Last Laugh was the 126th episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H. The episode, which was the fourth episode of Season 6, was written by Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell, and directed by Don Weis. It originally aired on October 4, 1977.
An old friend of B.J.'s rolls into camp and unleashes a storm of practical jokes.
Full episode summary
Colonel Potter receives a telephone call from a colonel at the Provost Marshal's office, informing him that a report has been received that Captain Hunnicutt may have forged his surgeon's credentials. Potter insists that Hunnicutt is a qualified doctor, but the caller persists and informs Potter that he will be coming to the 4077th later that day to make an investigation. Potter then goes to the mess tent looking for Hunnicutt, and finds Hawkeye and Father Mulcahy sitting down to a meal. He asks his junior officers Hunnicutt's whereabouts, but they do not know. He then explains the situation to them. Just then, B.J. walks in and overhears the conversation. Potter explains to him that he is being investigated, and Hawkeye jokes that B.J. is actually a spy. Potter then mentions the name of the colonel that called. B.J. recognizes the name instantly - his old college roommate Leo Bardonaro. He explains that Bardonaro is a master practical joker, and that he was simply letting B.J. know that he would be stopping by for a visit later that afternoon.
Upon arriving at the camp, Bardonaro is directed to the Swamp. There he is greeted by B.J., who introduces him to Hawkeye. B.J. and Bardonaro reminisce about their old exploits, but soon Bardonaro has to leave, explaining that he has a flight to catch - he's going home. Bardonaro exchanges a cheerful goodbye with the Swampmen, then leaves on his way after Hawkeye gets zapped with a joy buzzer. Just after he leaves. B.J.'s cigar (which he got from Bardonaro) explodes.
Later, in Post-Op, B.J. is apprehended by two military policemen. Hawkeye, who is standing nearby, explains that it's just another joke, but the MPs insist on arresting B.J. They walk over to Colonel Potter's office to sort everything out, Hawkeye trying to bribe the MPs along the way. Potter takes a look at the arrest order - it's from Major General Frederick Fox, and it accuses B.J. of "disorderly conduct". Potter allows the MPs to take Hunnicutt to Seoul, and an hour later he follows with Hawkeye, evidence in hand.
In his office in Seoul, General Fox accuses Hunnicutt of holding a loud and boisterous party in a hotel room next to one he was occupying with his secretary. He also claims that after the party, Hunnicutt grilled steaks on his hotel room balcony, and the smoke filled General Fox's room. Because of the smoke, Fox and his secretary, both naked, were forced to flee their room, interrupting the General's "official dictation". Potter claims that Hunnicutt was working the night of the alleged incident, and offers the duty logs of that night in support of his claim. Fox claims that the duty logs could have been forged, and presents a copy of the hotel register with what he alleges is Hunnicutt's signature. B.J. argues that the signature is not in his handwriting, and suggests that the register, too, could have been forged. Fox then pulls out a hat, telling B.J. that he must have left it behind in his hurry to leave the hotel. B.J. says the hat is not his and, at General Fox's insistence, puts it on. It is several sizes too large.
Exonerated, B.J. leaves for the 4077th with Potter and Hawkeye. In celebration of their victory "against the brass", all three (including Hawkeye, who is driving) drink wildly and curse Bardonaro. Hawkeye mentions that he'd like to get back at Bardonaro, and B.J. says he'll have a chance soon enough - he had swiped Bardonaro's travel orders just before he left the Swamp. The three return to the camp completely drunk, and are first greeted by a frantic Radar, who details how Margaret terrorized him when he couldn't get her husband on the phone. Radar flees when Margaret comes running up to the Colonel, who gives her his blessing to visit Donald in Tokyo. She thanks him with a kiss and runs off to prepare for her trip (see details in the final paragraph). Hawkeye and B.J. return to the Swamp to find Bardonaro sitting, waiting for them.
Bardonaro begs B.J. for his travel orders, and B.J. finally relents after making Bardonaro promise to stop the childish practical jokes. Bardonaro agrees, and as he heads out the door he remembers that he has no way to get to Kimpo Air Base. B.J. suggests that they use the Jeep he and Hawkeye just returned in, telling him that it's "all gassed up". Bardonaro thanks him and rushes out of the Swamp. Soon after he leaves, Radar comes in with an envelope for B.J. B.J. opens it and finds it's a bill from the hotel in Seoul for $580 damages. He laughs and explains to Hawkeye that Bardonaro will be walking back in half an hour. Hawkeye is confused by this, so B.J. informs him that "the only thing gassed up in that Jeep was us!"
In a subplot, Klinger's latest bit to get a Section 8 is to pretend he has a pet camel Habib, leading it all over camp, even getting it a mess tray and cleaning up its "mess" in the Colonel's office. When Col. Potter returns from Seoul, he tells Klinger he's got a discharge--for the camel.
In a side plot, Major Houlihan is desperate to visit her husband Donald Penobscott in Tokyo, and begs Col. Potter to give her leave to go, but he refuses, stating how much she's needed at the time, which causes her to fly into a rage (outside Potter's office, of course). She says her husband is "tense" and needs to "relax" - a polite way of saying he's requesting a conjugal visit with his wife. She continues to alternately rant and beg throughout the episode, until Potter finally relents after returning from B.J.'s hearing (granted, he's plastered at the time), and the Major gives him a big kiss and takes off. Later, the Captains are sharing a drink with Col. Potter in his office when Houlihan returns from Tokyo, all smiles. She thanks Potter for allowing her to go and gives him a bottle as a token of thanks. The Captains try to get a rise out of her by asking her to do their laundry, but she just smiles, laughs, and leaves. Hawkeye observes, "She's no fun when Donald's relaxed."
Guest stars/Recurring cast
- James Cromwell as Captain Leo Bardonaro
- Robert Karnes as General Fox
- John Ashton as The arresting M.P.
- Uncredited appearances
- This is the only episode where Charles Emerson Winchester III did not appear after his introduction in Fade Out Fade In.
- How did BJ swipe the travel orders? They are not visible sticking out of Bardonaros pockets! Both BJ and Bardonaro are over 6 feet tall-taller than Hawkeye
- BJ remarks that after Medical School Bardonaro was best man at his wedding 10 years before; thus according to MASH timeline when BJ came to MASH in November 1952 he was 28 years old-which means BJ went to Medical School at 14; graduated at 18; married and in his 10 year practice missed being called up for World War II but not the Korean War!
- B.J. also smokes a cigar in this episode, the only one in which he does.
- The bucket that Maj. Houlihan puts on Radars head is plastic. Plastic buckets did not exist in the Korean War. The part at the end where Houlihan comes back from seeing her husband is usually cut out in syndication prints