If you watch MAS*H from its first season to its last, then you know it had both funny and serious moments. A key one centered on Hawkeye.
Alan Alda played “Hawkeye” Pierce throughout the CBS show’s run. There is one time, though, when the character showed how war’s horrific moments can affect someone. We get some help with this storyline from Looper.
The scene in question comes from the heavily viewed Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen finale for the CBS show. A scene puts Hawkeye chatting with psychiatrist Sidney Freedman, played by Allan Arbus.
‘M*A*S*H’ Fans Get To See Hawkeye Have Mental Breakdown
Hawkeye has a breakdown. He recalls ushering refugees out of Korea on a bus. Then, in a flashback, the M*A*S*H character tries to quiet the passengers. They have a fear of being discovered by the North Korean patrol. This does include a woman who has to smother her squawking chicken to death.
At that point, Hawkeye remembers that the woman actually smothered her baby. In a moment of tears and anguish, he says to Sidney, “Why did you make me remember that.”
Fans on a thread on Reddit remember this scene, too. One writes: “I oddly think about this scene multiple times a year. And I’m not even a MASH fan.” Another Redditor writes: “I watched it as a kid. It still haunts me today at 46.”
More Viewers Have Lot of Respect For Scene Many Years Later
M*A*S*H fans added their anecdotes from friends and family, comparing their own experiences as refugees to Alda’s portrayal of repressed trauma. Viewers commend the scene all these years later. One writes: “MASH might be viewed on the outside as a comedy. But it never, EVER glosses over the tragedy and futility and horror of war.”
Years later on an episode of 30 Rock, Alda, who was a guest star, cracks a joke about that scene. He says, “A guy crying about a chicken and a baby? I thought this was a comedy show.”
That series finale drew 105.97 million viewers. At the time, it was the most-watched television broadcast of all time. It was surpassed by Super Bowl XLIV.
One cast member who did not like the series finale was star Larry Linville, who played Major Frank Burns. He already was gone from the show when the series ended. Linville considered the last show “boring.” Maybe he was still feeling a little off from the show since Linville wasn’t involved in writing or directing episodes. But his place among the show’s iconic characters will not be going anywhere soon. His back-and-forth with Loretta Swit is worth watching all the time.