Season 1 Episode 4

Bite of the Jackal

Aired Unknown Feb 04, 1984 on CBS
out of 10
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50 votes

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Episode Summary

Bite of the Jackal

Dominic takes a job flying to Acapulco, Mexico, unwittingly taking a young stowaway girl with him, but his vintage chopper is blown out of the sky by a bomb and forced to make a crash-landing in a desolate area of wilderness. The man behind the bomb is Mitchell Bruck, a Firm agent who wants to topple Archangel's position by capturing Airwolf, via any means necessary. Hawke agrees to let Archangel fly as Airwolf's co-pilot as they set out to rescue Dominic, but Airwolf's tail-rotor is badly damaged as they fly helplessly into a trap where Dominic is the bait...


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  • A bomb forces Dominic's vintage chopper, complete with young stowaway, down in the Mexican wilderness, in a plot by a rouge Firm agent to capture Airwolf. Hawke takes Archangel as his Airwolf co-pilot as he attempts a rescue. A first season great...moreless

    'Bite of the Jackal' is a top-notch first season episode of 'Airwolf', and one of my favourites. I know I said it about a million times during my review of that episode, but quite why "the powers that be" decided to use the weak 'Daddy's Gone a Hunt'n' to open the regular series and not the far superior 'Bite of the Jackal' (which was also the first regular episode to be produced) to kick things off, has always bemused me.

    When I first recorded this episode off-air, when my ITV region broadcast it in 1995, I liked it, but it kinda got lost in the mass of first season greats for me to maybe fully appreciate how good it was. A couple of years later, when I was sorting out my videotapes and labelling them up (many years before the DVD releases), I came across this episode and watched it through again, and came to regard it as one of the best of the first season.

    After (understandably) playing second fiddle for most of the Pilot, and having little to do in 'Daddy's Gone a Hunt'n', here the great Ernest Borgnine finally gets a chance to really shine as Dominic. He also has a good rapport with young stowaway Phoebe – played by a young Shannon Doherty. I'm actually not that familiar with Doherty's adult career, never having watched 'Charmed' or the like, but here she puts in a decent performance, thankfully not straying too far into bratty kid territory.

    This is the only first season episode not to feature Deborah Pratt as Marella; for this story, Archangel has a different "white lady", Laura. As this episode was the first episode after the Pilot to be produced, maybe it could be presumed that, during this story, Marella was still recovering from her injuries from where Moffet turned Airwolf's firepower onto the Firm control tower.

    There is a nice touch when, as Dominic's chopper crashes, back at his hut by the lake, Hawke suddenly feels something and looks up at the sky, suggesting a faint psychic connection. Other Bellisario productions have also touched upon such a notion (several 'Magnum, p.i.' episodes, including my all-time favourite episode of that show, the classic fourth season opener 'Home From the Sea'), and thankfully they pull it off with enough subtlety to prevent it from being silly.

    Another point that becomes apparent as a recurring first season trait in this episode, after similar sequences at the climax of the Pilot and 'Daddy's Gone a Hunt'n', is how Hawke will hover above the enemy of the episode in Airwolf, deciding whether to let them live or not. Sometimes he flies off; sometimes he blows them away. Sadly, this is the sort of thing that would be lost from the series as it began to be "domesticated" from the second season onwards.

    This episode also features some great aerial footage... the novelty of Archangel acting as co-pilot... I'm actually surprised that 'Bite of the Jackal' doesn't currently, at time of writing, doesn't feature on the site's Top 10 most popular episodes. I really like this one, and it is definitely in my personal Top 10. I give this one a solid 10/10.moreless
  • Good ending

    The ending where Phoebe reunites with her father and then shifts to Hawke inside his cabin starting at these two reunited and then looks at the picture of his brother, St. John, in hopes of someday reuniting with him was superb. It reaffirms to the audience that while Hawke (and the tv show: airwolf) has all these submissions and substories, Hawke's primary mission and overall goal should not be forgotten: finding his brother and hopes of reuniting with him.

    I loved the way there was some romantic spark between Hawke and the hispanic woman. I wonder who she was and in what other movies she's in.

    A good episode.moreless
Jan-Michael Vincent

Jan-Michael Vincent

Stringfellow Hawke

Alex Cord

Alex Cord

Michael 'Archangel' Coldsmith-Briggs III

Ernest Borgnine

Ernest Borgnine

Dominic Santini

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • This is the only first season episode where Marella does not accompany Archangel (for this episode, another Firm agent, Laura, takes her place instead). Deborah Pratt quite probably doesn't appear in this episode because she was away filming the 'Magnum p.i.' fourth season episode 'Rembrandt's Girl' (which was originally broadcast two days before this episode, and was produced at around the same time).

    • Uncommonly, Dominic does not wear his regular blue Santini Air jacket and red cap in this episode; instead he wears a brown bomber jacket and plain grey cap. This may be due to him flying a vintage chopper, and him feeling that the costume suited it more. (He is also seen out of regular costume in the previous broadcast episode, "Daddy's Gone a Hunt'n", but he was undercover as a janitor for most of that story.

    • The closing credits feature a brief sequence from during the Sikorsky's escape at the climax of the story, where Pheobe is seen to fire a flare gun at an on-coming enemy chopper. This sequence was not used in the actual episode.

    • When Airwolf is hit by the "leech" rocket during the climax, we see it pierce through into the back compartment, yet in following exterior shots, the rocket is quite clearly not present.

    • Nitpick: It seems rather convenient that Dominic is flying the vintage Sikorsky helicopter, and not his usual Jet Ranger, in this story (the Jet Ranger most probably wouldn't have take the impact of the bomb and the subsequent crash-landing).

  • QUOTES (3)

    • (Upon landing in the small Mexican village)
      Archangel: Doesn't look deserted. But where are all the people?
      Hawke: Probably took off. Well wouldn't you if something like us dropped into your back yard?
      Archangel: Probably think we're a U.F.O. or something.
      Hawke: Or something.

    • Laura (upon seeing Airwolf): My God.
      Archangel (laughs): That seems to be everyone's reaction.
      Archangel (as he leaves to board Airwolf): Mind the store.

    • Laura (about to request to co-pilot Airwolf): Mr. Hawke...
      Hawke (interrupting): No.
      Archangel: She's a top pilot.
      Hawke: So was Gabrielle.
      Laura: I'm NOT Gabrielle.
      (Hawke leaves, closing the door sharply behind him)
      Archangel: The man says no, the answer is no.

  • NOTES (4)

    • This episode contains a different variation of the rare version closing credits theme as used on the previous episode. It is basically the same, except that, where that previous version was quite pounding and driven, this one sounds rather "cold", with no strong backing. (It also strangely seems to loop back on itself for a second at one point.) This was the only time in the entire series that this version was used.

    • The actor who plays Phoebe's father, whom she finally meets at the end of the episode, does not seem to be credited. (He has no lines of dialogue)

    • Betz, the saboteur who places the bomb on Dominic's helicopter at the start of the episode, is played by Ron Stein, the stunt co-ordinator for 'Airwolf', and numerous other series.

    • The pre-production title of this episode was 'Where The Heart Is'.