Recap / M*A*S*H S1 E16: The Ringbanger

Hawkeye and Trapper conspire to take down a colonel, Buzz Brighton, who has accumulated twice as many casualties while only gaining as much as half of the ground, marking the first of several such attempts from Hawkeye. In an effort to achieve this, they convince him that Frank Burns is a crossdresser and that Henry Blake is an alcoholic who is having a sordid affair with the promiscuous Margaret Houlihan. These stories achieve the purpose of rendering Hawkeye and Trapper the only two people in camp Buzz can be sure are trustworthy. A little manipulation and some conveniently timed events add some apparent proof to these claims. For example, when Buzz is drinking with them in the Swamp, they leave a pair of gold high heeled shoes by Frank's bed. Later, Frank tries to check Buzz's leg to see if it is healing properly, and he is rebuffed by Buzz, who suspects that he has romantic or sexual intentions. When Margaret becomes suspicious, Hawkeye and Trapper tell her that Buzz is suffering from low self-esteem and heavily imply that he needs intimate contact with a woman to prove that he is still a man. While he is alone with Margaret, they get Henry Blake very drunk and give him a pistol (telling him that he needs to undertake an arms proficiency test) and arrange for him to walk in on the two of them and encourage an angry, drunken response.

Throughout the episode, they undertake more subtle measures to try to convince him that, among these people he cannot trust, he is going mad. Such measures include switching his tent, leaving him confused about whether it has been there the whole time, and telling him to drink his glass of milk that he so fervently asked for, despite his never having asked for a glass of milk (someone offscreen is seen sneaking the glass of milk onto his desk when his back is turned). At the end, convinced that there must be something wrong with him, Buzz is shipped back stateside.

Attention, all hands! Remember to drink your milk as you review the following tropes:

  • Affably Evil: Buzz Brighton.
    Trapper: A what banger?
    Hawkeye: Didn't you see the way he kept banging his ring on the chair?
    Trapper: Yeah.
    Hawkeye: A little reminder that he's a quarterback in this war and we're just waterboys.
    Trapper: I got a feeling he wouldn't be so tall if he wasn't standing on so many bodies.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Henry Blake
  • The Alcoholic: Hawkeye and Trapper exaggerate on Henry's drinking habits to scare Brighton into staying at the camp and away from the front.
  • Alliterative Name: Colonel Buzz Brighton
  • Celebrity Lie: Real-life celebrity actor Leslie Nielsen as the famous Colonel Buzz Brighton.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Hawkeye notices Margaret is overawed by meeting Colonel Brighton.
      Hawkeye: Careful, major. Somebody's liable to trip over your tongue.
    • Henry and Frank trade blows over the colonel possibly cutting his skin.
      Henry: Is there any blood?
      Frank: Oh, for Pete's sake, sir. You're a doctor.
      Henry: Listen, Frank. I could paint a barn with someone else's blood. I just can't stand to see my own.
    • Frank tells Hawkeye to stop telling stories and to mind his own business while they're in the officers' showers. Hawkeye lampshades Frank's fierce rubbing of soap over his head, shoulders and chest as he was ranting.
      Hawkeye: Take it easy, Frank. You're working yourself into a lather.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Colonel Brighton is led to believe Frank is this.
  • Gaslighting: How Colonel Brighton becomes convinced he has battle fatigue.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Hawkeye uses Frank's jealous tendencies to his advantage.
  • Malaproper: Buzz Brighton gets mixed up on words in his final scene.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Brighton's view about war. His view of this are later referenced by Radar when going over his records.
    Radar: And will you look at this? He's racked up twice as many casualties as any other regimental commander while only gaining half the ground.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Hawkeye makes an off-hand remark that General Patton was often found sobbing inside his tank.
  • Noodle Incident: During his stay at the 4077, there was an offscreen moment where Colonel Brighton, Hawkeye and Trapper filled a bucket with gin and went bobbing for olives.
  • Pun: Henry when he is told he has to practice with his revolver at night and get a $325 pistol allowance.
    Henry: For money like that, I guess I can take a shot in the dark.
  • Shout-Out: Henry drunkenly sings a few bars of "Home on the Range".
    Henry: Where the deer and the antelope play. Where seldom is heard... a discouraging word...
  • Shower Scene: Relax, it's got nothing to do with murder.
  • Speak in Unison: Margaret is trying to help soothe Buzz's issues when Frank comes a-knocking at the door.
    Frank: Colonel? It's Frank Burns.
    Buzz/Margaret: [quietly] Why can't he leave me alone?
    Frank: Colonel?
    Margaret/Buzz: Don't say I'm here.
  • Special Guest: Leslie Nielsen.
  • Title Drop: Hawkeye as he begins to describe the kind of man Brighton really is.