An old friend of Zeb’s, Mason Beardsley, arrives at Walton’s Mountain, where he and his wife had lived until they move to Atlanta. Having returned, he gets the help of the Walton family to fix up his old house in time for his wife to come join him and live together in their remaining years. Something seems odd about his behavior, though, and when his son comes to see him, he explains why: (SPOILER ALERT) Mason’s wife had died two years earlier, and he has been unable to accept her sudden departure from his life.
Very emotional episode is missing one thing: a satisfying conclusion – Mason neither fully grieves nor accepts reality; we really don’t even get a lengthy final scene one way or another, and since the show hinges on some kind of emotional culmination, it’s a letdown. A lovely parallel story involves Jimmy, Elizabeth’s imaginary best friend, prompting Olivia to teach her daughter that “pretend is okay, as long as you know it’s pretend.”
I really do love that archetypal character of someone who deludes him or herself to avoid facing a tragic reality. When well done, it has enormous dramatic potential.