Heal Thyself is the seventeenth episode of the eighth season of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, as well as the 190th overall series episode. Directed by cast member Mike Farrell, the episode was co-written by Gene Reynolds and Dennis Koenig (who collaborated on the story & teleplay). W.C. Heinz, RIchard Hooker, Ring Lardner Jr., who all were co-writers for the 1970 M*A*S*H* film, who were uncredited, also contributed as writers on the episode, which originally aired on January 14, 1980, with repeats on June 23 and November 13, 1980 (the latter a special Thursday night rerun, at 10:30PM).
Colonel Potter and Major Winchester are both quarantined with the mumps, while Klinger tries not to catch the disease and suffer one of its side-effects: sterility. Potter and Winchester's temporary replacement, Dr. Steven Newsom (played by actor Edward Herrman) a seasoned army surgeon who last saw action during the incredibly bloody battles at the Pusan Perimeter, makes fast friends in the camp but soon suffers a nervous breakdown.
Full episode summaryEdit
Several nurses are quarantined after an outbreak of the mumps, which appeared after a visit to Father Mulcahy's orphanage exposed virtually the entire medical crew to the disease. Col. Potter also comes down with a case of the mumps, much to the glee of Winchester, who mocks Potter for coming down with a "childhood malady."
Even though Winchester didn't have the mumps as a kid - making him vulnerable to catching them - he is sure his "superior breeding" will keep him safe. Klinger is also susceptible, but unlike Winchester, he's taking it very seriously (knowing that sterility is an occasional side effect in adult cases), keeping Potter at arm's length (he also begins spraying his office with some sort of mumps-killing mist as if he's an exterminator). Of course, within just a few hours, Winchester catches them too, so he is quarantined along with Potter in Potter's tent, much to both their consternation.
With two doctors out of commission, they put in a request for a replacement surgeon. Later that day, one arrives - Captain Steven Newsom (Edward Herrmann). He greets Hawkeye and B.J. with the same quick wit, and they take an instant liking to him. As Hawkeye comments, "We can put a sign up in the OR - three stooges, no waiting."
In OR, Newsom shows his chops. Even though he's stationed in Tokyo, he's a superb surgeon. He tells horror stories about his previous experience in combat surgery at the Pusan perimeter (a particularly desperate time during the early part of the war when things were not going well for the UN forces) and wins the respect of Margaret, Hawkeye and B.J. Everyone in the unit seems to take to him immediately, and his jokey method while working fits in well.
Meanwhile, Potter and Winchester are at each other's throats cooped up in Potter's tent. Margaret brings Newsom by to meet them. Winchester snobbishly assumes that because he comes from Chicago, he must be poorly educated - suggesting that he must have gone to "Al Capone State". He is greatly embarrassed when Newsom mentions he received his medical training at the highly prestigious Johns Hopkins.
Later that night, even more wounded arrive, so Hawkeye, B.J., and Newsom have to put in another long session in OR. The next morning, Hawkeye finds Newsom wandering the compound, unable to sleep. Newsom admits that the situation at the 4077th is about as bad as everything he's seen.
Potter and Winchester are still having difficulties getting along, with Potter despising Winchesters' opera music & Winchester openly insults Potter's favorite novelist. They reach an impasse when Winchester confesses that he too is frightened at the prospect of suffering sterility because of the mumps. Potter reassures Winchester that they are both receiving sufficient care and will recover fine.
Later that day, there's more wounded, and with some of the nurses sill out sick, OR is chaotic. During one operation, Newsom starts to seem nervous and indecisive, unable to decide whether to try and save the leg of a patient or to amputate.
Newsom begins muttering to himself, staring off into space. Hawkeye steps in, but Newsom, instead of taking an easier case, runs out into the hall. B.J. finds him and tells Newsom that he should take a few moments to calm down, but they need him back in there ASAP. Another badly wounded patient is brought in, but Newsom is nowhere to be seen, leaving Hawkeye and B.J. to handle the load on their own. Attending to Newsom's patient, Hawkeye is forced to make a drastic decision to amputate the leg. Margaret asks if he could try and save the leg but Hawkeye says there isn't time as there are other patients waiting. "I save this leg, I lose that life."
Later that night, Hawkeye and the rest try and find Newsom and figure out what happened. Potter, from the door of his tent, alerts them that Newsom is inside.
They find him sitting on the floor of the tent, in tears, rubbing his hands back and forth. Hawkeye and B.J. try and talk to him, but Newsom seems barely there - he mutters a bunch of random thoughts, clearly having experienced some sort of nervous breakdown.
Potter suggests calling Sidney Freedman, and Hawkeye and B.J. head back outside. B.J. marvels that Newsom seemed "As strong as any of us." Hawkeye responds, "That's what scares me."
Days later, Potter and Winchester have finally learned to co-habitate peacefully when Klinger walks into the tent: he has caught the mumps!
Guest stars/Recurring castEdit
- Edward Herrmann as Captain Steven J. Newsom
- Uncredited appearances by Kellye Nakahara , Jennifer Davis , Jo Ann Thompson , Gwen Farrell ,Jan Jorden , Roy Goldman
- Sliding Time line-The Pusan Perimeter was only from August-September 1950. Potter came to MASh 4077 September 19, 1952!