AIRWOLF Episode Guide Season 1 — Episode 06 — ECHOS FROM THE PAST
EPISODE DESCRIPTION & OVERVIEW
Returning from a meeting with a mercenary who convinces him that his brother St John is still alive and well, Hawke loses consciousness and his Hughes chopper crashes, eventually wakening up in a hospital after nearly a year in a coma - or so he thinks.
The hospital staff tell him that Archangel and Dom have been killed in a recovery mission to get his brother out of a North Vietnam prison camp in Quon Ling province. Convincing him that his deal with the Firm is now over and they've come through with their side of the bargain Hawke gives up Airwolf's location in exchange for reuniting with his brother. What follows is an elaborate ruse of surreptitious brainwashing and espionage by foreign Swartzkreig agents hell-bent on gaining access to Airwolf, as Archangel and Dom try to figure out why Hawke has disappeared.
MJC EPISODE REVIEW:
Another classic, but dark episode with a great, suspense-filled, albeit flawed idea of brain-washing techniques (the first of four episodes in the show for Hawke and Archangel) to get to Airwolf. A good espionage thriller though with plenty of top-notch Guest cast performances to keep us amused, especially the lovely Michelle Nicastro was just wonderful to watch in her prime at just 23-years-old as 'Nurse Susan', and 'Nurse Freda Simmons' was a role a little reminiscent of Oscar-winning Louise Fletcher's evil 'Nurse Ratched' from ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST as her good witch, bad witch opposite.
I loved the interplay between Nurse Susan and Hawke as she struggles to make sense of it all. Some great scenes in the hospital, especially with St John (Christopher Connelly's first of two outings as Hawke's older brother, 'St John' - pronounced "Sin Jin") and good acting from JMV when Doctor Rothchild informed Hawke of Dom and Archangel's deaths in North Vietnam whilst rescuing his brother.
But as entertainment, the whole premise is beautifully executed from Hawke's capture, his 'reunion' with his older brother, Dom refusing to trust the Firm, Airwolf's escape after being tied down like a prehistoric dinosaur in bondage, and the final aerial against the four Nicaraguan MIG 21's, all added up to a memorable episode for me (and of course it was an episode chosen for multiple VHS releases right back to the 80s, which is why so many people have seen it and remember it more than others).
A really big gem in C.R. O'Christopher's writing (his last ever script for Hollywood, provided as a freelance script on-spec, back in the days when you could) was his extremely shocking (at the time as they'd only been married less than three years and their fairytale wedding had been watched by a billion+ people) fortelling of the Charles & Diana royal divorce eight years before this prediction actually did come true (although they didn't split the crown jewels in the end!). It was a sly, two-fingers upat the rest of the US network shows of the day who were afraid to use real-world politics and people... Airwolf was so un-politically correct then that it is still cool to watch it for those slithers of writing genius and only Don Bellisario would have had / still have the balls to make a show with showmanship scenes like that.
However, it always bothered me that this episode had an especially huge plethora of plot holes in the script, such as how Peter MacGregor Moore's team actually (somehow magically) landed Hawke's Hughes chopper safely by "remote control" when Hawke had only borrowed the chopper from somewhere in the first place. Seriously, how would they have known what aircraft he would be using to meet MacGregor Moore? Also wouldn't Hawke have done his usual, extensive preflight checks and found extra control units or something as a giveaway (bulky in the mid-80s) on the chopper?
Shall I even mention the laughable Knight Rider-esque implausible exit of dumping Airwolf out from the C-130 Hercules' rear cargo door (see image above) with the drag chute (using the brilliant miniatures created by the inimitable Jack Sessums) to slow the descent whilst the rotors engaged. The tongue must be placed firmly back in the cheek with the craziness of it all (I did like the triumphant release howl foley sound from Airwolf though as a lovely added touch by Sound Editor, Sam Shaw). Also what height was the plane at in the first place to allow Hawke to regain control so quickly (even if you place your tongue firmly in the other cheek of the actual physics and timing of that)?
Then finally, Dom flying to the Valley of the Gods and waiting in Airwolf for as "long as it took". Where did he hide the Santini Air JetRanger without Macgregor Moore seeing it? Anyway, that's Hollywood.
The tag ending for me is the best of the entire series with the memorable dialogue and banter between Hawke, Nurse Susan and Dom to wind up Archangel. It's just brilliant...
So she knows where Airwolf is hidden?
Is that what you call his helicopter?
We didn't tell her the name.
We thought we'd keep that from her.
So she knows where it is?
W... should I tell him?
I don't think so!
You're right String. Michael's such a blabbermouth.
This isn't humorous!
Oh, heah look, I really dunno; I saw a lot of snow and a lot of scenery and besides, it all went by very fast.
What happened? Did the Swartzkreig grab you? Did they get Airwolf? I mean, is it safe? Are they still in the country?
I don't know. Yes. No and in that order! [JMV forgot an extra "Yes" from the script here!]
‘ECHOS FROM THE PAST’ EPISODE’s AIRWOLF THEME MUSIC REVIEWED:
Ahhhh, 'ECHOS FROM THE PAST', an episode full of incredible orchestral music and the one that everybody remembers (helped by its multiple outings on VHS and DVD over the years) for its orchestral content, specifically another pure, full-length, orchestral-only aerial reminiscent of the Pilot episode, "St John's Theme" and that wonderful Holy Grail of music celebrating the final victory leading to the tag ending in the cabin. Always loved the look on Michelle's face of her mind being blown by what she has just witnessed and the subsequent relief. Many people have wondered for years if it was an existing orchestral piece or a Sylvester Levay special. Well, it's the latter folks (Sylvester Levay also used it in another TV Movie in 1984 called TIME BOMB) and a piece of music that I had to tackle for 'Airwolf Extended Themes'.
The "it's bloody awesome" Lair take-off is great too with the full synth theme in play, plus the full synth-only version of 'Gabrielle's Theme' for the flashback sequence as they try to resusitate Hawke in the hospital.
Finally, as a character theme, the medley that Levay wrote for St John is a keeper as well (that he recreated with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra on the original 'Airwolf Themes' album) and adds to the other character themes for Hawke, Dom, Gabrielle, 'Family' and 'Trust' themes that were pretty much all created during Season 1 of the show, whilst it was fresh and on fine form.
This episode has it all.
MUSIC TRACKS AVAILABLE FROM THE AIRWOLF ‘ECHOS FROM THE PAST’ episode:
‘ECHOS FROM THE PAST’ – Cabin Epilogue
Airwolf Main Theme – Season 1 – Trailer
Airwolf Main Theme – Season 1 – Opening / Closing (extended)
Airwolf Main Theme – ‘PILOT’, Season 1 – Synth Theme (extended)
Airwolf Main Theme - Season 1 – Closing