Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Episode 98 - Margaret's Engagement

Season 5, Episode 98: Margaret's Engagement
Original Air Date: 9/28/76
Written by: Gary Markowitz

Directed by: Alan Alda

Hot Lips calls Col. Potter from Tokyo, where even though its early in the morning, she's still at a raucous party. She promises she has big news, which she'll reveal when she gets back to the 4077th.

The doctors discuss it during surgery, and Frank insists it'll be a promotion.

The next day, Margaret returns, with her news: she's engaged! She shows off her ring, and the photo of her husband-to-be: Lt. Col. Donald Penobscott, of West Point.

Hot Lips also has a medical report to deliver, and Col. Potter calls a staff meeting in the Mess Tent. At the end of the meeting, she tells Frank the news. Hawkeye, B.J., Col. Potter, and Radar tense up, preparing for Frank to explode, but he surprises them: he's gracious, kind, and congratulates Hot Lips.

As the doctors stand there, stunned, Frank walks off, ripping the doors of the Mess Tent as he leaves the tent. Uh-oh.

Afterwards, Frank appears to be normal, but little things slip out: all of sudden, he laughs heartily at Hawkeye's jokes, and is deliberately kind to Radar. Things get worse when he "accidentally" stab Hot Lips during surgery.

That night, Frank comes to visit Hot Lips in her tent. Things go okay at first, but then Frank loses it, and practically attacks Hot Lips. She slaps him silly, calling him a coward. Frank, enraged at being called a coward, storms out.

In the middle of the night, we see Frank dressed in fatigues, armed with a rifle. In a moment of idiotic bravado, he pulls the pin on a grenade, scrambling to find it on the floor after he's realized what he's done. Hawkeye and B.J. lay asleep just a few feet away.

The next morning, Hawkeye and B.J. are troubled to find Frank gone--and even more troubled when they see he took his gun and his toothbrush. "Shooting his mouth off again", B.J. offers.

Then they all see Frank march into camp with "war prisoners"--a Korean family, including small children and their ox. Potter has had enough, and he orders Frank to his office.

Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter try and talk Frank down, but he won't listen--he's testy and wired, pacing back and forth. He gets mad when Potter mentions Frank is headed for a Section 8, but Radar comes in at the right moment to tell him there's a call from Frank's mom.

Frank takes the call, and he breaks down telling his mom about what's happened. His exhaustion finally catches up him, and he passes out right there on the phone. Hawkeye and B.J. carry him back to the Swamp.

The next day, Hot Lips is still going on--loudly--about her dashing Col. Penobscott. The doctors sit down next to her, and Frank asks Hawkeye about going out on a double date that night.

When Frank mentions what nurse he's interested in, Hot Lips sneers and says "Isn't she a little young for you?" Frank retorts with, "I don't know...I thought a little youth would be good for a change."

Hawkeye and B.J. sit in wide-eyed horror, until Hot Lips gets up and leaves. Then they and Frank have a big laugh together--a rare event indeed.

Fun Facts: Frank, preparing for he thinks is a date with Hot Lips, starts applying talc to his torso, while humming a tune, and clucking like a chicken. The look on Hawkeye and B.J's faces are priceless, as they can't believe what they're seeing and hearing.

There's an amazing scene with Frank, as he talks to his Mom back home. He mentions "a friend" who only "pretended to like know, like the way Dad used to." An absolutely chilling line, and a great insight as to why Frank is the way he is.

Favorite Line: When Hot Lips tells Col. Potter that Col. Trumwater is at a party she's at in Tokyo, he mentions that Trumwater has "The worst toupee in the Asian theatre."

We then see Trumwater hand a drink to Hot Lips, and indeed his toupee is awful. Hot Lips mentions that she has big news, and Potter replies: "It must be pretty big if Ol' Throw Rug is there."


What the Parrot Saw said...

Great synopsis and commentary here, rob! Agree with everything- not only is Frank's scene talking to his mother IMHO one of the saddest in the entire series (Hawkeye (semi-stunned): "He's crying...") but the final scene is interesting in that it... almost... suggests that Frank might finally be capable of becoming "one of the guys". If only for a fleeting moment.

Russell said...

I agree with both of you. I watch this episode and think, What would have happened if Frank softened a bit and became hateful towards Margaret, and kinder to everyone else? Oh, well. Kudos to Larry Linville for doing an absolute bang-up job on a character who this year became more and more of a cartoon character and less and less of a "man."

Dr. Eric said...

When Frank was sprucing up before his date, the tune he was humming is "Back in the Saddle Again."

wiestika said...

I love Franks burn on Margaret at the end. It definitely made you think that Frank could've been a more normal guy. Sad episode really, the beginning of the end for Frank Burns. Definitely has one of my favorite lines at the end though "Oh, I don't know, I thought a little youth would be nice for a change." Then his laugh. Good ol' Frank!

Anonymous said...

The phone call with his mother is the 2nd time (O.R. episode) it's been revealed that Frank's father was extremely strict and quite possibly abusive, leading Frank both to the man he is now and his attachment I think to his mother. And ironically his counterparts Hawkeye has a relationship with his father anyone would dream of..

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