After a circus comes to China Beach, it will take more than magic for the people to save their love lives when McMurphy unhappily finds herself caught in a love triangle with Dr. Bernard and Vinny. Meanwhile, Boonie tries to get closer to Holly. K.C. and Major Otis get an unpleasant surprise when they meet at a state dinner when he runs into her while she's on the job soliciting. Also, the demoted Lila turns her frustrations on Sarge Pepper.
A Vietnamese prostitute that was on K.C.'s payroll is found murdered, and K.C. tries to find out who killed her, while caring for the prostitute's orphaned teenage daughter whom is threatened to go to work in a local brothel. While on the case, K.C. wonders why Major Otis does not want to order an investigation and ignore the murder.
With his tour of duty up, Dodger decides it's time to go back home and wants to take his Amerasian son with him. But he finds the red tape almost impossible to wade through and tries to K.C.'s help in finding a shortcut.
Looking for a little adventure, Frankie and Beckett form a pirated radio station in the GRU building and become the disk jockeys Miss Wizard and Dr. Dark, who play a practical joke on the air by declaring peace. But they're horrified to see it get totally out of control. Meanwhile, K.C. plots to move her business from China Beach while trying to get Boonie to drive her to Da Nang, while Lila faces a possible separation from Sarge Pepper in going home, and McMurphy and Dr. Richard talk about life back in the world.
McMurphy finds herself in an ethical dilemma when she saves the life of Vinny's buddy, though he will remain brain-dead for the rest of his life. Her Catholic beliefs of the non-practice of euthanasia won't allow her to let the man die despite Vinny pleads and Dr. Richard's orders. Meanwhile, Frankie gets orders meant for a different Francis Bunsen and finds herself promoted to sergeant commanding a squad of tough grunts led by Answer Man.
Back in his home town with his family, Dodger is drifting through a meaningless existence in dealing with his mother, father, younger sister, his old Vietnam vet buddy Sweetness, and a former girlfriend named Sissy. All this takes a turn when an old high school friend asks Dodger to help him dodge the draft and take him to Canada.
Ruby and Ernie, a pair of mysterious ballroom dancers, waltz into China Beach and bring harmony to the bickering McMurphy and Dr. Richard, and bring peace and compassion to the area while completing their own mystical mission from heaven of finding their grandson recently killed in action.
K.C. is caught in the middle of a CIA assassination plot when a CIA hit man, named Ace, asks for her help to kill a suspected Viet Cong officer, but she gets arrested after being accused of the murder. However, it's K.C.'s friendship with McMurphy that goes on trial when McMurphy is asked to vouch for K.C.'s innocence. Meanwhile, Boonie befriends a resourceful Vietnamese teen who is reluctant to be drafted into the ARVN.
A flashback to 1966 shows McMurphy as a hospital ward nurse who joins the army and after months in basic training, arriving for the first time at China Beach where she meets Dr. Richard for the first time and she loses her innocence fast after facing the horrors of real war in dealing with the endless soldiers coming in for medical treatment and getting help from the head nurse, Jan Wyatt, and the head doctor, Dr. Singer, over handling the situations. Meanwhile, K.C. under the name of 'Charlene' and working as a secretary/call girl for the sleazy then-China Beach ...
Lila is upset at her failure to advance in the U.S. Army and is worsened by the arrival of her friend Libby, now a colonel, who comes to China Beach to do a recruiting film for army nurses. Meanwhile, McMurphy is unknowingly made the beneficiary of a soldier's insurance policy and receives $20,000 in a death benefit, which prompts an Army investigator to investigate possible misconduct on her part.
While the rest of the China Beach staff attends a rock concert at Firebase Geronimo, McMurphy and K.C. stay behind, get drunk, and enter a shared surrealistic dreamland of a destroyed fire base where they must deal with unresolved issues from their pasts under the guidance of a Native American solider, named Dream Walker, and K.C.'s former boyfriend Jones, both recently killed in action.
