Monday, December 7, 2009

Episode 227 - A Holy Mess

Season 10, Episode 227: A Holy Mess
Original Air Date: 2/1/82
Written by: David Pollock & Elias Davis

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

A G.I. wanders into the Mess Tent and sits down next to Hawkeye and B.J. He seems nervous and sullen, so they ask him if he wants to talk. He's reticent at first, but when they invite him back to the Swamp for drinks he accepts.

The young man, named Nick Gillis (Cyril O'Reilly) opens up to Hawkeye and B.J. He admits that he's AWOL, and then tells them why: he just found out from a friend that his wife has had a baby--even though he's been in Korea over a year.

Hawkeye and B.J. try and gently suggest that Gillis go talk to Father Mulcahy, which he agrees to--but not until he's gotten some sleep. Without another word, he passes out on a cot, sound asleep.

The next morning, Gillis agrees to talk to Father Mulcahy after the Sunday services, and he assumes that Hawkeye and B.J. are going, too. Afraid to turn him down, they reluctantly tag along.

During the service, Gillis' commander, Lt. Spears (David Graf) steps in and demands that Gillis come with him. Gillis refuses, and, grasping, claims he has a right to Sanctuary, since he is, in effect, inside a church.

Father Mulcahy agrees with Gillis' point of view, and grants him Sanctuary. Col. Potter is dubious, but goes along with Mulcahy until he can get further instructions from command.

He and Lt. Spears calls the Judge Advocate General. In the meantime, Mulcahy and Gillis get to know each other. He tries to show sympathy for Gillis, but warns him that, after thirty days, AWOL becomes Desertion.

Eventually, the JAG rules against Mulcahy. But Mulcahy still won't relent, saying he will only follow the advice of Command Chaplain at I-Corps. Lt. Spears can't believe what he's hearing, and insults Mulcahy, which Potter angrily slaps down.

Tensions rise when the camp gets impatient over the fresh eggs--a rare treat--they were promised (courtesy a local farmer) don't arrive because the Mess Tent is busy with Mulcahy and Gillis. Potter puts Hawkeye and B.J. in charge of calming the angry mob down. After a few moments of panic, they announce that the eggs will be served outside--dining in the great outdoors!

Word from the Command Chaplain arrives, and he agrees with the Army--the Mess Tent is not a church, therefore no Sanctuary. But Mulcahy still disagrees.

Lt. Spears has had enough, and sends in some MPs to get Gillis. Gillis panics, and grabs his rifle, preparing to fire. Mulcahy gutsily grabs it, knocking the barrel into the air. The gun goes off, causing everyone to hit the dirt (where the eggs get knocked over), and Gillis ends up pointing it at Mulcahy.

Mulcahy is aghast, and stares Gillis down, eventually getting him to give up the gun. He does, and collapses into tears in Mulcahy's arms.

Later, we learn that Gillis is being seen by Sidney Freedman, and he's "being treated like a casualty, not a criminal."

Fun Facts: A pretty solid performance by Cyril O'Reilly--the moment he explodes with anger at B.J. when he and Hawkeye miss the subtext of what he's saying (he's been in Korea over a year, yet his wife just gave birth) is palpably tense.

Favorite Line: Gillis asks Hawkeye and B.J., "You guys married?"

Hawkeye: "No, its just that we've been through so much together that it looks that way."


Anonymous said...

Lucky to u........................................

Russell said...

I only barely remember most of these recent episodes, but this one I remember distinctly for its drama and its star turn for WC. This is a GREAT episode.

What the Parrot Saw said...

An excellent serious episode- one of the final seasons' best. The serious plots are by now reliably good (if a little heavy at times) but the performances here are terrific and Cyril O'Reilly's Gillis is genuinely gutsy. His falling into Mulcahy's arms after brandishing his weapon brings a lump to my throat.

William Christopher is just a tad pious at times- until Gillis pulls a gun in the mess tent. His shock and anger is one of his best moments. Christopher had already come into his own by now, but this scene ranks among his very best.

The subplot with the fresh eggs is a promising idea, and nicely done, but it in the end it pales against the drama in the main plot.

Russell said...

I just re-watched this episode, and I agree with Parrot...William Christopher really handles the drama when he stands Gillis down. I also really like how Col Potter yells at Gillis' CO re: Father Mulcahy. Nice supporting work there by Harry Morgan.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

Those poor eggs!

Anonymous said...

I admired Mulcahy's gall here, even after 2 strikes, adimately stands in defense of Gillis. Awesome moment and really brought a good point. I think we forget the trouble Mulcahy had with performing as a Priest during a war to the point that the mess tent was the church...

Robert Gross said...

Another perfect episode title. Right up there with "The Smell of Music" and "38 Across."

(I don't mean to sound condescending, but I'm not sure how obvious the joke of "38 Across" is? A referenece to a crossword puzzle and to the 38th Parallel? Very, very clever.)

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