The Sniper was the tenth episode of Season 2 of the TV series M*A*S*H, also the 34th overall episode of the series. Written by Richard M. Powell and directed by Jackie Cooper, It originally aired on CBS-TV on November 17, 1973.
The 4077th deals with more than the usual mayhem when a sniper opens fire on the camp.
Full episode summary
Hawkeye takes a new nurse, Lieutenant Suzanne Marquette (Teri Garr), out for a picnic in the woods on the outskirts of the camp. Meanwhile, Margaret is nearby with Frank who is doing some pistol practice. A shot rings out which shatters Hawkeye's wine bottle. At first, Hawkeye blames Frank but Frank protests that he hadn't fired yet. A few more shots prove that there is a sniper around and sends the four of them scurrying back to the camp.
Meanwhile, the rest of the MASH personnel have also been shot at and rush to seek refuge in the hospital building, except for Henry and Radar, who are trapped in the shower tent.
Inside the hospital building, there is frantic activity as the MASH personnel attempt to shore up their defenses. Frank attempts to take charge but no one listens to him. Trapper calls HQ for help but there is a push on and the earliest help can be sent is noon the next day. Fortunately, an ambulance enters the camp compound and Henry and Radar are able to take advantage of the cover it offers and dash to the hospital building to rejoin the others.
The ambulance driver tells Henry that there are six casualties in the ambulance, some of them severely wounded. The MASH personnel assess their options. Hawkeye argues that they should surrender. Margaret and Frank are aghast but Hawkeye reasons that this is the only way they can reach the wounded in the ambulance and treat them. In any case, they are expecting more casualties to arrive soon because of the push. If they surrender, there is a chance that they will be allowed to carry on treating wounded. Henry reluctantly agrees.
Henry and Trapper step out with a white flag but the sniper ignores the offer and shoots at them. Nonetheless, they have distracted the sniper long enough to allow the corpsmen to unload the casualties from the ambulance.
As night falls, most of the MASH personnel are huddled in post-op under torch-light because the sniper has shot up the generator. Margaret goads Frank into going out to hunt down the sniper because that is what a real man would do. Later, Hawkeye wakes Margaret up looking for Frank and they both realize that Frank must have gone out just as Margaret wanted him to.
Hawkeye sneaks out into the compound to search for Frank and finds him cowering under some boxes. He tells Hawkeye he doesn't want to throw his life away after having made it as a doctor - he had taken twice as long and flunked out of two med schools along the way. Hawkeye turns to leave him but he asks Hawkeye not to tell Margaret about what he saw and heard. They hear a sound in the mess tent and go to investigate but this turns out to be Radar looking for some food.
The next day, HQ finally sends a chopper with a sub-machine gunner who shoots and wounds the sniper. The sniper now shows a white flag and Hawkeye goes out to treat him. It turns out that the sniper is just a stranded teenage North Korean soldier who thought he was shooting at General MacArthur's headquarters. Hawkeye says it would be a shame to disappoint him, and dresses Frank up in a hat, sunglasses, and a corncob pipe while he sleeps. When Frank wakes up, he asks what's going on, and Hawkeye replies, "You have returned!"
Research notes/Fun facts
- When Radar is running around camp in a towel after Henry sends him to the office to call HQ about the sniper, he gives up after being shot at repeatedly and runs back to the showers, losing his towel in the process. For a split second before he re-enters the shower, you can see his bare behind! (But[t] we digress...)
- The sniper is hit with half a clip of .45 caliber bullets-yet he survives[!];
- A remake of this episode was The Life You Save (TV series episode)