M*A*S*H episode
“Back Pay”
Back pay
Captain Snyder (seated, right) comes to investigate a bill for more than $38,000 which Hawkeye has sent to the U.S. Army.
Season 8, Episode # 24
Number (#197) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Richard Herd
G.W. Bailey
Sab Shimono
Jerry Fujikawa
Peter Kim
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: S-625
Writer(s) Thad Mumford, Dan Wilcox, & Dennis Koenig
Director Burt Metcalfe
Original airdate March 10, 1980
IMDb logo IMDB Back Pay
Episode chronology
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"War Co-Respondent" "April Fools"
(Season 8 finale)

List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Back Pay was the 24th episode of Season 8 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 197th overall series episode, Written by Thad Mumford & Dan Wilcox and Dennis Koenig and directed by Charles S. Dubin, it originally aired on March 10, 1980.

Plot SynopsisEdit

Outraged by the profiteering of civilian doctors doing Army contract work in the States, Hawkeye submits a request for “back pay” equal to what he would have been making as a civilian doctor. Major Winchester contemptously tries to demonstrate new medical techniques to Korean doctors whom he refers to as “Larry, Moe, and Curly,” then must swallow his pride when he suffers a back injury which the doctors successfully treat with acupuncture.

Full episode summaryEdit

Hawkeye gets enraged when he reads in a newspaper clipping sent by his father about a doctor in Minneapolis charging the Army a fortune to x-ray young men about to be sent into the Army. Even though that's not entirely on the up-and-up, the Army's response seems to be one of indifference.

A group of Korean doctors visits the camp, and Potter assigns Winchester to oversee their medical training. Winchester is less than thrilled but the doctors are fascinated by what they see in surgery (they have never cut into a patient before; the Buddhist religion forbids such action). Winchester nicknames the trio "Larry, Moe and Curly" which he claims are names of "three prominent American citizens."

To get some sense of satisfaction, he sends an itemized bill to the Army, charging them for every surgery, x-ray, and examination, totaling $38,215.11!

Potter is aghast when he learns of the bill, when the Army send a Captain Snyder (Richard Herd) to look into it. Snyder sneers at Hawkeye, calling it a bunch of "hot-headed, self-righteous nonsense", but Hawkeye refuses to give up.

He turns to B.J. for moral support, but B.J. thinks Hawkeye is wasting his time, trying to extract any sort of justice from the Army.

Meanwhile, the Korean doctors are still questioning Winchester about the nature of medicine every chance they get- much to his annoyance. While examining patients in Post Op, Winchester's back suddenly gives out- confining him to quarters. Margaret, Potter and Klinger all offer various suggestions to heal him- but Charles refuses all, insisting that only bedrest can help.

Hawkeye takes over supervising the Koreans, and asks about what they do when a patient won't pay a bill. They admit that sometimes farm animals can be accepted as payment since the locals do not have regular money. Hawkeye gets the idea to take possession of one of jeeps in the motor pool as partial payment.

Potter yells at Hawkeye, to no avail. He figures he just has to ride Hawkeye's tirade out, so he allows him to keep the jeep for the moment. The only problem is, Hawkeye went so far as to tell Captain Snyder he's taken the jeep, prompting another visit to the 4077th.

Winchester is still out of commission, and Potter learns that more wounded are expected soon- the 4077th will need all medical officers operating at full capacity. The three Korean doctors offer a solution but Winchester is heavily resistant to accept their primitive treatment- and doubly so when he learns said treatment is ACUPUNCTURE and will involve several needles inserted into his back! But Potter orders Charles to undergo the Koreans' care, and once completed Winchester is able to stand without pain again. Charles thanks the Koreans profoundly for their help, and they remark that this treatment is "not so bad for Three Stooges, eh?!"

Snyder and Hawkeye talk in Klinger's office, where Hawkeye still refuses to give in. Outside, he hears his jeep's engine start up, and runs outside just in time to see that someone has stolen it!

Hawkeye finds this all very funny, getting Snyder so mad that he starts physically threatening Hawkeye. In a fit of rage, he kicks Hawkeye's giant bag of x-rays, causing him to yowl in pain.

Hawkeye takes a look at it, and then does an x-ray. He agrees to find Snyder's jeep and return it...if, and only if, Snyder pays $4 for the x-ray. Snyder, furious, agrees, and Hawkeye tells him that his foot isn't broken, merely sprained. Snyder gets even more mad, but Hawkeye couldn't care less.

We learn that it was B.J. who stole Snyder's jeep, in his own anonymous show of support for his pal. Hawkeye and B.J. share a drink at the O Club, and he leaves the $4 as a tip.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit