The Waltons

Season 4 Episode 16

The Secret

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM Jan 08, 1976 on CBS
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Jim-Bob's sudden belief that he may have been adopted uncovers a different secret surrounding his birth.

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  • The Brother

    I don't know. You wait half a season for a Jim Bob episode then two come along at once. Last week was Jim Bob the hero, saving his mum and his sister from a bear; this week is Jim Bob the victim, finding out the hard way that he has a twin who died at birth.

    Despite the strong premise, there's no clear story for the first fifteen minutes. First we see Jim Bob being teased even more than usual (for playing with a yo-yo), then we see him worry he is not a proper Walton. There's also a yawn-inducing subplot in which Jason persuades John-boy to write an essay for Mrs Breckenridge. It's only when Jim Bob finds out he was born not at home but in hospital that things begin to get interesting. I did feel sorry for the lad. While he is often teased by his elder siblings, Elizabeth usually stands up for him. This time, however, she is the worst of the lot. Lovely performance by Kami Cotler as the mean little sister.

    The big reveal at the record office is a series classic, of course, but the episode kind of peters out after this. It would have been nice to have had a bit of emotion from Olivia but instead we skip straight to supper after no more than a silent hug.

    At least Jim Bob's age is now more realistic. In 'The Runaway', he gave his date of birth as 13th June 1924; in this episode it appears as 13th January 1923. With Mary Ellen still at school, the episode cannot be set any later than spring 1936, so this would make Jim Bob thirteen and a bit, rather than not quite twelve. David Harper would have just turned fourteen when this was filmed. No danger of yours truly overthinking this, of course!

Adrienne Marden

Adrienne Marden

Mrs. Breckenridge

Guest Star

Eddie Ryder

Eddie Ryder

The Yo-Yo King

Guest Star

Nora Marlowe

Nora Marlowe

Mrs. Brimmer

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Jim Bob's date of birth is given as 13th January 1923 in this episode, yet in 'The Runaway' (3x05), it was given as 13th June 1924.

    • We learn Jim Bob was born on January 13, 1923 with his twin brother Joseph Zebulan, who died at birth.

    • In the episode "The Secret," there is a frame while Elizabeth is outside (with a basket) talking to Jim Bob about his possible "abandonment on the steps" or having been "left by Gypsies," where she is wearing a red sweater. When she goes into the house to talk to Grandma and her mother, she is not wearing the sweater. Later on, outside, she is wearing it again.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Opening Narration: There comes a time in a young man's life when he begins to wonder how he fits into the world around him. When that time came for my brother Jim Bob it brought the unfolding of a long-kept secret.

    • Closing Narration: The most valuable truth that all of us learned when that secret was finally revealed is that belonging to a family has less to do with being born than being loved. And with all the hurts and fears and wants we might remember from those Depression years, being loved is what we remember the best.

  • NOTES (1)