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Recap / M*A*S*H S11 E16: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen

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Three years, eleven seasons, three new doctors, one promoted company clerk, and 250 episodes later, M*A*S*H is coming to an end. The War is over, and it is time for the 4077th to leave Korea behind for good. But as the war begins to come to an end, everything is not well for all the members of the unit....


Tropes appearing in "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen":

  • Ambiguously Bi: They get one more non-gendered reference with Hawkeye impishly saying he loved as many as the camp as he could, with both female and male personnel laughing delighted.
  • Beneath the Mask: Instead of making everything about himself crowd-pleasing and accessible like he's done for the most series, Hawkeye lets the insanity and rants and bitter jokes fly after his final breakdown. It makes everyone deeply uncomfortable, even when he's back to functioning.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: Father Mulcahy, without hesitation, runs out to free the POWs from their cage when Potter mentions they are trapped in the line of fire.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Hawkeye and Margaret when they finally part ways. One of the longest ever put on television. It runs so long that Charles begins reading from a book and is several pages in by the end.
  • Call-Back: Several, as befitting a series finale.
    • Hawkeye attempts to compose a letter to his father while in the hospital.
    • Hawkeye notes that B.J. left the 4077 without even leaving Hawkeye a note — just like Trapper did.
    • In Season 4's "Hey Doc" Potter suggests parking a tank in the camp to chase off sniper fire. This time the tank that breaks down in the camp draws enemy fire.
    • Margaret and Charles argue again over whether Charles touched his nose during a surgical session.
      • Watch the MP who's by the door as Charles is working with his musicians at the time. He's making a valiant attempt not to laugh.
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    • Margaret still has Charles's copy of Sonnets from the Portuguese.
    • Colonel Potter references a practical joke in the OR at Charles's expense, which he now admits he only pretended to be angry about.
    • Hawkeye references B.J. nailing his boot to the floor.
    • B.J.'s love of motorcycles comes up again.
    • Sidney leaves the episode, and series, with a bit of doggerel he first uttered years earlier.
      Sidney: Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice: Pull down your pants and slide on the ice.
    • Hawkeye asks B.J. if he would hold him while he was dying or let him lie there and bleed, something Hawkeye was forced to do while Tommy lay dying in "Sometimes You Hear The Bullet". B.J. has no clue what he's talking about.
    • In a dose of cruel irony, Hawkeye delivered a baby on a bus in "Love and Marriage". This time he's the cause of a baby dying.
    • When Hawkeye is in surgery, fresh off a breakdown and another best friend leaving him, he sarcasm modes that he's doing "swimmingly", going back to the watery analogies from the "Bless You Hawkeye" trauma.
  • Cool Bike: B.J. commandeers one from a POW and paints it yellow.
  • Cool Car: Inverted. The only vehicle available for Charles to ride out of the 4077 is a filthy garbage truck. However, he notes with amusement that it's a fitting way to leave a garbage dump, and departs with his usual dignity completely intact.
    Charles: Gentlemen.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Literally: while Hawkeye managed to drive the tank out of the camp to stop the bombing, this prompts Potter to call for Sydney.
  • Death of a Child: This is what made Hawkeye completely break down. Not only did a woman smother her own baby to death, she did it to comply with Hawkeye's panicked demand for silence.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Sidney notes that, during Hawkeye's initial breakdown, Hawkeye accused a nurse of trying to smother a patient.
    • B.J. pays Hawkeye a visit in the mental ward. Everything starts out fine, but the second B.J. mentions his child, Hawkeye starts raving so badly that B.J. calls Sidney back into the room for help.
  • Finale Movie: A movie-length special that wraps up the series.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Klinger and Soon Lee.
  • Freudian Slip: Played for Drama. In his ramblings while under Sidney Freedman's care, Hawkeye frequently uses idioms or other phrases containing the word "bus" or "chicken". Sidney always notices.
  • Gaslighting: Hawkeye accuses Sidney and others of doing this to him, even referencing the movie Gaslight. They're not. He really has had a mental breakdown.
