Friday, April 3, 2009

Episode 28 - For The Good Of The Outfit

Season 2, Episode 28: For The Good Of The Outfit
Original Air Date: 10/6/73
Written by: Jerry Mayer
Directed by: Jackie Cooper

During a session in O.R., Trapper and Hawkeye discover that most of the wounded are townspeople from the village of Tai-Dong, which isn't near any military target--and the nearest artillery unit is American. As Henry describes it, "Oops."

Hawkeye and Trapper collect shell fragments, and they discover that they are, in fact, American-made.

They write up a report--after failing to get Frank to join them in the cause--and sent it in to HQ, where the case is taken over by Major Stoner (Frank Aletter).

Stoner comes to the 4077th, and meets with Hawkeye and Trapper. Hawkeye is skeptical, even a little hostile, after it seems Stoner isn't all that gung ho about prosecuting the case. Things look up when Stoner suggests that Frank, being the ranking surgeon, should have issued the report. Hot Lips is, once again, disappointed in him.

A week later, Trapper reads in Stars and Stripes that the Army has looked into the matter, and concluded that Tai-Dong was destroyed due to an enemy attack.

They track Stoner down on the phone, and he acts surprised about the story in the paper. He promises "Heads will roll", but Hawkeye's conclusion is "The Major happens to be the Koren distributor of crapola."

Hawkeye then decides to write his father, who is friends with a U.S. Senator who owes his Dad a favor. But he is outraged when he finds out that the letter never arrived; it was stopped on the way and confiscated by the Army.

Hawkeye has a shouting match with Henry, and things get even worse when he is informed he is...restricted. Not "under arrest", exactly, but "restricted", as Henry pathetically tries to explain the difference.

Henry tries to calm Hawkeye down by showing him the Army's plans to rebuild Tai-Dong, which will even include a soft ice cream stand! Hawkeye isn't satisfied: that's compensation, but not responsibility.

Finally, Gen. Clayton arrives, and has a sit down meeting with Hawkeye and Trapper. He informs them, as gently as possible, that the Army is none too pleased about all this boat-rocking, and if they don't knock it off, they could find themselves shipped to a unit right on the front lines, and have their post-war lives shadowed by the Army, which, as Clayton suggests, "Has very long arms."

When he tells them that Stoner has been transferred to Honolulu, Hawkeye and Trapper know its all over--as Hawkeye says to Clayton: "You buried the evidence, you got rid of the guy who knew the evidence, and if we don't knock this off, you'll take away our breathing privileges."

As they storm out, Frank and Hot Lips charge in, with a report and evidence of their own. Frank is hoping maybe a promotion might result, but Hawkeye and Trapper are thrilled.

Clayton, realizing he can't bury this much evidence, admits that sometimes "Even the Army has to take its lumps." Hawkeye and Trapper say they're going to hold onto the evidence until they see the story--the right one--in Stars & Stripes.

Clayton agrees, and says if they write the story, he'll see it gets printed. Hawkeye and Trapper, overjoyed, chase Frank and Hot Lips around the office looking to plant big smooches on both of them!

Fun Facts: In some respects, this is M*A*S*H's most daring episode, as it infers--heck, actually comes out and states--that the Army and/or the U.S. Government was willing to threaten Hawkeye and Trapper if they didn't keep their mouths shut, as well as violate Hawkeye's rights by going through his mail.

This episode aired during the hell that was Watergate, so to adults it must have seemed right on target. But watching this episode as a kid, it was a revelation, and the underlying sense of menace in the scene I still find a bit disconcerting.

Favorite Line: Frank walks in to The Swamp, and pauses a moment to comment on the disgusting condition of the tent. To no one in particular:

Frank: "Pig pen...brothel."

Hawkeye: "Here, sir!"

Trapper: "Yo!"

1 comment:

Russell said...

Yeah, this was another good one, but yet, another one where Hawkeye seems to get all the good lines and Trapper seems to be ignored. MASH was slowly but surely turning into The Alan Alda Show. (sigh)

By the way, during wartime soldiers' letters home etc were/are regularly edited and/or confiscated.

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