Due to Klinger's poor performance as company clerk, Radar has second thoughts about going home and decides to stay on at the 4077th.
Full episode summaryEdit
Later in the day after receiving his hardship discharge, Radar is going through his belongings and finds various mementos of his service, including his Purple Heart and a rectal thermometer Lt. Col. Blake gave him after his own discharge, but then he finds a picture of his Uncle Ed, and is reminded of how much he will miss him. Meanwhile, the office is still in disarray as Klinger has organized nothing and still cannot find a generator. Despite his pleas for help, Radar refuses and tells Klinger that he is going to have to learn how to do the company clerk job on his own, mentioning that nobody helped him when he first came to the 4077th. Ultimately, Radar is guilted into helping Klinger by Charles, who chides Radar's selfishness for being eager to leave for home while the 4077th is still without power.
While Radar helps Klinger try to negotiate for a backup generator with a supply clerk named Alvin (who, for some reason, wants a frozen custard machine in exchange), he hears choppers bringing in wounded. Radar improvises by ordering Alvin to send all his available vehicles to the 4077th; they arrive just in time for a rare outdoor surgical session, with the headlights from the vehicles used to light the area in front of the OR. The session is a success, and Hawkeye operates despite his injured finger.
After the session, Col. Potter and Radar share a drink in his office as sort of a farewell toast. Radar, however, tells Potter that due to what he had put together and Klinger's inability to do the job, he is going to decline the offered discharge and stay on at the 4077th. Potter is disappointed, telling him that he is not thinking straight. The next morning, Radar is angrily berated by Hawkeye, but Radar refuses to listen and cites Hawkeye's own words: "Nobody should tell somebody else how to run their life!"
In a last-ditch effort to procure a generator, Klinger intercepts a call meant for Radar from a Sergeant "Hondo" McKee at I-Corps supply, who is willing to trade a generator for a case of scotch. Shortly after Klinger arrives at I-Corps with the scotch, a Major Van Kirk from the 243rd Service & Supply pulls up and angrily demands the generator, complaining that most of the supplies he orders through I-Corps (including two other generators) turn up lost; Van Kirk also unknowingly blurts out in front of Klinger that they were down to using a backup generator which they had to steal from a MASH (presumably the 4077th). While Van Kirk and Hondo go to process the paperwork, Klinger sees an opportunity to turn the tables. He goes to dispatch and, posing as Van Kirk's driver, blackmails the clerk. With the new generator in tow, Klinger returns to a hero's welcome at the 4077th; Potter later remarks "I always knew he had the larceny in him".
On the heels of Klinger's coup fourré, Radar is now convinced the camp will soldier on without him and decides he's doing the right thing by going home. The next day, Radar is packed and ready to go when Hawkeye stops by the office to take him to his farewell party in the Mess Tent, but right as it is about to begin more wounded arrive in camp, and Radar's good-byes are rushed as the unit begins to move the wounded into the OR; Colonel Potter tearfully embraces him wishing him "godspeed", Margaret blows him a goodbye kiss as she rushes off, Father Mulcahy blesses him, Winchester wishes him "the best in his bucolic endeavors," and Klinger promises he will make Radar proud as his replacement. As Radar will be stopping in B.J.'s hometown of San Francisco on his way home, B.J. gives him a package (and a kiss on each cheek) to give to his wife Peg and daughter Erin, who will be meeting him at the airport. He looks around for Hawkeye, but by now everybody has gone. Radar goes inside the empty, silent mess tent (decorated with banners and placards saying "WE LOVE YOU RADAR" and "GOOD LUCK RADAR"). Looking at the giant cake made in his honor, he licks the icing but grimaces at the taste.
After saying goodbye to his beloved pets, Radar goes to the OR, but stops at the door. He watches the frantic surgery in progress until he is noticed by Hawkeye, who fires off a farewell salute to him (the second time he has done so). After returning the salute, Radar reluctantly boards a jeep and leaves the 4077th for the final time.
After the OR session, Hawkeye, B.J. and Colonel Potter enter the Swamp to find something on Hawkeye's cot: Radar's teddy bear, which he had brought from home and kept in his office as a comfort. Hawkeye picks the bear up and, while looking at it, says sadly: "Good-bye, Radar."
- The first series regular to be hired, Gary Burghoff was the last to leave, concluding a 9-year odyssey with the part which began with the 1970 MASH movie, and following the departures of McLean Stevenson, Wayne Rogers and Larry Linville. He would later reprise his role as Radar twice; in a 2-part episode of AfterMASH, and in an unsold TV pilot W*A*L*T*E*R, wherein Radar was a rookie cop in St. Louis. (In fact, Mike Farrell unsuccessfully tried to convince Burghoff not to leave the show, citing the lackluster television careers of Linville and Stevenson after their departures.)
- In the episode "War of Nerves," Sidney Freedman accurately predicted that Radar would leave his teddy bear behind in Korea when he went home. In "As Time Goes By," Hawkeye offers Radar's teddy bear as a memento for Margaret's time capsule, declaring that it should symbolize "all the soldiers who came here as boys and went home as men."
- When Margaret kisses Radar in post-op, he says "Wa-wow, Hot Lips!" This is the last ever reference of Margaret's old nickname in the series.
- With Radar O'Reilly gone, Hawkeye, Margaret and Father Mulcahy become the last remaining characters on the M*A*S*H television series with ties to both the 1968 novel and the 1970 movie.
- When Hawkeye is trying to force Radar to leave, Radar claims that Hawkeye would stay even if he had an opportunity to leave if things got tough. Hawkeye denies this. However, in "The Late Captain Pierce," Hawkeye tried leaving under the excuse that he was dead according to the army. Yet, as he was leaving, he saw that things were getting tough with wounded and decided to stay.