M*A*S*H episode
“Settling Debts”
SSN11 242debts
The medical staff throws a party for Col. Potter after he receives the news from his wife Mildred that their house mortgage is paid in full, whereas he can burn the mortgage papers. Hawkeye, with the rest give him a gift: an engraved lighter in "Settling Debts" in Season 11.
Season 11, Episode # 7
Number (#247) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Jeff East
Guy Boyd
Michael Lamont
Jack McCulloch
Jennifer Davis Westmore
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: 1G23
Writer(s) Thad Mumford & Dan Wilcox
Director Dan Switzer
Original airdate December 6, 1982
IMDb logo IMDB Settling Debts
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 Settling Debts is the 247th episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 7th episode of Season 11 of the series. Written by Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford, and directed by Dan Switzer, it originally aired on December 6, 1982.


Hawkeye receives a letter from Colonel Potter's wife saying that she has paid off the mortgage on their home and asks Hawkeye and friends to throw a small surprise party for Potter to celebrate.

Full episode summaryEdit

Col. Potter notices that Hawkeye gets a letter from... Mrs. Potter?

He demands to know what it says, but Hawkeye refuses to say anything. This drives Col. Potter crazy, and he starts to think it involves his wife Mildred buying a houseboat, something he is dead-set against.

But it's not a houseboat - Mildred wrote to Hawkeye to tell him that she has scrimped and saved, and managed to pay the mortgage off early. She's telling Hawkeye and the rest this so they can throw him a mortgage-burning party at the 4077th.

Everyone gets involved in the surprise party, and they try to keep Col. Potter busy and in the dark long enough to get it ready in his tent - cake, fake picket fence, and all. Being in the dark gets Potter furious, and his imagination runs away with him - he's convinced he's going to spend his retirement years on a damned houseboat.

He tries to place a call to Mildred, so Klinger has to keep stalling to keep the call from going through. Margaret comes up with a complicated plan for a new nurse shift rotation, which she shoves in Potter's face trying to keep him busy.

To Margaret's surprise, though, Potter likes the plan, and heads back to his tent. Then Father Mulcahy steps in, and gets Potter to go a few rounds with his punching bag, to relieve some stress.

Potter has finally had enough, and goes to his tent, where everyone is waiting for him. They explain what all the secrecy was about, and Potter is moved to tears over his friends' efforts, and the idea that he and Mildred now own their home, lock, stock, and barrel.

Hawkeye and the rest give him a gift: an engraved lighter, which he uses to burn the mortgage.

Fun FactsEdit

There's a B-plot in this episode, a brave young lieutenant (Jeff East) who is gravely wounded by a North Korean sniper. Some of the lieutenant's men, who respect him immensely, plan to shoot the sniper in cold blood if their commander ends up paralyzed. The lieutenant, post-surgery, wakes up long enough to tell his men to stand down.

When discussing how to celebrate Potter's mortgage burning party, Margaret suggests the theme of "Home Sweet Home", complete with a white picket fence. Winchester quips that there should be a pink flamingo for the lawn. The infamous pink flamingo lawn ornament wasn't designed until 1957, and didn't gain widespread popularity until the 1960's, long after the Korean War ended.

Recurring/Guest CastEdit

  • Jeff East as Lieutenant Pavelich
  • Guy Boyd as Sgt. Lally
  • Michael Bond as Captain Hobart
  • Michael Lamont as Corporal
  • Jack McCulloch as Soldier
  • Jennifer Davis Westmore as Nurse