M*A*S*H

Season 8 Episode 8

Private Finance

2
Aired Unknown Nov 05, 1979 on CBS

Episode Recap

Klinger is telling baseball stories to his buddies in Rosie's when a Korean prostitute walks -- or more precisely, wobbles -- into the bar. One guy leers only too eagerly at her, but Klinger is shocked to recognize Oksun Li, the camp's teenage laundress. After another soldier accepts her fumbling proposition, Klinger fends him off and takes Oksun outside.

Oksun explains that she can't make enough money in the laundry business because too many people are in it. Not wanting Oksun to compromise herself in this way, Klinger offers her money from his own pocket. Unfortunately her mother sees them, gets the wrong idea, and goes after Klinger with a broom. He's momentarily saved by the arrival of incoming wounded.

One patient has a serious abdominal wound, but won't let the medical personnel remove his money belt to examine him. The patient, Corporal Eddie Hastings, extracts a promise that if he doesn't make it, Hawkeye will send the money to his parents. He's then rushed into surgery, where he dies on the operating table.

Klinger discovers that Hastings had almost $9000 in U.S. currency. Since American soldiers are paid in military scrip, Hastings had to have made that money illegally. Hawkeye is reluctant to believe that such a clean-cut, seemingly good kid could be so bad.

Mrs. Li comes to the camp office and literally takes another stab at Klinger with a pitchfork. Oksun's told her mother that Klinger had done nothing to her, but Mrs. Li doesn't believe it. Only Colonel Potter's intervention keeps Klinger from being turned into shish kebab on the spot.

Two other patients from Hastings' unit confirm that he was a thief of the worst kind. In basic training he was the good guy he appeared to be. But later he met some bad apples in uniform, and learned quickly from them. He had been into illegal gambling, loan sharking, black marketing, and every other illegal enterprise in existence.

Since nobody ever made a formal criminal complaint against Hastings, Hawkeye wants to keep the promise he made. Hawkeye also gets the job of writing a letter to explain where the money came from. Eventually he composes a letter that is truthful and dignified, without actually saying that Eddie had gone bad in Korea. Klinger prepares a money order, and the letter and money are on their way.

Potter and Houlihan go to the Lis' house to clear up the misunderstanding about Klinger. During their visit, Oksun explains she's trying to earn enough money to take her widowed mother away from Uijongbu. Mrs. Li's sister lives in Pusan, and the fighting has ended in that area. Potter and Houlihan try to come up with a way to help them.

Several days later, the camp's fundraising campaign for the Lis is still slow going. Hawkeye joins the others in the officers' club, waving a letter from Eddie Hastings' parents. Mr. and Mrs. Hastings already know the truth about their son. They found out several months ago, when another soldier who'd known Eddie in Korea was shipped home. In their letter Mr. and Mrs. H. tell Hawkeye that they are a simple, Christian family and want to remember Eddie as he was. The money Hawk sent them came from an Eddie they never knew. Therefore they're returning it, trusting Hawkeye to put it toward helping someone in Korea. As Hawkeye exclaims, "What the hell am I going to do with this?" Potter and Houlihan exchange knowing grins.

The 4077th uses some of the money to send the Lis to Pusan, and to provide them with a nest egg for their new lives there. The rest they give to charity, and Hawkeye makes a toast to the late Corporal Hastings: "Eddie, wherever you are, whether you know it or not . . . you did good."
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