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M*A*S*H episode
“Dreams”
MASH episode - Dreams - Hawkeye's Arm
In a dream sequence, Hawkeye, while in the mess tent, is asked by his old college med school professor to reattach a soldier's arm. He takes off Hawkeye's arm like a mannequin's in "Dreams" in Season 8.
Season 8, Episode # 22
Number (#195) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Ford Rainey
Robin Haynes
Fred Stuthman
Kellye Nakahara
Rick Waln
Catherine Bergstrom
Connie Izay
Kurtis Sanders
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: S-612
Writer(s) Alan Alda (teleplay/story) and James Jay Rubinfier (story),
Director Alan Alda
Original airdate February 18, 1980
IMDb logo IMDB Dreams
Episode chronology
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"Goodbye, Cruel World" "War Co-Respondent"


List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Dreams was the 22nd episode of Season 8 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 195th overall series episode. Directed by Alan Alda, who wrote the teleplay and collaborated with James Jay Rubinfier on the storyline, it originally aired on February 18, 1980. This episode is considered arguably amongst the finest written of all 256 episodes of the series.

SynopsisEdit

During a hectic non-stop rush of wounded that is overcrowding the camp, the staff's brief naps have disturbing dreams in which the war is an never-ending intrusion.

Full episode summaryEdit

In a highly surreal episode, after a long and stressful medical crisis, the staff begin having strange dreams and nightmares as they fall asleep.

The 4077th is hit by the biggest batch of wounded they've ever seen, driving everyone in camp to the point of complete exhaustion.

To make things worse, the 8063rd MASH, their sister unit, has bugged out and is not able to help. Patients are piling up but a nebbishy 2nd lieutenant in charge of ambulances refuses to send any to the 4077th to evacuate the wounded because he has signed or for them and is afraid they may be damaged by gunfire.

No one has time to sleep any more than an hour or two at a time, and we get to see some of the bizarre, sad, and even nightmarish dreams they have.

Margaret dreams of herself on her wedding night, in a passionate embrace with her groom. But then a line of soldiers march by, and her husband leaves her, marching off. Her bed is then filled with bloody, wounded soldiers, reaching out to her for help. We last see her standing in a field, her wedding dress stained with blood, as she stands there looking stunned.

B.J, catching a nap during a break from surgery, dreams of his wife Peg (Catherine Bergstrom). They are dancing at a fancy party, and stroll their way into the OR. Col. Potter interrupts them, asking B.J. to perform an operation. He does, ignoring Peg. She stands there for a moment or two, and then walks off with two men dressed in tuxedos.

Potter falls asleep in his office, and his dreams starts with a horse wandering in. Potter, now dressed in his WWI uniform, climbs aboard, playing polo with a live grenade. As the grenade explodes into fireworks, Potter then stumbles across his boyhood home, and sees himself as a boy, riding a horse, hearing the sound of his mother calling him to dinner.

Winchester dreams of himself as a magician, performing tricks and entertaining the other members of the camp. A patient is wheeled in, and Winchester tries greater and greater tricks. But the patient gets worse, leading Winchester to try more and more elaborate tricks, to no avail. He's finally reduced to tap dancing and twirling sparklers as the patient dies and is wheeled out. He wakes up from this, sweating profusely, muttering, "Damn."

The recovering patients are piling up so much that all the beds in Post Op are turned into bunk beds, and Father Mulcahy takes a moment to hear one patient's confession.

But he's so exhausted he falls asleep, the patient's confession turning into gibberish. Mulcahy dreams of himself dressed in flowing robes, and he is welcomed to his pulpit as the Pope. He begins to speak to his flock, when suddenly drops of blood splatter his Bible. He looks up, and what was a statue of Jesus is now a bleeding soldier, and the pews full of parishioners is now an OR.

Klinger dreams of himself back in Toledo, where he wanders windy, desolate, empty streets. He stops at Tony Packo's, where inside is an OR. There he sees Potter, calling him inside. On Potter's operating table is...Klinger himself. Klinger is happy to be awakened from this dream by Kellye, who tells him Potter wants him to patch through a call.

A wounded general is irate at not being able to rest in the overcrowded post-op. He offers to help solve Potter's ambulance problem. Using the phone line which Klinger has patched through, the general calls the 2nd lieutenant and tells him that if he has a good reason why the ambulances cannot be sent up, then he should come and explain it to him personally. Suitably threatened, the 2nd lieutenant agrees to send the ambulances.

With the crisis over, everyone meets up in the Mess Tent. Hawkeye is so exhausted he falls asleep at the table, and he dreams he's back in med school. He has fallen asleep, and his professor wakes him and asks what the procedure is to reattach a limb. He can't answer, apologizing for being asleep. The professor responds by asking Hawkeye to remove his arm, and to his horror, is able to remove is left arm (acutally, a mannequin arm) and hand it to his professor, who brings it to a wounded soldier. He tells Hawkeye that the young man would like his arm back, and what is the procedure? Again, Hawkeye apologizes for sleeping, and the professor tosses the arm into an off-screen river. He then asks Hawkeye for his other arm, but Hawkeye doesn't know how to remove it, so the professor asks Charles (who was sitting next to Hawkeye when he fell asleep and is now in the dream) to remove Hawkeye's other arm, which he does. He hands it to the professor, who also tosses it into the river.

Hawkeye then finds himself, armless, floating down the river in a boat. The river is filled with severed limbs. He spots a bleeding little Korean girl on the shore, and is despondent that he cannot help her. He then finds himself in front of an operating table, where a nurse hands him a scalpel. Helpless, he screams into the heavens, from where is heard the sound of helicopters. Waking up, he sees there are more wounded arriving, and he heads out of the tent.

Later, everyone is back in the Mess Tent. They all plan to go back to their tents and sleep, but when Winchester absent-mindedly quotes, "To sleep...perchance to dream," everyone is horrified by the thought, and all sit back down for another cup of coffee.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • The young soldier confessing to Mulcahy has to speak gibberish to show how Mulcahy isn't really hearing him, and it's all nonsensical stuff, except for one part where he says: "But fringes are gerbel, you know?"
  • This is the first time we got to see Peg live. She has no dialogue in this episode, but she will when she returns for another episode ("Oh, How We Danced").
  • Also featured is a visual of Klinger's favorite eatery, Tony Packo's Cafe, an actual place in Toledo, Ohio, which is mentioned several times in M*A*S*H, although this scene is probably done on a film set.
  • Winchester's last line comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1, sometimes known as the "To be, or not to be" soliloquy:
    To sleep, perchance to dream; Aye, there's the rub,
    For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come....
  • In her book The Complete Book of M*A*S*H, Suzy Kalter has a still showing the final part of Margaret's dream, with Hawkeye in a surgical gown standing next to Margaret in her wedding gown with all the wounded soldiers in her bed.[1] This scene does not exist in the episode, and Hawkeye doesn't appear in Margaret's dream at all. So this still must have come from footage that was cut during editing.
  • This episode is in Alan Alda's list of episodes that "were really good."[2]
  • This episode is an indication that goof-off Hawkeye is finally beginning to have the start of a nervous breakdown under the strain of war; he has earlier symptoms in "The Late Captain Pierce", when he confesses that he can't take the war anymore.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Suzy Kalter, The Complete Book of M*A*S*H, (New York: H.N. Abrams Publishing, 1988), 166.
  2. “Alda's Favorite 'M*A*S*H' Episodes,” CNN.com, last modified October 6, 2005, http://edition.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/TV/10/06/alda.mash/.

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