Hot Lips and Empty Arms was the 14th episode of Season 2 of the TV series M*A*S*H, also the 36th overall episode of the series. Written by Linda Bloodworth and Mary Kay Place and directed by Jackie Cooper, It originally aired on CBS-TV on December 15, 1973.


To declare independence from her adulterous lover Frank Burns, Margaret applies for a transfer. During her going-away party, she becomes very drunk and tells some of her comrades what she really thinks of them deep down.

Full summaryEdit

It's mail call at the 4077th: Hawkeye gets medical journals from his father, Henry gets three letters from his wife and a film from the Tabasco Film Company of Havana, Cuba, and Margaret gets an upsetting letter. Her anger spills into the next O.R. sessions where she takes it out on her nurses.

Frank pays her a visit in her tent to find out what's wrong. It turns out the letter is from Trisha Spalding, a friend with whom Margaret went through training. Trisha married a doctor Margaret turned down and now she has two kids and a beautiful $45,000 home with a swimming pool. Margaret laments that could have been her life and all she has now is the army, no husband, and a rotten social life.

Frank proposes they go to Tokyo for the weekend, but Margaret breaks it off with him, declaring she wants “a lifetime” instead of “a weekend.” Independent Margaret is born: she tells Frank she can do better than him, and that she herself is now the most important person in her own life.

Margaret storms off to Henry's office, where she is appalled to find him watching stag films with Hawkeye and Trapper. She requests a transfer, naming the captains as her top reason for leaving, claiming they destroyed her authority with the nursing staff. Henry gives her transfer papers to complete and says they'll keep quiet about it – just as Radar announces her imminent departure over the P.A. Margaret is packing in her tent when Hawkeye and Trapper stop by with a farewell bottle of “champagne” from the still. They give her some mean-spirited toasts goodbye and Margaret counters with her own toast to their debauchery, immaturity, and the special report she's preparing for General Mitchell.

Tipsy from the “champagne”, Margaret pays Frank a visit and returns his gifts, letters, and a stuffed dog named Bimbo. Margaret helps herself to the still and announces she's celebrating a brand new life and should be a Colonel in 6 months. “I know a lot of generals, you know, Frank.” she gurgles. She surmises Frank refers to her as a man in his letters home to his wife (turns out she's right) and exits the Swamp with a final insult: “Ferret Face!”

As Henry orders more stag films (in Radar's name), a clearly inebriated Margaret arrives for a farewell drink, gets further intoxicated on scotch and rye, and tells Henry that he looks like her dead father.

Wounded are due to arrive within an hour, so Henry has Hawkeye and Trapper try to sober up Margaret so no bad reports make it on her record. The captains hold Margaret under a shower, ply her with coffee and give her a shot of B1. During O.R., Margaret admits to Hawkeye and Trapper she's grateful for what they've done. Next day, a heavily hung-over Margaret decides not to transfer and the majors and captains resume their sibling-like warring.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • This is the first of five episodes written by Linda Bloodworth and the first of three co-written with Mary Kay Place. She went on to produce many popular TV shows with her husband Harry Thomason, including Designing Women and Evening Shade.
  • Mary Kay Place, this episode's co-writer, is an actress, singer, and writer. She won the Best Supporting Actress Emmy in 1977 for her role as Loretta on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. She also appeared as Lieutenant Louise Simmons in Season 3 "Springtime", which she co-wrote with Bloodworth.
  • Bloodworth and Place were nominated for a writing Emmy in 1974 for this episode, as was McLean Stevenson for writing "The Trial of Henry Blake”. They both lost.
  • Radar sends away for samples to ensure he gets mail.
  • The Tabasco Film Company of Havana, Cuba. You'll hear this name again – Henry will order more films in the future. It's a fictitious company. Wouldn't Henry's film have come in Radar's name since Henry told Radar to use his name “again” for the next order?
  • At this point, they still haven't settled on the final characterization of Radar. This episode features one of the few rare times which Radar is seen smoking and drinking again, much like he did in "Chief Surgeon Who?" He is still being portrayed as a streetwise fixer who can hold his smoking and liquor, much like the Radar in the 1970 MASH film. In future seasons, his usual drink of choice, when he is at either Rosie's Bar or the Officers' Club, is usually a Grape Nehi, and he doesn't know how to smoke.
  • In a drunken stupor, Margaret tells Henry Blake that he looks like her father before he died. In future episodes, not only is Margaret's father alive, he visits the camp on at least one occasion.
  • This episode marks a change in the character personality for Margaret. She looses up on the rules and is much more relaxed into future seasons.
  • This is the first episode where Kellye Nakahara gets a line and a credit. Her character is identified as "Nurse Yamato" in the closing credits, but this name is never uttered onscreen.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.