Lt. Gaynor in "The Nurses" in Season 5 of the M*A*S*H TV series.
|Rank:||Lieutenant (0-2), U.S. Army|
|Job/Role in Unit:||Nurse at the 4077th M*A*S*H|
|First appeared in:||"The Nurses" (Season 5)|
|Last appeared in:||N/A, one time appearance|
|Appeared on/or in:||M*A*S*H|
|Played by:||Carol Locatell|
About Nurse GaynorEdit
In "The Nurses", Lieutenant Gaynor shares a tent with three other nurses, Preston, Baker and Walsh. Among the four, Gaynor is the sensitive one. She has significantly more lines than the others and there is an entire sub-plot spun around her inability to feel any emotion at the idea of death and how this is finally resolved.
The MASH is going through a bad period. The weather is very hot and they are short of water and supplies. After a tiring day in the O.R., the four nurses try to pass the time by making some bad fudge in their tent.
Margaret comes in with their orders and demands to know what they are making. Gaynor, who is drunk, banters with her: "Why don't you guess and we'll tell you if you are right." Margaret tells Gaynor that she cannot tolerate drunkenness and threatens to put her on report. But Gaynor responds that she had already done her duty with 17 hours of overtime and she cannot be upset anymore because she is numb. She is only drinking in order to feel something. "I don't even feel sad with burn patients that look like mummies," she says.
Later, we see her coming out of Post-Op looking upset. She tells the other nurses that Private Parker, a burn patient she had befriended, had died. Just like she told Margaret earlier, she is upset because she can't feel anything. The burn patient who looked like a mummy which she mentioned earlier was probably Private Parker. "We were friends and I can't feel anything," she says. She cannot feel death anymore: "It's just death."
Nonetheless, she sticks by her friends and helps in Hawkeye and B.J.'s plot to let Mickey Baker spend a night with her husband in Margaret's tent which has had a fake quarantine declared on it because of a supposed infectious patient. When Margaret catches Baker in the deception, Gaynor joins Preston and Walsh to intercede with Margaret for Baker. This leads to an angry confrontation between Margaret and her nurses with both sides unloading their frustrations on the other. The nurses say Margaret has never given them any flexibility while Margaret contents that the nurses have never shown her any consideration for the difficulties she faces in her position, not even offering her "a lousy cup of coffee".
The exchange is interrupted by the arrival of wounded but the brief moment of honesty has been enough. When in the scrub room Potter demands to know about the "shenanigans" in Margaret's tent the night before, Margaret stands up for her nurses, telling him that it is a private matter between her and her nurses--a position which Potter is content to accept. The nurses, listening in the background are impressed. Margaret has learnt that she need not "rule, regulate or report" her subordinates to death, while the nurses have come to understand that they could and should trust Margaret as their leader.
Gaynor however has not been a direct witness to this. She has been delivering a Korean civilian woman's breech baby and brings the newborn into the scrub room with a broad smile. Breaking out into tears, she tells the others the baby may have come into the world backwards but she landed on her feet. "I don't know why I'm crying," she says, and in counterpoint to what she said a day earlier, she adds: "It's just life." So she has climbed out of her rut. She has been unable to feel death but now she can feel life, which is perhaps even better.
Later that night, Gaynor joins the other nurses in making their peace with Margaret. When Margaret finds the nurses making fudge in their tent again, they offer her some, and when she says, in good humor, that it tastes really bad, they offer her "a lousy cup of coffee", which she gratefully accepts.