Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Waltons 9.16: “The Victims”

Airdate: 3/19/81

An old chum Erin and Mary Ellen’s, Carol, moves into the neighborhood with her husband, Ben. But Ben, a returning war veteran, is a very different man after a few drinks, becoming violently hostile and hot-headed, then apologizing for it later on. Predictably, he’s also a wife-beater, and Carol finds herself in the Waltons’ sanctum after a particularly bruising encounter. She won’t press charges though, or even divorce her husband – she thinks he can be helped, especially now that she’s carrying her baby. When Ben comes to get her and his turned away, he barricades himself at his house, delusionally believing he’s still fighting Nazis. The police arrive, but it’s John-Boy and Jason who daringly talk him down at gunpoint, and he comes out, apologetic. The final narration tells us he’s alright now: the couple moved to be near a VA hospital where he’s getting treatment.

Hello? Ben, this violent, alcoholic, domestic abuser, who later in the episode turns into a delusional psychopath, is all better now and has a happy, healthy marriage? This might possibly be the most outrageous wrap-up in Waltons history, just as irresponsible as any battered wife who is psychologically manipulated into believing her husband is fine and no intervention necessary. This guy is so inherently messed-up and prone to violence that it’s hard to swallow the “war did it to him” or even that alcohol is all to blame. Maybe time has dated the attitudes prevalent at the time (the early 80s, not the 40s), but this one just doesn’t hold up.

Subplot involving Jim-Bob in the war surplus salvage business is simply a waste of time.

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