John-Boy is flown back to a Washington hospital in a coma – and John and Olivia hold watch for him. When it appears it might be a while, Mrs. Denman suggests Olivia sign up to be a Red Cross case worker; that way she could put her interpersonal skills to use for the war effort and be near her son. Olivia loves the idea, but on the homefront, not everyone is warming up to Rose’s attempts to emulate Olivia and Grandma in preparing for Thanksgiving. Everyone’s spirits are lifted with news that John-Boy as said his first word, and later on, moving his hand to hold his parents’.
Michael Learned’s final episode as Olivia Walton makes sense (more so than taking off for a sanitarium), especially given her activism of late. One can only imagine the shock of parents visiting their son in a coma and seeing… SOMEONE ELSE! That’s right: John-Boy is played here by Robert Wightman (they even gave him Richard Thomas’s mole). Can you imagine the challenge of stepping into the shoes of a character, played so fondly by someone else, and spending the first few week of it bedridden and completely motionless? Welcome aboard, Bobby; you’ve got your work cut out for you!
Another holiday, another tragedy. God, can’t they ever carve a turkey at this place without tears?