aquamaniac in Camp Runamok. Decker has been getting close by sending in military disguised as clients, but Face wants to hang on a few days as he’s about to win employee of the month and a trip abroad with a countess. I love it when we see how much Face sometimes has to work for his scams.
Murdock brings Tawnia in, who tries to warn them that Decker is looking for them. Murdock and BA head outside to check the coast is clear. The news doesn’t impress Hannibal but he’s surprised when Decker pops out and points a gun at the team.
Decker’s quick to note that with Amy overseas, the team have moved quickly to replace her. As ever, he spends too much time revelling in his success and is soon knocked into an inflatable raft by Face then captured by Hannibal after a hunt around the store.
With Decker in their custody, Hannibal marches out to rescue Murdock and BA from being pinned down in Tawnia’s car by the surrounding MPs. Before driving away, Hannibal leaves Decker with a distressing thought: “It took us ten years to break Lynch’s spirit.”
While BA recovers his van, Tawnia makes her case to join the team. With Amy in Jakarta, she wants the inside scoop so she can get a career boost, reminding them that she’s already shown she can be useful by going undercover at Intermode. Hannibal isn’t interested but Face takes a shine to her and gets permission to check her out further.
Kurtwood has tracked Tawnia down and heads off in the Intermode helicopter to bring her back or kill her. Face and Tawnia are getting close on her sofa, but she’s more interested in the story than making out. When that doesn’t work, she mentions starting a relationship which gets Face moving… out of the door! Turns out Amy left her a tip to shake off his affections – talk about a relationship.
Tawnia’s friend Ron knocks on the door so Face hides in her apartments. It’s not just Ron visiting though, Kurtwood Smith is there too and he pulls his gun on Tawnia. Face jumps in to save her but after getting the upper hand is surprised by a second goon and thrown off the balcony into a pool. In a sly Diamonds are Forever reference, Kurtwood reveals he didn’t know there was a pool.
Face drives to the Camp Runamok to meet Hannibal, at first talking to an empty Aquamaniac costume. He’s told not to exaggerate but the Colonel agrees to help rescue Tawnia from Intermode.
The team gather in the van outside the Intermode office, with their secret weapon ‘Mike’ – a skunk they place into the air conditioning system. Face leads them into the offices and scams them access to the floors Ron and Kurtwood Smith work on. Hannibal lays on a thick country accent for some reason and Murdock advises Face that he needs to keep his balcony story credible if he wants people to believe it.
Face and Murdock find Ron first, bullying him into revealing where Tawnia is locked up. Meanwhile, Hannibal and BA close in on Kurtwood and his boss, overhearing their plan to assassinate the sheikh at 2 pm. Bursting in and holding them up, Kurtwood’s boos reveals he knows all about the A-Team and even offers Hannibal a job. This annoys Hannibal who tells him in no uncertain turns that he will enjoy flushing him down the sewer.
BA smashes up some of the recording equipment – he’s a big fan of personal privacy – and the team shoot their way out of the building.
Now planning to scupper the assassination plan, Face and Murdock head to an airport to scam a helicopter. They claim it as evidence in a murder case and deliver it to BA, who’s unimpressed: “That thing can’t make coleslaw”. Unusually, Murdock pulls rank on the others and sets them to work attaching guns to the chopper.
Tawnia arrives at a luncheon to meet the sheikh and warns him of the attack and not to trust his security team. Kurtwood Smith and his boss soon arrive in the helicopter and fire a missile at the party, destroying some of the pool and sending the partygoers flying into the air.
Murdock and Hannibal pop up in the borrowed chopper and start shooting at the others, drawing them away from the party. While Amy bundles the Sheikh safely into the van, we get a fantastic helicopter chase with Kurtwood and Co close on the tail of the team.
Using smoke as a cover, Murdock pulls a tight manoeuvre over a cliff leading the following helicopter to crash into it an explode. It’s perhaps The A-Team’s most famous ‘the bad guys are ok’ moment when all three passengers crawl out of the wreckage uninjured.
It’s good news for Tawnia too as she gets the scoop on Intermode and keeps the team out of the papers. She’s keen to join the team for real but the boys aren’t interested and start to leave. As Decker’s sirens begin to close in on them, Tawnia points out that she’ll be in his sights now too. Reluctantly, Hannibal agrees to give her a lift and we have our fifth member once again.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes. Well, sort of. He dresses as an air conditioning repairman and puts on a funny accent but it’s all very unnecessary as Face has the scam in hand.
Does BA get on a plane?
Should someone be dead?
Yes – a missile gets fired at a part and a helicopter crashes into a cliff face.
The Battle of Bel Air is a legendary episode of The A-Team thanks to its famous helicopter crash scene, where three men walk away from an exploding chopper after flying right into a cliff. Beyond that, the episode is a great one on its own terms too. The story unfolds at two speeds, as we learn about the assassination plan early on, but the team only discover it after first dealing with Tawnia Baker.
Marla Heasley’s debut as Tawnia is also a success, managing to follow on from Amy whilst setting her own character up. She’s more driven than Amy, upfront about wanting to join for her career and throws herself into helping with the mission- even staying calm about her car getting shot to pieces. It’s a shame we never got an episode with Amy and Tawnia working together to help the team.