Hawk's Nightmare is the 111th episode of M*A*S*H, the 14th in the fifth season of the show, which originally aired on CBS-TV on December 21, 1976. It was directed by Burt Metcalfe, and written by Burt Prelutsky.
Hawkeye begins to think he is losing his "war against the war" when he starts sleepwalking and having nightmares about two of his childhood friends.
Full episode summary
Hawkeye seems particularly agitated during surgery, complaining about the younger patients, calling them "babies" and saying they should all be home getting burped by their mothers, not fighting in a war. That night, at the end of the long OR session, Hawkeye and B.J. go to bed, but after a few moments Hawkeye gets up and starts wandering around the camp, culminating in his pretending to play basketball by himself.
The next morning in the Mess Tent, everyone asks about Hawkeye's midnight stroll, which he himself has no memory of, but when Klinger brings up the name of a grade school principal Hawkeye mentioned, Hawkeye freezes up. B.J. suggests that Hawkeye might have been sleepwalking, but Hawkeye is not so sure as he has never done it before.
That night, Hawkeye again wanders the camp, only this time he mimics playing Hopscotch and Marbles in the compound. Radar and Klinger lead him back to the Swamp and put him to bed, and all seems right with the world until B.J. has to awaken Hawkeye when he starts screaming in his sleep. Now shaking and sweating, Hawkeye says he had a nightmare about a childhood friend, Toby Wilder, being killed while sledding.
The next day, Hawkeye tries to convince himself that it's just his nerves, which he tries to calm by calling Toby at home, but Toby's only concern is that Hawkeye owes him $37 which he claims he paid back years ago. That night, Hawkeye is afraid to go to sleep, and tries to get others to stay up with him. At first he tries Father Mulcahy, then Klinger, and then even Frank, but all to no avail. With no one left to talk to, Hawkeye lays down in his cot and falls asleep, but soon he again wakes up screaming from another nightmare, this time about a different childhood friend, Dickie Barber, getting blown to pieces.
Hawkeye runs to Radar's office to call Dickie. As Radar puts the call through, Potter tells him after Hawkeye is done to call Sidney Freedman, who agrees to visit the next day. Back in the Swamp, Hawkeye confides in B.J. that he's now scared to go to sleep, remarking "It's one thing to live in a shooting gallery. Now I'm being attacked from inside... How do I defend myself from myself?"
The next evening, Hawkeye, B.J., Potter, Radar, Mulcahy, and Sidney are all in the Swamp playing Poker. At the end of a hand, Hawkeye goes outside for some fresh air with Sidney following. Hawkeye opens up to him about his sleepwalking and nightmares, remarking, "If this keeps up, people are going to realize I'm as crazy as I think I am".
Sidney asks Hawkeye what the sleepwalking means; Hawkeye hypothesizes that he's "trying to escape", but believes he's not getting very far, but then Sidney points out that Hawkeye is subconsciously making it all the way back home to Crabapple Cove, and all the way back to his childhood when he didn't have a care in the world. When Hawkeye expounds on his nightmares, how they start out okay before ending violently, Sidney draws a strong comparison between Hawkeye's friends getting killed in his dreams and the young wounded soldiers that are carted into the camp. He reasons that Hawkeye dreams to escape, but his dreams are invaded by the monstrous realities of the war, which is why he wakes up screaming.
Hawkeye then asks Sidney if he thinks he's going crazy. Sidney pointedly disagrees, saying that he is just "a bit confused, a little 'farschimmelt'"; he then remarks that Hawkeye is probably the sanest person he's ever known, adding that "If you were crazy, you'd sleep like a baby". He reassures Hawkeye that once the war is over most of his nightmares should go away, but then reminds him that there's "a lot of suffering" going on that Hawkeye can't avoid or even dream away. After Hawkeye thanks him for his help, Sidney starts playing "zombie basketball", and Hawkeye soon joins him. As they laugh and relax, Klinger and Radar watch in disbelief from inside the Swamp, with Klinger remarking, "Is it any wonder I can't get a Section Eight?! In this outfit, if you wanna be crazy you gotta stand in line!"
The next day, Klinger, thinking that Hawkeye is just putting on an act, shows his admiration at Hawkeye's supposed "shtick", and also his jealousy at not thinking of it himself. He likes the artistry and subtlety of Hawkeye's nightmares, and also that that he doesn't have to "worry about the fickle whims of fashion". But then Hawkeye counters that he'll "never know the rapture of the warm, lingering looks that follow you constantly".
- During his sleepwalking jaunts, Hawkeye refers to Klinger (who is on guard duty) as 'Scooter', remarking on his "new BB gun" that his dad won't let him get. The following night, Hawkeye calls Radar 'Stinky', which he doesn't care for, telling Hawkeye to call him by his "given nickname". But when Hawkeye calls him 'Dexter', Radar settles on 'Stinky' as "it's got a little more pizazz".
- The character played by Patricia Stevens has a significant number of lines but is credited simply as "nurse". Some Internet resources group the character under Nurse Able (her last credited appearance) or Nurse Baker (her next credited appearance). However, when Frank sees the sleepwalking Hawkeye move through Post Op, he says to Margaret that Hawkeye is probably "on the prowl for Nurse Able - Able and willing as I hear it." In the episode, Hawkeye does have a relationship with Patricia Stevens character, so this supports the view that she is Nurse Able. When Hawkeye encounters Patricia Stevens with Gwen Farrell during his sleepwalk, he asks if Stevens wants to play ball. Stevens replies it is too late to play ball. The next day, in the mess tent, she playfully scolds Hawkeye for suggesting that they go play ball "right in front of Nurse Ripley." She says, "The next time you're in the mood to play ball, wait till she goes on duty." So the uncredited nurse character played by Gwen Farrell is identified as "Nurse Ripley".
- In the epilogue, when Klinger asks Hawkeye if he's faking or really crazy, and he takes Klinger's arm and says in a French accent, "Mais oui, Josephine, I am as sane as you," he's pretending to be Napoleon; a popular old trope involves crazy people thinking they're the famed French emperor.
Guest stars/Recurring cast
- Allan Arbus as Major Sidney Freedman
- Sean Roche as Private Burke
- Patricia Stevens as Nurse (possibly Nurse Able)
Uncredited appearance by
- Gwen Farrell as Nurse Ripley