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Recap / M*A*S*H S2 E10: The Sniper

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It is a time of quiet, peace and relaxation at the 4077. Trapper is washing his socks. Hawkeye is out on a date with a new nurse. Frank and Margaret are fawning over the former's new pistol. Henry and Radar are over in the shower stalls. Yes, everything is nice and peaceful. No sign of the war nearby, no patients being flown in, no high-ranking officer coming in for an inspection. Everything is nice.


Then a shot rings out.

All the serenity is broken as the MASHers flee into the confines of the camp for shelter as a lone gunman fires on them and anything else that moves, placing the entire hospital under siege. The sniper's reign of terror has begun.

We swear to you, the sniper didn't use these tropes for bullets:

  • The Ace: Frank and Margaret try to get quiet and attention from the MASHers while they are holed up in the main building, but noone listens to them. Hawkeye gains quiet by simply standing up and raising his hand.
    Hawkeye: [to an unamused Frank] I don't know. I've always had it.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Radar makes a daring bid to get to the administration office while under fire from the sniper. After a game of cat and mouse, Radar retreats back to the shower stalls.
    Henry: What happened?
    Radar: Uh, nothing. I forgot my glasses.
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  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Henry's second solution.
    Henry: Yo! You up there! You hear me? This is Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake! Do you hear me?!
    [The sniper fires two bullets at the shower door; Henry and Radar dart back inside]
    Henry: That son of a gun hears pretty good.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When a shot is fired near Hawkeye and Lieutenant Marquette, the former immediately assumes it is a nearby Frank Burns at his practice range. Frank hasn't even fired one bullet yet.
    • Late in the episode, Hawkeye and Frank investigate sounds they hear coming from the mess tent, thinking it's the sniper raiding the stores. It isn't.
  • Berserk Button: Hawkeye really hates guns.
    Frank: I'm cleaning it!
  • Big Bad: The titular character.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Help finally arrives at the 4077 when Headquarters sends a chopper and a soldier armed with a machine gun.
  • Blatant Lies: After thirteen hours without eating, Radar informs Henry of a particular metabolism of that will occur if he doesn't get any food soon.
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  • Blunt "Yes": Hawkeye tells Frank to put the gun away one final time.
    Hawkeye: Frank, if you don't put that gun away, I'm gonna break it into little pieces and feed it to you intravenously.
    Frank: Are you aware you're talking to an officer of superior rank?
    Hawkeye: Yes.
    Frank: Oh.
  • Buffy Speak: A random nurse announces why Henry Blake isn't holed up in the main building with them all. A shell-shocked Frank is at a loss to find proper words.
    Nurse: He's trapped in the shower with Radar.
    Hawkeye: Water way to go.
    Frank: Well, in that case, I'm assuming command until the colonel can be, uh uh uh uh, de-showerized.
  • Captain Obvious: Henry reminds Radar as he is about to go out and try to get by the sniper to reach the administration office that it's dangerous out there.
    Henry: Radar, it's not very safe out there.
    Radar: It's not much better in here, sir.
  • Covered in Mud: As the sniper commences his rampage on the camp, one of the non-coms falls into a puddle. He is seen getting up again in a later shot.
  • Deadpan Snarker
    • The episode starts with one as Hawkeye enters the Swamp to find Trapper washing his clothes.
      Hawkeye: Hi mom, I'm home. Washing socks?
      Trapper: I got to. I left 'em for the elves to do last night. They wouldn't touch 'em.
      Hawkeye: Can you blame them? [beat] You do lovely work.
      Trapper: I think I'm getting bedpan hands.
  • Defiant to the End: Frank and Margaret are insistently stubborn after Hawkeye suggests it that the 4077 does not surrender.
    Frank: It's a little late in the game for pacifism, gentlemen. You just don't quit!
    Margaret: And what happens if we do quit and they roll right over us?
  • Delayed "Oh, Crap!": As Hawkeye and Frank argue over the pistol Frank has in his possession with Margaret present, the sniper fires his second shot. Margaret and Hawkeye duck for cover, but Frank turns around and asks what had just happened.
    Frank: What was that?
    Hawkeye: A sniper!
    Frank: [yelps] SNIPER!
    • Henry Blake does not react properly to the sniper's presence until a gunshot comes way too close to the shower stalls he and Radar are in.
      Henry: Those are shots, aren't they, Radar?
      Radar: We're under fire, sir.
      Henry: [casually] Hells' bells. We're a hospital.
      [gunshot; Henry and Radar duck]
      Henry: [recovering] That's against the Geneva Convention!
      Radar: I'm not for it either, sir.
  • Heroic Fatigue: Discussed by Hawkeye and Frank as they are about to go investigate the strange sounds coming from the mess tent.
    Frank: Look, if you want to be a hero that much, you go.