  • Grand Finale: The Trope Codifier. The finale. One so beloved that it broke records and stood at the top of the ratings and garnered the highest percentage of America's viewing audience in history when it aired. This was the first enormously influential series finale since The Fugitive, and this one was also so powerful that it helped to diminish the number of shows that would unceremoniously just stop running and never wrap up in full when they didn't want to make any more episodes. To this day it is the most watched single episode in US television history, only being surpassed in amount of viewers by Super Bowls...and even then it took them till 2010 to get one to do so.
  • Gut Punch: Tons, with the biggest ones being Father Mulcahy's hearing damage, the deaths of the musicians, and the slow and sad packing up of the 4077th for good.
  • Here We Go Again!: During the last operating session, the radio announcer mentions the possibility of funding being dedicated to supporting forces in South Vietnam.
  • I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: "... I'm staying in Korea." — Maxwell Q. Klinger
  • Inelegant Blubbering: When Hawkeye finally remembers the true account of what happened on the bus.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Hawkeye and B.J. give Potter a sincere military salute when bidding him goodbye.
  • Karmic Death: Inverted. The soldiers who surrendered to Charles were nothing more than harmless and friendly musicians, and Charles spent the last few days of the war helping them refine their skills. Their deaths en route to a prisoner exchange leave Charles absolutely devastated.
    Charles: For me, music was always a refuge from this miserable experience. And now it will always be a reminder.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: B.J.'s goodbye to Hawkeye was aimed at the audience as much as it was Hawkeye.
  • Long List: Hawkeye, as per usual, and he does it three times: Twice while under Sidney's care, and once to Colonel Potter.
  • Manly Tears: Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter especially, while saying their goodbyes.
  • Mood Whiplash: Starts when the war is officially declared over, and continues as the reality sets in. Sidney's early departure kicks it off, being witty and poetic and a bookend to his debut. The last few moments the whole 4077th have together as a group are a mixture of cheer and pain, where they all reflect on their time in the camp in positive and negative ways and try to look forward with hopeful hearts. For the most part, the joy is in full effect when Klinger gets married to Soon Li, but as the wedding procession leaves, with some taking with them the names of their hometowns from the signpost in camp. Most of the group leaves in batches of Army vehicles, suddenly reducing the cast down to its last stragglers and leaving a once-lively camp down to scant traces, and now the reality is painfully clear that the end is nigh for this close-knit 4077 family. Then, as more people say goodbye, the partings get increasingly emotional, until we get to Mulcahy leaving on bittersweet note (which AfterMASH will uplift), Margaret sharing a passionate farewell kiss with Hawkeye, a moderately stoic/pithy farewell from Charles and Rizzo intermixed with dry humor, and then one very emotional farewell where Potter says goodbye to Hawkeye and B.J. and admits he's going to be riding Sophie out of camp because he can't take her with him and will be donating her to a place where she can be happy and children will get to ride her. Then, we get to the very last and most emotional goodbye of all: the signature final scene where Hawkeye and B.J. bid each other farewell in their own unique ways.
  • Motor Mouth: B.J. says Hawkeye was talking a mile a minute before he was taken to the psych hospital, and comments on how much calmer he's gotten. Of course, as soon as B.J. mentions his baby daughter, he starts up again.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Hawkeye's worst fear happens when B.J. leaves without saying goodbye; Trapper left without saying goodbye too. B.J. memorably gets a second chance to give Hawkeye a "goodbye" .
  • Now What?: At their final dinner together, the staff of the 4077 all talk about their post-war plans. Most are joyful, but some are so traumatized by their experiences that they can barely cope with the idea of an after.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: While oddball behavior certainly wouldn't be out-of-character for Hawkeye in and of itself, the nature of his antics after the day on the beach told the 4077 staff that he was going dangerously insane.
    Hawkeye: There is nothing wrong with me!
    Sidney: That's what you said the night they brought you here. You'd just driven your jeep through the wall of the Officers' Club and ordered a double bourbon.
    Hawkeye: Okay, that was strange. I drink martinis.
  • Precision F-Strike: Hawkeye viciously calls Sidney a "son of a bitch" for making him remember what happened on the bus.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: By one storyteller. As Hawkeye tells and retells the accounts of the day at the beach and the bus ride back, the story changes each time. Turns out it's a mental defense mechanism, as his mind is suppressing the real story. Sidney slowly extracts the truth.
