This review contains moderate spoilers.
'And They Are Us' is another great first season 'Airwolf' instalment, that comes so close to being a series classic, but sadly falls just short. Don't take that the wrong way though – it is still a great episode.
As the rouge Colonel, Marty Vidor, a.k.a. Bo Dai Thung, Christopher Stone puts in an excellent performance, becoming one of the show's best "one off villains", and deservedly making him a favourite amongst many fans as a result. He is appealing because he is not your standard "villain of the week (who just happens to travel by helicopter)" seen in many later episodes, but a former comrade of Hawke's, who has gone bad, presumably twisted by the horrors of war, and making him both a worthy adversary and a tragic figure at the same time. Worse still, he may possibly know the location of Hawke's M.I.A. brother St. John!
Stone was a great performer in such guest villain roles; it is sad to think that he died at only age 53.
By the way, one thing I didn't like, was how the opening teaser for this episode spoils Vidor's final moments, badly wounded, telling Hawke "...I know where St. John is" before crashing. How could they spoil the climatic moment at the very beginning?! Pah!
I love the feel and the scope of this episode. The African setting is captured very well considering it's on a meagre 1984 TV budget and is filmed in the same regular area of the U.S. that just about every other setting for the series is.
But I just can't decide if this is a very good or an *excellent* episode. As I say, I love the setting, and some of the moments with Vidor, and the inevitable, climatic aerial showdown is great, but – as is the case with many great Bellisario TV shows – it is sometimes too talky for its own good. This is often the case with 'Airwolf' in particular (I especially felt it with the Pilot), and while I love the clever wordplay and interactions of some scenes, I can't help but feel there's maybe one instance too many, and at a couple of points just wish the plot would advance a bit quicker. (That's a relatively minor niggle though – I'd much prefer that to some of the tripe we'd get in the famously horrible fourth season, and even some of the third season!)
This is one of the episodes of 'Airwolf' that I was most familiar with in my early/mid teens; as mentioned on some of my previous episode reviews, when the (original three season version) series was shown on ITV here in the U.K. in the mid-late 1980s, I was still quite young and didn't have the resources to record many episodes, so after it went off-air didn't have many episodes to watch on VHS. Then in the early 1990s, this episode was released by CIC Video, stitched together with 'Echos From the Past' to form a feature-length story. Boy I watched that tape over and over! Although I took to 'Echos...' much more than this episode, I did come to appreciate 'And They Are Us' in due course.
So, how to rate this episode? Part of me wants it to be a classic, but the aforementioned over-talky problem sadly slows the pace down a bit too much in places. But that is redeemed to a great extent by some great moments, a great guest turn by Christopher Stone, and an exciting climax. Summing up the pros and cons, I'll give this one a very fair 9/10.
It's a great episode of 'Airwolf' in itself and one that fans will enjoy, although newcomers to the show might want to be pointed towards a few other first and second season episodes before tackling this one.