Saturday, July 28, 2012

Waltons 5.24: “The Achievement”

Airdate: 3/17/77

John-Boy is nervous that he hasn’t heard from the New York publisher he sent his novel to; afraid that it got lost in the mail, he takes a bus to the Big Apple to track it down. He finds it: it’s in a pile of unread manuscripts, so he entreats the publisher herself to read it by Monday so he can wait over the weekend. While discussing the ideas for his novel, he flashes back to key moments (actual flashbacks from previous episodes) in his life that shaped his writing career. During the wait, he visits Belle Becker, the mother of the deceased writer who authored all of Elizabeth’s favorite detective books; he gets an autographed copy of one such book and an unfinished story to take back home to Elizabeth.

John-Boy returns home with wonderful news – his novel will be published! All rejoice, but later that night, he subtely communicates to Zeb, Olivia and John that he will move to New York, the city that ignites his passion almost as much as writing does. As the family says their final good nights, he stands outside of the house, and speaks his final line to them, “Good night everybody. I love you.”

Milestone episode is Richard Thomas’ last episode as a regular cast member. While not the end of the series, it’s sort of akin to Mike and Gloria leaving All in the Family: it’s certainly the end of an era. Series creator Earl Hamner wrote this episode, and it’s impossible not to tear up during the final 10 minutes – his goodbye to the family is not the usual one-by-one hug-and-kiss affair. Instead it’s a tacit, understated affair – appropriate for parents who knew this moment of empty nesting was coming all the while. Scribe Hamner knows what is not said is just as important as what is spoken. Definitely one of the top 10 Waltons moments!

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