Discuss: Are Captain Halloran and Colonel Flagg the Same Person?

Monday M*A*S*H Discussions offers fans the opportunity to offer their opinions on a wide variety of topics relating to M*A*S*H. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. My hope is these discussion posts will continue to elicit comments in the weeks and months after they’re initially published. Have a suggestion about something you think might be worth discussing? Let me know and maybe it will become my next Monday M*A*S*H Discussion topic.

Today’s topic is: Are Captain Halloran and Colonel Flagg the same person?

Let’s Discuss

Back in April, we discussed whether M*A*S*H used supporting character Colonel Flagg too often or not often enough. Edward Winter played Flagg in six episodes, starting with “A Smattering of Intelligence” in Season 2 and ending with “Rally ‘Round the Flagg, Boys” in Season 7. Winter earlier appeared in the Season 2 episode “Deal Me Out” playing a character named Captain Halloran. Many fans believe Halloran and Flagg are the same person. Halloran was simply one of Flagg’s many aliases.

I think this could be an interesting discussion, with those who support Halloran-as-Flagg presenting their evidence and theories while those who remain skeptical offering their opinions.

Personally, I’m not convinced. Halloran is almost nothing like Flagg. True, he exhibits some paranoia, but he’s not nearly as over-the-top as Flagg. That said, in “Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?” Flagg mentions playing poker with Sidney Freedman. Captain Halloran played poker with Sidney in “Deal Me Out,” so maybe Halloran and Flagg are the same person. This exchange could’ve been the writers confirming that Halloran was Flagg using an alias.

What do you think? Was Captain Halloran simply Colonel Flagg under an assumed name? Or were the two characters simply too different to be the same man?

Hit the comments with your thoughts.

9 Comments

  • BecLeo1972 says:

    Flagg mentioning to Sidney they played poker once confirms to me that Captain Halloran was Flagg using an alias. The characters were similar in facial expression, body language, and personality. Flagg was simply behaving differently to get information on the 4077th.

  • Doug says:

    Here’s an idea–Flagg is Halloran’s alias!

    Deal Me Out happens early in the series, thus is supposed to take place in 1951. Halloran is a CID officer, and does go to the 4077th as the events of the episode show. Shortly thereafter, Halloran is recruited into the CIA, and among his aliases is LTC/COL Flagg of CID.

    As for the difference in his personality, it is the persona he adopts as Flagg. And why don’t the staff recognize him? He was only at the camp briefly. long enough to complete his assignment, play a few hands of poker, and leave. They may think Flagg looks familiar, but dismiss it. It’s a big war, and lots of people are in and out of the MASH all the time.

    Real world, it seems Edward Winter was well-liked by the staff, so after this episode, they created a role for him as Flagg. It being the 1970s, there was no retcon of Halloran or any other reference. The same thing occurred when Harry Morgan was brought on as Sherman Potter, after having played General Steele a season earlier. Another example is Arlene Martel, the actress who played Spock’s betrothed T’Pring in the TOS episode Amok Time. She was in Hogan’s Heroes as the recurring character Tiger, an Underground leader. However, in a later episode, she appears as a secretary to a defecting German Field Marshal. It is still pretty common today for actors to appear as guests in shows multiple times playing different characters.

    In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter–Edward Winter’s work on MASH was excellent, no matter what his character’s name is.

  • 007 says:

    As fans of Col Flagg, it’s nice to think that they are the same person, but the quick and easy answer is that they obviously are not. Had they intended it to be so, I think it would have been made a bit more clear.

    The only piece of evidence we have is the comment about playing poker together. While this could reference the Deal Me Out poker game, it’s more plausible IMO that it doesn’t.

    For one, Deal Me Out and Smattering of Intelligence were written by different people. One was Gene, the other Larry. We also know from other conversations with Sydney on his various appearances that he regularly plays poker, not only with the 4077th, but elsewhere.

    There is also the encounter with Klinger. Flagg is clearly shocked when he sees a male soldier wearing a dress in Smattering of Intelligence, and pretty angry about it. In Deal Me Out, Halloran clearly sees Klinger. He sits right next to him and even comments “hey up close, your a guy”. Not only would this be pretty unforgettable, but it’s also a completely different reaction to how Flagg reacts to him.