    Hawkeye: Frank, do you know what a hero is? Ninety nine times out of a hundred, he's somebody who's tired enough and cold enough and hungry enough not to give a damn. [beat] I don't give a damn. Come on.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In The Tag, Hawkeye and Trapper dress Frank up to look like General Douglas MacArthur using an officer's cap, a corn-cob pipe and sunglasses.
    Frank: What's going on?
    Hawkeye: You have returned.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The sniper is not seen in person until the end of the episode.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: A sniper takes aim at the 4077th, a medical unit.
  • Oh, Crap!: Frank attempts to display his role as temporary commander when the sniper suddenly shoots through the hospital wall. He loses all pretence of superiority and panics.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Trapper is caught by surprise when he sees Hawkeye is shaving.
    Trapper: You're shaving in the middle of the week! Is it anybody I know?
    Hawkeye: Lieutenant Marquette.
    Trapper: Oh, the new one.
    Hawkeye: You're very observant for a laundress.
  • Reality Ensues: When a gunman is holding a place full of people under siege and remains implacable, the ways of resolving the situation are eventually narrowed down to the use of lethal force.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Trapper and Hawkeye are afraid that Frank will devolve into this with his pistol.
    Trapper: Will you stop pointing that thing?!
    Frank: The safety's on! I think.
  • Reflexive Response:
    • Hawkeye quips to Frank's view about how there's more to humanity's motivations than just sex.
      Frank: I happen to think that man is more than just an animal whose every thought is motivated by sex.
      Hawkeye: Well, there goes Hot Lips' evening.
    • Hawkeye asks Frank why he would need a gun. When Frank comes up with an honest and perfectly true answer, Hawkeye can only reply with this.
      Hawkeye: Frank, I know it's irrational to ask you a rational question, but why would you need a gun?
      Frank: We are in a battle zone, mister, only three miles from the front.
      Hawkeye: You must have very long bullets.
  • Refusal of the Call: Margaret tries to inspire Frank to go and take care of the sniper himself with his new firearm. He reactively shows his cowardly streak.
  • Save the Villain: The wounded and defeated sniper surrenders. Frank suggests they don't accept it since he didn't accept theirs. All of the others except for Hawkeye remain unsure. Hawkeye has his medical bag brought to him and he goes to investigate. He meets the sniper who in fact will die without aid. Ever the consummate surgeon, Hawkeye goes to work.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: United States Army regulations state that one of their military installations, be it either a battalion or a hospital, cannot surrender to the enemy without checking with a higher authority first. Hawkeye argues against Frank and Margaret that there is no time for regulations in their current crisis.
    Henry: Hold it. Look. I can't surrender without orders. I mean they emphasised that to me very particularly. I don't know exactly why, but the guy said, "Blake, never surrender without checking."
    Trapper: Headquarters says there's a push on.
    Frank: All the more reason not to surrender!
    Hawkeye: Au contraire, Major! There are choppers gonna be flying wounded in here looking for the 4077th! If we surrender, we can keep working! Otherwise we're just sitting here with our majors hanging out!
    Margaret: Colonel, may I go on record...
    Henry: No! Radar.
    Radar: Get a white flag. Yes sir.
  • Shooting Gallery: Margaret sets up an improvised one for Frank to practice with his pistol.
  • The Siege: The sniper subjects the entire 4077 to this trope.
    • After he and Radar finally get away from the shower stalls and reach the others in the main building, Henry wants the details of the situation.
      Margaret: Desperate, Colonel. No food. No ammunition.
      Frank: Low on supplies. Low on morale.
      Hawkeye: But very high on panic.
      Trapper: Yeah, Frank's been a marvellous commandant.
      Hawkeye: He's risen to a new low.
  • Skewed Priorities: Averted in the case of the six wounded soldiers trapped in an ambulance.
    Margaret: Colonel, we've got to get them in here.
    Henry: Major, I may not know the difference between a bayonet and a butter knife, but I do know that!
  • Speak in Unison: Henry's first solution to the problem is to tell Radar to get to the administration office to contact headquarters. Radar, being Radar, knew this command was coming.
    Henry: Call headquarters and get help.
    Radar: I'll call headquarters and get help.
  • Surrender Backfire: Seemingly subverted, but eventually played straight when the sniper decides to fire on Hawkeye and Trapper's White Flag.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Hawkeye is surprised and angry about Radar skewing his priorities between getting food and staying well away from the sniper's gunsight.
    Hawkeye: You'd risk your life for a...a ketchup on rye?
    Radar: With butter and lettuce!

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