In which the team meet a new adversary and embrace a western world.
Three jeeps chase a herd of wild horses across the Arizona plains, trying to capture them. As they get close, a Native American on horseback charges towards them, spooking the herd to safety. Turning their attention to the rider, the jeeps speed after him with one of course flipping over in the process.
As the lead car gets near, they manage to lasso the rider and pull him to the ground. The drivers call their boss, Bus Carter, and drag the Native American away along the ground from the jeep.
Elsewhere, we’re introduced to the A-Team’s new arch enemy, Colonel Roderick Decker. The army has had enough of Lynch’s failures and we get an interesting insight into the reasoning behind the pursuit. Chasing down the team is described as a “ridiculous vendetta” and their conviction down to “political pressure”. There’s a clear message that perhaps not even the US army believes the team is guilty, even if they do, they would have preferred to forget the whole matter. Only Lynch’s actions, which have made the team’s status an embarrassment to the army, have kept the chase alive.
As we’re in a two-parter that needs some padding to reach runtime, we get a trip down memory lane. We re-live three of Lynch’s failures, twice where the team stole a jet and once when several MP cars are destroyed. As a final kicker, it turns out Decker is disgraced for his methods and has been side-lined – catching the A-Team is his chance at redemption and getting his career back. The Colonel issues an ominous warning: “I’ll play by their rules, which mean there are none”.
Over to the team and the rider from the opening, Daniel Running Bear, meets Hannibal who’s in disguise as an elderly hotdog seller. Having already met Mr Lee, he’s sent to his third meeting – 2 am the following morning. BA arrives to confirm Daniel (who I’ll call DRB for ease) wasn’t followed.
We cut to Face, who’s now a producer, at a film premiere where Decker and his MPs are lying in wait. A server puts a gun to Face’s back and ushers him into the back, revealing it’s Hannibal in his second disguise already. Hannibal isn’t happy to see Face featured on the front page of Variety but is softened when offered a new monster role.
Their plans are interrupted by Decker and men, with Hannibal leaping through a window to escape. Stealing a car from a valet, Hannibal drives through the city with the army on his tail, evading them by parking on a car transporter.
That night, Hannibal now dressed as a police officer meets DRB, arresting him then revealing his identity. Across town, Face and BA spring Murdock who’s adopted the identity of a TV western character, the Range Rider. Though they’re successful, one of Decker’s men plants a homing device on the van.
The rest of the team meet DRB in a warehouse and we get a call-back to Amy’s first meeting when Hannibal realises their client can’t pay. It turns out Bus Carter is stealing wild horses from the range and shipping them to Mexico to be slaughtered. BA isn’t keen to “save a bunch of horses” but the team accept the mission.
Before they can begin, Decker has assembled a team of his own outside the warehouse and has them penned in. Foolishly giving them two minutes, he watches the van burst through the door and straight off a pier into the river. It’s a ruse of course, with only Hannibal driving and the others escaping the back way in Amy’s car. In a record-breaking fourth disguise, the Colonel mingles with fishermen to sneak away.
Over in Arizona, after some DRB and Amy flirting, we’re introduced to DRB’s nephew who’s quite handy with a bow and arrow. The team decide to dress as cowboys for the adventure, while Amy and DRB head to the reservation. They don’t get far when Carter’s men stop them, leading to a fight in the street with the rest of the team that’s easily won by our heroes.
Back at Bus Carter’s ranch, he’s watching his niece riding one of the horses he actually owns. He warns his right-hand man Stryker that she can’t learn about the horse rustling as she won’t agree with it. Stryker warns his boss about the team out to get him.
The same team are chasing down a train filled with horses and heading for the border, with Hannibal and Face succeeding in releasing the cargo back to the wild. Hannibal decides to celebrate by breaking into Carter’s office and threatening him, but he’s interrupted by henchmen with guns. The Colonel grabs Carter’s niece to stop the shooting and makes his escape.
At their temporary camp, Carter’s niece learns the truth about her Uncle and decides to help the team by telling them the next train shipment is due to leave in the morning. We enjoy a short montage of the team creating a fortress from a handcart before the train is diverted onto another line and the attack begins. While Amy shoots arrows of dynamite at the carriages, the team run their cart alongside the carriages and fire at the smugglers.
The gang surrender and begin to release the horses but are stopped when Carter’s reinforcements arrive and destroy the team’s makeshift vehicle. “I love it when a plan comes together”, Hannibal comments dryly. What a wag.
Murdock, Amy and DRB evade capture, with Murdock heading after the captured team and the others going for help. Carter’s niece helps again by creating a distraction while Murdock frees Hannibal. Face and BA are tied up in the train by Stryker and will be killed over the border. Forcing Carter into his helicopter, the two chase after the train and Hannibal leaps onto the roof.
Stryker is defeated and BA manages to stop the train before it crosses the border. There’s no time to celebrate though as Decker arrives with Amy and DRB. Face hits BA over the head with a plank and the three join Murdock in a chopper escape. Decker’s not happy but makes do with arresting Carter and his gang for federal crimes (despite not being a police officer).
The team don’t go far, returning to DRB’s reservation to say their goodbyes. Face has his arm around Carter’s niece and DRB seems happy with Amy staying. She says it’s because Decker will be on her tale, but we all know better.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes. First, a hotdog vendor to meet DRB, then a waiter at Face’s premier, then a police officer to meet DRB and finally a fisherman to escape Decker. We also hear of Mr Lee and Hannibal really embraces Arizona life with a full-on cowboy outfit.
Does BA get on a plane?
No, but he is knocked out for a helicopter ride.
Should someone be dead?
Yes, there’s an open-top jeep flip and the attached on the train with dynamite and guns should have been lethal.
When You Comin’ Back Range Rider? is perhaps the best episode of the A-Team yet. It benefits from the space of a two-parter, though we do get some filler in the first half with a brief clip show. Colonel Decker is an improvement on Lynch, with a more developed backstory and real energy from actor Lance LeGault. You get the sense he’s going to revel in his new assignment.
The team’s efforts to break up a horse rustling scheme are set against a grand Arizona backdrop, with a double act of Carter and his top henchman Stryker acting as worthy adversaries. It’s almost cinematic in scale with a range of fistfights, car chases and even a horseback attack on a train.
Let me know what you think by joining the conversation on Twitter.