  • Reality Ensues: Hawkeye was already talking in season eleven about how his usual coping methods (getting angry at generals, joking about everything, sleeping around) weren't working, and a Death of a Child is the final push to break a Sad Clown. His jokes become angrier and alienating, and he admits in the Now What? scene he's going to take it easy before never being a surgeon again.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The bug out scene where the 4077 had to move due to a fire caused by incendiary bombs was the result of an actual wildfire.
  • Really Gets Around: Hawkeye teases that he loved as many of the camp as he could, and it's not just women reacting, implying he's slept with a fair amount of the male staff too.
  • The Reveal: Hawkeye remembers the woman at the back of the bus silencing her chicken to help keep the bus hidden from an enemy patrol. Then he remembers that it wasn't a chicken at all — the woman killed her own crying baby, and she did it because Hawkeye demanded she do something about the noise.
  • Running Gag: The latrine is repeatedly destroyed and being rebuilt throughout the episode. This is notably troubling to Charles, who is suffering from diarrhea.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Played for drama: Hawkeye was so emotionally devastated by causing a mother to smother her baby that he rewrote the scene in his mind to replace the baby with a chicken. When Sidney makes him remember the truth, he breaks.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: The first half of the episode has Hawkeye in a mental ward under Sidney Freedman's care. As the story unfolds, we find out how and why Hawkeye finally flipped so badly that he needed confinement and intensive treatment.
  • Talkative Loon: During his time at the mental ward, Hawkeye's usual sarcastic ramblings are notably angrier and more troubling.
  • Trash the Set: Not intentional, but a case when real life had its say. Mother Nature herself caused havoc when they went to shoot the exterior scenes in Malibu. A wildfire swept in and burned up a lot of the set that the crews couldn't get hauled away to safety. This necessitated the bug-out plot development.
  • Unreliable Narrator: As Hawkeye keeps retelling about the bus ride, the picture changes as to accommodate how his memory of the event slowly clears.
  • Verbal Tic: Sidney catches on that Hawkeye keeps inserting chicken references into his dialog.
  • Wham Line: Several, but a few highlights:
    Hawkeye: It was-It was a baby! She-She smothered her own baby!
    • Klinger winds up taking a look at the sky at one point, and takes notice of the warm glow.
    Klinger: Colonel, look at that sunset. What a beautiful ending for a beautiful day.
    Potter: Yeah, it'd be a nice sunset if it was setting over there.
    Klinger: What do you mean?
    Potter: Ever since I've been around, the sun's always set in the west.
    Klinger: Then what's that?
    Potter: Once saw that same kind of glow in the Ardennes forest. Next day there wasn't any forest left.
    • Everyone is milling around at the new campsite after the bugout when the PA announcer comes on.
    Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, five minutes ago, at 10:01 this morning, the truce was signed in Panmunjon. The hostilities will end twelve hours from now at ten o'clock. THE WAR IS OVER!
  • Wham Shot:
    • When explaining the incident on the bus to Sidney, he mentions how he had to tell a woman to make her chicken stop making noise. It suddenly goes quiet as the woman becomes distressed, confusing (and then shocking) Hawkeye as he turns back around... while Hawkeye begins to freak out in reality upon remembering she killed "it". Back in the flashback, the camera then pans down. She wasn't holding a chicken.
      Hawkeye: Oh my God! OH MY GOD!
      (cut back to flashback; the woman is starting to cry)
      (camera pans down; she's holding a now-dead baby)
    • Winchester finds that his taste in classical music has now become a grim reminder of the Korean war when he finds that one of the dead victims is part of the quintet that followed him back to the camp, and later subsequently taught to play Mozart music. Furthermore, the rest of the quintet didn't survive either.
      Winchester: Half his chest is gone, does he even have a pulse? (he looks at the face of the victim) Oh, God, no! (To another soldier) What happened to the other people in the truck with him?
      Soldier: He's the only one that made it this far.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: B.J. gets his discharge orders and leaves for home, only to get intercepted en route and pulled back to the 4077 when the orders are rescinded.


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