Episode 4 - The Obsession

(19 Oct 1978)
Writer: Juliet Packer.
Director: GwenArner.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"The war in Europe brought to Waltons Mountain a renewed awareness of the frailty of human freedom. We realised that an ocean away people were fighting and dying for independence. In the Fall of 1941 our family was to witness another fight for freedom. It was a fight that would reveal to all of us a new kind of courage"


Olivia is concerned about Mary Ellen overworking herself while studying for her registered nursing degree. Mary Ellen has entered the accelerated program in order to more quickly join Curt.


Sissy is awakened by one of Yancy's chickens pecking her toes. She is upset at his animals freely roaming the house. Sissy tells her husband that she is leaving him, tired of tripping over Tiger. At the Dew Drop Inn, Yancy confesses his problem to Ben and Jason. They try to convince Yancy that he is better off a bachelor.


David Spencer awakens Mary Ellen after she has fallen asleep in the hospital's lounge. A nurse suggests she take amphetamines to help stay awake, but Mary Ellen doesn't like the idea. Soon she changes her mind, asking David to give her a few days' supply of pep pills.


Mary Ellen takes her first pill just as Elizabeth enters the kitchen. Several days later, Mary Ellen drops off John Curtis to Daisy Garner, who is occupying the Willard house, so she can take her test. Afterwards, she tells David she is confident about passing. With half the pills remaining, Mary Ellen decides to save them in order to study for her state exams in two weeks. Curt returns on leave to tell his wife that he will not be able to attend his wife's graduation ceremony. When Mary Ellen becomes upset Curt says she must concentrate on her state exams so she can successfully complete against other nurses in order to join him.


Ike presents Yancy with a letter from Sissy. He finds that his estranged wife is going to 'buy herself a divorce'. Ike informs Yancy that he will probably be forced to pay alimony if she gets a high-priced lawyer.


Mary Ellen asks David for another two-week supply of pep pills along with some sedatives. Uneasy about how he got himself into this predicament, David insists this will be the last time.


In the middle of the night, Jason cannot understand how Mary Ellen can be so wide-awake. In the morning, while Jason is still trying to wake up, Mary Ellen bounces down the steps in high spirits. However, when Erin asks to borrow twenty-five cents, Mary Ellen becomes angry when Erin searches her purse. Yancy visits John hoping to convince him to help with his legal defense. But John is unaware of the legal terms and Ben is too busy to help. Elizabeth informs Yancy that she listens to Mr. District Attorney on the radio and offers her serves as lawyer. Her first act is to visit the Baldwin sisters, whose Papa was a lawyer.


Jason sets up a swing for Daisy's daughter Melissa when Mary Ellen is seen driving up the street. She suddenly becomes dizzy and runs into a tree. She downplays the incident saying nothing is wrong. Daisy confides in Jason that she thinks Mary Ellen is taking pills. Jason doesn't think his sister would do such a thing. However, later Jason asks Mary Ellen if she is taking pills. She admits she is, but will stop once the exam is finished. Jason warns her not to lose her strong-will.


Mary Ellen puts John Curtis to bed after taking one of her sedatives. Later, Olivia returns home to find John Curtis screaming while Mary Ellen sleeps only a few feet away. She convinces her daughter that John Curtis would be better in her bedroom, until the exam is over.


Elizabeth asks Miss Mamie and Miss Emily if their father ever handled divorce cases. They say his sole case was Thomas Brook Roberts who stole a horse in Pennsylvania. His wife was granted a divorce since he was convicted of stealing, and she was granted all the livestock. She decides to look for a loophole.


John and Olivia worry about their daughter's behavior. John prepares to leave for a business trip to see Matt Sarver. Later Elizabeth tells her mother that she is trying to make divorce look terrible to Yancy and Sissy so they will want to get back together.


Mary Ellen finishes studying the night before her exam. She learns, however, that she has no more sedatives. Tossing and turning, unable to sleep, Mary Ellen drives to her house, hoping to find pills. She breaks into the cabinet upon finding the sedatives locked inside. When Daisy hears commotion she asks Mary Ellen if she is okay. Upset at her interference, Mary Ellen slams the door in her face. Suddenly she realizes what is happening to her. She cries out to Daisy. Jason drives her home where she confesses to her mother. Olivia and Jason stay with her while she comes off the drugs. To help her sleep Olivia reads from the book Florence Nightingale that John-Boy gave her when she entered nursing school. Mary Ellen finally dozes off. In the morning John returns to find them asleep in the living room.


Yancy wakes up to find Sissy at the door, returning for her property. He is relieved to find that she doesn't want his pets. Sissy says they will be unable to divorce unless they can find grounds for divorce. They talk about their happy dating days as Elizabeth arrives. She announces that if Sissy leaves for two years, they can divorce by reason of desertion. Sissy kisses Yancy and he kisses her back. She doesn't leave.


Mary Ellen has taken her state exams and now waits for the results. While gardening with her mother, John arrives with the letter. Mary Ellen has passed the test certifying her as a registered nurse. Mary Ellen is unsure if Curt will attend, since he has not responded to her letter of confession. But at the ceremony John brings Curt who apologies for putting pressure on her. He also announces he is being transferred to Pearl Harbor. They can still be together, halfway around the world. When Mary Ellen's name is announced to receive her diploma Curt is brought to the stage to place her nurse's hat upon her head.


"On that day we were not only aware of Mary Ellen's victory in becoming a nurse, but also of a greater victory that she had won. We knew that she had found her strength again, and with it had come a bright re-discovery of freedom".


Elizabeth: I think I'll be a lawyer when I grow up!
Jason: Not a divorce lawyer I hope.
Elizabeth: I might be pretty good at it. I saved Yancy's marriage! Besides, I think lawyers must have lots of fun.
Mary Ellen: Goodnight Elizabeth!
Elizabeth: They're always writing about the 'party of the first party, and the party of the second party, and the -'
John: The party's over! Goodnight Elizabeth!
Elizabeth: Daddy, I think it'd be more lawyer-like to say - 'the case is closed'.
Olivia and John: Goodnight Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: Goodnight everyone.



Grandma is visiting Cousin Jane.

Judge Baldwin owned a hunting dog by the name of Beauregard, who died in 1925.

Elizabeth is twelve years old.

Information about the radio show Mr. District Attorney can be found at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039325/.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley), Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards), Miss Mamie Baldwin (Helen Kleeb), Miss Emily Baldwin (Mary Jackson), Yancy Tucker (Robert Donner), Sissy (Cissy Wellman), David Spencer (Christopher Woods), Curt Willard (Tom Bower), John Curtis (Marshall and Michael Reed), Daisy Garner (Deirdre Lenihan), Melissa Garner (Brandi Tucker), Nancy (Alley Mills), The Superintendent (Suzanne DeLapp).