Wow. What an amazing episode! First off, let me just say that Deborah Raffin did a wonderful job portraying the reverend's alcoholic sister. In fact, everyone did an almost-perfect job. The emotions were real and intense. Let's break it down.
Ruthie and Simon--The scene with Aunt Julie attacking Simon to get the key to the liquor cabinet was, I thought, very well done. If I were Simon, I would have been scared too! But that bit at the end with Simon backing up with a terrified look on his face was pretty laughable and overdone. Ruthie didn't have too much to do except stand around and act cute, which she did very well.
Lucy--She did wonderful, as always, being the sensitive one. She was just so overwhelmed by the situation... It was Thanksgiving and Grandma was dead; Grandpa wouldn't be visiting them for the holiday; and now Aunt Julie had become an alcoholic and had attacked Simon. Beverly always does well with crying scenes, and I really felt sorry for her.
Mary--Ack, Mary! She was so self-centered. "Oh, boo hoo, poor me, I really looked up to Aunt Julie, *whine* *whine*"... Well, Mary, you're not the one who is destroying your life because you can't stop drinking! You're not the one who lost your job and boyfriend and whose life is crumbling apart before your eyes! I was cheering along with Matt when he kept scolding her. Anywho, at least she came through in the end, and Jessica Biel did a good job acting the part.
Matt--Poor Matt. He had an almost-crying scene. I can imagine how tough it would be to have someone you care about scream at you that they hated you. Good job, Barry... Despite your goofy hair, you can do an emotional scene.
Eric and Annie--Both wonderful, as usual. Eric was great as a concerned, protective older brother and Annie as a concerned, protective mother. I thought both of their reactions were very believable and could totally picture my own parents acting the same way if they were placed in the same situation.
Julie--As I said before, she was amazing. She played the part so well, delivering intense emotional scenes. She also played the part of the fun aunt at the beginning well; she seemed like someone you would love to have in your family.
All in all, very memorable episode! It's the best one of the whole series, in my opinion--much better than the soap opera stuff of the final seasons. A wonderful example of '7th Heaven' at its finest, addressing real and serious issues of life. Well done, everyone!