John-Boy’s college buddy, Mike Paxton, returns from the war a paraplegic. The Waltons take him in, and despite encouragement to move on with his life (especially from nurse Mary Ellen), he feels defeated and prefers to wallow in self-pity. Erin attempts to get him a job as a supervisor at J.D. Pickett’s plant; when J.D refuses hire because he’s handicapped, Mike’s resolve is only strengthened and he summons the fortitude to drive himself to work and climb the stairs with his crutches… to his new job. Meanwhile Ike and Ben try a little soft shoe to audition for a USO show.
48 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Waltons were ahead of their time in rallying to the support of Mike. You might remember him from Waltons 3.2, “The First Day,” as John-Boy’s comrade in arms on his traumatic first day at Boatwright College. His character, as played by Dennis Redfield, is a bit mannered and mopey, and even though I know that’s the point it also makes him oversimplified and slightly unlikeable. A rousing, if somewhat predictable, conclusion. Ike and Ben’s rendition of “In the Mood” makes it worth the price of admission.
Time check: Spring, 1942.