Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“Hawk’s Nightmare” (#109, 5×13)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, December 21st, 1976
Written by Burt Prelutsky
Directed by Burt Metcalfe
Capsule Summary: Hawkeye begins sleepwalking and suffering from nightmares so Colonel Potter calls Sidney Freedman for help.
Last month, I reviewed “Bless You, Hawkeye” from Season 9. That episode is very similiar to “Hawk’s Nightmare” from Season 5, which I’m reviewing today. In my opinion, “Hawk’s Nightmare” does a better job depicting Hawkeye in the grips of a minor psychological breakdown. To be fair, one of the major problems with “Bless You, Hawkeye” is Alan Alda’s sneezing. But the episode also suffers from feeling like a copy of an earlier episode.
“Hawk’s Nightmare” is a rare episode of M*A*S*H with just one storyline. It’s all about Hawkeye’s sleepwalking and his nightmares. There’s really nothing else going on in the episode aside from the tense interaction between Margaret and Frank in Post Op. The relationship between the two changed drastically during Season 5 following Margaret’s engagement.
We also learn a little bit about Frank’s childhood. His father took away his Popeye nightlight because he didn’t want his son to be a coward whenever it was dark. “There’s nothing in the dark that’s not there in the light,” Frank explains. It’s a
The opening scene in O.R. sets up Hawkeye’s nightmares. He’s distraught at how young the wounded patients are. “They’re babies,” he declares. After an 18-hour stint in surgery, Hawkeye tries to sleep. But his mind won’t let him. He starts playing basketball and shooting marbles while sleepwalking. He suffers from nightmares about his best friends from childhood dying.
The conversation between Hawkeye and Sidney near the end of the episodes lays out the problem:
Sidney: “You’re making it all the way back to Crabapple Cove. All the way back to a time when playing ball and shooting marbles and going on picnics were all there was to worry about. No more responsibility.”
Hawkeye: “No more life and death decisions.”
Sidney: “And pain was a skinned knee.”
Hawkeye: “What about my nightmares?” Sidney: “What about them?”
Hawkeye: “I keep having these dreams about these these kids I grew up with. And I– The dreams start out okay. The kids are fine. And then they end in disaster.”
Sidney: “Like those kids who roll past you on that bloody assembly line. You dream to escape, but the war invades your dream, and you wake up screaming. The dream is peaceful. Reality is the nightmare.”
When Hawkeye asks if he’s crazy, Sidney scoffs. “Actually, Hawkeye, you’re probably the sanest person I’ve ever known. The fact is, if you were crazy, you’d sleep like a baby.”
Due to the constraints of network television, Hawkeye’s nightmares are never mentioned again, even though Sidney suggests they may not going away entirely until the war ends. Perhaps “Bless You, Hawkeye” would’ve worked better had the nightmares resurfaced instead of sneezing caused by Hawkeye’s repressed trauma from childhood.
I’m curious about B.J.’s limited role in the episode. He’s Hawkeye’s bunk mate and good friend. He should be more concerned than anyone about Hawkeye’s mental state. But Klinger and Radar both spend more time talking to or about Hawkeye. In fact, Radar has a lengthy discussion with Colonel Potter about Hawkeye.
Allan Arbus is only in this episode for roughly five minutes.
Hawkeye tells Private Burke he hasn’t seen his father in two years. Were doctors in Korea for that long during the Korean War?
Igor and Kellye can be seen in the Officers’ Club sharing drinks.
We learn a little bit about the fictional Crabapple Cove, Maine in this episode. According to Hawkeye, it was settled in 1684 and has a population of 3,976.