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Recap / M*A*S*H S4 E3: It Happened One Night

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It's midnight at MASH 4077. Everything is still and quiet. Hawkeye and Margaret each get woken up by Radar for them to go on observation duty in the post-op ward. B.J. comes back to the Swamp after a four-hour operation, telling Hawkeye to keep an eye on his patient. Frank gets alarmed that Margaret is keeping all the love notes he ever wrote her in a safe place while he has been destroying the ones she gave him in order to preserve their affair as a secret and goes to her tent to find them. Klinger and the new boy, Jenkins, start their turn at sentry duty.

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All the while this is happening, combat is heard in the distance and is growing ever closer.

Then the shellfire hits the camp.

During the crisis, tensions heighten in post-op as a patient suffering from what is strongly implied to be PTSD gives Hawkeye and Margaret trouble, Klinger tries scams of getting sent home at the worst possible of times, B.J.'s patient continually takes a downturn while Radar and Colonel Potter team up to get the shelling stopped once they discover that it's friendly fire.


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Attention, attention. The following tropes occurred the previous night:

  • Berserk Button: Radar gets really ticked off when Jenkins holds him at gunpoint by accident. He continues to hold a grudge towards Jenkins for the remainder of the episode.
  • Big "SHUT UP!":
    • Hawkeye jokes to Radar that after the war, he's going to make a fine mother. Radar doesn't find it funny.
      Radar: Aw, cut it out once!
    • Abbott, Klinger and Margaret in successive fashion.
      Abbott: Shut up!
      Klinger: You shut up!!
      Margaret: YOU BOTH SHUT UP!!!
      B.J.: Welcome to One Man's Family.
  • Brick Joke: During their phone call in which Colonel Potter aks him to have the artillery units moved away from the 4077's location, General Morrisson requests some medical advice. Listening, Potter then suggests filling his helmet with hot water and sit in it for a few days. Although Morrisson's efforts grant the 4077 a brief spell in the shelling, it continues later as Potter is having some hot coffee in the mess tent. The tremors from the explosions shake the mess tent and startle the colonel, causing him to upend his cup and the hot drink to spill into his lap.
    Colonel Potter: [moans and grits his teeth] I hope he gets stuck in his helmet.
    • Also a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment when Hawkeye puts a can of beans on the stove at the beginning of his shift. At the end of the episode, the still sealed can overheats and explodes, showering him and Margaret.
  • Captain Obvious: When the shellfire continues after a break, an angry Colonel Potter calls for Radar, who runs over to the colonel.
    Radar: They're still shelling us, sir.
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  • Continuity Nod: Once again, Hawkeye does not take kindly to Radar waking him up for duty.
    Radar: Hawkeye?
    Hawkeye: He's dead. Dead and drafted.
    Radar: You're on duty. It's no-hundred hours. Midnight.
    Hawkeye: I'll give you ten dollars for ten more minutes.
    Radar: Please?
    Hawkeye: Five for five?
    Radar: Come on.
    Hawkeye: I'll give you a dollar to smother me with my pillow.
  • Covered in Gunge: After the shelling finally stops for good, Hawkeye offers to share his midnight snack of canned baked beans with Margaret. As the two approach the take the can off the stove, the top blows off, splattering them with sauce.
    Hawkeye: 1943. Very good year for beans.
  • Cowardly Lion: When B.J. makes a hard decision to operate again on Edwards, unsure if his patient will make it through the surgery. Margaret and Hawkeye are about to leave and cross-match donors in the mess tent, aiming to get B positive blood now that their supply of it has been exhausted. To their chagrin, Klinger speaks up, telling them not to wake anybody. Tired from his earlier antics and thinking he's about to resume them, B.J. tells him to knock it off. Klinger gets up out of bed, proving him wrong with the next sentence.
    Klinger: I'm B positive.
    B.J.: [smiles] Klinger, how would you like a medal?
    Klinger: Only for desertion.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • When Abbott refuses to allow Frank to treat him, Hawkeye says that Frank has to because he's a doctor. Frank takes this to mean Hawkeye is standing up for him and tells Abbott to shut his mouth. Hawkeye is unamused.
      Hawkeye: You can tell he's a doctor by his bedside manner.
    • Margaret remarks to Hawkeye and B.J. after getting Klinger a bed in post-op that the beds are supposed to be used for real patients.
      Hawkeye: I'd say Klinger's sanity is certainly a casualty.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Frank once more shows his prejudiced hatred of the Chinese people, this time directing it towards a wounded enemy prisoner the doctors have treated. Hawkeye lampshades the ridiculousness of it.
    • Margaret gets in a prejudiced line as well.
