M*A*S*H Episode Review: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen (1983)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the M*A*S*H series finale that first aired in February 1983.

Synopsis: With truce talks making progress and the war about to wind down, the staff of the 4077th looks forward to saying their goodbyes and finally going home to their families. But, first, they must deal with being the target of enemy shells, a wildfire that threatens to destroy the camp and their chief surgeon's mental breakdown.

Review

I had been a long while since I had an opportunity to watch this series finale of M*A*S*H in its entirety. So, when I finally got a chance to do so a few days ago, I took advantage of it. After seeing it again, I have to say this is the series finale other shows should try to copy when they decide to call it quits.

The thing that still impresses me about this episode, even 36 years after it first aired, is how it manages to provide closure for pretty much every character, both major and supporting, at the 4077th. Some of the storylines, such as Hawkeye's (Alan Alda) need to overcome a mental breakdown and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) trying to hide the fact he has lost his hearing, are a little more drawn out. But, the episode takes the time to either let them tell us what the future holds or, at minimum, lets them say goodbye.

At the same time, the series finale also makes sure to take the same tone as the rest of the episodes by having funny moments but, at the same time, making sure to show the horrors of war in a way that really create a roller coaster of emotions. This includes the reason behind Hawkeye's breakdown and an incident that causes Charles (David Ogden Stiers) to lose his love of music. So, in other words, even though the characters do ultimately get to go home, they are going to be taking some scars with them.

My only real complaint about the episode is a minor one, I wish they would have found a way to include some of the other popular characters, like Trapper John (Wayne Rogers) and especially Radar (Gary Burghoff).

Logistically, I know this was probably not really possible, especially given the controversial way Rogers left the series. I just think it would have been kind of cool to see Trapper and BJ (Mike Farrell) running into each other while BJ was waiting for his plane or Radar giving us one last update, via a phone call, from home.

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Final Opinion

This is a series finale that was done right and remains memorable nearly 40 years later as a result. If you've never seen it, you should take the time to watch it.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 09/22/2019, StevenHelmer
 
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