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Recap / The A Team S 2 E 4 Bad Time On The Border

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The A-Team is dragged into their latest adventure when a young girl named Maria Navarotte finds B.A. after escaping from a truckload of refugees destined for the slave market. To infiltrate the operation, Hannibal disguises himself as a Mexican man who wants to cross the border. However, things do not go according to plan, putting the mission and Hannibal's life in danger.

This episode includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Bad Samaritan: Prince, one half of the villain duo (along with corrupt INS agent Taggart). He gets some respect in Mexico as a man who, for a hefty fee, helps down-on-their-luck Mexicans across the border to a better life in America. While aiding illegal immigration is already a crime, the truth about him is far worse. Far from helping them reach a better life, Prince and his thugs take the people they "help" to a camp in the wilderness, where they rob them at gunpoint of all their remaining possessions, then sell them as slaves to whatever border town sweatshop makes the best offer.
  • Bridal Carry: Hannibal lifts Maria's mother Delia under her knees and shoulders as he carries her to the helicopter. Unlike in many cases, there is no intended romantic subtext; he's rescuing her to help her pre-adolescent daughter and she's too sick to walk.
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of the episode, Murdock sends away Herman Melville (that is to say, the cockroach he's been keeping in a matchbox and insisting was Melville's Reincarnation), saying that Herman is needed elsewhere, where he will write a new chapter in the lives of Maria and her mother. Specifically, he puts the roach on a paper airplane and throws it to a nearby yacht, where he saw a ladybug that he believes is Jane Austen.
  • Cryptically Unhelpful Answer: While investigating a sweatshop in hopes of finding information about Maria's mother, Murdock asks to try on some of their clothing. The owner says it's fine and asks Murdock's size. Murdock's answer is "my size is the amount of space I take up. Thanks for asking!"
  • Gratuitous Spanish: The villains slip in a few Spanish words every so often, such as "Andale".
  • Green Around the Gills: The boat ride over is no fun for half the team as Face and B.A. spend the whole trip seasick. Hannibal tells Face that he looks green and it "brings out the color of [his] eyes."
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Exasperated by Hannibal, the villains decide to put him on the truck with the other immigrants and push him out while it's in motion. That way, he dies, but their bosses can't prove they cut down their profits by killing a potentially valuable slave.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • The potential fate of Maria's mother is generally referred to by euphemisms; for instance, when the team finally locates her, Amy says that she "doesn't think she's going to make it."
    • The opening trailer averts this. The scene of Hannibal being hauled out of the punishment box is covered with a line from B.A.: "This is serious. Hannibal could die." However, this line never appears in the episode.
  • Oppressive Immigration Enforcement: Border Patrol Lieutenant Jack Taggart, who is secretly corrupt and in bed with a coyote named Prince to run a Human Trafficking ring, smuggles desperate Mexican immigrants across the border by promising them better lives, then robbing them of all their possessions and selling them as slave labour to local sweatshops. Taggart is so callous his only concern about sick immigrants dying is his loss of revenue.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: When he's calling Maria to reassure her that they'll get her mother back soon, B.A. tells her "I love you." Given that he's been treating her like a daughter/little sister, it's clear it's meant to be platonic.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: Hannibal has successfully insinuated himself into the villains' operation by posing as a Mexican immigrant. However, just as the others are trying to follow the truck in which the immigrants are transported, the steering mechanism gives out and they crash into a stump, conveniently preventing them from being there to help Hannibal as planned.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The man loading the immigrants into the trucks give Delia penicillin. However, this is not because he has concern for her or her daughter; it's because he doesn't get paid for dead immigrants.
  • Punishment Box: Hannibal Smith is kept for some time in a box of corrugated scrap metal in the heat as the sun rises (the villain taunts him that it's not even noon yet). While it doesn't kill him (or even stop him from making with the wisecracks), it's heavily implied that it would have killed him eventually had the bad guys not decided to dump him off the back of the truck instead.
  • Red Scare: Murdock takes advantage of the fear to scam a helicopter to give the team air support, claiming he's a secret agent looking for Russian spies.
    Murdock: What we got here ar Ruskie spy teams sneaking across the border. We gotta get a look-see ourselves up in the air. Otherwise it's Big Macs today, borscht tomorrow! You know what I mean?
  • Shout-Out:
    • Murdock takes a raincoat from the sweatshop the team trashes, and immediately goes into character as Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick. He also finds a cockroach from somewhere, which he claims is the Reincarnation of the book's writer, Herman Melville. At the end, he launches the roach away on a paper airplane to a yacht where he saw a ladybug that he believes is Jane Austen.
    • Murdock also sings the theme song to Gilligan's Island during the boat ride to Mexico.
  • Series Continuity Error: Face and B.A. both get seasick on the boat ride to Mexico. Neither of them has ever been shown to get seasick either before or after. B.A. in particular usually prefers to take a boat rather than fly.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: Hannibal gets captured by the villains, who put him inside a corrugated metal box that will get boiling hot in the noonday sun, in hopes of torturing him into revealing who he is and who he's working with. Even when he's exhausted from near heatstroke, he refuses to give in, telling the torturer that he already survived plenty worse as a POW. He even lights up a cigarette while he's still in the box.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Face apparently gets seasick. After some time, he stumbles out of the bathroom in response to B.A.'s demands that he stop hogging it. He stays out long enough to have a little banter with Hannibal and then retches, stumbles back in, and closes the door.