Monday, October 12, 2009

Episode 183 - Stars and Stripes

Season 8, Episode 183: Stars and Stripes
Original Air Date: 12/17/79
Written by: Dennis Koenig

Directed by: Harry Morgan

With no wounded to care for, everyone at the 4077th is bored to tears. But at least two of the staff have something to do--B.J. and Winchester have been asked to write a paper for the American College of Surgeons, after the successful recuperation of a patient they both worked on several weeks ago.

Everyone is impressed, none more so than Winchester himself, who takes this event as an opportunity to talk about himself in the most glowing of terms. This leads B.J. is fight for his own turf, and their attempt at writing the paper quickly devolves into an argument, each doctor refusing to budge.

With Hawkeye excluded, he's even more bored than usual. He's thrilled when Scully arrives back in camp, but Scully has to remind Hawkeye that, as entertaining as Hawkeye might be, he's here to visit Margaret. Hawkeye is aghast: "You'd rather spend time with a voluptuous blonde than a pale, skinny brunette?"

Margaret is happy to see Scully, but like Winchester and B.J. it quickly dissolves into a fight when Scully reveals his lack of respect for Margaret's rank, insisting that she "Gets to boss around a bunch of women", somehow insisting she's not a real Major. Margaret protests, and Scully storms out.

Margaret, after a talk with Hawkeye, decides to try again with Scully. She has Klinger help her tailor a dress--a very feminine, puffy pink outfit--and she's wearing it in her tent when she has Scully visit her, on Klinger's orders (Scully's a lowly Private--at the moment).

At first, Scully loves it, but within a few minutes their inherent differences come to the surface. Scully starts treating Margaret like a handmaiden, asking her to cook him an omelet and promising that after a romp with him in the sack she'll be a new woman.

They both realize that, as a couple, they just aren't compatible--Scully wants to be in charge, no questions asked, and can't abide a woman as strong and independent as Margaret. They decide to end their relationship, such as it is, and Scully heads back to his unit.

Meanwhile, the fights between Winchester and B.J. get so bad they decide to write their own papers and let Col. Potter decide which of them is the most accurate. When Potter gets wind of this, he sits them both down and reads them the riot act, reminding them both that it was a group effort--the other doctors, the nurses, the staff at Walter Reed--that helped pull the young man through. B.J. and Winchester, humbled, decide to rewrite the paper, crediting it to the entire staff of the 4077th.

Later, Margaret meets Hawkeye again in the O Club for some drinks, and she tells him Scully is gone for good. She talks about the kind of man she wants to meet, who is 10% her father, 10% Hawkeye, 3% Frank Burns, and 2% her ex-husband. She then reconsiders and says, "...1% of my ex-husband."

Hawkeye tries to cheer Margaret up over a game of Scrabble, realizing they're two people "Looking for an exact fit in an Off The Rack world."

Fun Facts: There's a great sequence in the O Club where Margaret runs down the list of lousy men she's met in her life, starting with Frank Burns. Hawkeye retorts with a line about his inability to change who he is "For the woman he loved" in med school, referring to Carlye Breslin, who we saw in the Season Four episode, "The More I See You."

Father Mulcahy does not appear in this episode.

Favorite Line: Col. Potter is berating B.J. and Winchester for their short-sightedness regarding taking too much credit, and he rattles off the list of all the other people in the unit that helped out. When Hawkeye offers up some names of his own, Potter turns to him and says, "And what about you? You took extra patients so those two could double their time on Hauser."

Hawkeye, in mock modesty, responds, "I was just being indispensable."


What the Parrot Saw said...

I agree with you about Margaret and Hawkeye's conversation, rob. I think that it is one of the series' most memorable moments and Hawkeye's line about an "Off the Rack" world is, I think, profound. Yet, one can also sympathize with Margaret's sense of disappointment. Sometimes people can change- and sometimes they cannot or will not.

This is another example of a remarkably frank (Winchester: "... small 'f' ") and sophisticated scene that illustrates the high caliber of writing and character development MASH was capable of at its best.

mark said...

Margaret's math: "10% her father, 10% Hawkeye, 3% Frank Burns, and 1% her ex-husband" adds up to 24%. Who's the other 76% - Col. Potter? Or maybe some of Henry Blake? Trapper? BJ? Charles? Klinger? Radar?

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