  • Erotic Dream: Strongly implied with Margaret when Radar arrives to wake her for midnight duty. The romance novel she has in bed with her adds further emphasis, as does the first thing she says when Radar tries to tap her awake.
    Maragret: Animal.
  • Fear Is the Appropriate Response: Noticing that Jenkins is nervous about going on sentry duty for the first time, Hawkeye gently informs him it's okay to be scared as everyone else at the 4077 is, even him.
    Jenkins: Honest?
    Hawkeye: Are you kidding? [points at himself] Winner of the Purple Chicken with Yellowbelly Clusters.
    • When Colonel Potter crosses paths with Jenkins later, Jenkins tries to convince his commanding officer he's not frightened.
      Colonel Potter: If you had any brains, you'd be scared.
  • First-Name Basis: Colonel Potter is on this with General Morrisson. It doesn't help in the long run though.
  • From Bad to Worse: This is how the episode starts. MASH 4077 is in the throes of a cold weather snap which, according to the PA Announcer, is showing no signs of letting up. He then informs the camp that blackout conditions are in effect due to combat nearby, forcing the campers to put out fires.
  • Foreshadowing: As Frank and Margaret discuss their exchanging of love notes in the scrub room, the distant noise of gunfire and shelling starts to get louder.
  • Get Out!: Margaret yells at Radar to leave her tent when she believes the clerk has been ogling her in her sleep.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Radar contacts a Lieutenant Gage to get the shelling stopped. When Gage replies, Radar halts for a minute.
    Hawkeye: What?
    Radar: He's got a suggestion but I think it's physically impossible.
    • Hawkeye then grabs the phone to talk to Gage himself. He fares no better than Radar and hangs up.
      Radar: What did he say?
      Hawkeye: You're right, Radar. He's got a lot to learn about anatomy.
  • Groin Attack: An accdiental one when Colonel Potter is having a cup of coffee in the mess tent and the shelling continues suddenly. The explosions startle Potter, causing him to spill the hot coffee down his front.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Having faced much of his life through multiple wars, including both World Wars, it shouldn't be so surprising Colonel Potter can sleep through an artillery barrage.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Frank snaps at Hawkeye for being late for the midnight shift at post-op. Yet when Margaret comes in two minutes later than Hawkeye did, Frank is all charm and smiles.
      Margaret: I'm sorry I'm late.
      Frank: Oh, that's all right.
      Hawkeye: I had to bring a note from home.
    • Frank tries to dissuade Margaret from keeping all the love notes he's given her as she could get killed in action and someone else could find them. Margaret gets offended the more the conversation goes on, understanding that he'd rather keep the security of his marriage and financial wealth than mourn her loss if she ever is killed, leading her to snap that he could get killed too.
      Frank: Now that's cruel.
  • I'll Kill You!: Klinger threatens this to Hawkeye if the doctor wrecks his chances at getting discharged by making well.
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Abbott warns Margaret again not to touch him during a bout of quiet. When Margaret ignores him, continuing her medical treatment of him, Abbott spitefully snaps back.
    Abbott: I hate your guts.
    Margaret: My guts are not here for you to love.
  • Jerkass: Frank reveals to Margaret he tears up all of the love notes she writes him, caring only about keeping their love affair under wraps and being oblivious to her hurt feelings.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Hawkeye finally arrives at the post-op ward, Frank chastises him for being ten minutes late. Naturally and correctly, this is because Frank's shift ended at midnight and Hawkeye should have relieved him then. Hawkeye snarks at him regardless.
  • Jump Scare: Hawkeye, B.J. and Margaret all jump when they hear what sounds like an animal howling just outside. The moment becomes hilarious when Margaret runs to the door to investigate and sees that it's Klinger, trying to get himself sick enough in the winter cold to get sent home.
  • Large Ham: In another attempt to get sent home, Klinger runs out into the cold in just his underwear, hoping to get sick. When Margaret discovers him doing this, she belatedly orders him inside the post-op and he hops in the door, shivering and moaning.
    Margaret: Corporal Klinger, you are crazy! You'll catch pneumonia.
    Klinger: I want pneumonia! Double pneumonia! Scarlet fever, the palsey, Halsey, the plague! Anything!
  • Late to the Realization: After struggling with Abbott's second meltdown and having to sedate him, Hawkeye notes that the shelling finally stopped as they were dealing with him. Margaret comes to realise it too after he points it out.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: After getting accidentally shot by Jenkins, Jamie Farr hams it out as Klinger thinking the mere graze from the fired bullet is going to kill him.
    • Later, he milks the injury for all its worth in a new bid to get sent home. Hawkeye finally gets tired of it.
      Hawkeye: Klinger, it's us. You don't have to perform for me.
      Klinger: I will never surrender. This is my ticket. They've gotta send me home. I've done my bit. I've been shacking up with rats, eating swill on a shingle, and now my arm is half blown off!
