Season 9, Episode 211: Bless You, Hawkeye
Original Air Date: 3/16/81
Written by: Dan Wilcox & Thad Mumford
Directed by: Nell Cox
The doctors get some patients in the middle of the night, luckily its just a few and the cases are relatively simple. One of the soldiers is drenched, from having fallen in a watery ditch.
Later that night, Hawkeye wakes up sneezing uncontrollably. He insists he's fine, but the sneezes are getting louder and more frequent.
Hawkeye takes a long, steamy shower, positive that's all he needs. B.J. has his own cure, as does Margaret, but Hawkeye refuses to take any of it.
He seems to be over it, but when he lets a giant sneeze go in Post Op, Potter has had enough--he pulls Hawkeye away from the patients and subjects him to tests to figure out what's going on.
But despite the tests showing nothing, Hawkeye keeps getting worse. During a meeting in Potter's office, Hawkeye bursts in, sneezing, eyes puffy, itching uncontrollably--and convinced he's about to die.
Potter concludes that they've gone as far as they can with his body, now they have to see "what's on his mind"--to that end, he puts in a call to Sidney Freedman.
Sidney arrives, and sits down with Hawkeye in the VIP Tent. Hawkeye, looking awful, admits he's scared that he's going to die. Sidney, while being his normal, gentle self, says, "I don't think we need to call the hearse just yet."
After talking a bit, they call it a night. Sidney investigates the personal effects of the soldiers who came in the night Hawkeye started getting sick. He doesn't find much of interest, and Father Mulcahy tells him that Hawkeye's patient's uniform was so moldy it has to be thrown out. Despite this, Sidney can still smell the mold on the young man's personal effects.
They resume their talk the next night, and he notices Hawkeye makes repeated references to water--"swimming in cold sweat", etc. Sidney is convinced that there's some long dormant "time bomb" in Hawkeye's mind, and something has set it off.
Hawkeye mentions an older cousin named Billy, whom Hawkeye calls "The older brother I never had."
Sidney also notices that when Hawkeye mentions Billy, he makes a fist and begins banging it on the IV stand. But, soon enough, Hawkeye remembers a time when Billy pushed Hawkeye into a pond, as a joke, then pulled him out. The young Hawkeye was so hurt that the cousin he loved so much would do something like that that he altered the memory, telling himself that he fell into the pond accidentally.
This realization breaks Hawkeye down, reducing him to tears. He admits loving Billy, but also deeply, deeply hating him for doing that. His feelings of betrayal were so strong that he simply couldn't deal with the reality, so all the young Hawkeye could do was meekly thank Billy for saving his life.
Sidney concludes it was the smell of moldy water that set Hawkeye off. Soon after, they both notice Hawkeye isn't sneezing anymore.
Later, Hawkeye, Sidney, and the rest play cards. Sidney sneezes, causing Hawkeye to place a big bet. When Sidney wins the hand, he warns Hawkeye not to fall for "That old fake sneezing trick."
Fun Facts: I like every episode that features Sidney Freedman, but this one seems a little less effective in retrospect, when you know that the storyline--Hawkeye repressing a memory that causes him mental and physical harm--will essentially be repeated in the final episode.
Favorite Line: Margaret sends Father Mulcahy into the men's showers with a sure-fire cure for Hawkeye's sneezing. B.J. is there, with his own cure, and he and Hawkeye argue over what will work. Margaret opens the door to the shower a crack and yells: "Make sure he uses all of it!"