Fade Out, Fade In, Part 2, was the 124th episode of the M*A*S*H TV series and the second episode of Season 6. The episode, which the second of a two-part hour-long episode arc, was written by Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell, and directed by Hy Averback. It originally aired on September 20, 1977, and rerun as two separate half-hour episodes on March 13 and 20, 1978.
With Frank Burns now permanently gone, Potter makes Charles' temporary duty permanent, and Charles is not the least bit happy about it. Meanwhile, Margaret has her own issues to deal with after returning early from her honeymoon.
Full episode summary
Hawkeye and B.J. are packing Frank's personal belongings to ship stateside when Margaret comes in to take back a picture he had of her. They tell her to leave it for Frank saying "He's no Donald Penobscott", but when Margaret coldly quips that "In some ways, Donald is no Frank Burns", Hawkeye and B.J. sense something wrong; they offer her a drink from the still, and ask her what happened. She eventually opens up saying that the first two days were great, but then after a party with General Weiskopf, Donald seemed to shut down completely.
They comfort Margaret by telling her that meeting all of his new wife's old friends and former beaus (including various generals) probably shook Donald's confidence. They tell her he'll get over it, but when she wonders why Frank didn't have that problem, Hawkeye and B.J. reason that "he had every other one". Margaret defends Frank, until she finds among his belongings her old alarm clock that Frank claimed had been stolen by someone else. Enraged, she takes Hawkeye's gin carafe and pours the rest of the booze all over Frank's clothes in his foot locker.
Meanwhile, Potter is on the phone with Colonel Baldwin discussing possible replacements for Frank. After rejecting several poor candidates, Potter says he'd be willing to keep Charles if he's available; Baldwin agrees to the deal.
Later, Dr. Berman is amazed that he is recovering from his wounds, and Charles checks on him one final time. Eager to leave, Charles stops in the Officers Club where he is found by Radar. Potter arrives and breaks the news to Charles that his assignment to the 4077th is now permanent. Charles is understandably piqued, especially after Potter warns him that his next assignment will be at Leavenworth if he refuses to stay.
Meanwhile, Klinger is summoned to Potter's office with Schaeffer for what he believes will be his hearing to finally get his Section Eight discharge. M.P.'s are at the entrance. Schaeffer is surprised that there are no other officers present, and then Potter drops a major bombshell on Klinger-- Schaeffer is neither a lawyer nor an officer, but a private who's been bucking for a Section Eight for even longer than Klinger. According to his CO, Schaeffer has been busted twice and spent four months in the stockade for impersonating a bombardier, a tank commander, and a chaplain who somehow performed 25 illegal weddings. Potter then calls the MP's to escort Schaeffer away and then comforts a discouraged Klinger.
As Hawkeye and B.J. send Dr. Berman on his way, Radar tells them Frank is on the phone, and says it'll be the last time he ever speaks to them. Not being able to pass that up, B.J. talks first, and then Frank (who we never see or hear) asks to talk to Hawkeye. After a few moments, Hawkeye sounds incredulous, then annoyed. As soon as he gets off the phone, he grabs the whole apparatus, and throws it as far as he can out the door. As Radar runs out after it, Hawkeye relays Frank's news to B.J.: all of the charges against Frank have been dropped, he has been assigned to a VA Hospital back in Indiana, and worst of all, he has been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. As Hawkeye walks off in revulsion, B.J. attempts to grab the phone from Radar and get his own licks in, but Radar refuses. B.J., who can only follow Hawkeye out in disgust.
As Radar is attempting to fix the phone, Charles storms in demanding that Radar put in a call to Colonel Baldwin in Tokyo, presumably to get reassigned back to Tokyo. Radar replies that he can't due to the phone being broken. Charles begins to threaten Radar until Potter walks in and calmly orders him to leave and accept his fate. Charles replies that "you cannot break the spirit of a Winchester" and that he will exhaust every avenue he possibly can to be transferred out.
Charles officially moves in to the Swamp, and he rages to no one in particular about how his skills, culture, and intelligence are so much better than everyone else's, and how he can't believe he's stuck in this "Godforsaken...dump." But then wounded arrive, and Charles gets his trial by fire. While being a superb surgeon, he is so slow and methodical (even when washing his hands) that he quickly falls behind everyone else. When told to "switch into high-gear", he gets testy and refuses, but B.J. steps in and shows him a short-cut that works better when dealing with this kind of volume.
After surgery, an exhausted Charles' ego seems deflated. He tells the others that he doesn't think he can hack it, but Potter knows Charles' skills and reassures him that he will do just fine. Charles meekly agrees, adding, "If you people did it, I certainly can." As he walks out, B.J. remarks on how unhappy Charles seems, and then Potter cautions them to not pull any pranks on Charles until he gets settled in; B.J. responds that they wish he could have told them that "before we put the snake in his bed", which gets Hawkeye laughing, and even earns a disbelieving snicker from Potter himself.
That night in the Swamp, Charles is sitting alone, listening to Mozart on his record player when Hawkeye and B.J. enter, and B.J. comments on the music. Hawkeye replies, "Please, Beej...Mozart." and lays down in his cot, only to find the snake they put in Charles' cot is now in his cot. He screams wildly as he throws it out of the Swamp, looks at Charles and says, "Clever...very clever." Charles, showing little emotion, whimsically admonishes him with, "Please...Mozart", and then goes back to listening.
Research notes/Fun facts
- It is surprising that Hawkeye and B.J. would actually accept Frank's own version of his acquittal and promotion; keep in mind that it was only Frank that they talked to on the phone with nobody to corroborate. As evidenced by the events of The Novocaine Mutiny, which clearly show that Frank is not above spinning the truth to make himself look good, so it is well within the realm of probability that these are just Frank's own fantasies; it remained unknown if he ever recovered from his nervous breakdown, if he was actually promoted, if he and his wife divorced or, for that matter, if he actually got a Section Eight discharge.
- Jeff Maxwell is seen (presumably as Igor) running the bar at the officers' club. He has several lines, but they are all rather obviously and inexplicably dubbed by Johnny Haymer, who of course played Sgt. Zale.
- The part where Houlihan takes back her photograph and pours her drink into Burns footlocker is left out of the syndicated versions of the episode.
- This is the only season with the closing theme adding the opening guitar licks from "Suicide Is Painless."
Guest stars/Recurring cast
- Rick Hurst as Schaeffer
- Raymond Singer as Dr. Berman
- Robert Symonds as Colonel Horace Baldwin
- Tom Stovall as The Sergeant
- William Flatley as M.P. Sergeant Williams
- James Carroll as Driver (as James Lough)
- Joseph Burns as Patient
- Uncredited appearances by