MASH Episode Review: "Are You Now, Margaret?"

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 8 television episode that first aired in September 1979.

Synopsis: A Congressional aide (Lawrence Pressman) visits the 4077th on what he describes as a fact-finding tour to make sure the doctors and nurses are getting everything they need. However, when he is put in a corner after asking various suspicious questions, he reveals the real reason he is there, to find evidence proving Major Houlihan (Loretta Swit) is a communist sympathizer.

Review

I’m not old enough to remember the Red Scare and really only know about it through what I’ve read in history books. As a result, I did find I enjoyed watching this episode simply because of the way it managed to depict the infamous event in a way that really stuck with me.

I think the thing that I really liked about this episode was the fact Houlihan was the aide’s target. This is because she is the last person on the show you would expect to be a suspected communist. If anything, Hawkeye (Alan Alda) or even B. J. (Mike Farrell) seemed like they would be better suspects.

The fact it was her being targeted because of a relationship she had while she was still in nursing school (with a guy she hadn’t even thought about since) did a great job of showing just how ridiculous the accusations were, especially when she learned she could have the accusations disappear either by accusing others or by sleeping with the aide. The fact she was stuck between a rock and hard place by either being forced to cave in or face the embarrassment of a Congressional hearing only made things more interesting.

My only real complaint about this episode is it did seem to be a little predictable toward the end. Granted, the writers at least attempted to make it look like Houlihan was going to cave in and sleep with the Congressional aide in an effort to get her named cleared. But, at the same time, it really wasn’t a surprise when it turned out to be a big set up. That being said, I did find I liked the twist at the very end of the episode involving the Congressional aide’s boss and his wife. That was a little unexpected and kind of funny at the same time.

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Final Opinion

As I said, there are parts of this episode that are a little predictable. However, overall, I thought it was a well-written episode that, at very least, gives a simplified example of how the Red Scare affected Americans in the 1950s. It’s worth watching just for that.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 07/01/2015, StevenHelmer
 
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