Monday, March 23, 2009

Episode 23 - Ceasefire

Season 1, Episode 23: Ceasefire
Original Air Date: 3/18/73
Written by: Robert Klane
Directed by: Earl Bellamy

After a particularly grueling, casualty-heavy period, the 4077 gets an amazing bit of news from General Clayton--a ceasefire has been arranged!

Even though Henry asks Hawkeye and Trapper not to say anything before it becomes official, the word gets out anyway, and soon the camp breaks into a non-stop party.

The only holdout is Trapper, who doesn't believe its really true. Hawkeye is aghast at Trapper's pessimism, and bets him $50 that he's wrong.

Radar starts a scrapbook, and gets people to sign it. Frank and Hot Lips spend their time together, and Hawkeye has to extricate himself from the various relationships he has with some of the nurses. Nurse Cutler expects their relationship to continue once they get home, and Hawkeye lies, claiming to be married, to get out of it. Nurse Cutler is not amused.

General Clayton arrives for a final send-off, and Hawkeye can't resist getting in one last dig: under the guise of it being a tribute, he airs a slideshow of Clayton in various embarrassing scenarios, like coming out of Hot Lips' tent, and holding her in a passionate embrace.

Frank and Clayton are furious, Hot Lips embarrassed, but everyone else laughs. Unfortunately, word comes that the ceasefire is not happening--and wounded arrive shortly thereafter.

In the end, Hawkeye is still upbeat, even though he threw away thousands of dollars in poker IOUs, severed his relationships with two nurses, and has Clayton mad at him. It was all worth it, just to have that brief moment of hope.

Fun Facts: This episode features the last appearances of Ho-John and Nurse Cutler. I'm not sure what world Margie Cutler was living in, thinking Hawkeye and she were exclusive--he's been dating different nurses throughout the series, and is even doing so with another Nurse (Lt. Griffin, played by Lynette Mettey) in the very same episode!

Favorite Line: M*A*S*H, and TV in general, is not as much a director's medium as it is a writer's. So in a series like this, you don't get many memorable shots or sequences that call out as being particularly "directed."

But in The Swamp, when Hawkeye and Trapper are debating whether the ceasefire is real or not, the camera shoots over the shoulder of Trapper, sitting on his bunk as he and Hawkeye talk.

After Trapper makes the bet, Hawkeye says: "I hate to take your money." Trapper quietly adds "I only hope you will", as the camera pans left, so that Trapper's face isn't seen as he says the line. Its a wonderful little moment of seriousness in a very upbeat, funny episode.


Anonymous said...

Did anybody else notice that the pictures in the slide show of Major Houlihan and General Clayton were in color? Shouldn't they be in black and white?


Robert Gross said...

There was something in this episode I never understood. After the embarrassing slide show of Margaret and General Clayton, the General mutters, "There wasn't any cease fire, Pierce," to which Hawkeye just looks bemused, like "Huh?" And *then* we get the word that there was no cease fire.

Is the General sitting there already aware that the cease fire has been cancelled? Why wouldn't he tell anyone? It always struck me as something edited out of order.

Anonymous said...

To Robert:

General Clayton, embarrassed and put off by Hawkeye's slide show, is actually muttering, "if there wasn't a ceasefire, Pierce..." The implication is that Clayton would make like difficult for Hawkeye if he remained in Korea. Hawkeye alludes to this comment at the end of the episode when he's listing all the consequences of his presumption that the ceasefire was genuine: he can't date because he's told the nurses he's married, he's broke because he's cancelled all his gambling debts, and now the General has it in for him.

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