Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“The Grim Reaper” (#131, 6×11)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, November 29th, 1977
Written by Burt Prelutsky
Directed by George Tyne
Capsule Summary: An angry Hawkeye shoves a callous colonel whose casualty predictions are eerily accurate, leading to charges that could result in a court martial.
The B story in this episode is bizarre. It might more accurately be described as a B story (Winchester’s food) and a C story (Klinger’s fellow Toledo native) but the two tie together at the end so in that respect you could consider them the same story. I’m not sure what to make of Charles and his basket of fancy foodstuffs. I guess we’re supposed to assume it was shipped to him which explains how the canned pheasant went bad (or maybe pheasant just isn’t a bird that should be canned).
The initial scene in which Hawkeye and B.J. discover the food is nice but the entire sequence in Margaret’s tent is awkward. One would think Charles had been at the 4077th long enough to realize Margaret wasn’t all that much sophisticated than Hawkeye and B.J. That being said, the expression Charles made in reaction to Margaret’s poem was priceless.
As for Klinger, there isn’t much meat to his C story involving Danker from Toledo but it’s a nice little diversion from Hawkeye’s angry tirade turned remorseful whining. Can anyone from Toledo confirm that the streets the two discuss actually exist?
That brings us to the A story. Colonel Potter sums it up rather succinctly during his dressing down of Hawkeye: “What did you think you were doing? You rave against violence and insensitivity then to prove your point, you attack a man.” Hawkeye’s initial sarcastic response to Colonel Bloodworth was predictable. The man did come off as the perfect combination of insufferable and heartless, exactly the qualities that would anger Hawkeye.
Hawkeye actually shoving Bloodworth was out of character, certainly, but so to was his palpable disgust at his actions. Was a little push really so devastating to his psyche? Is shoving a man really comparable to ordering 280+ men to their potential deaths? The Hawkeye of earlier seasons wouldn’t have cared nearly as much about the possibility of a court martial.
During Potter’s attempt to get Bloodworth to drop the charges, notice the group in the background playing catch. It looks like Kellye is playing catch with a shirtless man and a nurse in a very bright, very un-Army like shirt.
The best scene in the episode was Charles trying on the flight jacket in Potter’s office.