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Recap / M*A*S*H S5 E12: Exorcism

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One Friday the 13th, Col. Potter orders the removal of the camp spirit post. The rest of the day is plagued by incidents of bad luck, prompting the camp to call in an exorcist.

Attention all personnel! Col. Potter has asked for the removal of the following tropes:

  • Ambiguous Ending: The bad luck comes to an end after the exorcism, and Potter suggests putting the spirit post back where it was. Radar informs him that he already had, calling into question which act was the solution.
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  • Brick Joke: At the episode's end, a truck stops and the driver honks loudly. We then see a Korean ride by on his bicycle, waving to the driver in thanks, clearly using the same maneuver to ward off evil spirits.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Frank assumes that Kyong Ja's grandfather threw himself in front of an ambulance as a way to make money, similar to Whiplash Hwang in Season 2's "Deal Me Out". It turns out he (and other elderly Koreans) do it to scare away evil spirits that are following them and hope the driver will understand and stop.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Of the spiritual kind. Unlike most priests of the time, Father Mulcahy is eager to see the exorcism take place.
    Frank: You can't go through with this!
    Potter: I can if I want to. And it won't be you I apologize to, it'll be the good Father.
    Father Mulcahy: Why me?
    Potter: It's not exactly what they told you to expect in chaplain school.
    Mulcahy: I wouldn't miss this for the world.
    Frank: (stunned) Not you, Father!
    Mulcahy: Yes, Major. Me.
    Hawkeye: Why, you spiritual thrill seeker, you.
    Mulcahy: Wondrous is man and mysterious the ways of God. And I would have no one shield my eyes from the glory of His works.
    Frank: (skeptically) What does that mean?
    Mulcahy: It means there's more than one way to skin a spirit!
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  • Remember the New Guy?: The camp's spirit post does not appear before this episode and is never seen again.
  • Shown Their Work: The regalia worn by the mudang (shamaness) and the dance she performs are entirely accurate. May cross over with Cast the Expert; the lack of a reference to her in the credits suggests that she was a real mudang.
  • Superstition Episode: The removal of the spirit post prompts everyone to share their routines to ward off bad luck.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: The episode takes place on Friday the 13th.
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