M*A*S*HCast #133 – Comrades in Arms, Part 2

Season 6, Episode 13: Comrades in Arms, Part 2

Special Guest Stars: Shawn M. Myers and Dan Greenfield

Air Date: December 13, 1977

Have a question or comment?

You can find M*A*S*HCast on these platforms:

Follow M*A*S*HCast on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MASH4077Cast

This podcast is a proud member of the FIRE AND WATER PODCAST NETWORK:

That is all!

14 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #133 – Comrades in Arms, Part 2

  1. I have a theory about this episode/storyline.

    I remember hearing the story that at DC Comics, every year at the Superman editorial meeting to lay out the next year’s story, someone would always say ‘we should kill him’. It is inherently a bad idea. But ultimately, that constant suggestion is what led to the Doomsday/Reign of the Supermen story.

    I wonder if every year as the new season was being made someone would say ‘how about we have Margaret and Hawkeye get together’. It is inherently a bad idea. I wonder of Alda got sick of hearing it and so finally said to himself ‘I am going to do a 2 episode arc about it, showing why it wouldn’t work and this way I don’t have to hear about it anymore!’

    Great discussion. Forgot about the Hank letter completely. Nice play by Margaret.

    1. Ken Levine took a stab at this question on his blog during one of his question and answer days with the readers–

      “I was thinking of “Comrades in Arms,” where Hawkeye and Margaret end up together … for a night. You were one of the story editors. Was there a big discussion of how that might change the arc of their entire relationship? Were there concerns about taking that step?

      “There were lots of discussions, and if I’m being honest, my partner and I objected strenuously to doing this story turn. Our feeling was that once two people sleep together, whatever the circumstances, it permanently changes their relationship and you can’t go back to the way it was. Alan argued that he could make it work, and since it was ultimately Alan’s call and Alan’s script we acquiesced.

      “After that we weren’t allowed to have Hawkeye flirt in Hot Lips’ presence as Loretta felt that (as we predicted) their relationship had changed after having sex.

      “I thought the episodes was very artfully done and to this day I dislike them.”

  2. Another great discussion. I love all of the interactions happening back at the 4077th while they’re missing. That back and forth between Hakwkeye and Margaret and the camp gives such a good pace to this episode and breaks up the main story without distracting from it.

    Re: Margaret’s tent – she’s an Army brat who not only doesn’t currently have a home, but has never really had a home. I think she’d try to make a home wherever she is because even a *mobile* hospital is as permanent a home as she’s ever had.

    Also, love the insight about Hawkeye needing to be the one to confront Margaret. He’s the only one who knows what’s going on with Donald. Not only that, he’s the only one she’s really ever opened up to at all. I think he realizes that a) her behavior was more a reflection of her insecurity than anything and b) she doesn’t have a BJ. For all the cringiness of the beginning of this episode, this is a great finish.

  3. Great discussion of this episode. You all do a really good job touching on the themes of the episode, and bring up a lot of what I was planning to talk about here. I get why you’d feel like this was out of character for her, and to be fair, the writing may have played it up a bit more than it could have. However, I agree with the idea that this is in character, and kind of adds to a pattern we see from her over the course of the series up to this point, and probably stems from how she was raised by her father. We know, especially from a later episode, that her father never gave her the love that she longed for. And I think that in turn led her to mold herself into the ideal woman for the person she was with at the time, be it Frank, Donald, any number of Generals, or Hawkeye in this episode. And likewise, it made her more willing to overlook their respective flaws, just so she could try and keep their love. But inevitably it all failed in different ways, and here she’s forced to see herself in a new light, after her failed marriage and finding comfort in someone who’s just as afraid to commit as Frank and Donald.

    As I said, I do think some of the writing could have been better, but I still think it does a great job of highlight who she is as a person, especially in terms of romantic choices. In fact, I think this was the episode that made her arc click for me, and made some later episodes with Scully that much more meaningful for me.

  4. Ah, Comrades in Arms Part 2, my old arch nemesis… I am not a fan of this one… It’s not the absolute worst (I’m looking at you Bananas, Crackers and Nuts and another episode yet to come), but still… Well, I’ll get to that.

