All in the Family

Season 7 Episode 15

The Draft Dodger

Aired Unknown Dec 25, 1976 on CBS

Episode Recap

It's Christmas Eve, and Archie and Edith are celebrating with Mike and Gloria and Teresa, and Archie is looking forward to seeing his old buddy, Pinky Peterson. Archie can't wait to play a practical joke on Pinky with a Santa that spews water when the unsuspecting victim pulls on its tie. As Archie tries to play the trick on Edith, it backfires on him and he is forced to change his shirt.

While he is upstairs, the doorbell rings, and Edith opens it to find an old friend of Mike's: David Brewster. She welcomes him to wait for Mike, and he soon comes over. Mike's surprise is not entirely one of delight when he sees his old friend, because as we soon discover, David is a draft dodger, hiding out in Canada. He has risked coming back to the States for the Christmas holiday, and specifically has looked up Mike because David's own father is not ready to face him for fleeing the draft.

Gloria has a similar reaction when she comes over shortly thereafter, but shrugs it off and tells David that of course, he must spend Christmas with them, and that his secret is safe with them.

When Archie meets David, Gloria does her best to deflect Archie's questions as to where David lives and how he ended up at their home for Christmas and not with his own family. Then the doorbell rings again, and it's Pinky, Archie's buddy. Before Archie answers it, he delivers a shock to everyone gathered. He tells them to be careful if Pinky starts talking about Stevie, his only son. Stevie was killed in Vietnam.

As dinner progresses, everyone is sharing stories, and Archie asks David if he has any heart-warming memories to relay. David slips up when he mentions where he is from, and Archie catches that it doesn't add up to what he was earlier led to believe. This eventually triggers the bombshell news to Archie that David is a draft dodger living in Canada.

Archie will not stand to have David stay after learning this, which prompts Mike to confront Archie. As the two yell back and forth, Mike asks Archie when he's going to admit that the war was wrong. Archie reaches a fever pitch which silences everyone, and makes the point that what David did was wrong because all the other young people were doing the duty that their country demanded, putting their very lives at risk, some of them not returning. In the midst of this fiery monologue, Pinky interjects and asks if he may speak. Archie gladly agrees, telling him that a Gold Star father's opinion means more than anyone else's in the room.

Pinky proceeds to tell him that he understands how Archie feels, but that if Stevie were alive he'd want to sit down and have dinner with David, and that's what he (Pinky) wants to do. He shakes David's hand, and wishes him a Merry Christmas.

Archie still can't come to terms with this, and refuses to come back to the table. In the awkward silence that follows, Edith pleads with Archie to follow Pinky's example. Although Archie can't reconcile the idea of Pinky's unbelievable grace towards David, Edith asks him to do it for her sake, and he acquiesces.

In the final scene, carolers are heard outside, and Edith prompts Archie to open the door. He does so, and listens impatiently until they are finished. After a mild threat to call the cops if they don't watch the noise ordinance, he lets the door shut, at which we see a close-up of the wreath hanging on it with the inscription "Peace."