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Recap / M*A*S*H S3 E5: O.R.

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The MASHers of the 4077 prepare themselves for an expected, very long session in the OR, but those preparations soon turn out to be not enough as the operating room is flooded with more and more casualties, meaning the surgery period takes longer than anticipated which leaves the doctors tired and on edge with one another. And it only gets worse as the supplies get exhausted and the war comes a little close to the hospital again.


Get these tropes ready for surgery:

  • Artistic License – Physics: Trapper uses water in a syringe to put out the fire along the light switch wires. In reality, adding water to an electrical fire is a really bad idea. Water is a good conductor of electricity and will just make the problem worse.note 
  • Berserk Button: Margaret does not get totally upset, but she does not like it when Hawkeye insults General MacArthur.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • When a patient starts to flatline, Hawkeye immediately goes to try an open-heart massage to save him. According to Frank, no one at the 4077 has ever tried that technique before.
    • When the electrical wiring catches fire and everyone panics, Trapper steps forward and starts putting it out with water.
  • Big Word Shout: FIRE!
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  • Body Horror: A patient has already lost one kidney. How is never mentioned.
  • Book-Ends: The episode begins and ends with the same static shot of a darkened and nearly-deserted OR.
  • Bottle Episode: Going by the title, this might be apparent, but the episode only takes place in or just outside the operating theater. No Swamp, no colonel's office, no mess tent, no officers' club, not even the post-op ward.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: Since this episode takes place entirely in the OR, this was bound to happen.
  • Cool Shades: Trapper, apparently suffering the effects of a hangover, sports a pair of these when he first enters the scrub room.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Trapper notices that one of his first patients is one who has been into the 4077 for surgery before.
      Trapper: Got a repeater here. These look like your stitches, Hawk.
      Hawkeye: If they look like stitches, he isn't mine.
      Henry: Pierce, you need a modesty transplant.
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    • Frank demands everyone's attention while they have begun operating. Hawkeye snarks towards his unconscious patient.
      Frank: May I have your attention, please?
      Hawkeye: Stop bleeding for a minute.
      • Trapper and Hawkeye both make snarks to Frank when he reveals the reason for his interrupting the OR session: reporting the theft of a scrub brush.
        Trapper: Did you look in your last patient, Frank?
        Hawkeye: That's how most of your stuff leaves here.
        Frank: Very comical. If I had a sleeve, I'd laugh up it.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Hawkeye makes a joke when Henry fumbles with and drops a medical clamp. Margaret steps in to defend the colonel with this.
    Hawkeye: Got enough thumbs over there, Colonel? Send a case of thumbs over to that table with my compliments.
    Margaret: I don't happen to think that's funny, Captain.
    Hawkeye: How would you like to step outside, lady?
  • Eye Take: Sidney announces his departure once he gets a confirmation the poker game he came for is off. Hawkeye and Trapper tell him to scrub up for surgery instead.
    Sidney: Are you kidding? I haven't washed my hands since I became a psychiatrist.
    Hawkeye: Only his mind gets dirty. Margaret, scrub Doctor Freedman for surgery.
    Sidney: Medical school was a long time ago. Last surgery I did was a boil on my kid's tuchus.
  • Foreshadowing: Trapper smells something burning. Radar and Klinger arrive with hamburgers and coffee. Trapper ignores them and the resultant jubilant mood, still believing that something is burning. He's right.
  • From Bad to Worse: Things were already bad when the 4077 is expecting an overflow of casualties at the start of the episode, but about halfway through, artillery shells start falling.
  • I Choose to Stay: Hawkeye offers to get Henry a medical discharge for arthritis (naturally a career-killer for a surgeon). Henry declines, arguing out that while his practice in Bloomington is lucrative, his work in Korea is more challenging and rewarding than anything else he's ever done as a doctor.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Frank rightly points out that Hawkeye is allowed to say what he wants, while Frank is censured when he tries to fire back.
  • Laugh Track: Averted. Due to the setting, this was the first episode to dispense with the laugh track from beginning to end.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Trapper smells something burning. Frank looks up to see that the electrical wiring is on fire and alerts everyone in the operating room.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Henry examines a patient with severe injuries and a destroyed liver but is unsure of what to do and asks Hawkeye for a second opinion.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Frank's reaction on learning he nearly made the mistake of removing the only kidney a patient has left, which would have wound up being fatal to the latter.
