Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“It Happened One Night” (#75, 4×03)
Originally Broadcast: Friday, September 26th, 1975
Teleplay by Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner
Story by Gene Reynolds
Directed by Gene Reynolds
Capsule Summary: It’s an eventful night at the 4077th with freezing temperatures, shelling, Klinger being shot, Frank hunting for love letters, and B.J. worrying about a patient.
There’s not a lot to say about this episode. It’s pretty low-key despite a lot going on. Perhaps the most interesting thing about “It Happened One Night” is how so much is left unresolved. Some of the plot lines are wrapped up: the shelling finally stops and B.J. is able to save Edwards after another round of surgery.
But we never find out why Abbott doesn’t want anyone to touch him or what makes him react so angrily. Clearly, we’re supposed to infer that he’s suffering from PTSD. We don’t know exactly how Frank is able to talk his way out of destroying Margaret’s tent but we know she forgives him. Also, we don’t learn if Klinger gets a Purple Heart for his minor gunshot wound. And that wounded Chinese soldier with 13 broken bones is mentioned once and never shows up again.
Frank taking apart Margaret’s tent piece by piece is amusing to watch, particularly when he opens the cupboard and finds her riding crop, exercise equipment, and knife. On the other hand, Hawkeye’s can of 1943 beans exploding and covering him and Margaret is cheesy and unbelievable. If the can was hot enough to explode, the beans themselves should presumably be hot enough to hurt, right?
Margaret’s tent must be very warm. She’s able to fall asleep while reading with only a single blanket. Hawkeye needs a blanket, a heavy coat, and his regular uniform to stay warm. Maybe the wooden slats provide adequate insulation.
B.J. was apparently either on duty or keeping a watchful eye on Edwards while Hawkeye was sleeping. Both are up from midnight to dawn. When exactly does B.J. get some sleep? A better question is when does Radar get to sleep? Colonel Potter is asleep in his tent but Radar is scouring the camp at midnight waking people up.
Father Mulcahy does not appear in this episode.