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Recap / M*A*S*H S3 E10: There Is Nothing Like a Nurse

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As Henry is recovering from a hangover and listening to the latest tirade of Maj. Houlihan (aka Hermann Goering in drag), Radar reports an enemy attack is imminent (Henry says it's the best news he's heard all day). The nurses take the patients to the 44th Field Hospital, leaving the men to fend for themselves and try to fight off the enemy paratroopers. The guys gain new, genuine appreciation for the nurses; they miss them, especially in the OR. The 4077 nurses made it all look so easy and the guys find out how hard their jobs really are.


Attention, all personnel! Review the following tropes while we wait for the nurses to return:

  • Awful Wedded Life: The home movie of Frank's wedding makes clear that his marriage to Louise was fated to be an unhappy one from the beginning.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Margaret hears a rhythm of three knocks at her door, she smiles and responds with two knocks. When the knocker knocks backs back a single time, she tells him to come in, thinking it's Frank. It's Radar.
  • Berserk Button: Radar will not take any slight towards his height well.
    Klinger: Nah. The little girl's taller.
    Radar: Who asked you?!
  • Big Damn Kiss: Hawkeye gives Margaret a rather passionate good-bye kiss against her will before the nurses are shipped out. She's quite frazzled and smiling afterwards.
  • Black Comedy: After getting a verbal lashing from Margaret Houlihan, Henry Blake greets the news of an incoming enemy attack as "the nicest thing he's heard today".
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  • Blatant Lies: Klinger resorts to this to cover why he had been in a duffel bag onboard the nurses' truck.
  • Book-Ends: Calvin, Hawkeye and Trapper sing Unrequited to the Nth Degree early on in the episode and again at the very end.
  • Brick Joke: Frank and Margaret's secret knock
  • The Bus Came Back: The enemy attack the 4077th was told to expect? It's nothing more than the surprise return of an old friend. Who would that be? Five. Oh. Clock. CHARLIIIIEE!
  • Call-Back: The "air raid" that the camp had been warned about turns out to be nothing more than a propaganda leaflet "bombing" by 5 O'Clock Charlie.
  • Curse of the Ancients: Frank tells Trapper to "put a sock on it".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Henry treats Margaret's demand to have Lieutenant Baker punished in this manner.
    Henry: Well, Major, there's a French unit right down the road. Why don't you just run down and borrow their guillotine?
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  • Disproportionate Retribution: A nurse talks back to Frank in the O.R. to correct him during a procedure. Margaret wants her charged with insubordination and literally confined to sitting on her bed for a month!
  • The Dog Bites Back: Averted in the end, but Henry almost gives Margaret a well-deserved dressing down over how badly she treats her nurses when revealing the many numbers of complaints they've lodged against her. Unfortunately, her shouting and his hangover defeat him. What's really sad is the hint that she lodges more complaints about them than they do of her combined.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Radar has an older sister that is thirty seven years old. Later on in the show, he is an only child.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: While watching the home movie of Frank's wedding, Radar thinks he just heard a siren and asks if anyone else did too.
  • Flat "What": Henry isn't quite sure if he heard Major Houlihan say that she wants Lieutenant Baker restricted to bed arrest. He heard her right.
    Henry: Bed what?
    Margaret: When she's not on duty and other than at mealtimes, she is to sit on the edge of her bed at attention for one month.
    Henry: Aw, be reasonable, Major. You can't keep a nurse in bed for a month. Although there a few who have tried it.
  • The Gadfly: Hawkeye and Trapper once again throw some witty remarks about Frank's surgical ability...when he's only two or three feet away from them.
    Trapper: I wouldn't let him cut giblets out of a turkey.
    Hawkeye: Probably give it cranberry complications.
  • Gag Echo: The home movie of Frank's wedding includes a scene where his bride insists on doing the driving for them, prompting him to grin and shrug sheepishly at the camera before getting in the passenger seat. At the end of the episode, there's a nearly-identical scene with Frank and Hot Lips. Hawkeye even laughingly points it out to Trapper.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Frank fears that Margaret may get smitten with any of the doctors at the 44th field hospital.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: Henry Blake comically suffers from this early on in the episode.
  • Historical In-Joke: Hawkeye says about George and Martha Washington.
    Hawkeye: You know that Washington's false teeth were made out of wood?
    Trapper: Really?
    Hawkeye: Martha's lips were always full of slivers.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Frank gets trapped in a foxhole that he had ordered the digging of. Hawkeye and Trapper drive a jeep over it to add insult to injury.
  • Hypocrite: Frank prefers to be assisted by a nurse who doesn't act so smug. And then there's his jealousy over Margaret possibly meeting another doctor and leaving him to return to his wife.
  • Informed Attribute: When Louise first appears in the home video, Henry calls out' "Thar she blows!" implying that she is overweight. However, she is actually rather slender.
  • Mouthscreen: Margaret's gets a closeup during her tirade in Henry's office.
  • MST: Hawkeye, Trapper, Klinger, and Henry riff on the home movie of Frank's wedding.
  • Notable Original Music: Captain Spalding sings "Unrequited to the Nth Degree" (with Hawkeye and Trapper) and "I Wonder If They Miss Us". Both songs were written by Loudon Wainwright III, who plays Spalding.
  • Only Sane Man: Radar is the only one who watches Frank's rather depressing wedding video without riffing the hell out of it.
  • Pet the Dog: Henry admits that he begins to feel sorry for Frank while watching the latter's wedding video, where Frank is the only one trying to keep up the appearance of it being a happy occasion.
    • Also during the wedding video itself, the group doesn't make fun of the flower girl. Henry even compliments her "nice shot" when she throws rice at Frank as hard as she can.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Henry verbally lashes out at Margaret when the major derogatory remarks how little help he is as a commander.
    Henry: Boy, Major, you and your nurses can be pains in the royal butt! If you're not in here every five minutes with a lot of bugle oil about how you can't control them, they're in here complaining that you're really Hermann Goering in drag!
    • Margaret gives a return one to him after he refuses to reveal which of the nurses have been registering complaints against her.
      Margaret: I think HQ would be very interested to learn that this unit is commanded by an inept incompetent who runs down his chief nurse every chance he gets! Speaking man to man, Colonel, I realise that the war unhinges us all. If we were to take off our uniforms, we could possibly become friends. That fact aside, your conduct is so beneath contempt that I won't lower myself to elevate it! Good day! Sir!
  • Seen It All: Hawkeye remarks that he's seen every photograph of every woman in the camp as a coping mechanism to deal with the nurses' absence.
  • Serious Business: Frank starts going into one of his Eagleland rants after getting an update from Radar about the expected enemy attack but immediately halts when Radar alerts him to incoming choppers and he abandons the rant to go to work.
  • Ship Tease: Hawkeye gives Margaret a Big Damn Kiss when the nurses are leaving.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Frank and Margaret as usual, but the squick totally comes from Frank this time around.
    Frank: To become just a disembodied voice, when we spent all this time being so embodied.
    • Frank and Margaret's phone conversation is a very notable special example of the trope.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: When the nurses finally return, the song Happy Days Are Here Again is playing over the PA.

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