So Zeb is gone, Esther's on slow and the children, if we can still call them that, are more grown up than ever. It's all change in the Walton house, and the writers bring us a story which highlights this, with Erin and Mary Ellen moving into a flat while John tries to relaunch the mill.
I like mill-based stories. This one comes about when a wheeler-dealer named Mr Sarver turns up and accuses John of running a two-bit operation. He has a point, of course, and John is determined to do something about it. One lengthy trip to Richmond later and he has both an order and the offer of a job. John's business trips are always good fun, not least because he looks so out of place in hotels. He does look good in a suit though. And top marks to the stylists for giving Olivia a proper forties hairdo for once.
While they're away, J&O must decide whether to move the household to Richmond. The story is fine in theory, but you know full well they're never going to do it, so the soul-searching does feel slightly pointless. Meanwhile, Erin and Mary Ellens' flatshare goes much as you would expect. There's not enough room to swing a cat, let alone John Curtis. I did like the fold-down bed. Not much chance of a lie-in though.
It's a new season, so there are a few new looks on the go. Young Jim Bob badly needs a haircut. Not sure about Ben's moustache either. Jason's looking proper tidy though. This week, he persuades Esther to join him on the piano, and together they play that serenade song from 'The Shivaree'. Didn't think we'd be hearing that again! Still waiting for our next shivaree though: six weddings and counting now...
We finish with everyone at Zeb's graveside on what would have been his 79th birthday. I know we had to have this scene, but it does feel very forced. I'd have done it the other way round - begun with the funeral then moved on to another story.
The timekeeping really is atrocious on this show. Zeb's headstone gives his dates as 1865 to 1941, yet we know from 'The Birthday' that he was born in 1862. We also know, from the same episode, that his birthday is in the spring. So, if it's now 1941, and Zeb's been gone six months, he must have died in the fall of 1940. Do the producers not cross-reference anything?
Lastly, and not for the first time, there's a bit of recycling going on among the guests. I knew I'd seen Mrs Sarver before. Turns out she was cousin Cora in 'The Dustbowl Cousins'. And that landlady does look an awful lot like Aunt Rose...