    We also have seen on the show time and time again that the same actors/actresses can appear as different, sometimes very similar characters on the show. An example of this would be Soon Tek Oh playing a Chinese soldier that surrenders to Pierce and others…twice. This shows that both Halloran and Flagg being CID/CIA, doesn’t necessarily mean they are the same person. We could honestly ask if Soon Tek Oh’s surrendering soldier were the same character.

    It’s nice to think but it’s an example of fans connecting things that weren’t really meant to be connected.

    • Larry P. says:

      007 echoed up my thoughts pretty much exactly.

      Sidney mentioning Flagg playing poker at the 4077 (which seems unlikely anyway) comes off, to me, as an attempt at retroactively fitting the character in where he wasn’t. If this were a case similar to the unexplained Milton/Sidney name change, maybe I’d allow it, but as it stands, the character traits between the two, not to mention the reactions they got from the camp, are just too different for me to consider them the same.

      I’ll quote myself from the first Col. Flagg thread: Captain Halloran is a (relatively speaking) more likable individual than Flagg ever was, and besides, Flagg is treated as an entirely new person by Henry et al. when he’s introduced proper in “A Smattering of Intelligence,” which wouldn’t have been necessary if Halloran had just been an alias of Flagg’s.

      So, there’s similarities, but no, I don’t consider them the same person.

  • BDOR says:

    Yes, they are.

    And we’re months behind in our monthly poll.

    • RJ says:

      The monthly poll will return in September when I start reviewing AfterMASH episodes every week and the Monday M*A*S*H Discussion goes on hiatus.

  • David G. says:

    Ed Winter’s role is farrrrr more Flagg-like in “Deal Me Out” than he is in “Officer of the Day” (where Flagg is just plain mean, not at all funny, and completely out of character from any other appearance by Flagg). So factor in the card-playing line — which would have had no reason to have been written in the script if it hadn’t been for Ed Winter being in the show previously, yeah, it’s the same character in “Deal Me Out.”

  • Mibbitmaker says:

    Realistically, I’d assume that the part in “Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?” was intended as a retcon to connect Flagg and Halloran. Even if so, that would make it canon even if it wasn’t before that.

    I have a theory (just a theory) that builds on David G.’s point: that there was an evolution in the spy’s personality over time. When we first see Halloran, he’s a pro, albeit in a dark business. Being in said business could change someone (as war itself often does). Next time we see him, he’s gotten considerably crazy, deeper into the world of deliberate confusion, double dealing and deception.

    Flagg (as Doug suggested, Halloran’s alias. It’s a far more made-up name – Sam, as in Uncle Sam, Flagg – and satirical on the part of the writers. Or just big name confusion in the business. Look how often the name Perkins is used) is also made more dangerous by the spy game by the time we see him in “Officer of the Day”. The crazy is darker and less frivolous there.
    After More typical Flagg in “White Gold” (where the “last time” he was there was “A Smattering of Intelligence” by Trapper’s recollection, completely ignoring “Officer of the Day”. Sign of multiple Flagg “personalities”? Okay, continuity error, but I did say “theory”), we see again more serious Col. Flagg. His conversation with Freedman shows how far Flagg is into his side of the McCarthy era culture by then.

    As his crazy grows, he becomes sloppier. There’s “The Wind just broke his leg” – less masochistic and more just klutzy this time. But by the time he meets Charles, it’s “just another one of Flagg’s red herrings”. Not that he stopped being dangerous, as shown when he tries to cut off the blood supply to the North Korean prisoner. But he’s also getting sloppy when Radar(!) could stop him.

    The last time we see him is in “AfterMASH”, where he’s the most over-the-top he’d ever been. He’s definitely flipped by this time. He even sees himself in direct competition with Joseph McCarthy now. Definitely a far cry from Halloran, but possibly for good in-universe reason.

  • JocularityGirl says:

    I think Flagg and Halloran are the same person because if the “poker” line of Sydney Freeman’s in “Qou Vadis, Captain Chandler?”
    Doug’s theory of Flagg being Halloran’s alias is interesting and would explain why his personality was less hilariously paranoid, as he wasn’t undercover at that time.
    I think that maybe being “Flagg” so long changed Halloran, and he grew too attached to that alias to be himself again, like I’ve heard that some cops have done aver years undercover. That increasing attachment to the alias of “Sam Flagg” would account for the descent into madness that Mibbitmaker noticed.

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