Pressure Points was the 16th episode of Season 10 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 234th overall series episode. Written by David Pollock and Elias Davis and directed by Charles S. Dubin, it originally aired on February 15, 1982.
Col. Potter fears he's losing his touch badly enough to summon Dr. Sidney Freeman.
Full episode summaryEdit
While Col. Potter is on a visit to the 8063rd, a patient of his develops further problems, requiring Hawkeye to perform another surgery.
Potter returns, and is troubled at the news that Hawkeye had to do "mop-up work" on one of his patients. Turns out Potter missed a small piece of shrapnel which then dislodged itself, causing the need for the second surgery.
Potter's mood is further darkened when another patient inadvertently insults him, wondering why he is being transferred when his buddy - Potter's patient - isn't, even though they have the same wounds. Later, during a lecture in Potter's office from a Captain regarding a new piece of extremely destructive artillery, Potter explodes at him, wondering why, if they can create better and nastier weapons, why can't they find a way to stop "this stupid war?"
That night, Sidney Freedman arrives, saying he's on a fact-finding mission regarding stress. He makes his way over to Col. Potter's tent, and we find out that it was Potter who called Sidney. Sidney is surprised to learn this.
Potter shares with him that, lately, he's been "a lot less perfect than I can accept" regarding his surgical skills. He's worried that...
At that point, Potter's voice trails off, and he insists that nothing's really wrong, he just needed to vent a little. Sidney is dubious, but Potter says that all he needed was to talk. Sidney goes back to the Swamp.
The next day, in the Mess Tent, it doesn't take much to set Potter off - he snaps at the cook for the lousy food, barks at Klinger, and then really hits the roof at Hawkeye when he learns that he authorized the release of Potter's patient now that he's well.
Meanwhile, Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester have been having an ongoing feud about their personal cleanliness habits - Winchester deciding to out-slob his roommates, using B.J.'s knife to slice onions, eating raw sardines, etc. It all comes to a boil, leading the three of them to start destroying parts of the Swamp, so much so it starts to draw a crowd. Potter gets wind of this, but, instead of blowing his stack, he asks Klinger to order Winchester a new pillow.
Potter asks Sidney to meet him back in his tent, and then he admits what's really wrong: he's deeply worried that he's lost his touch as a surgeon, and the idea of incoming wounded fills him with terror. He tells Sidney the story of how he decided to become a surgeon: as a boy, he watched as his veterinarian uncle perform a live-saving operation, and bask in the glory of what lays inside the human body. Since that day, all he ever wanted was to become a surgeon.
Sidney is comforting, reminding Potter that of course someday he will get too old to be a surgeon - but right now, he's letting the fear of failing take over, and whether or not that affects him is purely under Potter's control.
Wounded arrive, and before cutting into his first patient, Potter takes a deep breath, and begins. He seems to be his old self again. Later, the 4077th has a contest, raising money for the orphanage, over who gets to shave the still-sloppy Winchester. Potter wins, and, holding the razor in his hand, is as steady as a rock.
- Allan Arbus as Major Sidney Freedman
- John O'Connell as Captain Schnelker
- Gene Pietragallo as Corporal Fisher
- William Rogers as Corporal Logan
- Roy Goldman as Corporal Roy Goldman
- Potter mentions Joe DeMegio retirement from baseball -he retired December 11, 1951 as a recent event...yet previous and subsequent epsidoes show this episode year is 1953!