M*A*S*H

Season 7 Episode 5

The Billfold Syndrome

Aired Unknown Oct 16, 1978 on CBS

Episode Recap

Part One: Klinger is cleaning up the compound and dancing to some big band sung in Korean. Charles comes out reading something and tosses it on the ground. Klinger picks it up, but Charles grabs it from him and tears it up. When Klinger says it's up to them to keep Korea clean, Charles tosses the pieces on the ground. Wounded then come in and Hawkeye recognizes Jerry Nielson, a medic who had been there 12 hours before. In triage, he asks Hawkeye if he can watch them operate. Charles objects but Hawk, as chief surgeon, overrules him. Hawk shows Neilson the ins and out of surgery, but Charles is upset over it and also yells at Margaret when she did not give him the clamp he wanted, but he was not specific on it and she points it out. Eventually Hawk asks him why he is so upset; he says that because of his being stationed at the 4077th, his name was withdrawn for the opening of chief of thoracic surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. He says that opening will not happening for a long time. Hawk and BJ give comfort as only they can. Later, they try to give him real comfort but he refuses, saying he does not want to talk to them or anyone in camp again. They see this as a challenge, and tell him so, but he says, 'Never, never, never' as his 'absolutely final words.' In the mess tent, they decide to sit with Charles: BJ combs his mustache and Hawk says, 'Your parents voted for Roosevelt! Four Times!' Charles almost cracks, but leaves instead. Later, Hawk and Beej talk Radar into sending a fake telegram from Mass. General Hospital saying that they have reconsidered and put his name back into consideration. This has to be put off because more wounded come in. Jerry is there, but his work is sloppy and when they ask him about it, he looks bewildered and does not know who he is or where he is. Potter says he will have Radar call Sidney Freedman.
Part Two: Coming back to the Swamp, Hawk and BJ find a large blanket dividing the tent and hiding Charles from them. Sidney then arrives. They tell him about Charles and Nielson. Sidney says Nielson's problem may be the 'billfold syndrome,' where someone looks at their ID or billfold and can't place themselves. Radar then arrives and gives Charles the fake telegram. He reads it, smiles, but instead of talking, he goes back behind his blanket. Nielson is checked out and is not found to be hurt. Hawk and Beej bring Sidney to see him. He asks questions, but Neilson can't remember anything except what the doctors told him before. Sidney tells the docs, Potter, and Margret that something must have happened to him out in the field and he dealt with it by not dealing with it, so he would like to hypnotize him. He says that he wants to have Nielson relive his trauma under hypnosis and dig out what happened. He wants Hawk and BJ to provide the sounds of the battle. In the O-Club, Father Mulcahy is playing the piano, but the same song over and over. Charles has the telegram and reads it again. Hawk, Beej, and Sidney go in and have some beers. Hawk and BJ prod Charles and he finally speaks, saying he will be leaving. Hawk then tells him that they wrote the telegram, saying that they didn't like to lose, especially to him. Charles yells at them, backs them against a wall, and sprays a beer in their faces. Later, the hypnotism takes place in Potter's office. Sidney finds out that Nielson was at Hill 403 working on wounded, but his kid brother Stevie was in the platoon there and he was found dead. Nielson says that he promised their mother he would look out for Stevie as he was the older brother. Sidney tells him he needs to remember as he cries. He brings him out and he remembers, crying in Sidney's arms.
Epilogue: Hawk, Beej, and Sidney are having a drink in the Swamp, toasting themselves and Nielson. Charles comes in, ties a rope to the center pole of the tent, and hands Hawk a 'telegram' that says, 'Gentlemen, heads up.' They do, but the other end of the rope is tied to the back of a jeep. Charles drives off and the pole is removed, collapsing the roof of the tent onto the others.