A Congressman's aide visiting the 4077th turns out to be part of McCarthyism and accuses Major Houlihan of being a Communist sympathizer. Her friends must try to save her career and discredit her accuser.
Full episode summaryEdit
The 4077th is visited by the aide of a congressman, a man named R. Theodore Williamson (Lawrence Pressman), who says he has arrived to look into the unit and its people, ostensibly for the congressman to see how the war effort can be strengthened. Potter thinks it's just grandstanding for the congressman to win re-election, but he gives his permission for Williamson to ask around.
He talks to Margaret, and then moves on to Hawkeye and B.J., trying his best to avoid Klinger, who is busy snapping pictures of everyone in an attempt to win a contest for Stars and Stripes.
Williamson's questions start out about the equipment the 4077th uses, but they quickly turn to the staff, asking about people's attitudes and their behavior. Hawkeye and B.J., less than interested, foist him toward Winchester, who in the Mess Tent bores Williamson to tears by telling him endless stories about life in Boston.
Hawkeye, B.J., Father Mulcahy, and Margaret compare notes, and they all have had the same experience, with Williamson asking personal questions about the staff.
Hawkeye and B.J. go to Williamson and ask him directly what he's in Korea for. Williamson at first puts them off, but then quickly grows serious and asks to discuss the matter with them and Col. Potter.
In Potter's tent, Williamson reveals what his true mission is: to gather evidence about a suspected communist in the unit - Major Margaret Houlihan.
Back in Potter's office, Williamson confronts Margaret with the charges, and she of course protests. Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter defend her, but Williamson won't listen, and insists that a former boyfriend of Margaret's in college, a man named Wally Crichton, has been named as a subversive by House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
Williamson then suggests that if Margaret is really as patriotic as she says she is, maybe she can offer up the names of some of Wally's friends? And if she refuses to do so, then she'll be ordered to testify in front of the committee. Williamson gives Margaret the choice, and leaves the office.
Later, in the Mess Tent, a despondent Margaret tearfully recalls the friends she and Wally had in college. She can't bring herself to offer them up to HUAC, but she also can't volunteer to testify, knowing just being there would destroy her life and embarrass her father. Margaret realizes the only option appears to be to resign her commission, sacrificing the military career she has worked all her life for. Overwhelmed, she hurries out.
That night, in the Officers Club, Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester try to defend Margaret to Williamson, and drop hints that Margaret - aka "Hot Lips" - is no communist; rather, she's a party girl. Unmoved, Williamson leaves.
He shows up at Margaret's tent, and Margaret answers dressed in her silk pajamas. Williamson offers to help Margaret defend herself, and within moments he grabs her in a passionate embrace and kisses her. At that moment, Klinger pops out of Margaret's clothes locker, camera in hand, and snaps a picture of the two of them.
Williamson, shocked, tries to figure out what's going on when Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester storm in. They tell him that they're going to send the picture to Williamson's wife if he keeps up this witch hunt.
Williamson accuses them all of blackmail, but Margaret counters he was willing to let her off the hook if she slept with him. Everyone is even more disgusted when he reveals that he would've prosecuted her anyway. Margaret, sputtering, yells, "You mean you were gonna...and then you were...you creep!" Williamson, knowing when he's been beaten, storms out.
Later, everyone reads a copy of the new Stars and Stripes. Klinger's photo entry didn't win, but there is some good news: a story about Williamson's wife having an affair with the congressman. Apparently, the wife was driven to it, since she describes her husband as being "married to his work first and me second." Margaret chimes in, "Seems only fair: He had the congressman's ear, and she got everything else."
- The title comes from the "Red hysteria" of the 1940s and 1950s when anyone could be accused of being a Communist and could be summoned before a Congressional committee. Those summoned were asked, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" Even appearing could ruin the professional and public reputation of the witness if he or she did not cooperate, admit membership in the Communist Party, and/or name additional people as members. The committee referenced many times by the characters was the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
- While Williamson is questioning Margaret about her relationship with Wally Criton, he implies that she spend time with him in motels. She is insulted by the implication, then explains that "Wally had a Nash". Nash Motor Company was a brand of automobile in the US until 1954.
- The remastered version has a scene where an annoyed Major Houlihan throws mashed potatoes into Klinger's camera lens; Igor asks Klinger if he wants gravy on the potatoes. It also has a scene where BJ remarks about President Henry Truman!