M*A*S*HCast #132 – Comrades in Arms, Part 1

Season 6, Episode 12: Comrades in Arms, Part 1

Special Guest Star: Shawn M. Myers

Air Date: December 6, 1977

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9 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #132 – Comrades in Arms, Part 1

  1. I love Comrades in Arms P1, it’s one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. Love the tension and the very tangible danger Margaret and Hawkeye are in, and everyone’s reaction back in camp.
    And the acting is simply brilliant. Loretta Swit and Alan Alda are wonderful on their own, but together they have that special chemistry few actors have. Just the way they listen and react to each other, the intensity in their eyes – it’s perfection! Kudos!

    Margaret’s reactions here feels so real. Heartbroken and terrified, and stuck with the most annoying man she has ever met, yeah – I would take my frustrations and fears out on him too. I think back to Bug Out, where she asks Hawkeye if he thinks the enemy rapes female prisoners. She is terrified of being caught, and they are literally half a second away from being just that, and in constant danger of it happening from there on. Horrifying.

    And the letter. Oh my god, Donald Penobscott, how much you suck! Margaret longs for love so much, she wants to be someone’s everything, not just a mistress, not just a girlfriend. Not just a sensible choice for a wife, someone who will throw nice dinner parties back home, produce cute kids, and pretend to be asleep when her husband comes home smelling of another womans perfume. And she thought she had it, the great love, the man who was truly committed, only to find out (again!) that Donald isn’t faithful. He is such a creep, a jerk and an ignoramus! No, wait, that’s Scully… 😉 But it goes for Donald too, in spades!

    The scene where she tells Hawkeye about the letter is such a thing of beauty, the way her voice breaks when she talks about the destruction of personal lives! I always tear up right with her. That whole section feels just like a play, just such an intimate moment between these two characters. Again, kudos on perfect acting, I believe every word they say.

    As for Margaret and Hawkeye hooking up, I’m okay with it. You talk about whether or not you would feel amorous in a situation like this. And it’s so weird, because every time I have been stuck with my annoying ach nemesis in a hut in enemy territory, we have also ended up sleeping together, it’s like a pattern! I’m kidding, of course, thank God my life has been very sheltered and quiet. 🙂
    But as a TV-trope, I’ll allow it, I get what the writers were doing. Imminent death over there, life affirming activity over here, I think the drama of it works okay. I would have preferred, though, if the circumstance of them hooking up would have been more mundane. Like it just happened after a long shift in the OR, or something, and they would have to deal with the aftermath in their normal, everyday lives in camp, that would have been awesome to see!

    You also talk about preferring the shower too hot or too cold – and I am on team too cold. I can’t stand hot things touching me (so summer is not my favorite time of year, hot air touching me all the time! Arrrgh!) Maybe it’s because I’m of Viking-blood, just born of ice and snow 🙂 😉

    So, Comrades in Arms P1 – yay! And then comes part 2, and that happens to be one of my least favorite episodes of the entire series… You can all grab some snacks already, because I feel a rant coming on here in the comment section… 🙂

    Really enjoyed this episode, thank you both for an interesting conversation.

  2. I’ve seen a lot of mixed opinions of this episode over the years, and can understand that.

    To start out with, I’ll say that I’m not a Hawkeye/Margaret shipper in the sense that I’d want them to get together and stay together. I am, however, a big fan of the progression of their relationship, starting off antagonistic, but getting to know each other better, and eventually becoming friends who respect each other, and at times hint at something deeper. And I like the idea that their shared experiences in the war may have pushed that to a great level, be it a physical fling, or a borderline love, but one that’s destined to fail because of their differences in personalities and values.

    So from that perspective, I do like this two-part episode, because it highlights so much of why they’d be drawn to each other, while showing why they wouldn’t work out. But I agree that it can be pretty clunky in execution. The scene where they kiss in particular definitely seemed to be pretty forced as a convenient way to get them together by the end of the half-hour, so they could deal with the fallout in the next one.

    There is a bit more I want to bring up, particularly about Margaret’s character arc, but I think it would be more fitting for next episode.

  3. Here’s two good questions, who would’ve been the less bad husband to Margaret, Donald or Frank?

    And does anyone else think this marriage was doomed from the start because Frank Burns was the best man, like that was the curse brought upon the marriage?

