Episode Spotlight: For the Good of the Outfit

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

“For the Good of the Outfit” (#28, 2×08)
Originally Broadcast: Saturday, October 6th, 1973
Written by Jerry Mayer
Directed by Jackie Cooper

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye and Trapper try to force the Army to admit to shelling a South Korean village.

It’s not often Frank ends up saving the day but that’s exactly what he does in “For the Good of the Outfit.” If he’d gone along with Hawkeye and Trapper from the start, signing their report about the shelling of Tai-Dong, all of the shell fragments and x-rays and medical records would be in the hands of Major Stoner. For once, his cowardice came in handy. His refusal to rock the boat is the only reason General Clayton grudgingly had to agree to reveal the truth to the public.

I wish a little more time had been spent on the Major Stoner misdirect. He surprises Hawkeye (and, presumably, viewers) by claiming to admire the courage it took to report the Tai-Dong incident. Hawkeye is impressed enough to hand over the shell fragments he and Trapper collected, alongside the x-rays and medical profiles. Clearly, at this point in the episode, Hawkeye believes Major Stoner truly does intend to pursue the investigation.

In the very next scene, however, the truth comes out. Hawkeye tells Frank he hasn’t been able to get Major Stoner on the phone for over a week. Then Trapper reads in Stars and Stripes that Tai-Dong was shelled by enemy artillery. It’s a cover-up. Radar finally manages to get through to Major Stoner, who assures Hawkeye he intends to go all the way to the top. Hawkeye knows he’s lying. The Army doesn’t want the truth about Tai-Dong to come out and, unfortunately, Major Stoner has all the evidence.

For reasons that are never explained, the Army only seems to care about Hawkeye. His mail is stopped. He’s placed under arrest. Nothing happens to Trapper even though he signed the report alongside Hawkeye. Also, despite Hawkeye’s initial anger at having his mail stopped, there’s no outrage about him being placed under arrest. It’s never mentioned again.

Here’s another potential plot hole: Why does General Clayton drop by the 4077th? Nobody calls him. Hawkeye intends to, but he’s told the general is already on his way. What is Clayton worried about? Why does he feel the need to confront Hawkeye and Trapper personally? As far as he knows, Major Stoner took all their proof that the Army was responsible for shelling Tai-Dong. He must also know that Hawkeye hasn’t been able to tell anyone and won’t be able to as long as he’s under arrest.

Obviously, for the purposes of the episode, Clayton has to be at the 4077th at just the right time for Frank and Margaret to storm into Colonel Blake’s office with their own report about Tai-Dong. Also, having a general threaten to transfer Hawkeye and Trapper to an aid station near the front lines is arguably more terrifying than a random major.

Still from the M*A*S*H episode For the Good of the Outfit showing General Clayton, Hawkeye, and Trapper
General Clayton arrives at the 4077th.

Hawkeye receives a letter from his father dated May 24th, 1951.

Gwen Farrell makes her first credited appearance on M*A*S*H as Nurse Butler in this episode. Despite the credit, she has no lines. She’s seen briefly in the background when Hawkeye and Trapper walk to the Swamp after talking with Henry. She’s giving Igor a manicure. Jeff Maxwell is uncredited for his appearance as Igor. Also uncredited is Marcia Gelman, who is cutting Igor’s hair.

When Clayton arrives at the 4077th, watch closely and you’ll see his driver has a mustache. Is this Dennis Troy as the driver?

Also, when Clayton greets Hawkeye and Trapper in front of the bulletin board, standing between them is an uncredited Sheila Lauritsen. Trapper is clearly whispering in her ear when Clayton walks back to speak with Hawkeye. I wonder what Wayne Rogers had to say.

Klinger and Father Mulcahy do not appear in this episode.

17 Comments

  • Crabapple Cove says:

    Question for all the M*A*S*H experts here: there is a line by Hawkeye in this episode when he tells Clayton they want the Tai Dong story to appear on page 1 of Stars and Stripes the second time around. I am paraphrasing here, since I have not watched this one in a while, but Hawkeye references “not burying the story under pro station addresses”. I have searched several times but have never determined what a ‘pro station’ address is. Can anyone shed some light?

    • 007 says:

      Hawkeye: We’ll send this to you after we read our story in Stars and Stripes.
      Trapper: Page 1 this time.
      Hawkeye: Yeah, not back on page 14 under pro-station addresses. (Radar giggles)

      Yea I’m not really sure either. Stars and Stripes back then must have listed the addresses of some types of service stations in the area towards the back of the paper? That’s the only thing I can figure.

