The Yalu Brick Road was the 10th episode of Season 8 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 183rd overall episode in the series. Written by series cast member Mike Farrell, and directed by Charles S. Dubin, it first aired on network TV on November 19, 1979.
The day after Thanksgiving, almost everyone in the camp comes down with food poisoning. Hawkeye and BJ must retrieve some antibiotics from another unit. They become lost in enemy territory and have to deal with a North Korean who repeatedly insists on surrendering. Father Mulcahy, Margaret Houlihan, and Major Winchester, the only other personnel unaffected by the food poisoning, must care for patients and do housekeeping duties at the same time.
Full episode summaryEdit
The camp is suffering from a brutal case of salmonella, which they all picked up from some bad Thanksgiving turkeys Klinger scored from a shifty supply sergeant. With Hawkeye, B.J., Margaret, and Winchester all away (the latter two at the 8063rd for a medical conference) and not yet back home, it's up to Potter and Mulcahy to try and take care of everyone.
Meanwhile, we see what's taking Hawkeye and B.J. so long: B.J. got them lost, and they can't find their way back to the main road. They get into an accident and crash the jeep, forcing them to walk. While hoofing it, they run into a North Korean soldier (Soon-Tek Oh) who is determined to surrender to them, despite Hawkeye and B.J.'s lack of interest in taking prisoners.
Margaret and Winchester make it back to the 4077th, and help out with all the sick personnel. Winchester tries to worm his way out of helping out, but Margaret threatens him if he takes one step towards his cot.
Back out in the hills, Hawkeye and B.J. can't get rid of the North Korean, who they call Ralph, but he proves to be invaluable when he saves them from being imprisoned - or worse - by a group of passing, armed-to-the-teeth North Korean soldiers. He pretends they are his prisoners, which the others accept, and move on. After they're out of sight, Ralph surrenders again, and gets a giant hug from the two of them.
They keep walking, and come across an old man who has hurt his ankle while moving a wooden cart down the road. He's so weak he can't walk at all, so B.J. has to carry him on his back until they find his hut, where his wife is.
Luckily, the old man and his wife own a beat-up, rusty motorcycle, which B.J. insists he can drive. He puts Hawkeye in the side car, and Ralph climbs on the back, and off they go - none too steadily - to the 4077th.
While Margaret, Winchester, Potter, and Mulcahy tend to the sick, Hawkeye and B.J. return, accidentally running over Winchester's freshly-cleaned sheets in the process.
They head off to Post Op to help out, and they bring Ralph with them: "There's a whole ward full of people you haven't surrendered to yet."
Later, a barely recovered Klinger rings up the Supply Sgt to tell him off, telling him to "Stuff it!" and suffers a relapse...
- Potter: "I feel like Snow White with a house full of sick dwarfs."
- Rizzo: "You know how you feel after you eat too many hot dogs and drink too much cheap booze...I wish I felt that good."
- Rizzo: "Sam and Ella (salmonella)? Who are they?"
- BJ: "My mother always told me not to pick up strangers..." (lifting the old man onto his back) " ...now I know why."
Research notes/Fun factsEdit
- This episode features the first appearance of G.W. Bailey as Sgt. Rizzo, essentially the replacement character for Johnny Haymer's Sgt. Zale.
- This episode is written by Mike Farrell, making him the fourth M*A*S*H cast member (after Alan Alda, McLean Stevenson, and Harry Morgan) to write for the series.
- This is actor Soon-Tek Oh's fourth episode guest-starring on the series.
- Correct chronology would have this take place in November 1952.