Season 5, Episode 97: Bug Out
Original Air Date: 9/21/76
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum
Directed by: Gene Reynolds
A rumor starts flying around that, due to an upcoming enemy attack, the 4077th is bugging out.
Col. Potter tries to stamp out all these rumors, but it doesn't seem to help. When a patient with spinal-cord damage arrives, Hawkeye is initially reluctant to operate because, once he's been worked on, the patient can't be moved for 24 hours. But Potter insists they aren't bugging out, so Hawkeye (with Hot Lips and B.J. assisting) goes ahead.
But as soon as they start, the 4077th gets a word from HQ that they are, in fact, bugging out!
This sends everyone into a frenzy. Col. Potter puts Frank in charge (he has no choice, since Burns is second in command) while Potter scouts locations for a new MASH.
Hawkeye says he's staying behind to look after the patient, and Hot Lips volunteers to stay as well. And, at the last moment, as everyone is riding out of camp, Radar stays behind, too.
Col. Potter, B.J., and Frank lead the caravan to the new location for the 4077th, and walk up to what looks like an abandoned hut. Except that--its not abandoned, its full of "business girls."
Frank wants to evict them by force, but Potter wants to try and bargain with them. No matter what he offers, they refuse to turn over the building. That is, until they see Klinger's array of clothes, which they moon over. Potter asks Klinger to give up The Klinger Collection, as an act of patriotism. Klinger reluctantly agrees.
Meanwhile, back at the 4077th, the spinal cord patient seems to be recovering well enough to be flown out by chopper. After the patient is sent off, a battalion of troops arrive. When asked by Hawkeye where the front is, the soldier replies: "You're standing on it."
The troops drive on, leaving Hawkeye, Hot Lips, and Radar in the eerily-quiet 4077th compound. They climb in a jeep to catch up with the rest of the unit, but the jeep won't start. When they hear a loud clamor of people coming up the road, they assume its the Chinese and try to hide--a little hard, since all that's left of the tents are the framework.
They start to panic as the noise gets louder, but are relieved to see that it's the rest of the 4077th, led by Col. Potter! He tells them that the U.S. retook the same piece of land, so they have been ordered to return to home.
Relieved, Hot Lips climbs aboard Sophie, her arms around Col. Potter as he manages the traffic. Everyone, for the moment, is happy.
Fun Facts: The second of three consecutive hour-long season premieres.
William Christopher was finally added to the official cast, and for the first and only time, a production credit--Executive Producer Gene Reynolds--was added to the credit sequence for this season.
The montage, with Col. Potter and Hot Lips on Sophie, is sweet. There had been occasional moments where we got to see how she looked upon him as a father figure--eventually pulling her away from the Frank and Hot Lips team that had been the standard for the previous seasons.
There's another moment, just before Hawkeye, Hot Lips, and Radar leave the 4077th. Hawkeye stops for a moment to ponder how much of their lives they've spent here, and Radar chimes in with "Yeah, think of all the guys we've operated on."
Hawkeye sarcastically replies, "Right, doctor", and you can see Radar lower his head, a little ashamed of the "we" in that sentence. I always thought that was a great moment, for the show to allow its main character to be, even for a moment, a jerk.
Favorite Line: When Potter catches Burns giving a private an order, which is the exact opposite of what Potter wanted, he rolls his eyes, and says to no one in particular: "Why didn't I shoot my foot and stay in Honolulu?"