Klinger delivers the mail, including a large package of letters for Hawkeye. Notice Mulcahy's captain's bars. He was promoted in Season 8 "Captains Outrageous"
| Season 9, Episode # 2 |
Number (#200) in series (256 episodes)
|Guest star(s)||Richard Paul|
|Director||Charles S. Dubin|
|Original airdate||November 24, 1980|
|← Previous||Next →|
|"The Best of Enemies" (Z‑404)||"Cementing Relationships" (Z‑401)|
|"No Sweat" (Z‑402)||"The Best of Enemies" (Z‑404)|
Letters was the 2nd episode of Season 9 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 200th overall series episode, Written by Dennis Koenig and directed by Charles S. Dubin, it originally aired on November 24, 1980.
The staff of the 4077th answer letters from school children from Hawkeye's home town of Crabapple Cove.
Full episode summaryEdit
The weather is cold and rainy, making everyone at the 4077th miserable. Except for Klinger, who is thrilled, since the bad weather means there's no fighting, which means no wounded.
Klinger delivers mail to everyone, and Hawkeye gets a huge package from a schoolteacher friend of his from Crabapple Cove. Inside the package are letters from her young students, which Hawkeye distributes to everyone to answer and hopefully help chase away the boredom.
Father Mulcahy tells one kid about the time he save the life of a wandering dog who had a taste for liquor, training it to never touch a drop again. Klinger tells the story about a side business he thought he'd start breeding chinchillas, except for the fact that the two chinchillas he owns are both male.
Margaret tells a kid about the time she grew very close to a paralyzed young man, spending all her time with him in his last moments. B.J. has a lighter story, about when, as a temporary replacement for Winchester, the Army sent a lawyer.
Hawkeye's letter is from an angry young boy, who lost his brother in the war and thinks all doctors do is "fix people up so they can go get killed." It hits Hawkeye hard, and he struggles with a way to answer it.
He tries pawning the letter off to Mulcahy, but he refuses, saying Hawkeye has to deal with the feelings the young man's letter has brought up, whether he answers it or not.
Meanwhile, Potter answers his letter, relating a story about when he almost set the camp record for free throws, but missing the record-breaking shot.
Winchester is at first skeptical about the whole idea but then he opens a letter from a young girl who has enclosed an autumn birch leaf. This touches him deeply--he looks at it in wonder and says, to no one in particular, "Autumn in New England..." He writes a sweet letter back to her, thanking her for her gift, and mentioning how it reminds him of the beauty that still exists in the world.
An emergency develops, when a local missionary, Dr Breuer, brings a young girl to the 4077th after she hit her head and fell unconscious. Just as Hawkeye, B.J., and Margaret prepare to operate, the missionary blesses their work. He thanks God for the surgeons, saying that for them to be here at this place, at this time, must surely be a sign of divine providence.
The blessing by Dr. Breuer gives Hawkeye a hint about how to answer his letter. He tells the young man that he should not convert his love for his brother into hate, because hate causes war and it was war that killed his brother. Hawkeye reflects on how sometimes a very small incident--such as being in the right place at the right time, and thus being able to save the life of a child--makes his presence in Korea almost bearable. He has no advise for the young man, except that he should try to find good wherever he can find it.
The ending scene shows Klinger delivering even more letters from Crabapple Cove to the surgeons--apparently, their replies were a huge success. Potter bursts into the Swamp, joyfully announcing he finally beat the free throw record.
Research notes/Fun factsEdit
- This is a fresh variation on the "letter home" narrative format.
- A child asks Father Mulcahy if he ever saved a life, and his answer is about the dog who drinks booze. But Mulcahy is forgetting about the time he literally saved a man's life--by operating on him, no less--in Season Five's "Mulcahy's War."
- Potterisms: "Hot sausage!"
- Three times does Charles show a human side in this episode:
- When Hawkeye reads a letter from an angry child whose brother was killed in the war, Charles reacts the same as Hawkeye and B.J.; with a sense of depression and guilt, as they know what it's like to lose a patient and possibly feel guilty about the effect it would have on their families.
- After receiving a leaf as a gift from one of the kids, rather than being his usual pompous, arrogant self, he put away his recorder and proceed to write to the girl (Virginia) to express his thanks to her over.
- At the same time he's writing to Virginia, a missionary doctor walks in and informs the doctors that one of his children need surgery, Charles offers to help with actual care, rather than for ego or than selfishly ignoring it and letting them take care of it. However, Hawkeye and B.J. decline the help.
WINCHESTER: Dear Virginia...It is with indescribable joy that I accept your gift. It is indeed a testimony to the beauty that exists in all creation, but perhaps nowhere more than in a young girl's heart.
HAWKEYE: Dear Ronnie, it's a shame to let the love you have for your brother turn to hate for others. Hate makes war, and war is what killed Keith. I understand how you feel. Sometimes I hate myself for being here. But sometimes in the midst of all this insanity, the smallest thing can make my being here seem worthwhile. Maybe the best answer I have for you is that you look for good wherever you can find it.