As a Festus fan, I very much enjoyed seeing this Us Haggens.
The episode following Us Haggens was Uncle Sunday.
I thought it was interesting to see these back to back and compare the two, especially since Festus was being introduced as a potential replacement for Chester.
1) In both, Festus and Chester had an encounter with an uncle they didn't like. Both uncles were criminals. Festus and Chester had a very different opinion on crime.
Uncle Sunday Meechum was a swindler. Sunday had sold fake jewels to a woman in Texas causing her and her children to go hungry. This was in the vicinity of Chester's home. Chester was very ashamed to even acknowledge he was related to his uncle because of this. Sunday had recently gotten out of prison and was being sent to live with Chester because he worked for the Marshall. Sunday was planning to rob the bank in Dodge.
Uncle Jack (Black Jack) Haggen was wanted for murder. In the opening sequence, Jack kills a man so he can steal a wagon. Festus cared very deeply for his uncle and probably wouldn't be as bothered by Jack murdering people, except that Jack made choices which caused Festus' twin brother to die (got him mixed up in a crime where Fergus got shot in the leg, then swapped Fergus' good horse for Jack's lame one, so Fergus could be caught, and insulted him to boot. Jack figured Fergus would die before he could get back to the family to tell what had happened. Festus considered Jack's actions akin to be akin murder and to be against the family code of kin protecting kin.
Festus related how his brother Jeff was killed by a shotgun after attempting to hold up a stage. He didn't seem to be bothered by the crime against others so much as the loss of his kin by the action.
Festus also considered himself not to be Haggen after conspiring to help get Jack hung, and ultimately causing him to be shot to death by Matt.
2) Both had an attraction and made a play for their uncle's woman.
Chester clearly told Doc that the woman wasn't his uncle's niece and made a date to meet her and kiss her. She played along only to get rid of him. She wasn't romantically interested in him.
When Chester discusses the woman with his uncle, Sunday confesses that the only way he can keep a woman as young and pretty as her is by plying her with money. Without it Sunday figures she won't stay.
She is just staying with Sunday to use him to get the money from the Bank.
Chester lost interest when he realized that she was attracted to another man, determined to commit a crime and was setting his uncle up to do the robbery but steal the money from him. (I'm not sure, but I don’t think Chester never did have a long term romantic relationship with a woman.)
Festus refused to give into his attraction to her as long as his uncle was alive.
When Festus discusses the woman with his uncle, Jack informs him that the woman is expendable, there are plenty of women around who can replace her. He eventually used her as a human shield.
She was using Jack to escape a isolated abusive home. She was willing to be faithful to him for his kindness to her.
Festus' interest grew over the episode so that in the end, after she saved his life, he chose to watch over her. (This was the beginning of the romantic relationship between he and April that would last quite a long time.)
3) Both Chester and Festus were poor and from a Hillbilly (or a partial hillbilly) background. Which was portrayed as being a bit slow.
Chester had to take on extra jobs to make enough money for the plans he had for his Uncle Sunday. He was unable to make enough money and kept being fired for things because he wasn't able to understand certain basic things (e.g., remembering metal gets hot in fire, not insulting customers and telling them it would be better if they wouldn't buy what they wanted, etc.)
Chester had a recognizable hillbilly accent.
Festus clearly stated that he was slow when he was found in the barn and hadn't shot Matt. Even Jack insults him as being incompetent as a criminal.
Festus used the dry-land dialect, which actually stems more from the influence of the Volga Germans (Germans from Russia) than the Appalachian Scots-Irish dialect. He does use the Irish spelling of Haggen (not the German one of Hagen).
5) Both had comic aspects to their character as illustrated by:
The fire Chester caused in Quint's blacksmith shop.
Festus' tall tale of when he was a baby with big ears and teeth.
6) Both expressed passionate emotions about things to their uncles.
Chester explaining his feelings of shame because of his uncle's criminal activities.
Festus explaining how angry and hurt he was over Fergus' death and how he blamed Jack.
7) Both reconciled (to a certain extent) with their uncles in the end.
Chester helped Sunday capture crooks, then bought happily his uncle a drink when Sunday agreed to leave town and never come back.
When Jack died, Festus smoothed the hair on his uncle's brow with tender affection. Even though he wanted to kill Jack, it was obvious that he still loved his uncle. He made sure Jack had a proper funeral in the end.
8 ) What open doors were the characters left with?
Chester now had hope that he could one day not be ashamed of his uncle and have a relationship with him after years of shunning him.
Festus had come to a cross roads in his life where he might chose a different way than the crimes his family seemed perpetually involved in. Matt indicated that April would be a factor in the decision that Festus would make.