Saturday, July 11, 2009

Episode 108 - Exorcism

Season 5, Episode 108: Exorcism
Original Air Date: 12/14/76
Written by: Gene Reynolds & Jay Folb

Directed by: Alan Alda

A Korean peddler pushing an overloaded a cart full of knick-knacks set up shop on the compound. Col. Potter asks the man to leave (giving him an hour to have a "going out of business" sale), because he's blocking traffic.

He also asks Radar to move a "spirit post" that some of the locals set up, to ward away evil spirits. Potter, not believing in any of that stuff, asks Radar to move it out of the way. Radar tries to talk him out of it at first, but Potter insists.

No sooner does he move it, then a young Korean man riding a bike loses control and crashes into the peddler's cart. Then more unusual phenomena take place: a gauge breaks in the middle of an operation, an O.R. bulb bursts, the P.A. conks out, Col. Potter stabs himself with his scalpel, and Hawkeye accidentally breaks Frank's mirror, cracking the glass in two.

Hoping to change their luck, Radar puts up a horseshoe on Col. Potter's office wall. Potter still scoffs at the idea, but likes the horseshoe as a simple ornament.

Later, a jeep carrying some of the 4077th's patients home crashes, and they are all brought back to camp. One of the other wounded is a very old Korean man, who doesn't want to be operated on at the camp because of supposed evil spirits haunting the place. He's so scared he won't let Hawkeye touch him, even though it means he'll probably die because of his injuries.

His daughter, who followed her father to the 4077th, says there is a village priestess who can perform an exorcism, which would put the old man at ease. After a debate about it in Col. Potter's office (with Frank against it, of course), they bring the priestess to the camp, where she performs an intricate, colorful, and (to the members of the 4077th) baffling ceremony.

The old man, now relieved, allows Hawkeye to perform the operation. All of a sudden, the P.A. starts working again, and the gauge that was broken earlier is now fixed. Hmm...

Later, as a way to say thank you, the old man's daughter gives Hawkeye a metal wind-chime: "Not for scaring away evil spirits--for decoration."

Col. Potter, just to be safe, has Radar put the spirit post back where it was. Radar, as always, is ahead of him, having already done so.

Fun Facts: The scene in Col. Potter's office debating whether to let the exorcism go forth is interesting, and I love Father Mulcahy's open-minded approach to spirituality--he's eager to see the performance, and even quotes the Bible in support of the idea, much to the chagrin of Frank.

Favorite Line: Klinger assures Col. Potter and Father Mulcahy that there are evil spirits, curses, and the like.

He tells a story: "I come from a long line of short-nosed people. One day, my Grandfather's camel spit in the eye of the village witch. Ever since then, we've been growing them like this", pointing to his own sizeable nose.


Russell said...

This episode is SO interesting, because we hardly ever got any sense of actual Koreans in of a handful this season, actually.

Anyway, my favorite scene is when Hawkeye is trying to exorcize the OR for the old man, and immediately after he mumbles some jibberish, Frank comes out. "It worked!" he laughs, as does Radar. The ending, too, when Hawkeye and BJ exorcise Frank's radio is pretty funny, too.

BTW, the old man is the character-actor from KUNG FU whose name escapes me...Phil Ahn? Something like that. It begged me no end until I finally "placed" him.

What the Parrot Saw said...

One aspect of rural Korean culture receives a generally respectful examination here, a reminder that M*A*S*H (and UN forces) were operating in the midst of another culture's civil war. The series generally was well-focused in this regard (and without getting into matters of so-called political correctness, I believe to its lasting credit).

The ceremony itself is well choreographed (and indeed receives a surprising amount of screen time), but the 'good/bad luck' angle still seems more than a little silly.

Steve Spatucci said...

Clearly this episode was Sam Raimi's inspiration for "Drag Me To Hell".

Anonymous said...

My favorite line(s)... Opening scene:

Col. Potter: You tell Mr. Yee to vamoose. This is an army hospital, not Macy's.

Radar: Colonel say Mr. Yee gotta go.

Col. Potter: Nice translation, Radar.

Radar: Thank you, Sir.

Anonymous said...

The scene in Potter's office is filmed kind of interesting (for TV of its time, anyway). Frank is complaining about Hawkeye to Potter for a while, then the camera pans back to show Hawk's been there the whole time. A bit later it pans back to include Father Mulcahy who's also been in the room the whole time!

Your pal, Jim

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