    I’m a very positive person, so lets start with the things I do like (because this episode has it highlights for sure).
    The acting is still on point, Loretta Swit and Alan Alda show us that special connection again, and it’s beautiful.
    I really like the ending, them coming back to camp, BJ picking Margaret up – that brother/sister-realtionship they have is very sweet. When they get the compass and the passports – oh, that is such a lovely scene! Fater Mulcahy kissing them on the head is so darn cute!
    I really like the BJ/Hawkeye-scene, good for BJ for being so insightful. I actually really like him in this whole epsisode, he is so intense and upset, and it’s great to see how much he cares.
    I love the scene in Margaret’s tent! Look at her eyes when she looks up from the “Hank”-letter, she is so unsure and scared and just vulnerable in that moment, and it’s beautiful.
    And the last scene where absolutely no one is smiling – love it! It’s the sweetest thing!

    And then, all the rest…
    I am not a fan of the writing. I respect Alan Alda so much, as an actor, a writer and as a person, but the writing here just feels off to me. He is usually good at not only writing Hawkeye as the big hero, but here… he kind of does. Hawkeye is the “victim”, having to endure Margaret at her worst – clingy, needy, overwrought. I do get some of it, though.
    Even if I wish she was, Margaret is not the strong, capable “here’s to me”-person we will see further down the line, she is still very much about the men, measuring her own worth in who’s arm she’s on. She has just found out she is nothing but a sensible choice to her husband – the person she gave her heart to and trusted he would take care of it and keep it safe. That part of her life is falling apart, but wait, here is the chance of a new love! And this time it will be perfect, she will make sure of it.
    And I mean, just the joy of rubbing a new relationship in a jerk of an ex’s face – yeah, that feels good. I get that.
    And Margaret is such a passionate person, the stakes are always so high with her, and of course she is now gonna make Hawkeye the center of her world.
    The scene where she is feeding him breakfast seems so odd, but maybe that’s how she is used to behaving with a man. Maybe it’s what the generals like, her being all sweet and lovey dovey. I’m thinking maybe she hasn’t been in a real relationship in a long time, just had flings and affairs and then Donald who she hardly even sees, so maybe it’s a role she slips into. She simply isn’t herself, just the version she thinks the guy will enjoy. Or maybe it’s the role she saw her mother play, I mean this is the early 50’s, expactations on women were different.
    She tries to change Hawkeye, but maybe she is trying to change herself too. “I wasn’t a good enough wife to Donald, he was always so far away, but this time I will try harder, I will be perfect! Not let my guard down!” I mean, Margaret is all about control, and in this situation – she has none. So she grabs on to what she can get. The same thing with him having to tell her she’s pretty over and over again, it is one tiny thing she can control. One thing that makes her feel good for a second.
    So yeah, I get why she would lose hear head over a man and why she behaves the way she does with Hawkeye.

    But what I dislike so much is that Alda’s writing makes her so unprofessional! Margaret is all about the army, she would know how to handle herself! Instead, Alda has her running around screaming, drawing the attention to them she has so far done her best to avoid.
    I don’t remember wich episode it is, but the one where Potter gets shot in the butt when he and Margaret is out on a mission. When they get back, he compliments her on being very level headed out there. I want that Margaret, the one who keeps her head in a crisis!
    Also – in the OR, I hate the way she slams the instruments into Hawkeye’s hand, she wouldn’t do that! She is all about her work and the patients! Sure, throw a few snide remarks in there, but please keep her professional and let her do her job!
    Also – the slap when they come back. No! This is Margaret “Deny everything” Houlihan. Nothing happened out there, I don’t feel a thing, she would not slap him in front of everyone, making the whole camp understand something for sure happened. No!

    I can’t help but wonder how this episode would have turned out in the hands of female writers…

    Thank you so much for letting me get this off my chest! 😉
    And, with all this said (I write the longest comments, I’m so sorry!), I very much enjoyed this episode of the podcast, great guests and an interesting conversation.

  5. What in their entire experience together suggests to Lt. Col. Donald Penobscot that Margaret would make an “excellent hostess”?

