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Recap / The A Team S 1 E 5 A Small And Deadly War

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A policeman comes to the A-Team for help — he knows that a SWAT Team in his city has gone rogue and is hiring themselves out as assassins. However, he has no evidence, and they've threatened his family if he goes to the chief about it. Now the team is up against a group almost as good as they are...but they're up to the job.

This episode includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Blackmail: The captain of the rogue team got something on several officers and then had them transferred to his command, forcing them to cooperate with his hitman operation.
  • By-the-Book Cop: The policeman who hires the A-Team. He looks on the rogue unit as a disgrace to the entire department and intends to report what they're doing to someone, no matter what happens or how little evidence he has. He even tells the team that if it weren't for the fact that the S.W.A.T. captain, Stark, and his men are worse, he'd report them for the fact that they're wanted by the government. And it's implied that he did call the MPs in at the end.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Face holds a cigar in his mouth while masquerading as an exterminator to get access to the police department locker rooms. After the officer with him leaves, he tosses the cigar away and says "I don't know how Hannibal stands those things." Face never had a problem smoking cigars in future episodes. In fact, he's seen smoking one in the very next episode, "Black Day at Bad Rock". However, his tendencies as a smoker hadn't yet been established at this point.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Discussed; when Face looks at the photos the bad guys gave the policeman to threaten him, he notes that they're about the distance that a professional sniper would use. These guys aren't disorganized mooks, they're good at what they do...and evil.
    Face: It'd be like going up against ourselves.
    • This is especially true when it comes to the SWAT captain, Stark. Stark, like Hannibal, is the one who drew together the team and keeps them on track. However, Hannibal commands Face, B.A., and Murdock through respect and love and makes sure they're taken care of in spite of how dangerous the missions tend to be. Stark commands his men through fear (both of revealing whatever dark secrets he's got on them and getting on his bad side) and won't hesitate to kill them if he thinks he has reason to do so.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: One of the A-Team's tactics to mess with the bad guys is sending Murdock, disguised as a man from a funeral parlor, to the leader's apartment, claiming he thought he had to deliver a funeral wreath. Murdock sings a verse or two of "The Hearse Song" while he's making the delivery.
  • Lawman Gone Bad: The villains of the episode are a SWAT team gone bad. (Admittedly, it seems the leader, who came up with the idea and pulled the others into it, is the worst part of the problem.) They don't seem to have any really complex reason for it, aside from making more money (and, in the case of the team, avoiding exposure.)
  • Noodle Incident: Hannibal goes over the plan:
    Hannibal: It's the same plan we nailed that Cong general with outside Khe Sanh.
    Face: Ah, you mean where I took it in the leg?
    Murdock: Where I got shot down?
    BA: That was a terrible plan.
    Hannibal: Now we got all the kinks worked out of it.
  • Shame If Something Happened: When the rogue team confronts the policeman who's about to blow their cover, they show him photos they took of his daughter at her college campus, while implying the entire time that it would be easy for them to kill her if he goes through with his threat to tell the chief about their side business.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the bar scene near the beginning, a disguised Hannibal refers to himself as "Kid Shelleen". This is the name of a character in Cat Ballou.
    • After the Team's first encounter with the villains of the week, the bad guys are seen discussing the incident and one of them mentions "instead of going to the Chief, [Mahoney] goes out and hires the Seven Samurai."
    • Murdock is seen reading an issue of Fantastic Four.
    • As the villains are carted off, Officer Maloney tells them he doesn't know what to say to them. Murdock says he should say, "Book 'em, Danno. Murder One".
  • Taught by Television: Face mentions that he learned most of his best cons from Dragnet.