Hawkeye (Alan Alda) has a troubling moment when a nurse he was involved with is killed by a landmine, and he realizes as he prepares her eulogy, that he didn’t know anything about her.
Written by Elias Davis and David Pollock Who Knew? first aired on 22 November, 1982. While Klinger (Jamie Farr) pesters Charles (David Ogden Stiers) about becoming business partners on this new craze, a hula hoop, Hawkeye wrestles with the realization that not only did he not know the nurse that well, but that she cared for him more than he knew.
This death forces Hawk into some self-examination even as he discovers more about her. His eulogy ends up being profoundly poignant and allows him to express himself more completely to his friends than he ever has before.
It’s just a sad fact of life that it usually takes a death for us to recognize and talk about how important the people in our lives are.
Klinger’s business scheme definitely brings some lighthearted chuckles to this emotional episode, and it truly looks like it affects everyone. Eleven seasons in the show really knows how to balance the emotions and themes of its stories, and of course, knowing the characters for eleven seasons now, these moments really resonate.
Bombshells was written by Thad Mumford and Dan Wilcox and first aired on 29 November, 1982. Somehow (side-eyes Hawkeye) a rumor gets started that Marilyn Monroe is coming to visit the 4077th because they saved the life of her cousin who was wounded.
Of course, the rumor not only makes it around the camp but to higher brass as well, leading to a number of complications that Hawkeye and his cohort in the scheme, Charles, need to resolve before it blows up in their faces.
It’s goofy and fun, and once again balances the tougher storyline that centers on B.J. (Mike Farrell).
It seems a chopper pilot is going to take B.J. out fishing and they’re raring to go, but the war gets in the way. They are able to rescue one soldier, but B.J. is forced to cut the rope that would have saved another soldier when the chopper starts taking fire.
The moment haunts him, and he ransacks all the nearby MASH units to learn if, somehow, this soldier made it back to an aid station. To complicate matters, the pilot puts B.J. in for a medal because of his actions. This does not sit well with B.J. at all, and he is forced to truly confront the horrible choices in war, and wonder about his own position in it.
Smart storytelling and a strong message.
The final episode this week is Settling Debts. and while there’s a b-story involving a wounded young lieutenant played by Jeff East, the crux of the story centers around Potter (Harry Morgan).
Written by Mumford and Wilcox, it first debuted on 6 December, 1982. Hawkeye receives a letter from Potter’s wife, Mildred, who lets the surgeon know that she has saved and scrimped and paid off the rest of the mortgage on the house, and could she throw her husband a mortgage burning party now that the house is completely theirs.
Potter is confused over why Mildred would write to Hawkeye and when he questions Hawk and B.J. they haven’t quite got their story straight yet and a comedy of errors come into play that work to keep Potter distracted and busy (not to mention unable to reach Mildred) until the unit can throw the party for him.
It’s just a fun and enjoyable episode that lets Potter shine for a moment, and lets the rest of the cast have great moments as they attempt to fool Potter until the reveal.
I still can’t believe this is the last season, but I’ll back next week with a few more episodes of M*A*S*H!