Episode Spotlight: Your Retention Please

Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.

“Your Retention Please” (#201, 9×07)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, January 5th, 1981
Written by Erik Tarloff
Directed by Charles S. Dubin

Capsule Summary: Klinger is devastated when he learns his ex-wife plans to marry his best friend and decides to re-enlist in the Army.

This episode is a bit of a blast from the past, resurrecting for a brief moment the Klinger desperate to get out of the Army via a Section 8 discharge. His take on Lady Godiva may not have been quite as memorable as his Statue of Liberty (and he wasn’t actually naked) but it was fun nevertheless.

I would like to think that the Army has rules about signing documents while drunk, which would keep situations like Klinger’s from happening in real life. If it didn’t in the 1950s hopefully it does now. For anyone interested, here are the current U.S. Army oaths of enlistment and office.

Image of Klinger, atop Sophie the horse, wearing nothing but a white sheet
Corporal Godiva

My one real problem with this episode is the portrayal of Sgt. Vickers, the retention officer. I would have preferred for him to have been more honest in his dealings with Klinger, less amoral and frankly proud of the sleazy way he re-enlisted Klinger.

With few exceptions, like Margaret, Frank, Rizzo and Colonel Potter on occasion, rarely were characters on M*A*S*H ever positive about their time in the Army. Understandable, given that most of them had been drafted. The vehement anti-military attitudes of Hawkeye and B.J.in this episode fit perfectly with their characters, but made their reactions to Vickers predictable.

I think just depicting Vickers as a nice person doing a job would have made for a stronger episode. Instead, the behavior of Vickers reinforced how Hawkeye and B.J. felt about the Army.

The B story involving Private Hutchinson, the male nurse the Army discriminates against, really needed more than a few minutes of screen time to be effective. It felt rushed and out of place in this episode, as if added as an afterthought to pad out the episode and give Margaret something to do.

During the opening scene in which Klinger is distributing mail, notice that Father Mulcahy is reading a boxing magazine.

8 Comments

  • Seoul City Sue says:

    Ok episode. The one scene I snicker at is the one that takes place in the mess tent

    Vickers: Major Winchester, you must be a career man.
    Charles: *giggles* then *guffaws*

    That’s about the only part I think is mildly amusing. Klinger as Lady Godiva did absolutely nothing for me.

  • Larry P. says:

    Fair episode. Just saw this one on MeTV the other day. Not a favorite, but it’s okay. The A-story is fine, but I agree that the B-story with the male nurse just doesn’t really go anywhere. Had it been fleshed out more and used as the main plot in another episode, perhaps it could have been more successful.

    Agreed that parts of this episode feel a bit like a throwback to the earlier years of the show: Klinger’s short-lived marriage & subsequent section 8 attempt, the “bad” regular army officer, etc. etc.

  • doc funnypants says:

    Near the end, when the camp is assembled in the compound, Sgt. Hutchinson is awarded with Margaret’s lieutenant bars. What raises my dander is that Margaret says Hutch would unofficially be an honorary 1st lieutenant. Doesn’t it sound redundant to not be officially an officer? I’d really like an explanation if you please.

    • jgf says:

      Field promotions are not uncommon (though the CO would be the one conferring the promotion), typically given to temporarily allow someone the benefits/authority of a higher rank in particular circumstances, they carry no weight when the person returns to the rear echelons. Official promotions are only on the recommendation of review boards and signed off by the divisional commander’s office.

  • SPC Smada says:

    I’ve never found it plausible that the male nurse would be treated that way at a mash. The rank and all that yeah I get, but if he is in fact a nurse, why would they make him perform orderly duties? They needed all the nurses they could get.

  • Lady you ARE a Piece of Cornbread says:

    Did they hire a bald actor to make Hawk’s line ‘a crew cut I could hear’ ironic?

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