Episode Spotlight: Major Ego


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

A few words about Spotlight, a new weekly blog feature I’m introducing for 2013. I’ve long considering reviewing every episode of M*A*S*H and even seriously thought about trying to review one episode every weekday (leaving the weekends free to catch up on viewings). But I just don’t have the time for that. I do feel fairly confident I will be able to write one of these spotlights once a week (at this rate, it’ll only take about five years). I’ve already finished three so I’m a little bit ahead. I decided to use a random number generator to pick the episodes rather than start at the beginning. We’ll see how that works.

“Major Ego” (#152, 07×08)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, November 6th, 1978
Written By: Larry Balmagia
Directed By: Alan Alda

Capsule Summary: After he revives a patient with heart massage, Charles’s ego gets a large boost, and things just get worse when a writer for the Stars & Stripes magazine comes to write an article about his skills.

I very happy to report that the random number generator chose an episode I really enjoyed to kick of Spotlight even if I did have issues with the B story involving Margaret and Captain Greenleigh. The best part of the episode was without a doubt the C story in which Klinger dressed up as Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and Rosa Moline (played by Bette Davis) from Beyond the Forest. One has to wonder where he gets these outfits, particularly the hair for his Dorothy getup (not to mention the basket and the little dog, too). Perhaps the most amusing moment came when Potter tried, and failed, to get out of his office before Margaret could storm in.

Still from the M*A*S*H episode Major Ego.
Charles and His Cohorts

The main plot involving Charles and his incredible expanding ego worked well. It fit his personality completely to act and react the way he did to hesitating and nearly losing a patient. Lesser doctors would probably use it as a teachable moment. But not Charles. No, Charles ignored the hesitation and focused solely on the resuscitation. His obvious concern over sharing the spotlight when the Captain Greenleigh was interviewing the patient was classic Charles. So, too, was his change of heart after making a mistake with another patient and refusing to allow the article to be published.

I really didn’t like the B story that saw Margaret pursued by Captain Greenleigh only to turn the tables and pursue him. For some reason, and I don’t know if this is some sort of double standard on my part, something about Margaret’s aggressive sexuality in this episode felt wrong. The reason I don’t think it’s a double standard is because her and Frank’s “aggressive” relationship never bothered me nor did the episodes featuring Scully. I think it was just something about this particular episode and this particular relationship.

12 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: Major Ego”

  1. I liked the sub story about Margaret and the Captain – especially when he wanted to continue to pursue her after their rendezvous, and she didn’t. This was important to her because she needed the moment with him to re-establish her own feelings of sensuality about herself, and to realize she was indeed a woman that men might still want – but she wanted to also continue in discovery about herself, her career, her self esteem – and not use a man to boost herself any more – as she always had in the past. It was a great changing point for Margaret.

    Klinger and his clothes!!! Totally hilarious, and Jamie Farr did a great job “What a dump!” and Hawkeye’s remark “the decorator’s here” – someone had the best sense of timing and humor!

    1. I suppose part of my problem with the Margaret storyline could be the fact that Captain Greenleigh was a bit of a creep during his early pursuit of her. Not unlike Hawkeye or Trapper in some ways. But then she did take charge of things and everything worked out on her terms.

  2. Thanks for starting up the Spotlight idea. Good way to get exposed to some new commentary and insights. Something I think I’ll look forward to reading every week. (I’ll readily admit: A site where the new content is pretty much devoted to just a “Name The Episode” screen shot challenge every few days where the same people keep quickly posting the answers has been getting, well, a little thin…!)

  3. Love the spotlight idea. I think this was a continuation along a spectrum of growth for Margaret after the ill-fated Penobscott romance. Ultimately, her growth as a character probably made the show too treacly, but I, too, liked this episode.

  4. Great idea RJ.

    I never cared for this episdoe either. I think it’s one of those where the stotylines were getting a bit odd and old….I didn’t mind the Charles storyline but the one with Capt. Greenleigh going after Margaret was a bit wierd.

  5. I also like this idea. Now we can speak about the feelings we have about the episodes.
    I think “Major Ego” is pretty nice, but not very memorable.

  6. This is a pretty fun episode. Klinger’s dresses were hilarious. The beauty of Jamie Farr’s performance is in the totally unabashed way he wore those things…..not to mention he totally carried them off. Like Larry Gelbart put it “He was, unfortunately, born to play the part.”

    I looked at the whole interaction with Margaret and Tom Greenleigh as a way of her trying to gt back the confidence she lost when Donald cheated and then left her. Greenleigh showed some interest in her and it was just for her….not because she was a major or because he needed something. Plus, let us remember it was the 50s so Margaret couldn’t just move on with another guy without it becoming the talk of the camp, so this was a subtle way for us to know that she did move on from Donald and was on her way to becoming more independent.

    Charles’ ego was never in question but this episode also pointed out that he had a conscience. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have minded the article being published but knowing he messed up and didn’t deserve the accolades made the viewer know that there was some humility in the pompous major.

    Good episode…….not great but worth watching just for Klinger alone.

  7. I enjoyed the episode but didn’t understand why everyone was coming up to Charles congratulating him when he saved the patient’s life as though no other doctor had ever done it before. Margaret even said his work should be written up in a medical journal which was beyond ridiculous. We have seen Trapper, Hawkeye, and BJ work similar miracles with pretty much the same people in the room. Considering they’re doctors, I couldn’t comprehend why they would be so impressed with Charles over something like that. Even Klinger came up to offer his well wishes. Certainly saving lives is a wonderful thing, but I wouldn’t expect medical people to be that impressed. A medical journal? Really?

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