“Cowboy” - Airdate: November 12, 1972
PLOT: Chopper pilot Cowboy (Billy Green Bush), concerned about his girlfriend’s faithfulness, wants to be sent home with a minor shoulder wound. Meanwhile, a mysterious assassin makes repeated attempts on Col. Blake’s life.
-When exactly does Cowboy find time to slip out of post-op and rig a half dozen deathtraps?
Why yes, Cowboy, you may bring a
non-regulation firearm into post op!
The misdirect that Hawkeye and Trapper may be terrorizing Henry is built up by providing a petty motive for Trapper – after three days of surgery with no sleep, McIntyre tries to steal Henry’s jeep for a date with a nurse – which isn’t very convincing, but is pretty funny. There’s also a laugh-out-loud scene of Henry nervously briefing Frank on the filing system before leaving camp to take refuge elsewhere, but is terrified of opening the potentially booby-trapped file cabinets. McLean Stevenson and Larry Linville play the scene almost motionless, between Henry’s incapacitating jitters and Frank staring in silent contempt and confusion. However, since Frank has been left in command before, it’s unclear why he needs to be shown where daily paperwork is located.
The story mislead is an excuse to get Henry and Cowboy alone in a helicopter, to reveal that the pilot sees no alternative but to murder the colonel. Meanwhile, the letter from home Cowboy has been waiting for arrives, and Radar, Hawk and Trap all get on the radio to read it to the psycho pilot. The letter-reading sequence is a little masterpiece of Good News/ Bad News jokes, as each line of the letter seems to indicate catastrophe, only to turn out happy (e.g.- Trapper groans “Dear… John”, and Cowboy whoops “That’s my real name!”), and Rogers, Alda and Burghoff create a small riot, wringing every drop from a scene that is basically three guys screaming into a microphone.