John Boy gets released from the hospital (assumedly, Olivia is sticking with her Red Cross job), but memories of the crash, in bits and pieces, along with an unknown girl’s name, still haunt him. As such his homecoming is joyful, but tinged with agitation and uncertainty. When he hears Jason play a particular song, his mind unblocks a vivid link to the past – his pilot on his ill-fated flight, Stewart, kept him alive by singing, while he himself died in the ocean – the girl’s name was the name of the plane. And Ike is arrested for draft evasion when the government misidentifies his age.
Classic psychological blocking device creates suspense here, but if anything this one shows how irreplaceable Richard Thomas is as John-Boy. The reunion scenes just don’t feel authentic (and it is reflecting in the other actors’ performances) – it’s like an understudy stepped in mid-show and expects business as usual. Robert Wightman has mammoth boots to fill, and it just doesn’t work, his mole notwithstanding.
Flashback scenes in the water are climactic enough, but don’t they more than a little resemble those in Ordinary People?