Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Episode 171 - Are You Now, Margaret?

Season 8, Episode 171: Are You Now, Margaret?
Original Air Date: 9/24/79
Written by: Thad Mumford and Dan Wilcox

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

The 4077th is visited by the aide of a congressman, a man named R. Theodore Williamson (Lawrence Pressman), who says he has arrived to look into the unit and its people, ostensibly for the congressman to see how the war effort can be strengthened. Potter thinks its just grandstanding for the congressman to win re-election, but he gives his permission for Willamson to ask around.

He talks to Margaret, and then moves on to Hawkeye and B.J., trying his best to avoid Klinger, who is busy snapping pictures of everyone in an attempt to win a contest for Stars and Stripes.

Williamson's questions start out about the equipment the 4077th uses, but they quickly turn to the staff, asking about people's attitudes and their behavior. Hawkeye and B.J., less than interested, foist him towards Winchester, who in the Mess Tent bores Williamson to tears by telling him endless stories about life in Boston.

Hawkeye, B.J., Father Mulcahy, and Margaret compare notes, and they all have had the same experience, with Williamson asking personal questions about the staff.

Hawkeye and B.J. go to Williamson and ask him directly what he's in Korea for. Williamson at first puts them off, but then quickly grows serious and asks to discuss the matter with them and Col. Potter.

In Potter's tent Williamson reveals what his true mission is: to gather evidence about a suspected communist in the unit--Major Margaret Houlihan.

Back in Potter's office, Williamson confronts Margaret with the charges, who of course protests. Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter defend her, but Williamson won't listen, and insists that a former boyfriend of Margaret's in college, a man named Wally Chrichton--has been named as a subversive by HUAC.

Williamson then suggests that if Margaret is really as patriotic as she says she is, maybe she can offer up the names of some of Wally's friends? And if she refuses to do so, then she'll be ordered to testify in front of the committee. Williamson gives Margaret the choice, and leaves the office.

Later, in the Mess Tent, a despondent Margaret tearfully recalls the friends she and Wally had in college. She can't bring herself to offer them up to HUAC, but she also can't volunteer to testify, knowing just being there would destroy her life and embarrass her father. Overwhelmed, she hurries out.

That night, in the Officers Club, Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester try to defend Margaret to Williamson, and unsubtly drops hints that Margaret--aka "Hot Lips"--is no communist; rather, she's a party girl. Williamson leaves.

He shows up at Margaret's tent, and Margaret answers dressed in a negligee. Williamson offers to help Margaret defend herself, and within moments he grabs her in a passionate embrace and kisses her.

Just at that moment, Klinger pops out of Margaret's clothes locker, camera in hand, and snaps a picture of the two of them.

Williamson, shocked, tries to figure out what's going on when Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester storm in. They tell him that they're going to send the picture to Williamson's wife if he keeps up this witch hunt.

Williamson accuses them all of blackmail, but of course he was willing to let Margaret go if she slept with him. Everyone is even more disgusted when he reveals that he would've prosecuted her anyway. Margaret, sputtering, yells, "You mean you were gonna...and then you were creep!"

Williamson, knowing when he's been beaten, storms out.

Later, everyone reads a copy of the new Stars and Stripes. Klinger's photo entry didn't win, but there is some good news: a story about Williamson's wife having an affair with the congressman! Apparently, the wife was driven to it, since she describes her husband as "Being married to his country first and me second."

Fun Facts: Everyone but Father Mulcahy is in the final scene, which has always bugged me a little. He should be there, since the scene is the follow-up to plot of the episode, not an unrelated bit.

Radar does not appear in this episode.

Favorite Line: Williamson asks Potter if he's heard of the congressman. Potter answers: "No, we don't get a lot of newspapers around here--the paper boy keeps throwing them in the minefield."


Dr. Eric said...

This one has one of my favorite, quintessential Hawkeye lines. When Williamson says that Margaret would be implying herself in the "Red Menace," Hawkeye slams the tables and seethes: "Don't tell us about the red menace, we're up to our ankles in it!" Pure Hawkeye!

What the Parrot Saw said...

A McCarthy/Red Scare episode was inevitable (notwithstanding Col. Flagg's appearances, if they count) but this has never really worked for me. To me, the shenanigans in Margaret's tent is not all that funny save for one brilliant line that Charles gets off:

Williamson: "you've all been duped!"
Charles: "What a coincidence: so have you!"

mark said...

For all Charles's pompousness, in the end he always did the right thing. I wonder if Frank Burns would have defended Margaret or wimped out in front of Williamson. Probably the latter - and there's no telling what dirt a crafty operative like Williamson would have had on "Ferret Face".

WestVirginiaRebel said...

MASH sort of skirted around the Red Scare that was taking place back home while the US was fighting Communists in Korea, but this was a good way for the characters to give it its comeuppance. It might have been more effective if Williamson wasn't a sleaze-it seems they got rid of him too easily, like they had other heels. Hawkeye's willingness to stand up to him was classic Hawkeye.

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