Thursday, November 5, 2009

Episode 201 - Your Retention, Please

Season 9, Episode 201: Your Retention, Please
Original Air Date: 1/5/81
Written by: Erik Tarloff

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

Klinger gets a letter from his ex-wife Laverne, whom he assumes is writing because she wants him back (after dumping him in Season Six's "Mail Call Three.")

But while Laverne admits it was a mistake running off with the guy she dumped Klinger for, she doesn't want Klinger back: she's now in love with Klinger's best friend, Gus Nagy, whom Klinger instructed to keep an eye on Laverne. Klinger is devastated--losing his girl and his best friend in one sentence.

That same day, the local retention officer, Sgt. Vickers (Barry Corbin) arrives to see who he can interest in re-upping for another tour with the Army. One of the people on his list is...Klinger.

Meanwhile, Winchester is having a tough time dealing with his nurse, who is in this case a man, and has the audacity to offer Winchester advice during a complicated surgical procedure. Winchester is affronted, but when the nurse, named Hutchinson (Sam Weisman), says he was part of the surgical team back home that developed the procedure, everyone else chides Winchester to listen. He does, and the procedure goes off without a hitch.

Sgt. Vickers tries to get his targets to re-up, but it doesn't go well: Igor flatly refuses (saying he has a wife--and a girlfriend--to go home to). He then asks Hutchinson, which provokes a fight--Hutchinson is disgusted with the Army, because, as a male nurse, the Armk treats him like a second-class citizen, literally: while making all female nurses automatic Lieutenants, they made Hutchinson a Private.

Vickers tries his spiel on Klinger in the O Club, where he's drinking away his sorrows. After schmoozing Klinger about how the Army would never leave him, Klinger falls for it, and asks, "Where do I sign?"

Hawkeye, filling in for Klinger as clerk (as punishment for goofing on Col. Potter, who had to sit everyone down and talk to them about re-upping with the Army), runs into Vickers and sees that he "bagged" Klinger. Hawkeye is aghast at Vickers, who admits that he took advantage of Klinger's drunken vulnerability the night before.

Hawkeye finds Klinger in the O Club, asleep right there on the bar. He's sure Klinger doesn't remember signing anything, except he does: he remembers re-upping, and he's happy with his decision.

Hawkeye tries to talk Klinger out of it, but it seems its too late--except for the fact that, until Col. Potter administers the official Army oath to Klinger, he's not re-upped. They go to Col. Potter, who is mad at Hawkeye's blunt criticisms of the Army, but he also wants Klinger to take some time and think about his decision.

Hawkeye walks away, but, just seconds later, Klinger heads into Potter's tent to take the oath!

Later, Hawkeye helps Klinger write a letter to Laverne. He starts slow, but then lets his Id spill and tells Laverne off, getting it all off his chest. Now feeling better, he realizes he's free--except for the fact he's got six more years in the Army!

Hawkeye, enraged, heads to Potter's tent, yelling at him for re-upping Klinger. Except that...Potter didn't administer the oath, rather, he gave Klinger the Presidential oath, to buy everyone some time.

Hawkeye apologizes, and tells Potter Klinger has changed his mind again. Potter, worried that Klinger's been left alone thinking he's got another Army tour ahead of him, rushes into his office, but Klinger is gone!

Later, they hold a ceremony for Pvt. Hutchinson, who they make an honorary Lieutenant for his last three weeks at the 4077th, in an attempt to correct the Army's mistake (using Margaret's old Lieutenant's bar).

During the ceremony, Klinger arrives, naked, riding Sophie like Lady Godiva, in a desperate attempt to show he's unfit for duty. Klinger is confused when Potter promises to have him impeached!

Fun Facts: Hawkeye and Potter really have it out, and its nice to see that kind of genuine tension between two very different points of view. Sure, Hawkeye has good reason to hate the Army, but he's being ridiculous when he insists that anyone who wants to be in the military is an idiot (see below).

Favorite Line: Hawkeye, arguing with Potter and Klinger, slips and says "Nobody but an idiot would
ever re-enlist!"

Potter stops in his tracks, turns, looks him in the eye, and says, "I wonder if you can think of any exceptions to that rule."


What the Parrot Saw said...

The B-plot with Hutchinson has always struck me as telling of the series' 70s/80s gender role sensibilities- something that its detractors love to harp on.

The historical veracity could well be true (haven't researched male nurses serving in the Korean theater but not a bad American Studies topic), but the point is made here well before Hutchinson tangles with Vickers in the Officers' Club...

Klinger's A-plot is funny enough (that his letter to Laverne starts on such a ridiculously formal tone could have been drawn out more: Farr plays it perfectly) but Kilnger's reupping is an obvious irony which is otherwise labored over with predictable results.

The finale (no spoilers!) handled the same idea much better in Farr's deadpan delivery of the single line: "I'm staying in Korea!"

Dr. Eric said...

Rob, I agree with your point about Hawkeye and Potter, but I also appreciate the old school Hawkeye attitude earlier in Potter's office:

"That's very true, what other job lets you die for a living?"

Potter: "It provides you an opportunity to see the world." Hawkeye: "Scenic tours of all the great battlefields."

Potter: "It provides a home." Hawkeye: "Where even the buffalo wouldn't roam."

These little Gelbart-esque quips could have come straight from the show's first or second season. I loved it when they showed their roots in the later episodes.

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