Sunday, December 27, 2009

Episode 241 - Bombshells

Season 11, Episode 241: Bombshells
Original Air Date: 11/28/82
Written by: Dan Wilcox & Thad Mumford

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

B.J. is thrilled to have the day off, and plans to spend it with a chopper pliot friend fishing.

While on their way to the lake, they spot a wounded solider laying in the brush. They land, load him onto one of the pads, and head back home. But on the way back, they spot another wounded G.I. With no place to land, the chopper pilot has B.J. lower a rope down to the wounded man, and they'll carry him off to a clearer spot.

But the G.I. is too weak to get the rope around him securely, so B.J. prepares to climb down and do it. Just as he begins to get out, snipers start firing on the chopper. One bullet hits the oil cooler, sending black smoke spilling out. The pilot says that the extra weight is too much and they can't take off. He demands B.J. cut the rope, which B.J. protests, saying the young man will be killed if they leave him behind.

The pilot insists, saying they'll all be killed if they stay where they are. B.J., panicking, cuts the rope, and the wounded solider falls to the ground. The chopper takes off, and heads back to the 4077. B.J. is haunted by what he's done, and he tries to find out if any of the other wounded know who that young man was. But no one seems to know.

Before the chopper pilot leaves, he commends B.J. for trying to save the guy, telling him he put B.J. in for a medal. He tries calling I-Corps to find out if the 8063rd has reported any wounded matching the wounded soldier, but they are no help. Col. Potter asks B.J. about the medal, but B.J. is tight-lipped and only asks that Potter stop the medal from going forward, which Potter agrees to, a tad confused.

B.J. heads to the 8063rd himself to see if the young man is there, but he has no luck. He makes it back to the 4077th just in time to catch the giant welcoming celebration for Marilyn Monroe, who everyone believes is coming to visit. After its clear that Marilyn isn't coming, a visiting General (Gerald O'Laughlin) goes ahead with awarding B.J. with a medal for bravery. B.J. grimly accepts it, wandering off towards the Swamp after the party breaks up.

Hawkeye follows him, and B.J. admits how disgusted he is with himself: he has always considered himself anti-authority, anti-war, and "oh-so superior" to those "military fools who kill each other." But he realizes that, in that moment in the chopper, he was everything he thought he wasn't. Hawkeye tries to comfort him, but it doesn't work.

Hawkeye is called away by a patient, who miraculously recovers when he overheard that Marilyn Monroe was coming to the 4077th. B.J. gives the young man his Bronze Star, and when asked what he did to deserve the citation, B.J. says, "Its a little something we give you for getting out of here with your butt in one piece."

Fun Facts: The B-plot involving Marilyn Monroe supposedly visiting the 4077th gets started by Hawkeye and Winchester, and it quickly snowballs completely out of control. Hawkeye has a whole bit where he calls Marilyn's movie studio pretending to be Ted Williams, and has to rely on Winchester for faking he's from Massachusetts. A great bit of phone comedy, ala Bob Newhart.

Favorite Line: B.J.'s scene with Hawkeye, where he faces up to what he did, is fantastic. He mocks his and Hawkeye's superior attitude to all things military, and then concludes with: "Good luck, pal, I hope you can keep it up...the minute I cut that rope they made me a soldier."


Radar Hat said...

"..the minute I cut that rope, they made me a soldier."

One of the best B.J. scenes, in one of the best B.J. episodes. This is a perfect example of how the show was still very strong and very deep, even after 11 years.
Great story.

Anonymous said...

Of all the show's main characters, B.J. is the one I worry most about in terms of the effect the war has on him and what kind of postwar life he has.

I'd like to think that Beej *doesn't* become a chronic depressive, bitter alcoholic, or whatever, after returning to Mill Valley. I sometimes can't help wondering, though.

What the Parrot Saw said...

I agree: one suspects that for all the attention given Hawkeye, that BJ might well have gone off the rails back stateside despite (or because of) Peg and Erin.

Sadly, much research into returning Veterans (Vietnam, Iraq) bears this out. Some find that they could not relate to their families as they had before they left for the front- these soldiers were not necessarily 'damaged'- they were just changed.

Could this be why BJ was so reluctant to say goodbye to Hawk in the finale? It seems callous (and their final exchange certainly pulls no punches as to the depths of feeling between the two characters) but I wonder if BJ's inability to SAY "goodbye" is emblematic of his own difficulty in both leaving Korea and returning Stateside. Not uncommon.

Unknown said...

One small correction to your excellent review: BJ was awarded the bronze start, not a purple heart.

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