Friday, September 18, 2009

Episode 165 - Rally Round The Flagg, Boys

Season 7, Episode 165: Rally Round The Flagg, Boys
Original Air Date: 10/30/78
Written by: Mitch Markowitz

Directed by: Harry Morgan

After playing Bridge with two South Korean dignitaries, wounded arrive. One of them, a North Korean, has a severe head injury, and Hawkeye as Chief Surgeon overrules Winchester by taking him in first.

Another solider, a Corporal, is furious as one of "them" being taken ahead of his buddy, and during OR he calls Hawkeye a commie. After some additional prodding by Winchester, Hawkeye loses his cool and walks over to the Corporal and threatens to shut his mouth for him.

Later, Col. Potter is dismayed to see Col. Flagg waiting for him in his office. Flagg heard about Hawkeye working on a North Korean ahead of an American, which is against protocol, and is here to investigate.

He confronts Hawkeye, calling him a commie, among other things., Hawkeye of course doesn't take any of Flagg's threats seriously, and after a minute or so he walks away.

Later, Flagg introduces himself to Winchester, and wants him to spy on Hawkeye for him. He insists to Winchester that Hawkeye's a commie spy, and that Winchester find some evidence. Winchester of course thinks this is all nonsense, but is willing to do Flagg's bidding when he offers Winchester a ticket home to Boston in return.

Winchester does some snooping, but of course he doesn't find anything. Hawkeye is sure that Flagg has bugged the Swamp, a lot more familiar with Flagg's methods than Winchester.

Winchester finds the spying distasteful, and tries to resign. Flagg switches from bribery to threats, saying if he doesn't help out Winchester could just "disappear." Winchester relents.

Later, in Post Op, Flagg questions the North Korean, but that quickly devolves into cutting off the patient's IV drip. Radar sees this, and is horrified. He tells Flaggh he can't do that, and Winchester steps in.

He then finds a "clue" on the North Korean, which looks like a map of the 4077th, with a meeting of some sort scheduled for 10pm.

Flagg camps outside the Swamp with some MPs, where Winchester joins them. They see two Koreans in suits enter, along with Hawkeye and Col. Potter. Flagg thinks its a spy ring so big it involves Potter, too, and charges in with gun in hand.

Turns out the two Korean gentlemen are the mayor of Ouijambu, and the chief of police, something of course Winchester knew all along. Flagg should be embarrassed, but he thinks its an even bigger plot, and refuses to give an inch. Hawkeye laughs that "You're going to lose your magic decoder ring for this one, Flagg."

As the MPs and Flagg leave, Winchester sits down to play bridge with the others, and begins to regale them with the story of how he pulled one over on Flagg.

Fun Facts: Sadly, this is Edward Winter's final appearance on M*A*S*H as Col. Flagg. As a character, Flagg was a bit cartoony, at least compared to the series as it was by the seventh season, so his appearance is a little out of place, in terms of tone.

That said, I loved the character, and Winter's performance, so it might have been interesting to see if Flagg could have been developed more. I've always thought he should have appeared in the final episode, at the very least (I had what I think is a perfect final scene for the character--I'll tell you about it sometime).

When Hawkeye is discussing Col. Flagg to Winchester, he makes a reference to the time Flagg asked Hawkeye to patch up a prisoner just so he could execute him later, which we saw in the Season Three episode, "Officer of the Day."

I never fully understood the controversy of putting one soldier--North Korean or no--ahead of another, because its not like there's only one surgeon. Since there are four doctors, there are essentially four "#1 patient" slots, so even if you've been bumped to second place, you're still getting operated on immediately.

Favorite Line: When Flagg is cornering Hawkeye, he threatens him with "Your butt is in my sling."

Hawkeye, refusing to take any of this seriously, gives up and says, "All right, take me--I'm yours."

Flagg, lacking any ability to understand humor, says, "I knew it--you're one of 'those' too." Hawkeye slams his head against the wall in frustration.


Russell said...

This episode is another one of my all-time favorites. Look, actual comedy! The Battle Of Wits between Winchester and Flagg is incredibly entertaining. Rob, your favorite line is also mine, just for the way the two actors played off each other. Hawkeye's exasperation is very evident. My next favorite scene, though, is when Flagg and Winchester find "the clue" and Charles literally walks Flagg through the meaning. And then there's the MP's off-hand remark about this being another one of Flagg's wild goose chases.

Then there's Radar's horror at Flagg's mistreatment of the patient, and BJ's dramatic "save" of Hawkeye from the angry Corporal...

This is just a fun, fun episode. It's great. Well directed, Harry Morgan!

What the Parrot Saw said...

A great episode! Between Rob's usual excellent write-up and Russell's pithy comment above, I have nothing to add (then why are you writing, parrot??) except that this episode proved that straight comedy was not 'imposible'--not only here in S7, but beyond--if the creators really wanted to let their hair down for a fun episode!

Great to see Charles give Flagg the run-around here- again, he may have been pompous, but by now it was clear that his heart was in the right place when it mattered.

Could have done with another Flagg episode or two...

Anonymous said...

I LOVE it when Colonel Potter says "Pony Pucks" when he finds Flagg sitting in his chair. Just seems like the perfect thing to say when you see Flagg t a time when you really don't want to!

Anonymous said...

'Don't play dumb because you're not as good as it as I am.' Completely reflects and earlier line from S4 'Quo Vadis' when Flagg said something along the lines (I believe to Sidney) "You're very dumb, but you've met your match in me.' Flagg to me is a perfect example of irony in flesh form

Bob Gassel said...

The fact that the producers didn't feel Flagg fit in the show anymore is more an indictment of them than it is of Flagg, and the clearest indicator that the series had changed for the worse....

Very similar to Otis Campbell and Ernest T. Bass being banished from the later years of The Andy Griffith SHow.

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