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.

14 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: Your Retention Please”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. I guess they were trying to do the male nurse story from an early 80’s perspective, but it didn’t really work for me, either.

    Klinger as “Corporal Godiva” was the highlight of this episode.

  7. I watched this episode with headphones recently. The part where Potter suggests making the army a career and they all laugh had ME laughing. The overdub of Mulcahy’s reaction isn’t mixed properly so it sounds like a cross between ET and Chewbacca. It’s very funny because it’s too loud and doesn’t resemble any human sound at all. It almost sounds like he’s groaning or saying oh oh oh. Not surprising he’s considering staying in the army since he’s always been looking for some kind of recognition. He’s also gotten way more rude and disrespectful, almost angry. He snaps at anyone who makes a joke about something he deems important. It’s certainly out of character for a priest to judge people as much as Father Mulcahy has in the last couple seasons.

    Also didn’t understand why Klinger acted like Laverne had just broken up with him when he got the letter. Surely he would be upset about her marrying his best friend but he divorced her seasons ago and has fallen in love with other women since then. I found it slightly strange that he would react so strongly to her remarriage that he would reenlist in the army. “When i give my heart to someone it’s for good.” Really Klinger? What about that girl you were involved with from the 8063rd? You said you loved her too.
    Hawkeye was too self righteous in this episode. Surprise surprise. Rushing around trying to stop anyone who wants to reenlist and unwilling to see anything good coming out of the army. Doesn’t he realize that many of the medical techniques that he uses were invented during war time? Not to mention the fact that he lives in a free country that only got that way and stays that way because of the army. I don’t like when he tries to force people to do what he thinks is right. I was glad to see Potter put him in his place.
    Why on Earth did Margaret rail against the unfairness of the Army toward Hutchinson when she’s the one who makes up the duty roster every day? Maybe there’s some rule against enlisted personnel doing medical work? He was just a sergeant but maybe needed to be a higher rank to care for patients? If so, then why did they draft him into a medical unit at all? Why not either reject his application or else put him in a combat unit as a medic? I wonder how true that story was. I believe that male nurses were discriminated against, (Meet the Fockers taught us that) but then why assign him there at all? Margaret couldn’t have just assigned him how she saw fit? I guess bending the rules isn’t in her repertoire… Until three weeks before he leaves.

    1. Maggie I like to through this site every now and then just to see what other fans have said about certain episodes. I can tell you that many sailors ( I am a Navy man) attached to different commands do jobs that don’t seemed to fit in the command that they are in. I was attached to a Fleet Hospital which is basically a very big Mash. I was an environment health officer which meant that I was responsible for everything to food service to medical waste. Many of the sailors that worked for me had all types of jobs from a mortician to a car salesman. Some of these guys were housekeepers, they basically made sure that everything was clean. Their rate (job) allowed them to be stationed any where. I had mechanics that took care of all the vehicles I had. So basically you don’t have to have a medical background to work at a Mash. I had the pleasure of being the only rate that would never be aboard a ship. The hospital was mainly for the Marines, they are part of the Navy although they don’t like to admit that. I hope this helps you out.

  8. One of my favorite quotes is from this episode:

    CHARLES: Good grief! What is this disgusting spectacle?
    MULCAHY: It’s Klinger on Sophie… and they’re both naked!

    Gets me every time!

    1. Klinger: Now can I be discharged?
      Potter: Discharged? You’re going to be impeached!

      An OK episode if mainly because a pre-“Northern Exposure” Barry Corbin was in it. I agree Vickers was amoral in taking advantage of an emotionally crippled Klinger.

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