Mister T “Mystery of the Stranger” (part 3 of 6)
Back at the hotel, everybody is still celebrating. Black Guy is dreaming of all the possibilities. “I’ll be our agent and manager!” First of all, he seems to have forgotten he’s the talent. Second, it’s illegal for a manager to serve as an agent. Third, he should shut up. Just then, Dozer barks at the door. Dozer. The dog. Just found the hotel. Got in the elevator. Pushed the button. Got out on the right floor. Found the correct door. And started barking. The abduction scene was more realistic.
Dozer and Mr. T then have the following conversation:
Dozer: Woof, woof.
Mr. T: You were with Spike. Is Spike in trouble?
Dozer: Woof, woof.
Mr. T: Show me where.
[Dozer leads them to a used car lot. Robin realizes that a van in the lot looks like the one she rescued Spike from earlier.]
Dozer: Woof, woof, woof, woof.
Mr. T: Dozer, is that what you’re trying to tell us? Did that van come back again?
Mr. T: Did Spike get in it?
Dozer: Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof.
Okay, let’s just regroup and think logically for a minute. There’s no actual evidence that Dozer is communicating with Mr. T here. All the dog does is bark. T’s just guessing. Dozer may not have even led them to the van. He may have just been picking up subtle cues from his owner, like that counting horse, or George W. Bush. If it had been my dog they were following, T’s line would have been, “Is that what you’re trying to tell us? Has Spike been hidden in that other dog’s ass?”
But there don’t appear to be many skeptics on the team. Everybody just assumes the dog is right. Robin is overcome with emotion, and she goes so far as to throw her arms around Mr. T and sob into his chains. Because it was her fault, I guess, for ignoring Spike while she took ten minutes to be happy for herself? Because she actually taught Spike not to talk to strangers, and he ignored her? Because her father is laying the groundwork for the eventual formation of the Taliban? If you ask me, the real mystery of this episode is why anyone would want Spike back.
The team then engages in the dumbest conversation in the history of the series, as each of them says in succession: “Where do we look?” “I don’t know,” “Don’t worry, Robin. We’re gonna find him.” Jesus Disappearing Starbuck Christ, call the frakking police. All I can do is yell at the screen.
Me: In the phone book under “Police”.
Black Guy: I don’t know.
Me: You’re an idiot. Call the police.
Asian Girl: Don’t worry, Robin. We’re gonna find him.
Me: No, you won’t. Call the police.
Mr. T turns away from the group to look forlornly down the road. He mouths one word, “Spike.” And I swear to you, I swear, a single tear rolls down his face. Mr. T ain’t too tough to cry, fool!
And what were they selling to kids in November 1984?
That’s right, the Transformers were the Christmas toys for boys, and the original Megatron was as cool as a Decepticon got. But what was really cool was what Megatron transformed into:
A realistic-looking Walther P-38 9mm handgun! For kids! I’m just saying. 1984 was f’ed up.
Back from commercial, the three abductees are in the back of the van, chatting about the circumstances that led to their abductions. The blond boy was told he could have a free puppy. They showed the little girl a police badge. She even says, “I guess the badge was phony, huh?” Yes, I believe that’s safe to say at this point. And, of course, they told Spike his sister was in the hospital. They probably assumed she would be there getting her eye fixed.
So here’s another lesson about kidnappers from Mr. T: They always change their M.O. They never stick with one way of doing things, even if that way proves to work. It’s not like child murderers engage in ritualized behavior or anything. The other kids start crying, so Spike reassures them with the less-than-reassuring, “We’re gonna be okay! …Somehow.”
Fade in on the movie studio. T and the gang are confronting Stereotypical Movie Director. Mr. T needs two favors from him, but the director says, “Contact my people, and—” And there’s like a two second pause before Mr. T “interrupts” him, and jabs him with a finger, and says, “Listen, and don’t miss a word!”
