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Friends and Enemies was the 253rd overall episode in the M*A*S*H television series, and also the 13th of Season 11. Written by Karen Hall and directed by Jamie Farr, the episode aired on February 7, 1983 and was repeated August 29, 1983.

Plot synopsisEdit

Colonel Potter must decide whether to blow the whistle on an old army chum whose incompetence at the front caused needless casualties. B.J. suffers from both an ingrown toenail and from Charles' insistence on playing his Mahler records.

Full episode summaryEdit

Wounded arrive, and one of them, with a bad leg injury, is an old friend of Col. Potter's, Colonel Woody Cooke. In the O.R. Potter tells the others that he and Woody have been friends since World War I, but then he wonders why Woody was so close to the front, as last time Potter heard from him, Woody was in a garrison position at I-Corps.

In Post Op, Sgt. Zurilli, the NCO in charge of the hit unit, wants to talk to Col. Potter, but changes his mind when he sees him chatting with Woody. Woody explains to Potter that he was at the ridge to investigate a troubled petroleum spot, and rather than delegate, he felt it best to check it out himself. Woody's driver, who was also wounded, told Hawkeye that Woody insisted on staying when the fighting broke out. Another wounded G.I. claims that Cooke showed up on the front lines unannounced, took over command of the unit, and started giving bizarre and downright dangerous orders.

Meanwhile, B.J., stuck in the Swamp due to an ingrown toenail, is being driven crazy by his inability get away from Charles' dreadfully grim classical records. He even goes so far as to file down Charles' phonograph needle, forcing him to turn to Margaret, who just received a new record player - but no records. B.J. even tries to trick Margaret and Charles into not sharing with one another, suggesting to Charles that he entice her with "shiny beads and shallow flattery", but then B.J. mistakenly warns Margaret that Charles was planning to use her for her record player, using the exact same words he said to him ("shiny beads and shallow flattery"), but the two soon wise up and get back at B.J.

Hawkeye goes to Col. Potter to tell him about what the wounded men said, with the conclusion that Cooke caused the causalities by taking command, but Potter angrily defends Cooke, calling Hawkeye's conclusion hearsay. Hawkeye tries to talk some sense into him, but Potter orders him out of his tent.

The next day, Potter quietly tries to draw some information from Woody about what happened at the front, and questions why he opted to stay when the fighting broke out, instead of returning to safety. Woody insists that the ridge was unguarded, there were no officers around, and "those young bucks" needed leadership and that he was the only one there who knew what he was doing.

Potter decides to investigate further by talking to Sgt. Zurilli, who initially keeps quiet. When Potter says it's best for everyone involved to bring to light anything that caused preventable casualties, Zurilli opens up about how his CO had ordered the unit to stay away from a particular ridge, but then Cooke arrived, usurped command and ordered them to advance on the same ridge; Zurilli tried to explain to Cooke what was going on, but he refused to listen and gave a direct order, which is why they got hit. Potter asks why Zurilli didn't report it to I-Corps, he replies that he saw no point as he was sure it would only get suppressed along the way by one of Cooke's friends. When asked why he didn't report it at the 4077th, Zurilli answers, "For the same reason, sir."

Now knowing the truth, Potter tracks down Hawkeye in the Officers Club and apologizes for snapping at him earlier. Citing his age and his time in the Army, Potter cherishes what few friends he has left that are his own age, but then admits that he may cherish them so much that sometimes he doesn't allow himself to see the truth. When Hawkeye asks if Woody's friendship is important enough to save his life, Potter agrees, but then says doing so isn't easy.

Later in his tent, Potter tells Woody that while he cherishes their longtime friendship, they need to be more careful about things now that they are so close to retirement, calling Cooke out on how his taking authority where it didn't belong caused the casualities. Cooke insists that "those green kids" didn't know what they were doing at the ridge, but Potter then regretfully replies that Cooke was the one who didn't know what he was doing, and that Potter will have to report him to I-Corps. Woody finally admits that he overstepped his bounds, and begs Potter to let it slide, but Potter, citing Zurilli's belief that nothing will be done because of their friendship, is not willing to let any more men get hurt by allowing Woody back on the line. Embittered, Woody declares their friendship is over, but when Potter pleads that their friendship has been through too much to just end like this, Woody accuses Potter of ending their friendship and angrily wheels himself out of Potter's tent-- and his life.

Later, an unhappy Potter finds Hawkeye in the compound, and confesses while it hurt to lose his best friend, it makes him appreciate the ones he has. They walk to the Officers Club for a drink - just in time to see B.J. bursting out the door of the Swamp, hopping like mad to get away from Winchester's music, now playing at full blast from Margaret's record player.

Fun factsEdit

  • Over 251 episodes, any show of that long a run is going to repeat plots occasionally. This episode is probably the single most obvious example - Col. Potter had a similar problem with an old friend in Season Five's Ping Pong.
  • In reality, Cooke's actions would not have had that kind of effect. Although Col. Cooke may be superior in rank, he could not assume command of an outfit not in his assigned chain of command. As such, the infantry unit Cooke assumed command of would have been under no obligation to obey his orders.
  • This is this season's "Angry Potter" episode, although that element of the show is the shortest of them all this time around - basically lasting only two brief scenes (it's the last "Angry Potter" episode ever, unless they did them on AfterMASH).
  • This episode is directed by Jamie Farr. Of all of the show's final cast, only Loretta Swit and William Christopher never ended up going behind the camera.
  • One of a very few M*A*S*H episodes to end on a freeze-frame with something other than a variation of the show's theme music - this one ends with the opening from Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C Sharp Minor (listen to the Minnesota Orchestra's rendition here).
  • You'd think Winchester would be more wary of trusting B.J. when dealing with conflicts with other personnel: Back in Season 9, he learned from Hawkeye that B.J. is quite adept at pitting two people against each other for his own amusement (Bottoms Up). On that same note, you'd think B.J. would have resisted the urge to try this particular prank again, after he was soundly rebuked when the first ruse was uncovered (so to speak).
  • "Friends and Enemies" initially aired at a special time: Monday at 8:00PM (EST).

Recurring cast/Guest starsEdit

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