The search continues for John-Boy’s whereabouts, but while Olivia is at the Red Cross headquarters, Mrs. Denman (from “The Diploma”) asks her to check in on a backwoods army wife named Darcy who is not returning her husband’s letters. When they go see her, see confesses that a mysterious male stranger came and “had his way” with her. She was too afraid to go to the sheriff, fearing he would take the rapist’s word over hers. Incredulous, Olivia finds out Darcy to be correct – the sheriff (not Epp) cautions her that it’s a hard charge to prove, especially without a probe of her character and good morals. Angered, Olivia finds herself physically threatened in her own home by Son Slater, the rapist, and when John finds out, he runs him out of town. Olivia arranges to have Darcy’s husband get a furlough before he is shipped overseas to comfort his grieving wife.
In a much-needed lighter subplot, Corabeth expects an inheritance, and proceeds to splurge heedlessly, again trying to distance herself from the store. Ike gives in, to show her the folly of leaving what she secretly does cherish – she invests her money in war bonds instead.
First Waltons episode to deal with rape also serves well as a modern-day commentary on it, especially regarding the double standard in the leniency of prosecuting offenders who many think are led on by their victims. Other shows confronted this earlier, but for the Waltons to tackle it indicates how big an issue it had become by the late-70s. Interesting how much it has shifted in the other direction, with rape charges having potentially devastating consequences for the offender, either guilty or not.
This story continues into the next, differently titled, episode. Actually, this is the first truly two-part episode; all the others were two-hour installments. Having had none of those recently may bespeak the ratings slump the show was experiencing at this time.
Fashion note: Olivia is spending much more time these days not just in slacks but in 80’s-style designer jeans. Looks like she took a cue from Mary Ellen, who’s been donning them for the past few episodes. But props to be given for her populist activism – other notch in her proto-feminist belt!