The director is scared pantsless, and he actually stutters in fear, “F-f-f-favors, you s-s-s-say?” So, another good lesson here: If you’re big enough, you should just intimidate people into doing what you want. By the way, you know who would probably listen and not miss a word? The police.
Mr. T’s two favors walk a fine line between lunacy and symptoms of an outright psychotic break. First, he wants the director to call the police and report Spike missing. In a crime where the odds of finding the child drop significantly after the first three minutes, it’s nice to see that someone will eventually get around to informing law enforcement. I’m not sure what the director is supposed to say to the police, though. “I’d like to report a missing child. Whose child? Well, um, he was traveling with a huge black guy. A description? I didn’t really look at him. The best I can tell you is he’s not stuntman material. So, good luck with that.”
The second favor T wants is to borrow the studio’s helicopter. Here’s his reasoning, word-for-word: “Spike might be in a blue van! I figure the best way to spot it is from the air!” So… assume Spike was taken from downtown L.A. ten minutes ago, and that they were, oh, a mile from a freeway. Five minutes to go one mile, and then 5 miles in the next five minutes gives them a search radius of 6 miles. That doesn’t sound like a lot, until you do the math and realize that Mr. T wants to search an area of 113 square miles. And if we add in the two minutes to get the helicopter off the ground, that number jumps to 201 square miles. [Your math is solid, but unfortunately, there’s no possible way to travel one mile in five minutes in downtown Los Angeles in the afternoon. If you’re lucky, you’ll go one mile in half an hour. In reality, the van would have only gotten about three or four blocks away by now. —Albert]
Here are a couple of other ideas, all more sane than searching for Spike by helicopter: Just have Spike pin a communicator to the bad guys, and then beam them right into a holding cell. Or, go to where the van was last seen, and try to find witnesses who can describe it better than “blue”. If the bad guys were trolling for kids, they probably held up traffic. Maybe they blocked a delivery vehicle and got into an argument with a shop owner. Maybe that shop has a frakking camera that caught an image of the gods damned license plate!
But Mr. T disagrees with me, and it’s his show. He heads to the helicopter. Kim (who, by the way, shrinks about a foot and a half between shots) asks who’s going to fly the helicopter. Ms. Bisby answers, “Yours truly, of course!” Everyone is surprised—no, shocked—that she’s a pilot. Even Mr. T is surprised. This makes me wonder just what his plan was, exactly. Did he intend to jab his finger at the helicopter and intimidate it into the air? Maybe he was going to grab the helicopter by the tail and just hurl it.
Bisby explains that the reason they don’t know she can fly a Bell 407 is because no one ever asked her. Didn’t we already have the “everyone takes Bisby for granted” episode?
Bisby says, “No one ever asks me anything. They usually tell me. Get my drift?” So that’s the kind of person Bisby is. She just internalizes everything and waits for a moment when every second is of the essence, and then she forces everybody to take time out to deal with her shit. Mr. T tells her he understands, and that she should now get the helicopter in the air. But she just scowls at him until he rephrases it as, “Please, Ms. Bisby, will you fly it for us?” What a bitch. At least they’re finally…
…not going anywhere. They’ve got another problem. Robin knows Mr. T is afraid to fly. What? Mr. T isn’t afraid to fly. B.A. Baracus was afraid to fly. Mr. T has a house in Chicago and a ranch in New Mexico. Mr. T has been to every continent on earth except Antarctica. Mr. T was in the United States Army, an organization which has not fought a battle it could walk to since 1918. But in Mr. T’s defense, I can understand how keeping track of two entirely separate characters could be taxing. I’m amazed there’s not a scene in an A-Team episode where Hannibal asks B.A. to get the explosives and he responds, “That’s Mr. T, fool! First name Mister, middle name That Period, last name T!”
But, okay. In this universe, Mr. T is afraid to fly. He tells Robin that he’s willing to overlook it. “Spike’s missing, could be in big trouble. I’m more afraid of what’ll happen if I don’t fly!” Well, for one thing, you might stop committing felonies, such as using physical intimidation to steal a helicopter.