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Recap / M*A*S*H S2 E14: Hot Lips and Empty Arms

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Margaret Houlihan receives a letter from an old friend who describes that she has been doing so well in her personal life that it causes Margaret to realise her choice of a professional career in the army has led her nowhere in hers. This leads her too look at her current lifestyle a second time, and a result, decides to change it around by making a few important choices such as getting a transfer from the 4077.


Attention, all personnel! The departure of Major Houlihan will be celebrated with ice cream and the following tropes:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Margaret calls Henry "nothing but a spineless, mealy-mouthed, fly-fishing impostor", he can't help but laugh at Trapper & Hawkeye's reply:
    Trapper: He's not an imposter.
    Hawkeye: Right. He's a genuine spineless, mealy-mouthed fly-fisher.
  • A Day in the Limelight: You can get this from the title and the episode description, but the main story arc revolves around Margaret Houlihan.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Margaret Houlihan, the more the episode goes on.
  • Berserk Button: Frank does not take kindly to his neighbourhood being labelled as restricted.
  • Brutal Honesty: When Margaret says she has nothing in her life, Frank takes that to mean he's also nothing to her.
    Frank: Well, am I nothing, Margaret?
    Margaret: You're government issue, Frank. You came with my mess kit and my khaki girdle.
    Frank: [insulted] Well! So much for Frank Burns.
    Margaret: And when you're home, I'll only be a smile on your face your wife won't understand.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Margaret is not too pleased when Frank suddenly comes on to her.
      Frank: What's eating you, Margaret?
      Margaret: At the moment, you are.
    • Margaret, in an even deeper drunken state than what she has been before, asks Radar if she can see Colonel Blake and she stumbles off in search of him.
      Radar: I wonder if you can too.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Margaret's father is dead. That's clearly not the case later on.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Frank almost makes a huge mistake in the OR.
    Henry: Gonna do a little cutting, Frank?
    Frank: Well, as long as I'm there, I thought I'd go after the appendix.
    Henry: That's not his appendix, Frank. That's my pinkie, and I'm very fond of it.
    Frank: Oh.
  • Funny Background Event: At the beginning of the episode, Radar is distributing mail. The first person he gives a letter to, a soldier named Voskowitz, briefly examines it before tossing it into a burn barrel without opening it.
  • Advertisement:
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Frank goes up in emerald flames when Trapper starts being romantic with Margaret in The Tag.
  • Heroic BSoD: The source of Margaret's woes are that her old friend from her training days married a doctor Margaret herself had turned down and now she has a $45,000 home with a swimming pool, two children and a two-car garage.
  • Hope Spot: There is a moment in Henry's office where Margaret seems to reconsider her wanting a transfer out of the unit after the colonel pays her a heartfelt compliment.
    Henry: Whatever was, of course, has been. But uh, we are family, Margaret.
    [long pause]
    Radar: [via loudspeaker] Attention, all personnel. Effectively immediately, Major Margaret Houlihan is leaving the 4077th. There will be wine with dinner with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
    Hawkeye: Well there are families and there are families.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Hawkeye and Trapper inadvertently reveal to Frank they have been spying on his and Margaret's dates.
      Hawkeye: Wouldn't you miss her, Frank? Those midnight meetings behind the delousing tent?
      Trapper: Soaping each other in the scrub room?
      Hawkeye: Fumbling with the leather aprons in X-ray?
    • Margaret makes a sardonic toast to Hawkeye and Trapper and their pranks and behaviours, mentioning a few of them in turn.
  • Oh, Crap!: Radar realises too late that he spoke all too casually with a furious Major Houlihan.
    Margaret: Is Colonel Blake in?
    Radar: Uh yeah, but he's busy right now.
    Margaret: [snaps] Come to attention! Get to your feet! Put that cigar out! Get rid of that magazine!
    Radar's face falls and he does everything Margaret has demanded he do.
  • Out-of-Character Alert:
    • As strict as she can be, there is usually a limit as to how far Margaret will snap harshly at her nurses in the OR. Hawkeye is quick to notice there is none.
    • Hawkeye and Trapper badger Frank when he doesn't emotionally react to Margaret leaving.
      Hawkeye: Frank, Margaret's departure is imminent.
      Frank: So?
      Hawkeye: Isn't that unzinging the strings of your heart just a little bit?
      Frank: None of your business, Captain Buttinsky.
      Trapper: Frank, one is a lonely number.
      Frank: I'll thank you to mind your p's and q's.
      Trapper: [insulted] That hurt.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: A drunken Margaret comes by the Swamp to give Frank some things she has of his back to him. Her mood and behaviour triggers an alert with Frank.
    Frank: Margaret, this is so unlike you.
    Margaret: No it's not. If I'd have been more like me, you maybe would have liked me more.
    Frank: You've been drinking!
    Margaret: Correction. I am drinking.
    Frank: Margaret, that's liquor!
    Margaret: Right, Reverend Davidson.
  • Running Gag: The first appearance of Col. Blake's correspondence with the "Tabasco Film Company of Havana, Cuba."
  • Ship Tease:
    • Hawkeye and Margaret. In reply to the latter snapping at her nurses, Hawkeye proclaims something.
      Margaret: I have an announcement. One more stupidity and every nurse goes on report.
      Hawkeye: And I'd like to make an announcement. Major Houlihan and I are getting married. Right, sugar?
      Margaret: What?!
      Margaret: We are not.
      Hawkeye: Then go ahead and have the baby alone.
      Trapper: Is it a boy or a girl?
      Hawkeye: Give us a chance. We just met.
      Margaret: Oh!
      Hawkeye: Oh.
    • Trapper and Margaret, towards the episode's conclusion and in The Tag.
  • The Unseen: The audience doesn't see any of the dirty movie Henry, Hawkeye and Trapper are watching. All we know is that Hawkeye recognizes one of the performers as a fellow doctor's receptionist, and that Hawkeye says she looks better in balloons than in a uniform.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Frank Burns is jubilant that his war stocks have gone up.
  • Your Cheating Heart: One of the enlisted men loses a prospective date with a nurse when Radar delivers him a letter from his wife.

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