(20 September 1979)
Writers: Rod Peterson & Claire Whittaker.
Director: Harry Harris.
Music: Alexander Courage
"It was one spring day during the war that our mother came back to us and with her arrival it seemed that everything began to look brighter. In Europe and North Africa the Allied forces were gaining strength giving new hope to those of us on the home front. There were dark days still ahead, but for now it was peaceful on the mountain and my family rejoiced in being together again".
The family gathers outside to welcome back their mama as she returns after recovering from her illness. As everyone greets her, she is introduced to Cindy for the first time. During supper, the children talk about the changes that have happened while she was away. Olivia listens, just happy to be home. She learns from Elizabeth that Aimee is soon returning from boarding school. Erin tells her that last month she hired Mary Ellen as the resident nurse at the Pickett plant. However the festive atmosphere is interrupted when Sheriff Bridges knocks on the door to inform John that Tommy Satterfield has gone AWOL from the army. John explains to Olivia that Ep is asking him to visit the Satterfield's because he is the head of the draft board.
Drill Instructor Jason marches his 'Awkward Squad' recruits while Sergeant Barnes notices that Private Lapinsky confuses his left and right moves. The Sergeant yells at Jason for not being tougher on his men. He advises Jason to shape up in order to stay on at Camp Rockfish and to receive his third stripe.
At the Pickett Plant Erin and Mary Ellen arrive to find J.D. troubled at losing Harvey Jenkins, the assistant manager. Jenkins has left to work at an airplane factory in California. J.D. places Erin in charge while he searches for a replacement in Charlottesville.
John visits the Satterfield house where Calvin greets him with a gun, saying he has not seen his son. Hoping that Tommy is inside, John informs him of the trouble to expect if he does not return. Tommy leaves the safety of the house to tell John that there were too many rules and not enough breathing room in the military. John recounts feeling uneasy about shipping off twenty-five years ago but realized he owed a commitment to his country, to his family, and to himself. When John says that he will have to live with his decision the rest of his life, Tommy agrees to return. Already blaming John for recruiting his son, Calvin states, 'If anything happens to my boy, It'll be on your head!'
At the mill, Ben admits feeling uncomfortable with his military deferment because of the mill's status as an essential operation. Ben adds that he and Cindy are trying to start their own family, but she is having difficulty becoming pregnant.
Elizabeth places the sign 'Welcome Home Aimee' in the store's front window while Ike and Corabeth bring home their daughter. When Aimee arrives home Elizabeth is uneasy to find that her best friend has turned into a young lady with very proper manners.
Back at the Pickett plant, Mary Ellen suggests that Erin apply for the assistant manager position, since she already performs the job. But Erin is reluctant, feeling J.D. thinks she is too young and not a man. Mary Ellen tells her sister that besides being pretty she also has brains.
Ike informs John that a shell fragment killed Tommy Satterfield when a German submarine fired on his troop ship while traveling to England. After leaving the store, John closes his eyes and pounds down on the porch. Late that night, Olivia finds John working on a broken clock, unable to sleep. John admits feeling guilty for sending Tommy to his death and says he hates playing God with his neighbors' sons. In the morning Olivia and John pay their respects to the Satterfield's. Calvin has taken his son's death hard and is nowhere around. Mrs. Satterfield hopes Olivia will never have to find out how difficult it is to lose a son.
Elizabeth and Aimee prepare for a picnic. When Jim Bob finds out they are eating marshmallows and hot dogs he decides to join them, especially after discovering a much more matured Aimee. Cindy is mad that everybody is wondering when she will be expecting. Ben explains that people on the Mountain share such things.
Erin becomes upset about doing her job plus J.D.'s job while he is gone. She finally confronts him demanding to be hired as the new assistant manager with a big raise. He initially backs off but soon laughs at her, thinking she is too young and too pretty for the job.
Corabeth reads Aimee's diary to Ike about how she thinks Jim Bob has grown up into a handsome, sexy young man. Ike does not like his wife reading their daughter's private thoughts.
Jason returns home from Camp Rockfish worried about not being tough enough on his recruits. After supper the family talk among themselves when Calvin Satterfield is heard yelling for John from the front yard. Outside, Calvin drunkenly threatens to make John pay for his son's death with one of his own sons. He yells 'an eye for an eye' as he shoots off his gun and walks away.
On Sunday morning, Olivia asks John to call Sheriff Bridges about Satterfield. John refuses, not wanting to start a shooting war. On the way to church Elizabeth and Aimee decide to together see the movie Jane Eyre on Saturday. Jim Bob drives up to ask them if they want a ride. Elizabeth says 'no' but Aimee says 'yes' because her feet hurt. Jim Bob asks her to the Saturday movie and Aimee agrees, even though she knows she has already made plans with Elizabeth. At church, J.D. compliments Mary Ellen and Erin about their good looks and tells them not to 'worry your pretty little heads' about finding a new assistant manager. In frustration with J.D.'s attitude, Mary Ellen hatches a plan with Erin. When Aimee and Jim Bob drive up together Corabeth thinks Jim Bob is too old to be pursuing Aimee. Ike believes his daughter has learned too many adult ways at school. Olivia finds that Elizabeth is mad at Jim Bob and Aimee.
