M*A*S*H

Season 4 Episode 4

The Late Captain Pierce

4
Aired Unknown Oct 03, 1975 on CBS

Episode Recap

With Radar in Seoul for R&R, it's Klinger who wakes BJ at 2:00 am for a phone call from Hawkeye's father, who's asked specifically for Beej. BJ gets to the phone with an equally mystified Hawkeye in tow, but hears only "How…why" before the bad connection is lost. When a Lt. Dittmuller arrives the next morning, the reason Mr. Pierce called but didn't ask for his son becomes clear. The lieutenant has come to pick up the body of Benjamin Franklin Pierce, whose family has been duly informed of his death.

Klinger gets cracking on straightening out the mistake, and tries to send a telegram to Mr. Pierce through another unit. BJ hosts a wake for Hawkeye, who's actually enjoying being "dead" until the telegram idea falls through. Because of President Eisenhower's impending visit to Korea, all communications have been clamped down for security reasons. Gradually Hawkeye discovers some of the downsides of being dead: while his father is grieving needlessly, Hawk's not getting his pay or his mail.

Potter reaches Captain Pratt at the quartermaster corps, who figures out that someone confused Hawkeye with another casualty. But setting the record straight and undeclaring Hawkeye dead will be a long drawn-out bureaucratic process. Figuring if he can't beat 'em he might as well join 'em, Hawkeye tries to ship out with the departing Dittmuller. But his desire to join the truly dead on the morgue bus ends up lasting all of a few minutes.

Finally Hawkeye is able to call his father and tell him he's alive and well. Although Hawkeye's still officially dead in the Army's eyes, that mistake will get straightened out eventually. In the interim, though, Mr. Pierce may need to start sending Hawkeye his allowance again.
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