Thursday, December 10, 2009

Episode 230 - Where There's A Will, There's A War

Season 10, Episode 230: Where There's A Will, There's A War
Original Air Date: 2/22/82
Written by: David Pollock & Elias Davis

Directed by: Alan Alda

A Battalion Aid surgeon is killed, so an emergency request for a temporary replacement surgeon is sent to the 4077th. Normally it would be B.J.'s turn, but since he is off in Seoul for an afternoon of R&R, Potter sends Hawkeye.

Hawkeye arrives, and the situation is so grim that, in a rare moment of quiet, he decides to sit in a corner and write out his will.

In a series of flashbacks, and using a voice over by Hawkeye, we see moments involving him and the other at the 4077th which relate to the items Hawkeye is bequeathing to them.

Hawkeye starts off leaving everything to his father, with the exception of a few items. He starts with B.J., but at first can't think of what he wants to say. So he moves onto Winchester, leaving him his purple robe--purple being the color of royalty.

He leaves Father Mulcahy a nickel, a reference to the time Mulcahy got away with getting revenge on a careless General by ruining the General's elegant meal--the General promising that Mulcahy's life wouldn't be worth "a plugged nickel" if he wasn't a priest.

He leaves Margaret his pair of funny nose and glasses, a reminder of her all-too-hidden silly side. With Col. Potter, he recalls a conversation he had with him a week after Potter transferred to the 4077th and they talked about fishing. Hawkeye leaves him his father's copy of Last of the Mohicans.

To Klinger, he leaves his beloved Hawaiian shirt. We see a flashback about the time Klinger handed Hawkeye an issue of Life that had a huge article on Maine, which delighted Hawkeye. Klinger, in a true act of generosity,
traded a giant hunk of Lebanese salami for it, but didn't tell Hawkeye that.

Hawkeye is allowed to go back home, and he arrives in the middle of the night. Coming back to the Swamp, he takes notice of the picture of B.J.'s family and gets an idea--he goes to Potter's office and composes a letter to Erin Hunnicutt, with a list of all the men her father worked on while in Korea, so she has some idea of what her father was doing while he was away.

Fun Facts: I really love this episode, the flashback sequences are extremely well executed--the lack of laugh track really helps make them feel real.

That said, like Season Eight's "Dreams" episode, it might have been nice to see the return of Trapper, Henry, Frank, or even Radar, since any of them could have been worked into the flashback framework.

Favorite Line: When Hawkeye packs up to leave, the Battalion Aid surgeon (Dennis Howard) asks, "Did you finish your will?"

Hawkeye responds without thinking, "All but my best friend." He pauses. "How did you know I was writing my will?"

The surgeon responds, "I've seen a lot of those written here."


Anonymous said...

This episode is a good example of how the show, while very different from the early years, was still excellent. The idea that someone could be so shaken that they sit down and write their will is an interesting concept.

Also, I'm not really a huge fan of some of the Hawkeye-centric episodes, but this one works perfectly.


Russell said...

Wow, this one sounds good, too. I guess I need to get to my library and borrow Season 10. Hmmm....

What the Parrot Saw said...

Very much Hawkeye, but his choices in which personal effects he leaves to the others are inspired. The individual scenes are sweet, very much speaking to the community ethos this series has long established.

While I'm not surprised that Alda directed this, I'd always assumed he'd written in- it has all his hallmarks- dry details that demonstrate the quirkiness of the staff (from a main actor's POV).

One that rewards repeated viewings. Margaret and his tired jokes in the supply tent are a gem- they almost read like a parody of the (occasionally) punny humor of the first seasons. My favorite scene here.

Russell said...

I just watched this and I think it was for the first time, as I really don't remember this. I enjoyed it very much. Hawkeye has to be the center, but it's a center surrounded by equals, and it works. My favorite bit is the part where Hawkeye realizes that Klinger made a deal for him to get that LIFE magazine for him, and he breaks into a huge grin. Great.

Also kudos to Mike Farrell for leading the rest of the cast in anxiety. My favorite exchange is when Hawkeye comes back and BJ dreamily says, "remind me to kiss you when I wake up," and Hawkeye replies, "You're dreaming."
That really shows how close these guys were.

Great episode!!!

Dave said...

when in the entire series did Hawkeye ever show interest in fishing??? but there have a scene here with Potter where Hawkeye loves fishing. does not ring true. Mash was guilty of inventing backstories in the last years like that where there has never been any evidence of in earlier years.

Alastair said...

It's surely astonishing that Hawkeye hasn't already written a will - what with working in a war zone...

I would have thought that the army would sit everyone down and have them write a will as part of their training.

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