Ben and Cindy drive Jason to where he is to catch a ride with Billy. As they reach the destination, a truck speeds past, then reverses direction. Satterfield approaches them with his gun. He decides not to settle his feud with John since Ben's woman is present. When John finds what happens, he tells Calvin that their dispute is between them and to leave his sons alone. Satterfield only says that it is John's turn to wait.
J.D. arrives at the plant to find Erin in an old-fashion southern dress serving tea and cookies to Mary Ellen and several female workers. Erin tells her boss that she will please him as a lady of charm and grace instead as an assistant manager. She acts like she has no inkling how to perform her job. In the morning, Erin announces to the family that her tactic worked. She is the new assistant manager. When Cindy looks at her eggs she begins to feel light-headed. Olivia says that usually means one thing. Cindy has morning sickness.
Jason learns that Lapinsky has improperly assembled his equipment. Jason begins to yell at the man, using his new tougher manner to prepare his men to become good soldiers. While Jim Bob gathers car parts at a junkyard Satterfield sets his gun-sights on the unsuspecting Walton. Just as Calvin pulls the trigger Jim Bob leans down in his car. The bullet misses him, breaking his windshield instead. Jim Bob hastily speeds off. Jim Bob tells his father about the narrow escape. John goes to Sheriff Bridges to report the incident. While the pair drive to Satterfield's Jim Bob learns that Elizabeth has been mad at him for going out with Aimee. Jim Bob tells his sister that he was unaware of what had happened. Sheriff Bridges tells Calvin that John is not to blame in his son's death because he was acting as a representative of the U.S. government. Satterfield will not listen. Ep concludes his visit by saying neither man should take the law into his own hands.
Lieutenant Barnes tells Jason he is impressed with his new toughness, making him a sergeant in charge of a newly formed platoon. When Elizabeth tells her mother about her problem with Aimee, Olivia relates a story about growing up with Betty Blue Weber. Even though they went separate ways, she will always be a best friend with her.
A large shipment of leg makeup arrives at Ike's store as a substitute for nylons that are in limited supply. Jim Bob stops by to break his date with Aimee because of not telling him she already had a date with Elizabeth. He tells her that finishing school should have taught her better manners. Aimee enters the store admitting to her parents how awful she has been acting to everybody, especially to her father and Elizabeth. Ike tells her he loves very much both her and her mother. He suggests she apologize to Elizabeth.
John retrieves his gun from the attic in order to settle his problem with Satterfield. Olivia cannot stop him from going. She tells Jim Bob and Ben to let their father settle his own problem. But as she talks, Ike enters with a letter from the War Department. As John confronts Satterfield Olivia drives up to show her husband the terrible news in the letter. The Secretary of War is writing to say that, 'Staff Sergeant John Walton Jr. has been reported missing-in-action while on special assignment for Stars and Stripes newspaper.' Both men drop their guns as John hugs his wife and sons. Later, Jason conducts the military salute at Tommy Satterfield's funeral. Jason presents the folded U.S. flag to Mrs. Satterfield as the casket containing Tommy's body lies at her feet.
(No concluding narration or Goodnights)
During this episode, Grandma is said to be away visiting and, as a result, does not appear. Ellen Corby does not appear in the credits at the beginning of this episode.
Michael Learned returns in this episode, reprising her role as Olivia Walton. She last appeared in The Parting (season seven, episode fifteen).
Tommy Satterfield's favorite fishing hole is a shady hole along Pickerwillow Creek.
Aimee Godsey has been attending Miss Holcomb's Finishing School for Girls.
Private Ted Lapinsky lives in Albany Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. One of his favorite hangouts is Fat Irving's which has the best hot dogs on the north side. His father operates a delicatessen. He has three sisters. His Uncle Morris also lives with the family since Aunt Minnie died.
Lapinsky will be featured in The Unthinkable (season eight, episode fourteen).
When Ike places the name Thomas Satterfield on the list of soldiers killed in the war, a mistake was made with respect to G.W.'s last name. The list includes 'G.W. Haynes' but his last name is actually spelled 'Haines'.
Tommy Satterfield's older sister, Pearl, lives on Hickory Ridge with her husband, Joe.
Jason is a corporal in the army, with two stripes.
The movie Jane Eyre appears at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036969/. It first appeared in movie theatres in 1944.
Ike and Corabeth Godsey (Joe Conley and Ronnie Claire Edwards); Aimee Godsey (Rachel Longaker), Cindy Walton (Leslie Winston); John Curtis (Michael and Marshall Reed), Calvin Satterfield (George Ralph DiCanzo), Tommy Satterfield (Blenn Withrow), Mrs. Satterfield (Eunice Christopher), Pearl (Jeanne Campise), J.D. Pickett (Lewis Arquette), Sergeant Barnes (Don Matheson), Ted Lapinsky (Todd Susman), Ep Bridges (John Crawford).