Thursday, March 5, 2009

Episode 5 - The Moose

Season 1, Episode 5: The Moose
Original Air Date: 10/15/72
Written by: Laurence Marks
Directed by: Hy Averback

Hawkeye and Trapper are incensed when they see that a visiting Sergeant is accompanied by a "moose", a local term for a slave. This Sgt. Baker bought the young girl, named Young Hi, from her family to work as his helper. Baker underlines his lack of humanity when he refers to Young Hi as a "gook", a word Hawkeye demands never be uttered in front of him again.

Hawkeye and Trapper do some investigating, and via Radar and Ho-John they find out how Young Hi ended up as Baker's moose. They suggest reporting him to his commanding officer, but Henry points out that won't do much good--Baker's C.O. has a moose of his own.

They decide to set a trap for Baker, by having him play in a poker game where Radar is letting Hawkeye know what cards Baker is holding. Baker ends up hugely in debt to Hawkeye, who offers to call of the debt if he frees Young Hi. Baker reluctantly agrees and leaves camp.

They then send Ho-John to find her family. In the meantime, they work on teaching Young Hi to be a confident, poised young woman, who does not need to constantly be deferential to others. They teach her English beyond the few cliches she's learned, how to be more confident, even getting her to help out in Post Op. She also acts as a personal assistant Hawkeye--old habits die hard.

Young Hi's younger brother--a little, smooth-talking punk named Benny--arrives to take Young Hi back, and says they'll be able to get even more money for her now that she's been educated. Hawkeye and Trapper, after threatening to get on their knees and punch the little shrimp in the nose, try to convince Young Hi she doesn't have to do what her family demands, but she leaves with Benny anyway.

But after a few minutes, she returns to The Swamp, telling Hawkeye and Trapper she told Benny to shove off!

Later, we learn that Young Hi has moved on to a Buddhist monestary, in a letter she wrote to Hawkeye and Trapper, thanking them for their help.

Hawkeye, Trapper, and Spearchucker are happy they've been able to show Young Hi a better life, and Hawkeye muses he misses the good shaves Young Hi used to give. Trapper and Spearchucker respond by roughhousing Hakweye and shoving him into The Swamp.

Fun Facts: This episode features that racial slur, the first time I ever heard that word. I was too young to really know what it meant, but seeing Hawkeye's revulsion towards it told me all I needed to know.

Like they did in the pilot, Hawkeye, Trapper, et al, get away with doing something bad--cheating--in the service of a good cause.

This episode is the first of many examples showing that while the members of the 4077th are, by and large, an upstanding, hardworking bunch, there are those in the U.S. Army--"the good guys"--who are not so savory. I mean, this Baker guy bought a human being, for Pete's sake--being kicked off camp was a pretty light punishment, when you think about it.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye grabs a dangling, unlit cigarette out of Benny's mouth:

Hawkeye: "You'll get this back when you're fifty."


Luke said...

I believe this episode also contains a line a like, where Young Hi writes Trapper and Hawkeye a letter telling them about working with a Catholic missionary, but that despite what the sister thinks "I am Buddhist person."

I may have that one wrong though.

rob! said...


yeah, that's this episode. a funny line!

Rob As Well said...

That boy Benny is one of my favorite of the fast-talking Korean kids that pop up throughout the series.His clothes, everything is just right! What an operator.

Robert Gross said...

This episode illustrates the changing march of history and its standards. Because as progressive as it was for its time, it strikes me as subtly racist by today's standards, in that it suggests that Asians are not capable of knowing how to be fully autonomous people until white foreigners come and teach them. This episode always makes me a little uncomfortable when I see it for that reason.

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