      Hawkeye: Klinger, it's just a scratch!
      Klinger: How do you know? What about tetanus?
      Hawkeye: Nah.
      Klinger: It could've been a rusty bullet.
      Hawkeye: I'll give you a shot.
      Klinger: No. No shots. I'm allergic. I'll blow up like a balloon.
      Hawkeye: I'll give you an anti-balloon shot.
  • Name's the Same: In-universe:
    • According to Sherman Potter, there was another Colonel Potter involved in the Korean War who'd done his service at the PX before retiring and shipped a temple home to the States to open it as a drive-in restaurant.
    • The unseen Lieutenant Gage who has a lot to learn about anatomy shares his name with a nurse who appears periodically in the series (albeit not this episode).
  • Noodle Incident: In another of his prove-he's-crazy schemes, Klinger sent a picture of himself wearing a garter belt to General MacArthur. MacArthur, instead of getting Klinger discharged, sent back a picture of him smoking a pipe.
  • Oh, Crap!: After an exchange of romantic notes, Frank is horrified to learn that Margaret has been saving all her love notes from him. Wanting to keep his affair with her discreet, especially from his wife back home, he sets out to finds the notes and get rid of them.
  • Precision F-Strike: Potter states his opinion of Colonel Clayburn in this way.
    Colonel Potter: Jackass.
  • Primal Fear: In his introduction, it is implied that Abbott is on the verge of a breakdown and suffering from PTSD. When artillery fire starts to hit the camp, the implication is no more when he bursts into a frenzied panic. Twice.
  • Pun: B.J. refers to the time earlier when he operated on Edwards, explaining to Hawkeye that he patched up eighteen bullet holes in Edwards' colon.
    B.J.: Eighteen holes exactly. I thought "What a place for a miniature golf course".
  • Reflexive Response: Before Hawkeye goes on duty, B.J. cautions him about keep an eye on his patient, Edwards, going on to inform Hawkeye Edwards has already had ten units of blood transfused into him.
    Hawkeye: That's lots of blood.
    B.J.: He was lots of hurt.
  • The Scrooge: Frank insists that Edwards is in no trouble now that, from the major's viewpoint, the patient does not require more blood transfusions now that he's already used up ten units.
    Hawkeye: Saving it to paint the mess tent, Frank?
  • Self-Deprecation: Getting woken up by a third round of artillery fire, Potter recalls that Colonel Clayburn was supposed to put an end to it, leading him to remark:
    Colonel Potter: Damn colonels! Can't trust any of 'em.
  • Serial Escalation: Between them, Radar and Colonel Potter go up the military ladder from a Lieutenant Gage to an unnamed major to Colonel Clayburn to General Morrisson in order to get the shelling stopped.
  • Shout-Out: The film Mr. Skeffington, featuring Bette Davis, is referenced by Klinger when he insists a bullet wound he received to the shoulder is making his hands lose their sense of touch.
    Hawkeye: Don't move, I'll get Claude Rains. George Brent's not available.
  • Skewed Priorities: As the wounded patient Abbott has a panic attack from a shell blast, he grabs at both Hawkeye and Margaret. Margaret is too busy objecting to his groping her to help Hawkeye restrain him.
  • Spider-Sense: Apparently, Colonel Potter can tell the difference between friendly and enemy artillery fire just by listening to the furore.
    Colonel Potter: Artillery? [explosion] It's ours.
  • That Came Out Wrong: As Frank goes off-duty, he wishes Hawkeye and Margaret the best of luck in handling the midnight shift, only to stop and realise his choice of words held a lot of potential innuendo.
    Frank: Major. Captain. I'll leave you two to carry on.
  • This is No Time to Panic: When contacting the artillery unit responsible for the shelling fails, Hawkeye tells Radar to go wake up Colonel Potter. Radar gets scared about how irate the colonel will be.
    Radar: At this hour? I can't do that.
    Hawkeye: How would you like a mouse in your milk?
  • Trash the Set: Frank completely tears Margaret's tent apart in search of the collection of love letters he wrote her. Margaret is completely flabbergasted when she returns to the tent after her shift and finds him asleep in the disarray he made at episode's end.
  • Wham Line: Hawkeye discovers one thing about the shelling early into its barrage. It's friendly fire.
    Radar: I'm trying to get the shelling stopped. It's outgoing.
    Hawkeye: It's our stuff?!
    Radar: Well, we can't let them have all the fun!
  • Wham Shot: Just as Colonel Potter is finished talking to an unnamed major on the the phone to stop the artillery barrage, things looks as if they are about to quieten down. Then a rifle shot rings out.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Before leaving post-op, Frank informs Hawkeye the patient B.J. warned him to keep an eye on, Edwards, has been resting comfortably and is in no trouble. Margaret double-checks Edwards' chart, noting the blood pressure, which alarms Hawkeye.
    Margaret: Eighty five over fifty.
    Hawkeye: That's pretty low, Frank. If your blood pressure was eighty five over fifty, you'd be no trouble either.
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