Monday, September 14, 2009

Episode 161 - The Price

Season 7, Episode 161: The Price
Original Air Date: 1/15/79
Written by: Erik Tarloff

Directed by: Charles Dubin

Col. Potter rides back to camp, having spent a near-perfect day out with his horse Sophie. When he makes it back to his tent, he and Radar give the laundry to an elderly Korean gentleman, Mr. Pak (Yuki Shimoda) and his daughter Sun (Miko Mayama).

Col. Potter is a little concerned over how unhealthy Mr. Pak looks, and suggests he come to the hospital for an exam. Mr. Pak refuses, and his daughter explains he's a proud man--a former cavalry officer--and is not happy to be "reduced" to doing laundry. Col. Potter, a old cavalry man himself, understands.

Later that night, Margaret is getting a shower when she is startled by a young man hiding in the tent. She screams, and he runs out of the tent, into the arms of Hawkeye and B.J.

After calming everything down, Hawkeye and B.J. find out who the boy is--he's a young man named Ham (Ken Mochizuki), who ran away when the South Korean Army attempted to "draft" him into service. Hawkeye and B.J. are disgusted at the South Korean Army's strong arm tactics, and offer to hide Ham at the 4077th, turning to Klinger for a disguise. He offers a complete outfit for a few bucks, trying to raise enough capital to bribe Col. Potter into giving him a discharge.

The next morning, Col. Potter and Radar are shocked to see that Sophie is gone! Col. Potter assumes he left her coral open at the end of the night, and they quickly arrange a massive search to find her.

But all day passes with no luck. Col. Potter grows despondent, coming to grips with the idea he's never going to see Sophie again. He asks Radar to share a drink with him as a toast to "absent friends."

That night, two South Korean officials wander into camp, looking for Ham, who Hawkeye and B.J. are hiding under a blanket in Winchester's bed. The two officials ask for "Winchester" to be woken up, but Hawkeye and B.J. refuse.

The ruse is exposed when Winchester walks in, and the South Koreans demand to know who is in his bed--they pull the blanket back, to find a young...woman?

Winchester puts on a perfect act, accusing Hawkeye and B.J. of bringing one of their "doxies" into the tent. The two South Korean officials buy this, figuring its a local prostitute (since Ham is wearing one of Klinger's outfits). They laugh and snigger, then leave.

Hawkeye and B.J. thank Winchester for going along. Winchester accepts their thanks, then demands Ham get out of his bed!

The next morning, Sophie returns to the 4077th, ridden by Mr. Pak, dressed in full military regalia. The daughter explains that her father was once a proud man, and couldn't help claiming Sophie as his own, so he could feel like a young, brave solider once again.

Col. Potter understands this motivation better than anyone, and actually offers to let Mr. Pak keep Sophie. He says that Sophie means the world to him, but, to Mr., Pak, "she means even more."

Mr. Pak's daughter tearfully thanks Col. Potter, and accepts for her father. They turn around and wander off, leaving Col. Potter standing there with Sophie's empty bridal. Radar is stunned at Col. Potter's overwhelming gesture of kindness: "Colonel--that's just about the best thing I ever saw anybody do ever."

Later that night, Hawkeye and B.J. come back to the Swamp to find Ham packing this things, ready to enlist. They try and talk him out of it, but Ham saw Mr. Pak and how brave he was, and feels compelled not to run away any more. He leaves, despite the protests of Hawkeye and B.J.

The next morning, Mr. Pak's daughter is back, with Sophie. She explains to Col. Potter that her father died over night. But, thanks to Col. Potter, he died with pride and dignity, something she never will forget. She plants a gentle kiss on Col. Potter's cheek, hands him Sophie's lead, and walks off.

Fun Facts: A very sweet episode, and a great showcase for Harry Morgan. As someone who loves animals, it always gets me a little bit when Col. Potter gives up Sophie. And I love Radar's reaction--he's impressed beyond words with his commander.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye and B.J. ask Radar if they know who the young man is.

Hawkeye: "We found him in Major Houlihan's shower."

Radar: "Wow!"

B.J.: "You know him?"

Radar: "No, but he's sure got guts."


Russell said...

This is one of my all-time favorite episodes. Everything about it works... Potter's kindness, Mr. Pak's stoicism, his daughter's gratitude, Ham's realization that even though it's tough there are things you just *have* to do...great, great show. It tears me up every time I watch it.

Fun fact: none of the actors playing Koreans are actually Korean (they are Japanese). The language they speak is phonetic and guttural, ie not Korean. :-) (Although Sun does call Mr. Pak "Father" in Korean).

Russell said...

I do have a question, though.

What does the title, "The Price," refer to???

What the Parrot Saw said...

I've always loved Charles' kindness and quick-witedness here when he realizes what is going on with the ROK soldiers and Ham. He plays the situation perfectly and it still surprises me somewhat every time I watch!

Dominic said...

Russell, the b plot isn't mentioned, but the title refers to Klinger trying to bribe Potter to give him a section 8. No hard feelings Rob!, but you forgot to mention it in fun facts.

Robert Gross said...

I think the title refers to both plots. It also refers to Potter's giving up his horse to do a good deed (all good deeds have a price).

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