Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“Aid Station” (#67, 3×19)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, February 11th, 1975
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner
Directed by: William Jurgensen
Capsule Summary: Hawkeye, Margaret and Klinger are sent on a dangerous assignment to an aid station at the front. Meanwhile, back at the 4077th, Henry, Trapper and Radar worry about their friends while Frank is just Frank.
For the most part, “Aid Station” is a good episode that allows several characters to leave the 4077th for a bit, something that rarely happens. It includes one of my absolute favorite quotes from M*A*S*H: Hawkeye’s “Never let it be said I didn’t do the least I could do” after Margaret asks him to get out of the jeep so she can change the tire. It’s a line that perfectly embodies everything that is Hawkeye Pierce.
The episode is a little too obvious in its juxtaposition of the experience of working at an aid station with a mobile army surgical hospital, with Frank providing the 4077th point of view and the constant shelling and literal lack of a building at the aid station. Every time a shell hit and dust and debris fell onto (and into) a patient, I wondered just much protection throwing a few sets of arms over a gaping, open wound on a soldier would provide. I am sure plenty of bits and pieces got past the arms and had to be picked out.
Radar did not come off well in this episode. Coming to the Swamp with his teddy bear because he was lonely was disturbing. And asking for a night light? Too much. When Henry came and sat down for a drink, that was fine. If Radar had just shown up wanting to talk and wound up asleep on Hawkeye’s bunk, it would have seemed fine. Sometimes, watching episodes in which Radar acts like a child is actually uncomfortable.
The drawing of the sausages to determine which surgeon would go to the aid station was a nice scene, as was Margaret’s speech in her tent to Frank about how much she loved the army and the shared moment between Hawkeye and Margaret at the aid station finishing dinner.