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Recap / M*A*S*H S5 E1: Bug Out

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A rumor spreads through camp that an evacuation is imminent - just as Hawkeye has a spinal patient come in. Sure enough, the rumors are confirmed while the operation is underway, forcing Hawkeye, Margaret, and Radar to stay behind after the rest of the camp evacuates - and after the front moves behind them and leaves them in enemy territory.

The series' first hour-long episode, later syndicated as two half-hour episodes.


Attention all personnel! The following tropes must bug out immediately!

  • Bait-and-Switch: Potter decides to finally put his foot down about the rumors of the bug-out, and right as he's about to say it, Radar hands him a note that says they are bugging out.
    Potter: MASH 4077 is definitely (gets handed a note by Radar) bugging out in three hours! (beat) BUG OUT!
  • Brick Joke: The episode starts out with Hawkeye and B.J. watching a latrine being dug. Then during the evacuation, Frank falls into it. At the end of the episode, when the corpsmen have resumed digging:
    B.J.: They're goin' awful deep.
    Hawkeye: Well, they have to. It's polluted. Remember? Frank fell into it.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Embarrassing is debatable, but General Hamilton's nickname is "Binky", a fact known both to Col. Potter and the prostitutes at the brothel in the 4077th's new location.
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  • Foreshadowing: Margaret's question of "Why does the war have to be so noisy?" foreshadows her confession of fear of loud noises in "C*A*V*E".
  • Friend to All Living Things: Radar refuses to leave his animals behind when the camp has to evacuate.
  • Funny Background Event: While Potter is humming Valencia, Mulcahey pulls the chain on his shower...and breaks the switch, leaving him standing there dry and confused.
  • Gossip Evolution: The rumor of a bug-out evolves from a practice evacuation to evacuation ahead of a massive enemy push. Atypical for this trope, the rumor gets more accurate as it evolves.
    • Played straight with the before-episode rumour that the Rockettes were going to be touring Korea. Instead they got a soldier who played "Valencia" on his armpit.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Klinger agrees to trade his dresses to the prostitutes occupying the camp's new sight in exchange for them agreeing to leave.
  • I Choose to Stay: Margaret and Radar stay behind with Hawkeye.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The constant shelling from the North Koreans? Scary. The shelling stopping?
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  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Lampshaded.
    Hawkeye: Can we get a neurosurgeon from the 8063rd?
    Potter: No chance.
    Hawkeye: He needs a laminectomy.
    Potter: You've just changed specialties.
    Hawkeye: You always give me the cuties.
    Potter: Well, I sure as hell ain't gonna give this one to Alice.note 
  • Running Gag: This episode marks the second time Klinger's wardrobe was liquidated, the first being season 3's "Aid Station".
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Klinger agrees to let the prostitutes have his dresses in exchange for the building housing their brothel...and the camp returns to its original site the next day.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product:
    • Klinger's cigars, "Cuban cigars made in Newark by Puerto Ricans".
    • Anything Cho Man Chin is selling, from fake boar's tusks to watches that run backwards.
  • Shout-Out: To "Home Thoughts From Abroad", by Robert Browning.
As well as to the Comic strip Gasoline Alley when Potter calls Frank "Skeezix".
  • Take a Third Option: Frank refuses to let Klinger's dresses, Radar's menagerie, or Hawkeye and B.J.'s still be evacuated on army trucks. None of them agree to leave them behind. The solution? Have the local bicycle cab driver haul them behind the convoy.
  • The Oldest Profession: The new site of the 4077th is an abandoned schoolhouse...that just happens to be filled with prostitutes.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: As the front advances, it moves past Hawkeye, Margaret, and Radar, who have stayed behind to look after the spinal patient who can't be moved.
  • Tree Cover: When they think the North Koreans are approaching, Hawkeye, Margaret, and Radar try to hide behind flagpoles and empty tent frames.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: While Potter searches for a new location, Frank oversees the bug-out and refuses to take any "non-military" equipment, namely Radar's animals, Klinger's dresses, or the still. He also refuses to have them take tent stakes — after Potter specifically said to take them because they'd be needed later.
  • Wham Line:
    Hawkeye: Where's the front?
    Captain Stevens: You're standing on it.

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