McMurphy and K.C. are kidnapped by the Viet Cong and taken underground into a warren of tunnels, where their captors expect McMurphy to operate on their wounded leader.
McMurphy uses a little guilt and a little blackmail to get a reluctant K.C. to visit a wounded soldier whose face has been badly disfigured. Holly, the new doughnut dolly, challenges the nurses on behalf of the Red Cross Volunteers to compete in a Miss China Beach beauty pageant. Frankie is assigned to the motor pool and runs into Sarge Pepper, who's not very eager to have her there.
Dodger is left with an Amerasian baby that is supposedly his son; McMurphy makes a poor patient when she comes down with dysentery; and Holly badgers everyone into answering the letters sent by seventh-graders from Colorado.
Dr. Richard worries over a craniotomy that has permanently altered a patient's mental capacity; Lila faces an inspection that will determine if she gets a key promotion; Sarge Pepper asks for some advice about courting Lila and K.C. finds herself in a very awkward position when a senior officer goes AWOL on her permanently.
China Beach celebrates a soggy Independence Day with Boonie and Holly trying to keep everyone's spirits up, McMurphy dealing with a love struck private as she tries to sort out her feelings for Dr. Bernard, Lila and the Sarge discussing the future and Beckett and K.C. quarreling over registering the dead to vote.
K.C. avoids dealing with unpleasant memories of her father stirred up by a trunk of his belongings; Dr. Richard faces his ex-wife's remarriage with a "black wedding"; Beckett ends his relationship with Mai; and McMurphy learns more about Dr. Bernard's life.
Holly is shaken when it appears that Hang is connected to the VC and has been using their friendship to gain information; Frankie is seriously injured by a booby trap; and McMurphy aids Dr. Bernard at a civilian clinic.
Dodger and Hyers square off after a battlefield incident; McMurphy spends an uncomfortable evening with Dr. Bernard's sophisticated civilian friends; and Boonie gets a surprise from the sexy Asian singer all the men in camp are longing for.
Beckett and a civilian photographer temporarily join Dodger's patrol; McMurphy gets to know a wounded POW.
The wounded Cambodian POW befriended by McMurphy is taken away by the South Vietnamese for interrogation as the photographer Cat pursues the story of his defection and a new commander arrives to take over the base, leaving Lila and K.C. unsure of their positions.
McMurphy finds herself caught up in a triangle affair with Dr. Bernard and Vinnie; Holly tells Boonie how she feels about him; and Lila copes with the disappointment of losing command of China Beach to Otis.
K.C. feels responsible for the death of a Vietnamese prostitute she sent out and takes things into her own hands when Otis refuses to investigate the matter.
Dodger reaches the limit of his endurance and decides to leave Vietnam and faces a mountain of paperwork as he tries to get permission to take his Amerasian son home with him.
Holly has had an abortion and as her friends at China Beach try to deal with it, the circumstances that led up to it are gradually revealed.
China Beach reacts to the rumors of peace floated by Beckett and Frankie during their pirate radio broadcast.
McMurphy is in an emotional and ethical turmoil when she delivers Vinnie's buddy from death but he falls into a terminal coma; and Frankie finds herself in charge of a squad of grizzled grunts.
Dodger tries to reintegrate his life as a civilian but finds himself drifting as he tries to make sense of his experiences in Vietnam.
A pair of ballroom dancers bring a note of grace and harmony to the uneasy relationship between McMurphy and Dr. Richard while completing a mysterious mission of their own.
K.C. finds herself in the middle of a C.I.A. assassination plot, and dependent on McMurphy to vouch for her innocence.
In November 1966, fairly new guys Colleen McMurphy and Dr. Richard find themselves learning the ropes when they arrive at China Beach.
McMurphy finds herself under suspicion when a wounded G.I. she doesn't remember names her as his beneficiary. Lila has mixed feelings about an old friend who now outranks her and has arrived at China Beach to do a recruiting film about Army nurses.
With everyone else away for a distant USO show, K.C. and McMurphy indulge in an alcoholic binge that takes them to a dreamy landscape where a Native American guide tries to help them heal past and present wounds.