      • Lady you ARE a Piece of Cornbread says:

        I forget which episode, but in one of them Hawk refers to Rosie’s as a Bar and grill and pro station. I assume pro is short for prostitute station or a place to pick up working girls.

      • Doc Funnypants says:

        The episode in question is “Abyssinia, Henry”. Hawk said this while “America, the Beautiful” was being hummed by a group of Korean women.

    • Sundaynista says:

      Pro Station is short for Prophylactic Station. These were basically V.D. clinics where service men could get treatment after they had had sex to hopefully avoid getting V.D. or to at least get diagnosed if they already had it. V.D. was actually a serious problem back then which means Henry’s sex talks were pretty important.

  • BDOR says:

    This one is on my list of personal worst episodes of the series; despite some little slivers of comedic genius from Henry (breaking his doll, getting drunk while Clayton is visiting), this episode as a whole does absolutely nothing for me, and I tend to skip it.

  • 007 says:

    Always noticed Trapper whispering in Sheila’s ear and thought that was funny. There’s a few instances like that on the show, generally from Trapper as well. He was probably flirting with her.

    The fact that despite the report being signed by both Trapper and Hawkeye, that it’s only Hawkeye being targeted was another example of how M*A*S*H at times was the “Hawkeye and friends show” and is really too bad. I can understand why Wayne would want to leave the show because to even me as the viewer and a fan of Trapper, it’s annoying. I can’t imagine how frustrating it was for him.

  • DHLA says:

    In the “I guess that’s what makes a horse race,” this was always a favorite episode of mine. Felt like another positive step in the evolution of M*A*S*H to using humor as a way to comment on the horrors of war – and in this case the hypocrisy of war.

    Pro-station is slang that stood for “prophylactic station,” a place that soldiers coming back from leave would need to visit to be “pre-treated” (i.e., prophylactic treatment) for VD just in case they had too much fun on R&R.

  • Seoul City Sue says:

    Few favorite lines

    Radar: Well, I mean, you’re the first officers I ever saw who would stick by their principles no matter what. Except for that colonel who reported the PX kickbacks.
    Hawkeye: What colonel?
    Radar: You know. Private Johnson

    Gen. Clayton: Henry, get me a driver.
    Henry (drunkenly swaying): Certainly.
    He hands Gen. Clayton a golf club.

    LOL.

  • RedArrow says:

    Henry, on being introduced to Major Stoner: “This is somewhat of a frightening honor.”

    –One of my favorite lines from the show, and one I have lifted many times.

  • Doc Funnypants says:

    This is a decent episode, if only for Henry being drunk, which is good for a few laughs. It wasn’t the first time Burnslihan squirreled away necessary papers for the right moment. In “I Hate a Mystery”, they had court-martial papers on hand waiting to get Hawkeye railroaded out of the Army. One other thing about this episode that piqued my interest was Margaret’s hairstyle, which IMO looked ridiculous. Sorry if that offends anyone who liked it.

  • Goldman says:

    While the first couple of seasons were “hit-or-miss” for me, I did like the occasional presence of the late Herb Voland as General Clayton. Voland’s was quite an actor who often had the difficult task of playing the straight man amongst nutty characters (“M*A*S*H”, “I Dream Of Jeanie”, etc.). He also showed up in some of my favorite dramas,”Route 66” and “Emergency!”. Voland finally got his chance to play the “nut” in the classic film “Airplane!”. It was one of his last roles, and arguably, his most memorable.

    • BDOR says:

      He also appeared frequently as a McMann & Tate client on BEWITCHED, usually as some old fuddy-duddy whom Darrin would have a hard time getting through to with his ad layouts or something.

  • Goldman says:

    While the first couple of seasons were “hit-or-miss” for me, I did like the occasional presence of the late Herb Voland as General Clayton. Voland was quite an actor who often had the difficult task of playing the straight man amongst nutty characters (“M*A*S*H”, “I Dream Of Jeanie”, etc.). He also showed up in some of my favorite dramas,”Route 66” and “Emergency!”. Voland finally got his chance to play the “nut” in the classic film “Airplane!”. It was one of his last roles, and arguably, his most memorable.

  • Goldman says:

    I apologize for hitting the button twice; I was just trying to correct my punctuation!

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