Friday, October 30, 2009

Episode 195 - The Best of Enemies

Season 9, Episode 195: The Best of Enemies
Original Air Date: 11/17/80
Written by: Sheldon Bull

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

Hawkeye has a 24-hour pass, so he climbs in a jeep headed for Seoul. He's so excited he can barely contain himself (keeping B.J. awake with his gleeful singing). His mood is brightened even more when Klinger delivers a letter from Hawkeye's father, including a picture of Crabapple Cove, which he tucks into his pocket.

Col. Potter also gets a letter, from his wife Mildred, celebrating her win at a Missouri Bridge tournament. Winchester mocks the whole idea, not even bothering to conceal his lack of respect for Mildred's skills. This, of course, angers Potter, and he challenges Winchester to a bridge tournament.

Meanwhile, on the way to Seoul, Hawkeye's jeep breaks down, and while he tries to get it started again, a North Korean solider (Mako), armed to the teeth, emerges out of the bushes and demands--through a series of grunts and gestures, since he speaks no English--that Hawkeye come with him, and bring his medical bag.

Back at the 4077th, Winchester tries to get Margaret to partner with him for the tournament, but Potter has beaten him to her. Winchester then turns to B.J., who extracts all kinds of favors in return--including, most importantly to B.J.--12 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Winchester, through gritted teeth, agrees.

Hawkeye is led by the solider to their destination: an unconscious, wounded North Korean solider, who the other one demands Hawkeye keep alive. Hawkeye examines the wounded man, and sees that he has serious wounds in his head and chest.

Without any way to communicate, its impossible for Hawkeye to explain that the chest wound, which looks worse to the untrained eye, isn't really the problem--its the head wound, and without the right instruments, there's not much Hawkeye can do.

The armed soldier shows Hawkeye a picture of himself and the young man and some others, indicating they are family or at least close friends. Hawkeye retorts by showing him the picture of his father back in Crabapple Cove.

Hawkeye works on the chest wound, knowing it won't do much good. When the wounded man starts having trouble breathing, he asks the other to drop his gun and help out. When the man doesn't understand, Hawkeye grabs the rifle in a rage and tosses it away, dragging the man to the ground so he can hold his friend down while Hawkeye tries to get air into his lungs.

Back at the 4077th, the bridge tournament becomes a contest of egos. The teams go from Winchester/B.J. vs. Potter/Margaret to Winchester/Margaret vs. Potter/B.J., before breaking down to Winchester/Potter vs. B.J/Margarget. Because of their outsized egos, its B.J. and Margaret who end up winning in an upset.

Hawkeye continues to struggle with his patient, but its no use--the young man dies. The other man picks up his rifle, and gestures for Hawkeye to leave.

Hawkeye begins to walk away, but he looks back and see the other man digging a grave for his friend, having only his knife to loosen the ground. Hawkeye walks back and, using his helmet, joins the man in scooping out the dirt. They look at each other for a moment, in total silence, then resume their digging.

Fun Facts: This is the first episode of the ninth season. The arrangement of the show's theme, "Suicide is Painless", is a little different this time--to my (very)untrained musical ear, it sounds like there's a little horn it in it this time.

Another guest turn by Mako--this was his fourth and last appearance on the show.

Favorite Line: Winchester delivers B.J.'s victory breakfast, casually dropping the tray onto his bunk: "The eggs are crisp and brown, and the bacon is yellow and runny. May you gag on every bite."


Russell said...

I remember disliking season eight very much, and not wanting to really make the effort to watch season 9. However, I saw this episode in its perfect blend of comedy and drama, and I thought, OK, this show can still be not only good but great.

My favorite line is at the end when Charles sees Hawkeye back in his bunk exhausted after his experience with the North Koreans. He says something snide about Hawkeye's debauchery, and only we know that his exhaustion has nothing to do with his leave.

What the Parrot Saw said...

Mako is great here, as we've come to expect. I agree with Russell that the mix of humor and drama here is seamless. In fact, Hawk's scenes with Mako's character remain strong and moving. Great script and directing and the scene in which the N. Korean and Hawk share the burial duties with the tools at hand is touching.

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