Season 1 Episode 20 – Off Limits

Directed: Robert Altman
Written: George F. Slavin
Released: 19 Feb 1963

This was a pretty interesting episode that involved very little actual combat and concentrated on the effects of love in a war zone.

We start off with the guys being transported and they end up stopping at an Evacuation Hospital.

After hearing the name 325th Evacuation Hospital, Corporal Marsh rushes off the truck and heads into the tents looking for somebody. The rest of the squad are ordered to remain in the truck. They can’t believe it that there are “real” nurses this close to the front.

This is all near a village called Vouvray. I spotted the sign for it as being 1 km away. Vouvray is down by Tours in France.

A funny scene ensues when the guys see Corporal Marsh with one of the nurses kissing and being affectionate with her. What was comical was that the guys assumed that Marsh had so much charisma over women that a nurse, an officer no less, would drop everything she was doing to start making out with a Corporal. They yell out “He’s got one!” as if she’s simply an object to grab. Basically, acting like a bunch of typical military guys.

Marsh and Amelia
Cpl Marsh seeing his wife for first time

The nurse is Lt. Amelia Marsh, Corporal Marsh’s wife.

Kirby and Marsh are buddies, which is strange since I’ve never seen him before in the squad. It is scenarios like this which means that the character is going to be the one that “gets it”, meaning getting wounded or killed.

Kirby asked Marsh why he never told him about his wife. Marsh confesses about how Kirby is always talking about women and he just wanted Amelia all to himself. They had met in England before the D-Day invasion and only really had a week to be man and wife. Marsh even told Kirby about how he should’ve seen all the paperwork to be married to an officer!

Saunders says he’ll try and get Hanley to okay a couple of days off so that he can spend it with his wife. Kirby is convinced that it would never happen. Which probably explains why he did what he did next.

While in town, he spotted a girl working in a cafe. She didn’t speak any English at all. That didn’t stop Kirby though, who kept trying to chat her up and all the while convincing himself that the girl really liked him simply because she smiled at him.

Saunders told him to leave her alone. Kirby is adamant that he wants to get her name. Saunders says “I know her name… Trouble!” (oh boy do I know that word!)

Kirby trying to talk to girl
She says “Je ne pas l’anglais” Kirby says “Johnny Pa who?”

The squad has a mission on the next day to run some wire out to a listening post. It’s Marsh’s turn to ride shotgun but Kirby agrees to take the job for him in case Marsh gets the pass from Hanley.

The guys are sleeping in a barn and this big sow has “Off Limits” drawn on her. I would have thought that the piglets wouldn’t have lasted very long, being fresh meat and all.

That night, Kirby decides to go back into town to look for that girl and convinces Crown to go along with him. Crown is still in the squad from way back in Rear Echelon Commandos.

While in town, Kirby tried his charming best to talk to the girl, even after being warned several times by some French resistance fighters for him to leave her alone. Crown, sensing trouble, leaves Kirby there and heads back to where the squad is. After Crown left, Kirby got into a fight in the cafe, complete with bodies being thrown out of the cafe window. Kirby was unceremoniously dumped in the alley.

In the morning, Saunders is rounding up the guys for the wire detail. He can’t find Kirby anywhere until Crown, half asleep, let it slip that they went into town last night. He has no choice but to assign Marsh for the detail.

While running the wire, one of the men trigger an alert which bounced up into the air and blew up. This signaled to German artillery to open up on them and they all hit the deck. Little John and Billy Nelson let go of the spool of wire which rolls off down the hill. Marsh runs off after it even after Saunders yelled at him to leave it alone.

An artillery shell then hits close to Marsh, wounding him.

In the mean time, Kirby gets sent to the hospital to get stitched up from the fight injuries.

After they bring Marsh back, Saunders lays the guilt trip on Kirby. Kirby also finds out from the guy laying next to him that Amelia isn’t all that innocent. He tells Kirby that he saw her holding hands with the doctor.

When Saunders was laying into Kirby, he brought up all the things about her being involved with the doctor. Amelia is shocked that he knew this and was speechless. Saunders is apologetic to her and tells Kirby that it isn’t any of his business.

Later, over coffee, Amelia admits to Saunders that she’s in love with the doctor and she’s afraid that if Marsh doesn’t make it, the guilt would prevent her from getting together with the doctor.

The doctor operated on Marsh and it was successful. He down played the operation by saying that Marsh had the hardest skull that he’s ever had to operate on.

The last scene has Kirby getting on a Jeep and saying how his next stop is going to be behind bars. Saunders won’t let him get off that easy though and “punishes” him by making him come back and fight the war with the squad.






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