  4. Great discussion about this episode.

    I was never a fan of this quick tryst between Hawkeye and Margaret. As a kid it never made sense. As an adult, I think I can understand it just a little bit more. She is hurting because of Donald’s betrayal. She is surrounded by the loud noises, something we know she hates. And … oh yeah … she thinks she is probably going to die. Similarly, Hawkeye is probably thinking he isn’t getting out of this alive. I don’t think that makes it a sexual atmosphere. But I can see how, in that moment of stress, they might have been thrown together. I still don’t buy it. But I can see it happening a smidge more now in my later years than I did before.

    As for me on long rides, punning and goofing off, you are dead on. I walked through the ED the other day and tossed a pun at my significant other. A nurse looked at her and said ‘do you ever roll your eyes so hard that they get stuck?’

    Great talk and can’t wait to hear part 2.

  5. I’m not a Scotch drinker – I prefer rum – but to answer your question, yes, good Japanese Scotch is world-renowned.

  6. I love this episode. I have mixed feelings about part II, but I think part I was well done. The conversation about the letter is so beautiful and played perfectly by both actors. We have Margaret admitting that she’s hurting just before insisting that she’s fine, which is a great moment of growth for her. She lets him in but, true to her character, doesn’t let him in very far.

    As a side note, I always wonder at what point they decided that Margaret hated loud noises. Loretta Swit almost seems to be playing Margaret’s fear even as early as Bombed. Then we have a comment in Bug Out about how loud the war is and this episode that make Margaret’s revelation in C*A*V*E completely believable.

  7. Great discussion, gentlemen! Shawn is one of my favorite guests. I hadn’t seen this episode in a while, and I liked it more than I remembered. It does a good job of creating a sense that Hawkeye and Margaret are in real danger. Part 2 is another story, but I like Part 1.

    Like Hawkeye, i have zero mechanical ability, so I totally related to Hawkeye not being able to fix the jeep. I had the exact same thought as Shawn about the “giant on/off switch” line which is from Seinfeld.

    As for the women using the same showers as the men, there have been prior episodes when they seem to imply the women have a different set of showers. Like in The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan, Colonel Potter tells Radar to look for Margaret in “the women’s showers.” When Radar says why can’t they have Captain Pierce do it, Potter says, “No, we’d never get him out of there! You’re the man for the job.” But I guess a MASH unit might change their facilities.

    I was thinking this episode and Part 2 are the only time we actually see the often-referenced 8063rd. Or maybe there is one other time we see it? I’m not sure.

  8. I consider seasons 9 to 11 to be very weak with few exceptions. With that said there are about four episodes from the first eight seasons that, if they are being broadcast for a syndicator, I immediately change the channel. “Comrades in Arms” is one of those four.

    I know I’m in the minority, but of all the major characters in MASH Margaret Houlihan is my least favorite.. Especially after season four I find her extremely shrill, vain and egotistical. All of these characteristics are amplified tremendously in these episodes.

    Story editor Ken Levine said he and his partner vehemently protested this episode. I’ve also read in other articles that this episode was created for other behind the scenes reasons that are disturbing.

    I feel little sympathy for the Houlihan character. To paraphrase a Bible verse you reap what you sow. Here is a woman who got engaged to a man she only met for a couple of days. All through season five her only description of Donald was physical. Never was she concerned about the inner man. All she wanted was physical activity much like what she got with the countless majors and higher ups that she bedded down of a frequent basis.

    And I don’t buy Houihan’s statement about hating the destruction of war. In earlier seasons she was upset because the peace talks were going well. And also remember her love talk with Frank when he mentions that never have so many suffered so much so so few can be so happy and she agrees.

    I can’t believe that you and your guests slammed Darlene for carousing with a married man. Did you not watch the first four seasons? And I’ll bet that a lot of the Colonels and Generals she took to bed were married too.

    I’ll tell you from personal experience that passion can come from unbelievable circumstances. About two decade ago my wife and I went to the San Diego Comic Con when I learned that my mother had died 2,000 miles away.. I was crushed and apparently needed comfort. My wife and I had one of the most special nights that we had ever had in our marriage. Since Hawkeye and Houihan were facing possible death I can see how this might inflame passion as at that moment they were all that they had.

    More comments in Part 2.

  9. I saw this episode a while back for the first time in years and got a chuckle because my wife’s name is Darlene.

    Just me, but having sex on a hard dirt floor shortly after you suffered a serious leg injury doesn’t sound very comfortable.

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