Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Episode 229 - Pressure Points

Season 10, Episode 229: Pressure Points
Original Air Date: 2/15/82
Written by: David Pollock & Elias Davis

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

While Col. Potter is on a visit to the 8063rd, a patient of his develops further problems, requiring Hawkeye to perform another surgery.

Potter returns, and is troubled at the news that Hawkeye had to do "mop-up work" on one of his patients. Turns out Potter missed a small piece of shrapnel which then dislodged itself, causing the need for the second surgery.

Potter's mood is further darkened when another patient inadvertently insults him, wondering why he is being transferred when his buddy--Potter's patient--isn't, even though they have the same wounds.

Later, during a lecture in Potter's office from a Captain regarding a new piece of extremely destructive artillery, Potter explodes at him, wondering why, if they can create better and nastier weapons, why can't they find a way to stop "this stupid war?"

That night, Sidney Freedman arrives, saying he's on a fact-finding mission regarding stress. He makes his way over to Col. Potter's tent, and we find out that it was Potter who called Sidney. Sidney is surprised to learn this.

Potter shares with him that, lately, he's been "a lot less perfect than I can accept" regarding his surgical skills. He's worried that...

At that point, Potter's voice trails off, and he insists that nothing's really wrong, he just needed to vent a little. Sidney is dubious, but Potter says that all he needed was to talk. Sidney goes back to the Swamp.

The next day, in the Mess Tent, it doesn't take much to set Potter off--he snaps at the cook for the lousy food, barks at Klinger, and then really hits the roof at Hawkeye when he learns that he authorized the release of Potter's patient now that he's well.

Meanwhile, Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester have been having an ongoing feud about their personal cleanliness habits--Winchester deciding to out-slob his roommates, using B.J.'s knife to slice onions, eating raw sardines, etc.

It all comes to a boil, leading the three of them to start destroying parts of the Swamp, so much so it starts to draw a crowd. Potter gets wind of this, but, instead of blowing his stack, he asks Klinger order Winchester a new pillow.

He asks Sidney to meet him back in his tent, and then he admits what's really wrong: he's deeply worried that he's lost his touch as a surgeon, and the idea of incoming wounded fills him with terror. He tells Sidney the story of how he decided to become a surgeon: as a boy, he watched as his veterinarian uncle perform a live-saving operation, and bask in the glory of what lays inside the human body. Since that day, all he ever wanted was to become a surgeon.

Sidney is comforting, reminding Potter that of course someday he will get too old to be a surgeon--but right now, he's letting the fear of failing take over, and whether or not that affects him is purely under Potter's control.

Wounded arrive, and before cutting into his first patient, Potter takes a deep breath, and begins. He seems to be his old self again.

Later, the 4077th has a contest, raising money for the orphanage, over who gets to shave the still-sloppy Winchester. Potter wins, and, holding the razor in his hand, is as steady as a rock.

Fun Facts: This is Season Ten's unofficial "Angry Potter" episode.

The syndicated version of this episode removes Potter's fantastic speech about the moment he knew he wanted to be a surgeon--easily the best scene in the show! Whoever did the editing really cut the guts out of this particular episode.

Favorite Line: Sidney sees Winchester, unshaven, slovenly, and eating raw sardines, and acts surprised at this change of behavior. Winchester insists "Naw, you're seeing the real me."

Sidney: "I'm sorry to hear that."


What the Parrot Saw said...

This may be the best of the 'angry Potter' episodes (I like to see him angry, actually, don't know why! He's great mellow, too).

I agree with Rob!s contention that his dialogue cut out of syndication is one of best moments in the episode. This man, like the other doctors, was a doctor's doctor- one of my favorite things about the series was its characters commitment to excellence under trying conditions.

His anger at the meeting is also really sharp. He veers into Hawkeye "this damn war!" territory ;-) in his dialogue, but Morgan really puts it on here! He even has an angry lilt in his voice that makes for arresting viewing.

Russell said...

Another episode I don't think I've ever actually seen....
I certainly don't remember an unshaven, boorish Winchester.

Radar Hat said...

If this, in fact, really is the best angry Potter episode, I think it's because the anger is being driven by fear.

A good, deeper look at Potter - not just his usual straight man\father figure to the rest of the cast.

(no longer anonymous)

Anonymous said...

the swamp situation i found really appealing. Winchester who we've known to be able to outwit the others, really brings the heat. He takes BJ and Hawkeye's messiness and throws it right back at which they cant stand (as BJ yells)...smooth move by winchester... BTW could you imagine such a thing with Frank?

Mike said...

The tit-for-tat scene in the Swamp is (IMO, anyway) very reminiscent of old Laurel and Hardy films like "Big Business".

And speaking of the Swamp, I'd never noticed this before but if you look closely you can see Christmas cards adorning the walls behind their bunks. This in an episode that aired in February (and, by all appearances, takes place in spring or summer)!

Donald said...

We learn that Potter is 62 in this episode. Although in an episode of AfterMash it reveals he's 60. So the MASH continuity seems to mix his age up to fit his past or current appearance.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

There has been inconsistency regarding Potter's age-he says he's 62 in this episode (in real life Harry Morgan was 67 at the time.) He also tells Radar when he first comes to the 4077th that he joined the Cavalry as a teenager during WW1, but that would have made him at least ten years younger. On the other hand, he mentions having served with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders and knowing Harry Truman when he was younger.

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