Thursday, April 11, 2013

Waltons 6.19: “The Ordeal, Parts 1 and 2”

Airdate: 2/6/78

Instead of securing a pile of logs to be cut for lumber, Ben and Jim-Bob take a swimming break. Elizabeth attempts to climb the pile to return a bird to its nest, and when she does, falls to the ground with the logs tumbling on top of her. At the hospital her prognosis is not good: though the doctors could mend her bone fractures they were unable to do anything about her nerve damage, rendering her unable to walk or feel any sensation in her legs.

Meanwhile the two culprits, Ben and Jim Bob, each find different ways of assuaging their guilt. Ben goes over the top in buying Elizabeth flowers,
perfumes and a myriad of other assorted gifts, while Jim-Bob shuts himself off from the world and acts hostile and bitter. Aimee Godsey thinks she has the answer for Elizabeth: a visit to the local herbologist- an eccentric hermit who looks threatening but seems to have true healing powers. They sneak out in the middle of the night to see her, but her handiwork seems to have no effect. Things are so bad that even John brings himself to prayer! Well, something must have worked: in the school playground Elizabeth takes a few steps, and backs at the house takes a few more. Earl Hamner’s epilogue informs us hat just a few months after, Elizabeth is walking like she never knew what hit her!

Yet another maudlin two-hour stretch of bloated melodrama, almost a carbon copy of “The Easter Story” and “The Thanksgiving Story,” two other episodes about tragic injuries that compel the Walton clan to take stock in what’s really important (at least Elizabeth doesn’t have a holiday hanging over her head). This episode gives young Elizabeth (Kami Colter) plenty of screen time, as it does recent cast member Rachel Longaker as Aimee Godsey, but after so many war and race related episodes this season, trotting out a careworn Waltons staple like this seems like an act of desperation.

The medical science in this episode is a bit shaky – if Elizabeth’s nerves are damaged, I’m not sure how much rehabilitation will cause them to “grow” back, certainly not within the timeframe allotted here. Best not to ask too many questions regarding this.

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