Jim Bob and Jodie get back from their hitch with Uncle Sam, and start to develop a reckless, devil-may-care lifestyle. The family scorns Jim Bob for not taking more responsibility or looking for work, and Verdie chastises her son for behaving like a child instead of a man, particularly in his father’s absence. Nothing, not speeding tickets, incarceration – or even Jodie’s hospitalization after a reckless student – seems to change them. When Jim Bob considers reenlisting, Elizabeth talks some sense into him, and he and Jodie decide to co-operate a garage, using both their skill with auto mechanics. Subplot: the Baldwins are busted by the feds for their illegal still. After it gets confiscated, they decide to continue moonshining using Father’s old still found in a secret room.
Another so-so episode with some modern-day (early-80s) commentary about risky youth behavior (drinking and driving, speeding). Fuzzy ending establishes Jim Bob and Jodie as auto mechanics now – and now all the Walton boys, except John-Boy, have jobs! Actually, now that Ben’s okay, isn’t he leaving for France anyway?
With both parents absent, this is somewhat reminiscent of Good Times’ sixth, parentless season. Only Rose, and potentially Jason, is left to act as surrogate authority figures. Odd, but that’s what CBS wanted – a more youth-driven show.