Saturday, September 12, 2009

Episode 159 - B.J. Papa San

Season 7, Episode 159: B.J. Papa San
Original Air Date: 1/1/79
Written by: Larry Balmagia

Directed by: James Sheldon

B.J. gets another letter from home that Hawkeye calls "the weekly gut wrencher." When Radar comes in with a young Korean girl whose father is very sick, B.J., needing something to take his mind off his troubles, volunteers to go with the girl and visit the father.

They drive to the young girl's hut, and its clear the elderly father has pneumonia. He distributes medicine, and suggests that the father be moved to the 4077th. But the family doesn't want to split up, explaining that they lost their eldest son, who was taken by the South Korean Army and hasn't been seen since. They ask B.J. to help find him--an impossible task--but they're so desperate he agrees to see what he can do.

He tries getting some supplies from Sgt. Zale, who coldly refuses. B.J. offers to pay Zale, who still refuses, more out of greed than principle. He then resorts to blackmail, which makes Zale fold.

Later that day, Hawkeye sees B.J. carrying the jeep-full of supplies, and warns him that, despite his best efforts, he won't be able to solve this family's problems. B.J. says he knows that, but his glowing talk about the young kids and how amazing they are suggests otherwise.

B.J. ends up staying with the family all night, fixing their roof. When he tries to leave and go back to the camp, the tearfully beg him to stay. Not wanting to hurt them, he agrees.

Meanwhile, at the 4077th, a klutzy, ornery visiting general named Prescott (Dick O'Neill) can't seem to leave. He arrives with a sprained ankle, but falls off his crutches as soon as Hawkeye fixes him up. Now he has broken wrist, which doesn't stop Winchester from seeing if he can finagle himself as Prescott's personal doctor. It doesn't work--neither does Klinger's obvious attempt at a Section 8.

B.J. asks Radar to see if he can find the eldest son--named Cho Duk Sing--but all the Army red tape keeps them from getting anywhere, even after Potter steps in.

Later, Prescott is allowed to leave again, but a pet bee of Radar's stings him in the neck. Prescott is, of course, allergic, and within seconds a giant welt develops. Hawkeye wheels Prescott right back into the hospital.

During a session in OR, shelling starts. B.J. is so worried about Kim and her family that his mind isn't on his patients, and he's snippy and humorless to the others. Later, in the changing room, he admits to Hawkeye that the family's enormous needs are greater than what B.J. can provide.

But things look up when Radar tells him that he got their son Cho Duk transferred to an American unit just down the road--Radar craftily got Gen. Prescott to sign a transfer order amid the flurry of paperwork he was forced to fill out during his numerous stays as a patient.

B.J. and Hakweye drive to Kim's family's hut with the good news, but they find it deserted. Scared of the shelling, they packed up and left, heading further south--with no clue of what happened to their son, and no way of B.J. finding them.

B.J. is devastated. He wanders off, muttering, "It isn't right." He then screams, to no one in particular, "Damn it, it isn't right!"

Wandering around for a few more moments, he climbs back in the jeep, and he and Hawkeye drive home.

Fun Facts: General Prescott is played by veteran character actor Dick O'Neill, who previously appeared in Season Five's "38 Across" and would appear again in an eleventh season episode. Each time he played a different character.

Favorite Line: General Prescott, meeting Col. Potter for the first time: "You look familiar, Colonel. Do I know you?"

Potter: "I don't think so..."

Prescott: "Were you in World War II?"

Potter: "Yes..."

Prescott: "I knew you looked familiar!"


Dr. Eric said...

I loved the scene with BJ screaming "Damn it, it isn't right!" It is one of those perfect M*A*S*H moments where the show's attitude about war is perfectly presented.

Russell said...

I don't know about this episode. It feels kind of like a mish-mash of the episode where Radar took care of a family, mixed in with the episode where the General is looking for a personal physician, mixed in with the episode where Hawkeye falls in love with the Korean woman even though everyone tells him it can't end well. I just feel like I've seen this episode before...although I have to admit, the last ten minutes or so with BJ and Hawkeye, from Radar giving them the good news to BJ's rant, are good examples of Mike Farrell's excellent work on this show. You really feel like BJ loves his coworkers, and feels for the plight of his adopted Korean family.

What the Parrot Saw said...

^^I agree, Russell. That BJ would 'adopt' a Korean family (given his homesickness) was probably an inevitable plot, and the conclusion here is effective. Entirely believable course of events and Farrell's performance is great.

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