This episode tenderly explores the relationship between the grizzled, blustering Mr. Edwards, and his gentle, bookish, newly adopted son, John Junior. When John's birthday arrives, his new stepmother, Grace, fittingly presents him with books of literature and poetry. John, the budding writer, is thrilled. But when Edwards presents him with a shotgun, a horrified John barely manages to keep it together as he squeaks out a simple, "thank you". When Edwards announces that the two will go hunting that week, Grace tries privately to reason with him, to no avail. John even writes his stepfather a letter explaining his total inability to shoot another living creature, which Edwards brushes aside; unbeknownst to John, his stepfather can't read. Flash forward to the hunting trip: before the first shot can be fired, a bear tears out of the woods and savagely attacks Mr. Edwards while a terrified John stands by, frozen. As Edwards recovers, John blames himself for failing to act. The episode concludes with a father and son heart-to-heart about their love for each other, in spite of their differences.
It's nice to watch the fine example of male bonding in this episode. I also like that the writers didn't have Mr. Edwards "blame" John for his inaction; rather, they had him fault himself for forcing the boy into an impossible situation. Viewers be warned: the bear attack, while brief, is intense, realistic and frightening and should not be viewed by younger children.