Colonel Flagg (right), posing undercover to uncover the culprit penicillin stolen from the 4077th, and a possible black market ring, discusses it with Henry, with Radar looking on in "White Gold".
| Season 3, Episode # 23 |
Number (#71) in series (256 episodes)
|Guest star(s)||Jamie Farr |
Michael A. Salcido
|Writer(s)||Larry Gelbart & Simon Munter|
|Original airdate||March 11, 1975|
|← Previous||Next →|
|"Payday" (B‑305)|| "Abyssinia, Henry" (B‑324) |
(Season 3 finale)
|"The Consultant" (B‑318)||"Bombed" (B‑320)|
Colonel Flagg blows into camp trying to obtain penicillin to barter for information.
The Army's supplies of penicillin are low, and thefts are high. For its medicinal value in treating infections, and because it gets top dollar on the black market, the drug has earned the nickname "white gold." A trio of soldiers dressed in spy gear is caught breaking into the 4077th's emergency ration. One is captured, who refuses to talk, and offers only a dog tag with the name of Perkins as identification. Radar O'Reilly traces the tag and learns it belonged to another soldier killed in action.
Lieutenant Colonel Flagg learns of the break-in and comes to the camp to investigate. Left alone to question the soldier, Flagg tells him "Get out!" and leaves the door open for him to escape. Injuring himself and trashing the tent, Flagg insists there was a struggle and promises to connect the incident to his latest case, studying penicillin turning up on the black market. (Flagg knows this to be happening — because he's been supplying the drug to informants.)
Later, Radar discovers someone searching through the supplies again and alerts Hawkeye and Trapper. The three of them rush the intruder, who turns out to be Flagg. He says he needs penicillin to barter for information, which he reasons will ultimately lead to fewer battles and fewer casualties. He insists he isn't leaving the camp without it.
Recaptured, the soldier (whose name is disclosed as Johnson) explains to the M*A*S*Hers who he really is: an Army medic with the 415th Infantry Regiment, who has been stealing small amounts of the drug to immediately treat soldiers on the front lines. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake (the hospital administrator) offers to share any surplus penicillin the camp has in the future — on the condition that Perkins and his buddies ask them for it.
Hawkeye and Trapper run into Flagg in the mess tent. As Trapper warns Flagg about the dangers of the breakfast offerings, Hawkeye slips some pills into his coffee. Later we see Flagg on an operating table, with Hawkeye and a nurse standing over him in surgical whites while Trapper does the anesthesia--the pills gave Flagg symptoms of appendicitis, and they plan on removing his appendix to keep him from making off with their penicillin.
Research notes/ Fun factsEdit
- Margaret has the same blue dressing gown with the red trim which is worn in "Chief Surgeon Who?".
- The moral standards for the show were much more lax in the earlier seasons compared to later ones, as evidenced by this episode, where the false appendicitis was played for laughs and the surgery seemingly justified. In a future episode Preventative Medicine, Hawkeye uses the same technique to incapacitate an inept colonel whose rash actions on the battlefield get too many soldiers unnecessarily wounded or killed. Instead of going along with the plan as Trapper did, however, B.J. Hunnicutt vehemently condemns Hawkeye's actions and takes no part in it.