"M*A*S*H" I Hate a Mystery (TV Episode 1972) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • Hawkeye finds himself investigating a rash of petty thefts in the camp.

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  • Men of medicine, like the Swamp Rats, are supposed to excel at curing rashes. But, when the rashes are not itchy, red bumps but result in ill-gotten booty (or ill-booten gotty) found in Hawkeye's footlocker, the consequences can be serious. It is no laughing matter when your best friends think you could be a thief, when you are relentlessly pursued by a bush and a malicious P.A. system and needle-nose non-comms count the scalpels faster than you can wield them. Hawkeye is the past master of pranks and immature behavior; no one is really surprised. But, if Hawkeye is telling the truth and he is not playing a joke on the entire camp, then there must be a thief at the 4077. It will take some quick hands to beat Hotlips and her Court Martial forms...


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Hawkeye, Trapper and Spearchucker are playing poker and enjoying martinis when Frank begins pestering them about how they spend their leisure time and questioning how they became doctors. When Ho-Jon asks Frank why he became a doctor he begins reminiscing about his mother only to notice that the silver frame around her picture is missing.

    Assuming that the thieves are Hawkeye and Trapper, Frank is devastated and takes the problem to Margaret who reasons that it is only a frame. Just then she notices that the brushes given to her by her father are missing too. Frank reasons that they only brushes but it does nothing to console a panicked Margaret.

    Meanwhile, Henry and Leslie are enjoying a romantic evening when Henry presents her with a pair of gifts: First is her very first fish stuffed and mounted; second is a box containing a very valuable fishing reel. When Leslie opens the box, she realizes that it is empty. Henry panics.

    At that very same moment, Trapper is making a move on the supply nurse and notices that his watch is missing. He goes looking for it just as Ho-Jon is making martinis and realizes that Hawkeye's swizzle sticks are missing.

    The officers have a meeting to determine what has happened to all of their personal belongings. Naturally Henry has no control over the proceedings and offers the guilty party a chance to return the items when he turns off the lights in the tent. When the lights come back on even more items have gone missing.

    Desperate to uncover the culprit, Henry orders a tent by tent search which ends at The Swamp. After determining that the stolen items are not in the furnace pipe (which greets him a face-full of soot) Henry asks to see the inside of Hawkeye's footlocker, which unfortunately contains the stolen items - much to the surprise of Hawkeye.

    Henry demands an explanation while Frank and Margaret demand a court martial. Hawkeye thinks they're all crazy. Henry's solution is to have Radar shadow Hawkeye for a few days to see what he's up to. The problem is that Radar makes a lousy spy. The tone of the 4077th changes as Trapper stops talking to him and Margaret keeps tabs on all of the surgical tools that he uses in O.R. Even his current female companion Barbara thinks he's guilty.

    Under duress, Hawkeye determines to find the culprit himself. He publicly (over the P.A. system) lets the whole camp know that the items will be locked in Henry's desk. Later that night, Hawkeye finds that the items have disappeared from the desk and calls Henry, Leslie, Frank, Margaret, Leslie, Barbara, Trapper and Spearchucker into the mess tent.

    In full Hercule Poirot style, Hawkeye arrives on the scene and one by one reveals the clues and motives of everyone who might have wanted to frame him. He lets it known that the items locked in the desk were treated with a solution that would turn the culprit's fingernail's blue. No one looks guilty except Ho-Jon who happily says that there is no blue on his hands. Hawkeye calls the bluff and Ho-Jon is forced to admit that he stole the items to sell for bribe money for the border guards when he brought his family from their village up north. Everyone is sympathetic and allows him to keep the items. But Trapper and Hawkeye become frustrated when they realize exactly how large Ho-Jon's family really is. This settles mostly on Hawkeye when he realizes that most of the money that Ho-Jon has collected so far has been from stealing his poker winnings.

    The next day in the mess tent Father Mulcahy is telling Margaret and Frank the story of when Jesus returned to the garden of Gethsemane and found three of his apostles missing. Overhearing this, Hawkeye assures them that he didn't take them.

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