China Beach (1991): S04E12 – The Always Goodbye


Introduction

China Beach is an American dramatic television series set at an evacuation hospital during the Vietnam War.

The title refers to My Khe beach in the city of Đà Nẵng, Vietnam, nicknamed “China Beach” in English by American and Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War. The ABC TV drama aired for four seasons, from 1988 to 1991.

Outline

In 1969, K.C. discovers McMurphy lounging in her Bangkok apartment, four months after K.C.’s departure from China Beach. On R&R before her tour’s impending end, McMurphy is joined by a smitten soldier, Maltby, who tells K.C. they have spent most of their trip drinking heavily. On their way out, the group is interrupted by Trieu Au returning with a 2-year-old Karen, shocking McMurphy. At the bar she operates, K.C. is approached by Tucker, an old manager who wants to go into business with her – and bed her. He brings K.C. and McMurphy to the future site of her nightclub, where McMurphy questions the wisdom of K.C. raising her daughter and operating a nightclub in Bangkok – a sentiment shared by Trieu Au. McMurphy passes out before finishing a toast to the future and wakes K.C. with her vomiting the next morning. McMurphy confronts K.C. about leaving without saying goodbye, but K.C. snaps back that the rest of their friends at China Beach have moved on and she needs to as well. McMurphy reveals to K.C. that she fears returning to China Beach because her tour is about to end; unlike their friends, all trying to move on in the US, she does not want to. A resigned K.C. informs McMurphy that Trieu Au has taken Karen back to Vietnam and expresses an unwillingness to return for her or get involved in her life. Before she departs, McMurphy tells K.C. she intends to stop heavily drinking, while K.C. hopes to grow her nightclub and business interests. Struggling to find the right goodbye, the two happily recall the cheerleading sets they performed together on the first night of the Tet Offensive.

In 1975, K.C. returns to Bangkok after her ordeal in Saigon and finds her nightclub – and life – in ruins. She tells Tucker she intended on following Karen to the US, but now lacks the funds to purchase the plane ticket home. Tucker propositions her but K.C. declines, hoping to avoid a return to prostitution under him. Instead, she seeks out an old neighbour who sets her up with a seemingly mild customer, a computer specialist from Kansas City. However, she throws him out when he becomes aggressive. Sitting on the balcony outside her apartment (intercut throughout the episode), she grapples with her decision to put Karen on the helicopter in Saigon.

China Beach Series

You can find a full index and overview of China Beach here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 18 June 1991.
  • Running Time: 46-47 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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