M*A*S*H (1979) – Hot Lips is Back in Town, C*A*V*E, and Rally ‘Round the Flagg, Boys

Houlihan’s (Loretta Swit) final divorce papers come through, and she gets a new perspective on her life, and what she wants to do with it in Hot Lips is Back in Town. Written by Larry Balmagia and Bernard Dilbert from a story by Dilbert and Gary Markowitz, this episode first debuted on 29 January, 1979.

Houlihan decides she wants to improve her nurses, and operating time by having the nurses conduct the triage, freeing up the doctors to jump right into the O.R. She’s so set on proving the idea that she’s already invited General Weiskopf (Walter Brooke) to conduct an inspection – without notifying Potter (Harry Morgan) first.

While that is going on, Radar (Gary Burghoff) finds himself falling for the new nurse in the 4077th (and who could blame him!), Nugent (Peggy Lee Brennan). Now if only he can find a way to talk to her, and maybe ask her out.

And Margaret Houlihan learns that she’s going to have to make her dreams work on her own, because she can’t trust some of the higher ranking officers in the military. Having said that, I love how her character has changed, she’s hanging out with Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and B.J. (Mike Farrell) on the regular now, and they actually seem like a loyal and friendly trio.

Such a great arc for her character, the way she’s grown – I mean admittedly, it’s episodic television so she can’t change a lot, but it’s there nonetheless.

C*A*V*E was written by Larry Balmagia and Ronny Graham and was first broadcast on 5 February, 1979.

The 4077th is inundated with wounded, and is getting shelled by both sides, which causes the entire unit to temporarily bug out and hide in a collection of nearby caves until it lets up. Unfortunately, that’s not gong to really work for Hawkeye… he’s claustrophobic.

As the camp struggles to look after their wounded, and keep them safe, Hawkeye and Houlihan sit at the cave’s edge as Hawkeye struggles with is fear, and Houlihan shares hers – which makes sense for her character, and we’ve seen it play out previously.

But I just love, as mentioned for the previously episode that there is an actual friendship between Hawkeye and Houlihan no matter how they snipe and banter with each other. I also like that once again, part of Hawkeye is being stripped away, showing that he really is just a flawed human being.

He and Houilhan have to confront their fears, when they have to get one of Hawk’s patients out of the cave, and back to the 4077th in the midst of the shelling to perform an emergency operation.

The final episode this week is Rally ‘Round the Flagg, Boys. It was directed by Harry Morgan and written by Mitch Markowitz, Edward Winter returned as Colonel Flagg on 14 February, 1979.

Flagg arrives in camp after he hears that Hawkeye operated on a wounded North Korean soldier before an injured American. While some of the patients are unhappy about that, and saw it as unpatriotic, the surgeons know that Hawkeye is chief surgeon and it’s his call on who gets priority.

Flagg, who has never cared for Hawk, sees this as proof that the surgeon is a commie, and is working to prove that, and oust Hawkeye once and for all.

It’s Charles (David Ogden Stiers) that saves the day however, when he goes toe to toe with Flagg and cons the Colonel with his own game, leading to a massive faux pas for the colonel, and lots of laughs for the 4077th.

We also see that B.J. may have an anger issue every now and again, even as he argues for rationalization and dialogue.

We’re coming up on the close of season seven, but I’ll keep re-upping for the 4077th as long as they’ll have me.

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