Episode Spotlight: Say No More


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

“Say No More” (#247, 11×12)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, January 24th, 1983
Written by John Rappaport
Directed by Charles S. Dubin

Capsule Summary: A general visiting his wounded son sets up shop at the 4077th temporarily. Meanwhile, Margaret develops laryngitis days before she is supposed to meet a famous doctor in Seoul.

This is another episode where I really like one of the two storylines a lot more than the other. In this case, it’s the General Collins storyline that I like and Margaret’s laryngitis storyline that doesn’t really do much for me.

What I like best about the General Collins storyline is that it was allowed to unfold. It wasn’t just a half hour of Hawkeye and/or B.J. ranting and raving about the inhumanity of a general sending men to fight and die only minutes after learning his own son had died. General Collins was no General Lacy (“Preventative Medicine”) or Colonel Buzz Brighton (“The Ringbanger”). In fact, Hawkeye never says a thing after hearing the general talk on the phone. All we see his the expression on his face: part confusion and part disbelief.

If you look closely, when Collins says “I don’t have any choice!” while on the phone, you can see tears in his eyes. Otherwise, we didn’t get very emotional after learning his son was dead. We as viewers get the impression he’s a very stoic, controlled man. His interactions with his son in Post-Op weren’t particularly warm. His son always referred to him as “Sir” and one suspects that wasn’t because they were both in the military.

Hawkeye isn’t happy

Margaret’s laryngitis storyline was obviously an attempt to balance the episode. The General Collins storyline was heavy and dark so the episode needed something light and humorous. Unfortunately, as was often the case, the two storylines are so different that the episode ends up feeling disjointed. It didn’t help that Margaret’s home permanent looks ridiculous, despite what the men of the 4077th seemed to think, including Father Mulcahy.

That said, it’s always nice to see Charles being kind and considerate. He spent much of the episode insulting Dr. Chesler but in the end came through for Margaret.

I don’t watch M*A*S*H with a laugh track anymore. Are there a lot of laughs in this episode?

I spent the entire episode trying to figure out why the actor playing General Collins (John Anderson) looked — and sounded — so familiar. It turns out he was in several episodes of The Twilight Zone, including “The Odyssey of Flight 33” and “The Old Man in the Cave,” and those guest appearances are where I had seen him before. His voice is very distinctive.

Was Klinger in this episode? I didn’t see him. Both B.J. and Father Mulcahy don’t have much to do.

At the start of the episode, Margaret is singing “Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella, a song from the 1920s that was recorded by Bing Crosby in 1957.

Potter refers to Dizzy Dean while in surgery. Dean was a baseball player during the 1930s.

7 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: Say No More”

  1. The final season is when you can really see the changes Hawkeye has gone through. True this season was 11 years after the first one but it also can be thought of as the toll the war and living through it has taken on Hawkeye’s appearance……that and also some of his looney tunes behavior.

    When Gen. Collins is talking to his son in PostOp, the guy stares into space and says something like “Take care, Jimmy” or something similar to that. I still don’t understand what that little bit was. Can anyone shed light on it??

    Other than that, I fully agree with Margaret’s home perm assessment. She looked ridiculous and everyone’s over the top reaction just seemed all the more false.

    1. My guess? The “Take care, Jimmy” line was supposed to symbolize that the fat embolism or whatever killed Curtis was already affecting him.

      1. The line was Jimmy get your wagon I think. What an embolism can do is cut off oxygen to brain which can make a person not think clearly and cause major confusion. I appreciated that little detail as they didn’t really even address it but it’s absolutely accurate.

        Agreed about Mags hairdo. She looked like she had a clown wig on. It was extremely 80s looking as perms were totally back in style after the waves of the 70s. Margaret always followed the trends of the times with her hair and especially makeup. I knew we were getting into the 80s when she started wearing very heavy eyeliner and caking on the bronzer. Her laryngitis was kind of odd too. Why didn’t she just whisper? She kept making that weird guttural noise which made her sound like a monster. Why didn’t she just whisper?!

      2. That line was interesting foreshadowing but it makes me wonder why his confusion wasn’t caught. Wouldn’t Hawkeye or any of the other doctors and nurses noticed the confusion (or General Collins maybe mentioned it to Hawkeye) when they were on duty and wouldn’t it have concerned them: or is there nothing they could have done anyway? Hawkeye told general Collins that there was a “small chance” that tree he difficulty breathing was caused by a fat embalism , wouldn’t the confusion have led him to think there was a greater chance? And regardless if the chance,, they mentioned the possibility of the fat embalism but they didn’t appear to do any testing to diagnose if that’s what it was and it wasn’t mentioned if they could have done something before it became fatal had they diagnosed it. Im not a doctor so don’t know the medicine on that but something I wondered.

  2. I could have done without the laryngitis story. It came across like something from an earlier season.

    The interaction between Hawkeye and Collins is unique for the series. Perhaps it’s because by the early 80s Hawkeye’s earlier anti-military attitude was no longer as fashionable, but Collins’ humanity makes him stand out from most other visiting brass. Also, his relationship with his son seems more professional than strained, perhaps because his son didn’t want to be perceived as getting special treatment.

  3. Yes, this was a good episode and unusual in that the scene between Collins snr and Hawkeye must have been one of the longest single scenes I’ve seen on the show. The usual scenes of surgery followed by trying to save the younger Collins’ life was cut out to give the final scene more time to develop which was well done. I agree this is an interesting episode from a Hawkeye character perspective, as he seems too exhausted to fight the war any longer, but still hadn’t lost his compassion.

    One slight confusion I had – and I may have missed something earlier – was the line that Collins said about “the only thing you didn’t like about him was his father”; I don’t remember Hawkeye ever making comments directly to him (Aside from one sotto voce) that he would have picked up on – he was respectful throughout all their interactions. Maybe his reputation preceded him!

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