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Recap / M*A*S*H S1 E21: Sticky Wicket

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It starts out as just a regular day at Mash 4077. Wounded are brought in for surgery via choppers and ambulances, Hawkeye and Trapper (mainly Hawkeye) have a go at Frank Burns, Frank and Margaret get ticked off, and then the episode slides into dark and edgy territory when a patient Hawkeye has fixed up starts taking a turn for the worse, leading Hawkeye to question his surgical skills and medical expertise when he cannot find out why. As he tries to solve the mystery before the worst happens, he lashes out at the other unit members.


Attention, all personnel! The following tropes may help Captain Pierce determine what's wrong with his patient:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Radar believed Trapper's remark of his own poker hand being more like a foot was this.
    Radar: I thought that was funny.
    Trapper: When you're winning, rigor mortis is funny.
  • Ascended Extra: In previous episodes he appeared in, Ugly John was in only a select few scenes. Here, he takes on a much bigger role.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Radar does not like it when people, including his friends, make fun of his height.
    • On the second poker game featured in the episode, Trapper loses it after losing to Radar so hugely.
  • Big Eater: Hawkeye and Trapper lampshade Radar's gluttony again.
    Hawkeye: Psychologically, that kind of eating indicates hostility. Aggression.
    Trapper: Destructiveness.
    Hawkeye: Why don't we get him to eat North Korea? What he doesn't finish he can take home in a doggy bag.
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  • Brick Joke: "Wherever Henry goes, Radar is sure to follow"
  • Butt-Monkey: Invoked by Frank when he asks Hawkeye why he enjoys making his life miserable in the O.R.
    Hawkeye: Mainly because you're so consistent.
    Frank: Well, I'm just trying to do my job.
    Hawkeye: You screwed up today, like you do every other day. And that's what I call consistent.
  • Covered in Gunge: Radar tries to avoid the fight between Hawkeye and Frank in the mess tent by moving to another table to continue eating. It gets him a faceful of mashed potatoes. Twice.
  • Darkest Hour: As Lieutenant Thompson's health worsens, Hawkeye begins to question his abilities as a surgeon.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Trapper quips the question why can't wars be less violent.
      Trapper: Why don't we have a war sometime with blank ammunition?
      Hawkeye: We tried it. No casualties, no fun.
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    • Henry ignores Frank in the first OR scene.
      Frank: Colonel Blake, did you see that?
      Henry: Yeah he's a great hitter, but he's got a lousy arm.
    • Margaret is upset by how badly Hawkeye insulted Frank in the mess tent.
      Margaret: Frank, did you hear that?!
      Trapper: Would you like me to translate?
    • Henry's answer to Major Houlihan being on the warpath.
      Henry: This had better be important, Radar.
      Radar: Uh, it's Major Houlihan, sir. She's throwing a fit.
      Henry: Then give her a distemper shot.
      Henry: Twenty thousand miles from home and I'm still aggravated by a woman. Sometimes I think my wife operates Major Houlihan by remote control.
    • Radar tells Hawkeye the colonel wants to see him.
      Hawkeye: Tell him I died and didn't leave a forwarding address.
    • The Stinger is full to the brim of deadpan snarkery.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Hawkeye begins snapping at everyone for the slightest interruption.
  • The Dog Bites Back: When Hawkeye's patient goes downhill and the reason why remains unsolved, Frank insults Hawkeye in revenge. Trapper, Henry and even Margaret feel he he's taking it too far.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Hawkeye went through a lot of drama to achieve his.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Usually, Henry Blake and Margaret Houlihan are at each other's throats. Not this time!
    • Putting her current differences with him aside, Margaret starts to genuinely help Hawkeye solve the problem with Thompson using a methodical approach.
  • Escalating Brawl: Hawkeye vs Frank in the mess tent.
  • Eureka Moment: It is after Margaret tries to help Hawkeye that he finally comes across the solution to his problem.
  • Flat "What": Henry responds to Hawkeye moving out of the Swamp with a variation of this.
    Henry: He didn't.
  • I'll Kill You!: Hawkeye threatens to murder Frank for his insults after Trapper and Margaret break up the fight between them.
    Hawkeye: I'll kill him!
    Hawkeye: That's the best offer I've had today.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • The first sign that there's more to Margaret than what originally met the eye.
    • In the O.R. for all to hear, Frank admits to Hawkeye that any surgeon would have missed the source of Lieutenant Thompson's complications.
  • Leave Me Alone!: Hawkeye wants quiet so he can think about Thompson's condition. When he doesn't get it, he goes for the loner approach by moving out of the Swamp. He still finds people bothering him.
    Hawkeye: OUT! OUT!
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Hawkeye is so upset about, and preoccupied with, his patient, he not only forgets he has a date (with Lt. Bannerman), but actually begs off.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Hawkeye.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Frank continues to press Hawkeye for his opinion about his performances in surgery. Hawkeye does, by giving him this.
    Hawkeye: You think you're the only one who's busy. You asked for help three times today. Three! [turns to Trapper] Give me some salt. I can still taste this. [turns back to Frank] When you make a mistake, you're not smart enough to admit it and start over. We're not here to compensate for you.
    Trapper: I'll buy that.
    Ugly John: Me too.
    Frank: Well, I don't buy it.
    Margaret: Neither do I.
    Trapper: It's a tie. Two against fifty.
    Hawkeye: [continuing] You're inconsiderate, insulting with your nurses, bloody arrogant, demanding, distracting and dumb!
    Radar: Wow.
    Hawkeye: And those are your good points. You're also surgically incompetent.
    Frank: (shocked) I...
    Hawkeye: I wouldn't let you operate on me for dandruff!
    Margaret: This is outrageous.
    Hawkeye: You keep out of this. Where was I?
    Radar: Surgically incompetent.
    Hawkeye: Surgically incompetent, right. And finally, you are a total and definitive pain in the gluteus maximus!
  • Stock Footage: Some of the shots used for the arrival and receiving of wounded were lifted from the extended version of the theme shown in the pilot.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: While in the shower stalls, Ugly John asks Hawkeye how Thompson's faring.
    Ugly John: What's wrong with that?
  • Take That!:
    • An in-universe one to the North Koreans.
      Hawkeye: Those cats in the North really know how to break up a poker game.
      Ugly John: They saved me money but I hate their methods.
    • Another in-universe one. Hawkeye finds it so hard to concentrate on his problem he's lashing out at the people, the Swamp and his beloved still.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Margaret admonishes Hawkeye for chewing out Colonel Blake as well as Frank. A grumpy and tired Hawkeye does not take the hint.
    Margaret: So typical. Colonel Blake calls you into his office and you chew him out.
    Hawkeye: You woke me out of one of the most sexiest dreams of all time to discuss morale?!
    Henry: Pierce, morale is important.
    Hawkeye: Absolutely, but how can we discuss about something we don't have?
    Margaret: We don't have any because of your disruptive influence!
    Hawkeye: I deny that.
    Margaret: It's true.
    Hawkeye: Oh, in that case, I admit it.

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