    1. I know, right? She got engaged to him after knowing him for two minutes, that poor shower curtain didn’t rip itself, and he sends her a whip. Does that really scream “excellent hostess”? 😀 😀 😀

  6. When Rob and I chatted through “Hanky Panky” he mentioned the disappointment at all the guys cheating but at the time I had forgot about Margaret. Everyone really does cheat on their spouse.

    Fun thought on the clamp episode. Maybe it one of those episodes that we see nowadays where they tell you something and then do a time capsule episode where they go back to show what they have previously mentioned. MASH was always ahead of its time.

    Always a good day when listening to the latest episode.

  7. According to MASH Ultimate Guide, this episode was filmed AFTER “Patient 4077”. I noticed that the broadcast dates for these two episodes were early December. Traditionally (even more so now) networks are careful about broadcasting new episodes during the Christmas season since much fewer people are watching TV and attending to holiday events and tasks. Maybe CBS or the producers felt that this was a weaker episode so they decided to take it out of order and burn it during December.

    You might be able to read off of her teeth but you could set off car alarms with that painfully shrill voice.

    The line “What do you usually tell him” is revisited in the episode where Houlihan thinks she’s pregnant. Potter asks Have you told Donald. She says no. After a beat Potter says Should you? Once again. reap what you sow.

    MASH people can come up with songs on the spur of the moment. I refer you to “Movie Tonight”

    The Hank letter is very childish. Why doesn’t she just talk to her husband? How does sending Donald a fake letter designed to hurt him make their marriage stronger? This is what you would do if you were an early teen in your first relationship.

    All in all one of the worst episodes of the first eight years.

  8. i NEVER bought it! Marget has better things to DO! It took me out of the story as were DEEP into “Everybody likes hawkeye WAY more than they should. This is where we find out hawkeye really DOES Have superpowers! Although it WOULD be funny if she wrote to Frank afterwards.
    What part of my brain wants is DONALD the mini series where we figure out what makes Donald cheat so much in the first place? His wife is a major for cyrin out loud does he think he can do better

  9. A little different thought on one point: how can Hawkeye and Margaret even fool around in this situation? This may not be true to life, but I can easily believe that the 4077’s staff have all fooled around during some of their scary times on camp. Whether it be sniper fire, or shelling, or air raids, there’s some degree of snuggling that happens. I’d even call it similar to the “mile high club” in air travel, something to do for the notoriety, or thumbing your nose at authority, and not really because it’s romantic or a turn-on.

    Now, while this may not track with this season’s take on the characters, I can easily believe a season 1 or 2 version of Hawk and Margaret has done this. With that history, it could carry over enough for them to at least not be “turned off” to a little nookie while under fire.

    And that’s the most I ever want to write on this subject.

    But thanks for the great podcast discussion. Having 3 people on the episodes has given the show a great dynamic for this season.

  10. Here’s my rub with “Pt. 2”: Through more than five seasons, it was clear that Margaret was a worldly woman (let’s count the generals!), neither naïve nor inexperienced sexually. BUT… one night with Hawkeye Pierce and she’s behaving like a schoolgirl! She’s self-conscious about her appearance, full of flattery for him, calling him “darling” and contemplating their future together (“what are WE gonna tell Donald?”). Really? I find this untrue to the Margaret character. The response I would find more in character would have been for her to say, the next morning, “When we get back to camp, this didn’t happen. Don’t tell anyone, ever, and I won’t, either.” Margaret and Hawkeye still could have had a private scene, later, in which they recognized that things had changed between them, and that they could never go back to the relationship that they had before.
    That said, as usual, with each M*A*S*HCast broadcast, I find reasons to appreciate the episode in question, even if it’s not a favorite. In this episode, it’s a reminder of B.J.’s intense response to his friends in peril. HIS (re)actions are true to character, IMO.

  11. I started binge listening to this show about a month ago and am really liking it.

    I’m up to episode 97 (Season 5 Episode 1) and should be hearing this episode in a few weeks.

    I’ll have to get myself some of those DVDs without the laugh track. I’ve been trying to rewatch some episodes on MeTV, but (and I don’t know if it’s my TV, the station, or my ears) the laugh track cuts into the dialogue so much that most of the jokes are so hard to decipher.

    And the idea of “scenes cut out by syndicators we have never seen before” blows my mind!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *