Friends and Enemies Is 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.
Potter is faced with having to blow the whistle on an old army pal who illegally assumed command of a front-line unit and caused preventable casualties. B.J. suffers from both an ingrown toenail and from Charles' insistence on playing his Mahler records.
Full episode summary
Wounded arrive, and one of them, with a bad leg injury, is Colonel Woody Cooke, an old friend of Potter's. In the OR he 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, Sergeant Zurilli, the NCO in charge of the hit unit, wants to talk to 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.
Hawkeye goes to Potter to tell him about what the wounded men said, with the conclusion that Cooke caused the causalities by taking over command, but Potter, calling Hawkeye's conclusion hearsay, refuses to believe it and angrily defends Cooke. Hawkeye tries to talk some sense into him, but Potter orders him out of his tent. The next day, however, Potter decides to find out for himself, and quietly tries to draw information from Woody about what happened at the front. He questions why Woody opted to stick around when the fighting broke out, instead of retreating back to the safety of I-Corps. Woody claimed 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 quietly replies that his actions could've gotten him killed.
Potter then investigates further and, later that night while Cooke is asleep, questions Zurilli, who is initially reticent to talk, but when Potter says it's best for everyone involved to bring to light anything that caused preventable casualties, Zurilli finally opens up to him 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." Potter was inwardly taken aback by his response, but he finally understood.
Now knowing the truth, Potter tracks down Hawkeye in the Officers Club and apologizes for snapping at him earlier. Citing 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 won't be easy.
Later in his tent, Potter tells Woody that while he cherishes their longtime friendship, they both need to be more careful about things now that they are so close to retirement, and then calls him out for butting in where he had no business being and causing needless casualties. Cooke continues to insist that "those green kids" didn't know what they were doing, but Potter knows that they did know what they were doing while Woody did not, and then regretfully says that he'll have to report him to I-Corps. Woody finally admits that he overreached and begs Potter to let it slide, but citing Zurilli's belief that nothing will be done because of their friendship, Potter refuses. Woody worries that with said report, he'll never get to see any action again, and Potter replies it will be necessary for the safety of others. Embittered, Woody declares their friendship is over, but when Potter pleads that they have been through too much to just let it end like this, Woody blames Potter for ending their friendship and angrily wheels himself out of Potter's tent- and his life, forever. Later, an unhappy Potter finds Hawkeye in the compound, and confesses while it hurts to lose his best friend, it makes him appreciate the ones he still has.
Stuck in the Swamp due to a bad ingrown toenail, B.J. is being driven crazy by his inability get away from Charles' dreadfully grim classical records. He tries several different ways to keep Charles from playing his records: first, by filing down Charles' phonograph needle and putting it in the dry groove on a record in the player, making Charles think he left it running when they went in for surgery. B.J. then suggests that Charles take his records and listen to them on the jukebox in the Officers Club while nobody is there, but soon after he gets there he is tossed out when a bunch of the others come in all at once, thirsty from playing outdoors; this was also orchestrated by B.J. who gave money to Goldman to buy drinks for himself and the others.
Charles has no other choice but to turn to Margaret, who just received a new record player but no records. B.J. tries to trick Margaret and Charles into not sharing with one another, suggesting to Charles that he should entice her with "shiny beads and shallow flattery", but when B.J. later warns Margaret that Charles was planning to use her for her new record player, he mistakenly uses the exact same words he said to Charles ("shiny beads and shallow flattery"). The two soon wise up and get back at B.J., with Margaret bringing her record player to the Swamp allowing Charles to play more of his music full blast. Having finally had enough, B.J. hops like mad on his good foot to get away from the cacophony, flying past Hawkeye and Potter who are on their way to the Officers Club.
- 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 - Potter had a similar problem with another old friend in Season 5's Ping Pong.
- In reality, Cooke's actions would not have had that kind of effect. Although 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.
- Of the entire cast spanning all 11 seasons, Swit, Christoper, Wayne Rogers, Larry Linville and Gary Burghoff 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).