  • Oh, Crap!: Frank learns from Trapper that he should take a look at a patient's x-ray before he removes anything vital. Turns out the kidney he was trying to remove is the only one the patient has left.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: At one point a stressed-out Frank snaps at Margaret to shut up.
    • Later, he expresses sincere and uncharacteristic gratitude to Trapper for preventing him from making a terrible mistake in surgery, opens up to him about his miserable childhood and his desire not to be enemies with Trapper and Hawkeye, and even laughs at one of Hawkeye's anti-military wisecracks.
  • Reality Ensues: When medical supplies and equipment are running dangerously low, some really tough choices have to be made. See the Sadistic Choice entry below for the full story.
  • Sadistic Choice: Henry and Hawkeye have to make a realistic one when a patient with horrendous injuries is brought in. The effort it would take to save the patient would include two surgeons to work on him, who knows how many units of blood for transfusions, and eight hours work, and even then the chance is still extremely probable that the patient will die regardless. Meanwhile, there are a dozen wounded soldiers waiting behind that one who will likely die waiting if the case is taken.
    Henry: Pierce, I have a lot of trouble with this kind of decision.
    Hawkeye: Henry, he should never have been brought in here in the first place.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Klinger converses with Sidney Freedman, asking if the psychiatrist remembers him and how strong his chances are now of getting a Section Eight. Sidney can only respond in this manner.
    Sidney: Remember you? I had to buy an extra cabinet for your file.
    Klinger: How about it, sir? Any chance for a psycho?
    Sidney: Klinger, there's seventeen other guys wearing dresses ahead of you. And some smart stuff.
    Klinger: Wait. Something new. I'm beginning to wet the bed. Anything?
    Sidney: Get yourself a pair of rubber bloomers.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Blood and Sand (1941), the film intended to be shown for Movie Night, is piped through the radio system for all the surgical staff to hear while they're working.
    • Klinger starts speaking like Bela Lugosi's version of Dracula when Radar tells him to get to the mess tent to donate some blood.
      Klinger: Blood. I must give blood or die.
  • Skewed Priorities: When Trapper puts out the fire, Frank and Margaret accuse him of nearly blowing them up had he accidentally used alcohol instead of water.
  • Speak in Unison: Henry and Radar are at it again when they expect the OR to be overrun with casualties and they go over everything in preparation to be sure they are stocked up enough on supplies.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Trapper enters the episode with little or no idea what he did at the Officers' Club.
    Hawkeye: You didn't get home last night. Where were you?
    Trapper: Ten bucks to anyone who can tell me.
    Nurse: You were feeling no pain at the club.
    Hawkeye: Why do you say that? Because he tried to eat the cherries out of a slot machine?
    Trapper: I didn't. [beat] How embarrassing.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: After being told that the 4077's stock of surgical silk has been depleted through the course of the episode, Henry volunteers a package of sewing thread he received from his wife to replace it.
    Henry: It's either that or the stapler in my office, Major.
  • You're Insane!: Hawkeye and Frank once again argue about showing compassion to the enemy, culminating with Hawkeye going into a Character Filibuster of Word Salad Philosophy and Frank labeling Hawkeye as this trope.
    Frank: Oh, you like getting shot at, Mr. Goody Two-Shoes?
    Hawkeye: I just don't understand why they're shooting at us. All we wanna do is bring them democracy and white bread. Transplant the American Dream. Freedom, achievement, hyperacidity. Affluence, flatulence, technology, tension. The inalienable right to an early coronary sitting at your desk while plotting to stab your boss in the back. [beat] That's entertainment.
    Frank: Pierce, you are certifiably insane!
    • Hawkeye goes on to subvert Frank's claim.
      Hawkeye: Gee, I can't understand why. Here I am twenty thousand miles from home, working as an extra in a war movie with this guy's blood dripping into my boot. Nurse, do you want to do something about that or must I kiss you into submission?
      Ginger: Right away, Doctor.
      Hawkeye: That's not insane-making, Frank. Neither is bedding down every night with a flea circus. Or eating food prepared by a cook who used to make box lunches for kamikaze pilots. Or getting so bored out of my skull, I put on my dress uniform for a trip to the latrine.
  • Your Cheating Heart: A soldier about to be put under for surgery requests that Father Mulcahy write a letter to his wife for him. He claims that she is the only one he has ever loved while the numerous affairs he carried out in Tokyo, Okinawa and Honolulu meant nothing. Trapper and the father are left stunned.
    Trapper: Don't send it, Father. He's gonna pull through, unless his wife gets that letter.
    Father Mulcahy: Right.

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