Bombshells is the 246th episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 6th episode of Season 11 of the series. Written by Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford, and directed by Burt Metcalfe, it originally aired on November 29, 1982. Its repeat on April 18, 1983 was the first appearance of M*A*S*H on CBS since the landmark series finale "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" that February.
The entire 4077th is looking forward to a visit from Marilyn Monroe, but B.J. is more interested in going fishing.
Full episode summary
At breakfast, morale is low, with the exception of B.J., who is thrilled to have the day off, and plans to spend it with a chopper pilot friend fishing. Father Mulcahy reads in Stars and Stripes that Ted Williams is being sent home with an infection. After Margaret repeats a rumor that she heard about Williams, Hawkeye and Charles comment on how people will believe anything. When Klinger comes over and tells them another rumor about Williams, on spur of the moment, Hawkeye asks why he didn't tell them about the arrival of Marilyn Monroe. When Klinger seems incredulous, Hawkeye and Charles tell him that she is only visiting the 4077th, in "gratitude to the doctors here for saving the life of her cousin." Convinced, Klinger runs off, saying "I've got work to do."
Klinger is next seen trying to get a confirmation from Sparky, with a curious Colonel Potter listening to Klinger's end of the conversation. While Klinger claims that he "just got the confirmation from I-Corps," Colonel Potter says that Klinger just talked to "a couple of stripes," while he is going to talk to some brass. As he says that, the phone rings. It's General Schwerin (Gerald O'Laughlin) from I-Corps. He's wondering why he had to hear about Marilyn Monroe's "visit" through channels, instead of from his friends. Colonel Potter tells him he wasn't sure the visit was real until just then. The general says that he just cancelled an R&R trip to Tokyo for this, and Colonel Potter says be here at 1200 hours.
While on their way to the lake, B.J. and the pilot spot a wounded soldier laying in the brush. They land, load him onto one of the pads, and head back home. But on the way back, they spot another wounded G.I. With no place to land, the chopper pilot has B.J. lower a rope down to the wounded man, and they'll carry him off to a clearer spot. But the G.I. is too weak to get the rope around him securely, so B.J. prepares to climb down and do it. Just as he begins to get out, snipers start firing on the chopper. One bullet hits the oil cooler, sending black smoke spilling out. The pilot says that the extra weight is too much and they can't take off. He demands B.J. cut the rope, which B.J. protests, saying the young man will be killed if they leave him behind. The pilot insists, saying they'll all be killed if they stay where they are. B.J., panicking, cuts the rope, and the wounded soldier falls to the ground. The chopper takes off, and heads back to the 4077.
In the OR, a wounded soldier asks where he is. After being told he's at the 4077th, he asks if Marilyn is there yet. Colonel Potter decides that a star like her needs a suitable reception, He appoints Hawkeye to be in charge of "Operation Bombshell," who promptly blackmails Charles to assist.
B.J. is haunted by what he's done, and he tries to find out if any of the other wounded know who that young man was. But no one seems to know. Before the chopper pilot leaves, he commends B.J. for trying to save the guy, telling him he put B.J. in for a medal. He tries calling I-Corps to find out if the 8063rd has reported any wounded matching the wounded soldier, but they are no help. Col. Potter asks B.J. about the medal, but B.J. is tight-lipped and only asks that Potter stop the medal from going forward, which Potter agrees to, a tad confused.
Hawkeye and Charles have realized that their little joke has gotten way out of control, but Hawkeye has one last idea...
B.J. heads to the 8063rd himself to see if the young man is there, but he has no luck. He makes it back to the 4077th just in time to catch the giant welcoming celebration for Marilyn Monroe, who everyone believes is coming to visit. But a messenger arrives with a telegram, apparently from Marilyn in Hollywood (actually dictated over the phone by Hawkeye), saying that she is unable to visit. After it's clear that Marilyn isn't coming, General Schwerin goes ahead with awarding B.J. a Bronze Star medal for bravery. B.J. grimly accepts it, wandering off towards the Swamp after the party breaks up.
Hawkeye follows him, and B.J. admits how disgusted he is with himself: he has always considered himself anti-authority, anti-war, and "oh-so superior" to those "military fools who kill each other." But he realizes that, in that moment in the chopper, he was everything he thought he wasn't. Hawkeye tries to comfort him, but it doesn't work.
Hawkeye is called away by a patient, who miraculously recovers when he overheard that Marilyn Monroe was coming to the 4077th. B.J. gives the young man his Bronze Star, and when asked what he did to deserve the citation, B.J. says, "it's a little something we give you for getting out of here with your butt in one piece."
Research notes/Fun facts
- The B-plot involving Marilyn Monroe supposedly visiting the 4077th gets started by Hawkeye and Winchester, and it quickly snowballs completely out of control. Note: Marilyn Monroe didn't get to Korea until February 1954.
- In 3/13 "Mad Dogs and Servicemen" mention is made of Ted Williams going to Korea. Williams was called back into service May 1952 and returned August 1953 from Korea. Thus, this episode mention Ted Williams going home can only refer to summer 1953.
- In 4/22 "Smilin' Jack", the crazy chopper pilot overloads his chopper with 4 wounded, yet somehow makes it safely; in fact, Bell H-13 Sioux capacity was three [including the pilot]; trying to take off with anything over that would have seriously overstrained the capacity of the chopper to move. B.J. could not have helped wounded personnel into the chopper unless MASH 4077 was literally on the front lines. The storyline makes it out that MASH 4077, instead of being near Seoul (20 miles south of the DMZ), is in fact so close to the front lines that there are wounded soldiers (in fact, any helicopter that close would run a risk of being shot down by the enemy). Lastly, such a conscientious surgeon such as B.J. and the chopper pilot would NEVER have kept quiet about the wounded soldier they were forced to leave behind; they would have at once reported it to Colonel Potter and any frontline unit near by so a patrol could have sent out to search for the missing man.
- The Bronze Star is only awarded for active conflict with an enemy.
- Gerald S. O'Loughlin as General Franklin Scherwin (as Gerald O'Loughlin)
- Allen Williams as Lieutenant Priore
- Michael Bond as Captain Hobart
- Stuart Charno as Corporal Sonneborn (as Stu Charno)
- Michael Carmine as Patient
- Robert Townsend as Patient #2
- Ken Neumeyer as Patient #3
- Paul Tuerpe as I-Corps Courier