Writer: Kathleen Hite.
Director: Philip Leacock.
Music: Alexander Courage.
"Joy and tragedy walked hand in hand during the dark days of World War Two. When good news came it always seemed to be tinged with sadness, the words 'your son is alive' were too often followed by the phrase ;he is badly injured;. When those words came to my family it meant that the long wait was not over, it had just begun".
Ike is excited upon reading the Charlottesville newspaper's headlines: 'John Walton Jr. Reported Alive - Virginia Author Missing in Action for Three Months'. As John and Olivia prepare to visit John-Boy in an Alexandria hospital, Ike tells the good news to Corabeth and delivers the paper to the Walton's. However, later at the hospital John and Olivia are disturbed by the callousness of the staff. When trying to enter his room, Nurse Corrigan refuses them entrance but agrees to search for Dr. Banion.
Back home, Rose puts clean laundry on the clothesline as she sings and tries to keep the family's spirits up.
Dr. Banion informs John and Olivia that John-Boy's condition is quite serious. He is in shock with a head injury and lucky to be alive. The doctor suggests they sit with him even though their son will not recognize them. John and Olivia find John-Boy with his head bandaged and staring into space. Olivia is sure he is resting and healing as she kisses him, grateful to be by his side.
Elizabeth overhears Serena praying for John-Boy's return to good health even though she has never met him.
That evening, Olivia is positive about seeing John-Boy's eyes move. But John observes nothing. Nurse Corrigan loudly returns another wounded soldier into the room. Olivia asks her to be quiet but is told that you could drive a tank through without disturbing him. John then confronts the doctor and nurse about his perceived lack of care for his son. Dr. Banion says that everything is being done to care for him.
Rose sets food on the supper table but soon realizes the family does not like eggplant. The children wish their parents would call with news about John-Boy. Rose reminds the group that Thanksgiving is approaching. Jim Bob thinks they should forget about the day. Even though she receives little support Rose desires to start Thanksgiving preparations of turkey, cranberries, and oysters. Mary Ellen responds, 'Oysters?' Rose just laughs it off.
John leaves Olivia at the hospital. Back home John explains how John-Boy was rescued off the coast of Belgium by a fishing boat. Without good news about John-Boy the family is not interested in celebrating Thanksgiving when Rose again brings up the subject. John tells Rose that this is not a time to be thankful with Zeb and Curt gone, Jason in the army, John-Boy barely alive, and Olivia away with their son.
Sitting beside her son, Olivia reminds John-Boy about the time that he got so mad when the man burned the German books. John-Boy's roommate is listening to the conversation. Sam has two crippled legs and no family. Olivia wonders how he will take care of himself.
Mrs. Denman runs into Olivia outside the hospital, asking to join her for dinner. She has been reassigned to Alexandria. While drinking coffee they talk about John-Boy. Olivia inquires about Mrs. Denman's son, Terry, who was killed while in the Navy. Mrs. Denman asks Olivia if she would become a caseworker, saying the Red Cross needs the help and Olivia needs money while staying with John-Boy. Olivia accepts both offers, the second being to share her apartment.
Jason returns home surprising Olivia, but he is the one surprised upon seeing his mother in her Red Cross uniform. Jason reminisces about tagging along with John-Boy as he wrote in his notebook. Olivia decides to read to John-Boy from his novel Walton's Mountain.
Rose gives a bite of mincemeat to Mary Ellen and Erin with the hope it will taste like Grandma's. The girls tell her to be herself and reinforce their lack of interest in Thanksgiving. Rose angrily tells them she wants everybody to be thankful for the good things. Jeffrey and Serena realize she is mad when going on one of her walks.
After reading to John-Boy, Olivia talks with Sam. Suddenly John-Boy calls out, 'Mama!' Dr. Banion thinks it is only an isolated incident. Olivia is convinced her son is getting better. She calls the family to tell them the good news. Jim Bob grabs the gun to shoot a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Rose is happy to have the family back in the spirit of Thanksgiving.
Mrs. Denman and Olivia talk about their plans for Thanksgiving. Olivia suggests she spend the day with Sam. But Mrs. Denman refuses saying she wouldn't be good company, while thinking of the boy with whom she used to spend Thanksgivings. Later, John surprises Olivia with a visit. As they walk into John-Boy's room, Mrs. Denman appears at the door with Sam, both going to the cafeteria for dinner. As John and Olivia give thanks, there is movement in John-Boy's arm, and three hands are clasped together.
"And so they started back, so many young men, from tunnels of darkness to light, from the very door of death to the first turning step back to life, and the families hearts were glad, all over the land".
Bob: That was a great dinner Rose.
Erin: It was, really Rose.
Rose: Why thank you. My goodness.
Erin: I'm sure glad we didn't talk you out of it.
Rose: Now if this isn't just the nicest thing. I'll tell you what I was thinking, about Christmas now I really think we should hit that early -
Everybody: Goodnight Nana!
John-Boy is located in corridor 2B, room 235 of the U.S. Army Hospital located in Alexandria, Virginia.
Sam (played by Morgan Stevens) the crippled soldier that is John-Boy's roommate, reappears as Erin's boyfriend Paul Matthews Northridge beginning in The Lumberjack (season nine, episode nineteen), later her husband, and in the post-television movies, her ex-husband.
Mrs. Denman has been promoted and transferred to the Red Cross' eastern division headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.
This is Michael Learned's last regular appearance as "Olivia". She will later make occasional guest appearances.
This is Robert Wightman's first appearance as "John-Boy".
Ike and Corabeth Godsey (Joe Conley and Ronnie Claire Edwards); Cindy Walton (Leslie Winston), Rose (Peggy Rae); Serena (Martha Nix); Jeffrey (Keith Mitchell); Nurse Corrigan (K. Callan); Sam (Morgan Stevens); Mrs. Denman (Diana Douglas); Dr. Banion (Regis Cordic); John-Boy (Robert Wightman).