Boston, Massachusetts, 1985. A one-legged Boonie, his wife Linda and their three children, visit Dr. Richard and his wife, Colleen Flaherty, which sparks Dr. Richard's memories of the first manic days with McMurphy at China Beach in 1966 when they became more acquainted with one another, McMurphy meeting Boonie and Dodger for the first time, and ending at party celebrating Dr. Singer's going home and Nurse Wyatt's transfer to be with him, and Dr. Richard to be promoted to head surgeon at China Beach.
Boston, Massachusetts, 1985. Boonie's 18-year-old adopted daughter, Karen, meets with Dr. Richard, working in a birth clinic for pregnant women, to question him for facts about her real mother K.C. A flashback to 1966 shows a pregnant K.C. questioning her romantic involvement with Lt. Col. "Mac" Miller, which ends when he's wounded in action and sent home, and Lila arrives to replace him as commander of China Beach.
Saigon, 1967. McMurphy, desperate for a three-day leave to meet her friend Nellie from nursing school, steals a pass intended for Dr. Richard and runs into a very pregnant K.C. trying to obtain medical records for her unborn child. In a comedy of errors, they find themselves handcuffed to each other after escaping from a police raid and wander aimlessly through the streets as K.C. goes into labor and gives birth to a baby girl.
Orchard Grove, North Carolina, 1985. Beckett is attending his father's funeral when he flashes back to his childhood and then to Vietnam in 1967 where he was a grunt in a platoon commanded by Sarge Pepper. During Beckett's R&R at China Beach, he got his job by accident at the Graves Registration Unit, where he first met McMurphy, Dr. Richard, and Lila. Beckett's co-worker was a scared-to-death and scared-of-dying friend, named "Deadman" Crawford who eventually committed suicide rather than return to the jungle to fight.
Lawrence, Kansas, 1970. McMurphy is now back in her home town and working as a stateside ward nurse at the local hospital while trying to make peace with her increasingly neurotic mother who does not approve of her fast, stressful lifestyle and bitterly tries to cling onto the past. But McMurphy soon finds that her experiences at China Beach hadn't prepared herself for her new job and her new life in general. A flashback to China Beach exactly three years earlier shows McMurphy reluctant to accept her birthday from Dr. Richard, Dodger, Boonie and others wanting to ...
Miami, Florida, August 1972. Dr. Richard and his fiancée, Dr. Colleen Flaherty, are attending a medical convention during the anti-war demonstrations at the Republican convention when he accidentally runs into McMurphy who is now living with a local animal wrangler, named Noon Gantry, and working a dead-end job at an orange juice plant in a dead-end life in an attempt to bury her memories of Vietnam.
China Beach, July 1969. Times have changed at China Beach where Boonie forgoes his beach party lifestyle for drugs and anti-war slogans, while Beckett entertains Sweet Hula, the lead singer of a USO show, while Sarge Pepper sets up a party for Lila and the other soldiers who are eagerly waiting the landing on the moon. Meanwhile, McMurphy tries to reason with a wounded GI, named Everett, who's afraid to go back into the jungle after he recovers, while resenting a new nurse, named Glory Dawn, that attracts Dr. Richard's attention. But everyone's plans come to a halt ...
Boonie is shipped back to the USA after his jeep accident and has to deal physically and emotionally with the loss of part of his right leg while trying to help his fellow disabled vets with theirs. He then meets his future wife Linda Mattock, a nurse in the VA hospital where he is placed, who helps him regain his self-esteem.
Chicago, Illinois, October 1969. Frankie tries to adjust to her new life back in her home town when she gets caught up in an incipient revolution by a group of black urban revolutionaries in the wake of the Chicago Seven Trial. At China Beach, McMurphy receives a request from Dodger who's back in the country helping to build a hospital for Montagnard tribesmen with help from a elderly relative and former nurse named Ilsa.