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Three soldiers are in the hospital. One is Dirk Blocker (Dan Blocker's Kid perhaps?) who plays a big Teddy Bear type guy who has a tattoo with his girlfriend's name on it. He is fighting depression over a Dear John letter. The girl has married money and wants her picture back. The second is an obnoxious insurance man who is driving everyone crazy with his fast talking sales pitch. A reality would have been to tell the guy to knock it off or there is big trouble ahead, but then he wouldn't be able to sell as much as did. The final, most interesting case is a young man who was in an ambush. He was the sole survivor and managed to fool the North Koreans by pretending to be dead. When they left, he took the dog tags off his friend, a Jewish man, who had orders to come home. He is now living a false life. He is filled with guilt but scared to death. He confesses to Mulcahy who deals in bromides and guilt instead of counseling the guy. There is probably PTSD here and the Father ignores that. Obviously, the guy is going down a slippery slope, but he has only been in the hospital for a couple days. And, of course, there is the sanctity of the confessional. Not the greatest episode.
Klinger is responsible for breaking Potter's glasses (twice in a week, so there is no spare). An optometrist is brought in. Fortunately for a young Korean boy who feels he owes the unit for helping his grandmother, his glasses are in total disrepair. He has been chased hither and yon by explosions and enemy attacks. While Margaret has a flirtatious encounter with the eye doctor, this young man is wounded. He has attempted to farm some land and grow a little victory garden for the camp. One day a letter arrives from Radar O'Reilly. The circumstances of his life prompt an interesting maneuver by the people of the camp. I have to be a little critical because sometimes things run so smoothly when they need something. There is barely a bump in the road here. Things just kind of fill out.
This is a solid performance by William Christopher as Father Mulcahy. He finds out that a Cardinal is coming. It drives him into an absolute tizzy with fear that all those around him will let him down. He goes around like a whirling dervish criticizing everyone. While he is in this state, two young men are in danger. One has been badly wounded and is barely hanging on. The other is waiting for him to wake up. His injuries are menial and so he spends his time at the side of his comrade. However, when he volunteers blood, Hawkeye realizes that this man (played very well by a very young Patrick Swayze) has leukemia. In the early fifties, this was pretty much a death sentence. No treatments available. What transpires is so sad and so full of the human spirit. The "sermon" delivered by Mulcahy is unforgettable.
This is a two part episode which began the tenth season. A group of performers get stuck in the camp. None of them are very good. The emcee/comedian is terrible, even though he cracks Charles up. There is a stripper who does a lame routine. The second half doesn't get any better. One of the performers needs an appendectomy and then falls in love with Hawkeye, who for some reason has no interest in her. Talk about out of character for the chief surgeon and skirt chaser. I suppose what they wanted to do was introduce some entertainment into the show but it doesn't work very well. One interesting thing is that Hawkeye and B.J. abandon any of their fun. Very poor writing.
During triage when a load of casualties shows up, a sniper begins to fire on the doctors and their patients. No one is badly hurt, but when Charles puts his cap on a hook, he realizes that a bullet entered and exited it, meaning the bullet could just as easily have entered his head. He becomes obsessed with trying to figure out what happens at the time of death. He is trying to figure out why we are what we are; more than the sum of our parts. He even has Rizzo take apart a jeep as a kind of metaphor for this. He begins to hover over a patient that was seemingly dead and then was brought back. He can get no satisfaction, so he goes to a battalion aid station where death is a daily occurrence. This is one of the gut wrenching of all the MASH episodes. There is also a secondary plot line which shows the whole camp, including doctors, taking over mundane duties: the mess tent, the garbage, morale. Hawkeye is met with the craziness that is the Army bureaucracy.
I've always loved this episode, even if it is pretty incredible. The camp is awakened by casualties coming in. The men are in various situations of disrepair. One of them has lice; one other has fallen into a water filled ditch and smells of mold and stagnant water. After finishing in the Operating Room, Hawkeye begins to sneeze. He sneezes uncontrollably all night and into the next day. Everyone tries to help, but nothing works. Soon he begins to think he is going to die. Allergy tests reveal nothing. Finally, he is relieved of surgery until things can be sorted out. Potter decides it's something psychological and sends for Sidney Freedman. The only problem is that this is a half hour show and the results of his visit are pretty remarkable. Still, it is kind of neat how everything gets put back together.
Colonel Potter has his annual physical, possibly the last one he will have. It turns out his blood pressure is too high and if command gets wind of this he may be transferred. He has two weeks to do something about it. Soon the whole camp gets wind of his problem and begins to treat him with kid gloves. Meanwhile, it is malaria season and the wrong medication is sent to the MASH. It's only a stopgap measure. Klinger, through his incompetency, has allowed his daily reports to get two months behind. Soon his office is wall to wall papers. Unfortunately, he begins to feel bad. Everyone thinks he is goldbricking. Because of his tenuous history, no one believes him when he talks about how he feels. Of course, Potter, who hates attention, is ready to pop a cork because everyone is so nice to him they are smothering him. It's a pretty good ride with pressure building almost everywhere in the camp.
This episode starts out with a ridiculous scene in the OR. Charles goes to operate on a soldier whom he thinks has a thoracic injury, when Hawkeye comes up behind him and cuts the chords to his pants, leaving him naked from the waist down. The reaction is decidedly against the practical joker and Pierce must now endure disdain from the troops. While this is happening, a good friend of Margaret's, who has serious responsibilities, begins to drink heavily. She carelessly grabs a bottle of the wrong blood type and if Klinger isn't there, she could have killed the patient. This brings about the oldest thing in the world--do you tell on your friends. Apparently this woman has a history of boozing, but assured Margaret she had licked the problem. While she is hiding her problem, Hawkeye is trying to even the score, hoping to be victimized by Winchester. But there is a fly in the ointment. Well done treatment of body detox.
There are three plot lines at work here. First of all, B.J. is depressed because it is his anniversary and he is stuck in Korea again. His longings are frequently fodder for shows. He can be both a sad and an angry man. While he mopes around, the rest of his friends are working on a plan. In the second plot line, Charles had gone to look at another MASH unit to evaluate their conditions. It turns out it is a cesspool and Charles pulls no punches, so to speak, when he sends in his findings. A major from that camp comes and tries to reason with him, but when he proves unyielding, the guy punches him, knocking out a tooth. Charles is utterly embarrassed by being done in by this guy and not defending himself. The third item is a little Korean boy who has been hit in the leg by shrapnel. His grandfather tells the doctors that the boy has lost his mother, his father may be dead, and they no longer have a home. To make matters worse, he was given a harmonica by a GI and it was left behind when they escaped. All the factors come into play at the end, as if choreographed. A little maudlin and pat but quite emotional, to say the least.
Two things are going on at the base. Hawkeye, who normally can't go five minutes without a joke, bets B.J. he can go a whole day without an expression of wit. Winchester is visited by the man who sent him from Tokyo General to the MASH unit. Now he hopes if he plays his cards right, he will end up back in Tokyo. People expect sparks to fly. Hawkeye is internally hemorrhaging, trying not to tell any jokes. Both men are dealing with things which challenge their natures. Charles's adversary asks him to scrape up some companionship, so he goes to Rosie's and enlists a prostitute. Unfortunately, Margaret shows up at the guy's tent and there is quite a ruckus. Charles is forced to take the moral ground.
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