Pure-Dee Poison (S02, E17)

A Reverend walks into a bar… not the start of a joke, but the opening of Pure-Dee Poison. He accused the owner of selling illegal moonshine and shoots off his shotgun with an ice-cool “let us pray”.

He doesn’t have the upper hand for long, as a bunch of thugs and their leader Mr Drew soon arrive at his church looking for revenge. The Reverend sends his daughter away and tells Drew he won’t be backing off as 13 people have died from his ‘shine. Despite getting in one awesome punch that floors a henchman, he’s overwhelmed and beaten by the gang.

A few days later, the Reverend is walking along a pier with only a lone fisherman for company. You know what’s coming by now. The fisherman asks a few probing questions about the Reverend’s past as a paratrooper in Vietnam, before revealing himself to be Colonel Hannibal Smith.

The rest of the team are hanging out in a house Face has scammed and we learn that Drew’s moonshine has not only killed but also paralysed and blinded others. Its’ deadly stuff and the team agree to take on the case. They collect Tawnia, who’s overjoyed to be part of the mission again and head off to one of the bars selling the dodgy alcohol.

Hannibal and Tawnia head in as a couple, getting patted down by the doormen who are on high alert after the Reverend’s actions. The forget to check under Tawnia’s hat though and she pulls a gun on them. There’s a short fight, but the rest of the team show up and defeat the bar owner and his staff. It’s not all bad news though, Hannibal lets the owner know that they’re his new business partners.

The plan is to lie in wait for the next delivery of ‘shine and destroy enough merchandise to get Drew’s attention. BA warns them they’ll need to supercharge his van to keep up with the modified trucks they’ll be up against. With that in mind, Face and Murdock head to the dentist to swipe some NOS — Fast and Furious style.

With the Nitrous Oxide installed just in time, the next delivery shows up at the bar. Face and Tawnia put on a show for the drivers, with Tawnia getting fired and storming off. She finds comfort in one of the drivers, who offers her a sip from his cargo.

Inside the bar, Hannibal introduces himself as the new owner and tells the lead henchman that he will be taking all of the ‘shine from him and emptying it into the sewer. A fight breaks out, with the bad guys managed to escape by hitting BA from behind. Just as they get outside, Tawnia drops a cigarette into one of the delivery trucks which explode in a huge fireball. She’s not able to get to the second truck, so the team jump into the van and give chase.

Murdock releases the NOS and BA easily overtakes the pickup and forces it off the road. The team riddle the cargo with holes, leaking the ‘shine all over the dirt.

Of course, this enrages Drew who says it’s time to escalate their war. He storms into the church, where BA is busy flirting with the Reverend’s daughter and Hannibal is playing pool. Despite his best efforts and drawing his weapon, Hannibal stands firm and tells Drew that he will put him out of business. Before Drew can react, BA and Face pull their guns on the gang and send them packing.

Outside, Murdock is busy under Drew’s car fixing a camera and remote receiver underneath it. He lies flat as the men storm out and manages to escape unseen. The team watch the footage, revealing the location of Drew’s distillery and some of the cameras and traps set up around the building.

It’s time to take Drew’s operation out so the team make their way out to the distillery, Hannibal for some reason changing into a dessert outfit to better stand out in the green land all around the area. Using gadgets to block the CCTV cameras and being careful to avoid the tripwires, the four get close to the farmhouse hiding Drew’s base. In another subtle James Bond reference for the series, one of the cameras is hiding in a scarecrow’s eyes, just like in Live and Let Die.

Murdock takes out the first guard and the team make light work of the others, holding them at gunpoint within minutes. It’s a short-lived victory though, as some of Drew’s thugs arrive with Tawnia and the Reverend’s daughter, forcing the team to surrender. In a foolish move, the A-Team are locked in a bar while the gang waits for Drew to return. Of course, it’s full of machinery, tools and some handy fertilizer. Hannibal sets everyone to work building their escape plan.

After a solid montage, everything is ready but the converted digger’s engine won’t turn on. At the farmhouse, Drew is back and tells his right-hand man to set fire to the barn — a surprisingly cold move for a smalltown moonshine runner. Thankfully, the digger comes to life and bursts out of the barn before a match is struck.

Firing fertilizer-powered explosive from pipes, the team drive around the farm taking out henchmen — non-lethally as you’d expect. A few become cornered by the still, which Hannibal punctures with a few bullets and tells them to give up before he sets fire to it. They do, but Drew tries one last desperate attack which Murdock ends by throwing a grenade at the leaking moonshine, sending the still into a gigantic explosion.

Back at the church, the Reverend is glad he can go back to sermons and give up fighting on the streets. His daughter shares a tender moment with BA, who explains he can’t stay as his life is too dangerous for her. She hopes he’ll come back when things change and gives him a kiss and a hug. With a shy smile on his face, BA waves her goodbye as we freeze-frame.

Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.

Does Hannibal wear a disguise?

Yes. He’s a fisherman with a big beard who meets the Reverend.

Does BA get on a plane?

Nope.

Should someone be dead?

Yes. There are enough fiery explosions in this episode that someone would have been caught in one.

Pure-Dee Poison makes for a pretty standard but still fully entertaining episode of The A-Team. It’s testament to the show’s quality that a reasonably straightforward story like this still feels fresh and full of energy. Plus, they must have spent five seasons worth of explosives budget on the final battle’s climax.

The performances lift this episode, with the team’s client being usually badass himself — a former paratrooper now Reverend whose ministry includes shooting up underground bars. The villain, Mr Drew, is another powerful man with the local police in his pocket and no qualms about killing to protect his racket. BA gets a rare romantic storyline too, showing her softer side when he falls for the Reverend’s daughter.

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Originally published at https://www.lukemcgrath.co.uk on October 12, 2020.

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