Not for the first time, a serious illness puts one of the Waltons in hospital. With no doctor to make a diagnosis, it almost turns into a tragedy. It's a narrow escape for Esther and a vital lesson for Mary Ellen.
First things first: it's a lovely performance from Judy. She starts off as typical headstrong Mary Ellen, diagnosing her grandmother with intestinal flu as if it were no more than a cold. When the illness turns out to be appendicitis, and Esther nearly dies, she winds up begging for forgiveness in the hospital chapel. It's a moving story, and her final scene with Esther is lovely. As is so often the way, a disaster ends up bringing the characters closer.
The mood is almost wakelike while Esther is under the knife. Cast your mind back to the time Jim Bob had appendicitis in Season One and you'll notice something of a contrast. As for the choice of illness, a burst appendix is supposed to be one of the most painful afflictions you can have. I get that the producers don't want the show to be too graphic, but Esther gives barely a whimper. Even she cannot be that stoic!
The hospital must be the quietest in the country. Wherever the Waltons go, the corridors are utterly deserted. I think I'll retire to Virginia.