Remember Me: Part Two

The Burden of Being Charles Ingalls; or

I’ll Be Brokering an Adoption Deal as You Drive Away

(a recap by Will Kaiser)

Title: Remember Me: Part 2

Airdate: November 12, 1975

Written and directed by Michael Landon

SUMMARY IN A NUTSHELL: When Charles is appointed Vice President of Orphan Affairs, he pisses off everybody in his life. Meanwhile, Mr. Ed wonders if there’s more to life than “Old Dan Tucker.”

RECAP: Dags missed the last episode but is back this week. I caught her up on the events of the first part.

Our seventeen-year-old, Alexander, also makes a rare appearance.

Interestingly, we begin with the credits running over the same rainy/sunny shot of Patricia Neal’s funeral from last week, with no dialogue or action.

WILL: This really sets the tone. It’s like when Adric died on Doctor Who, and they ran the credits silently over his broken math badge.

ROMAN: I’m sure that was John Nathan-Turner’s homage to Little House on the Prairie. 

But Michael Landon quickly cuts away. After all, there’s too much heart-wrenching to do this week to waste time sobbing over archive footage. 

So let’s get to it. We see Charles preparing the wagon to leave the cemetery, when a couple approaches him.

Charles greets them as Mr. and Mrs. Anders. The camera reveals them to be the odd man (and woman) out from last week’s church service.

Previously on Little House

The man tells Charles he wants to discuss the Sanderson kids’ fates, and Charles invites them over at eight that night for a confab.

I’ll Be Brokering an Adoption Deal as You Drive Away

Eight seems late to me, considering all these people get up early to harrow, bring in sheaves and such, but whatever.

But then we cut to him sending the girls to bed, so I guess he just wanted to conduct his negotiations without Ol’ Four-Eyes and the Guilt Gopher listening in.

Before submitting, the girls whine that Nellie is angling to adopt the last puppy, as they predicted. 

WILL: I don’t understand. Nellie was good enough for Bunny.

OLIVE: I know, right? I still don’t buy that storyline.

Previously on Little House

Pa blathers. Just like last week, we again get the theme of this story using puppies as stand-ins for the human children.

DAGNY: That’s actually quite sweet. I think they use the puppies so little kids can understand the emotions of this story too.

Now I sort of wish I’d been doing dog pictures every week.

But enough of this airy persiflage. Charles comes down to the common room just as the Anderses arrive. He offers them coffee and says he’ll take the wife’s “wrap” – I’m not sure if that term is anachronistic or not. 

Wrappin’ Charles

But the wife, who has a Scandinavian accent, declines both offers. And the couple both decline Caroline’s oatmeal cookies – a sure indicator these people are crumbums.

Crumbums

Well, Mr. Crumbum gets right to the point, saying they’d be happy to adopt John and Carl – but not Alicia.

Charles asks why not. Crumbum says three kids is more than they could afford . . . but it seems he’s most interested in the boys as free farm labor.

But unfortunately, Alicia is more of falling-into-wells age.

Charles says no dice, he doesn’t want to separate the kids. Mr. Crumbum says “t’aint” (hee) going to be easy to find a family able to take on three more mouths to feed. A fair point . . . but it’d go down easier if he hadn’t already shown his hand re the boys becoming the help.

Then Mrs. Crumbum surprises us by suddenly saying if it were up to her, they would take Alicia as well. So I guess she isn’t really a crumbum after all.

Mr. Crumbum yells at her to shut up. So I guess he is.

The two have kind of a Jon-and-Grandma Nordstrom thing going on.

Previously on Little House

Well, Crumbum is annoyed, but nevertheless thanks Charles and says they’ll be going. “I’ll see you out,” says Charles, though the door is literally inches from the table.

Gerry Gaylor, who plays Mrs. Crumbum, was in just a handful of other things, including an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (She’s quite good in this, though!)

Gerry Gaylor on Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Sheldon Allman – Mr. Crumbum – has a more interesting resume. He played one of the invading (humanoid) aliens in “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” a classic Twilight Zone that has a SHITLOAD of relevance for our society today.

“The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”
Sheldon Allman (at left)

AND Allman was a musician and composer, who wrote the George of the Jungle theme song and was the singing voice for Mr. Ed! (The horse, not our Mr. Ed – I’m pretty sure Victor French did his own singing.)

Anyways, once they’ve gone, Caroline shakes her head in disgust at Mr. Crumbum’s proposition. 

One of television’s great champions of the patriarchy, Charles says he didn’t notice anything funny about it.

Caroline sharply points out the “free farmhands” aspect of Mr. Crumbum’s generous offer.

“Well, maybe,” says Charles. He then changes the subject to himself, saying he never dreamed a miracle worker like him would struggle to complete this task.

DAGNY: Charles is realizing the burden of being Charles.

WILL: Well, it’s not easy being the greatest at everything.

Caroline says she’s going to bed and the two share a decidedly un-sexy kiss. 

I suppose it’s worth mentioning at this point Karen Grassle says in her new memoir that during this season, Michael Landon punished her for asking for a raise by cutting her storylines and scenes. 

It’s certainly true Caroline hasn’t gotten much to do this season, beyond her incompetent matchmaking in “The Spring Dance” that is.

Previously on Little House

Then again, the Caroline story to end all Caroline stories is just over the horizon.

Coming soon on Little House

Meanwhile, at the Sanderson place, I guess, Grace Snider is putting the kids to bed whilst Mr. Edwards paces in front of the fire. He’s still wearing his funeral shirt, which seems unlikely, but I guess maybe he didn’t have time to go back to his hovel and grab his flannel.

His beard and hair are quite full in this story, aren’t they?

This will be significant by the end of this episode

Grace complains about how cold it is.

Which will ALSO be significant by the end of this episode!

Nobody says how much time has passed since the beginning of Part One, but it can’t be much. Consider the facts of the case.

Patricia Neal stated her sitch to the parishioners less than a week after receiving her terminal diagnosis. 

How rapidly she declined after that is unknown, but since the orphaned puppies haven’t grown (and Laura still has one to get rid of), and since the Crumbums didn’t have time to make their proposal to Mrs. S directly, it must have been quick. 

Furthermore, on her deathbed, Patricia Neal reminded Charles of the promise he made “the other day” to be her Vice President of Orphan Affairs. (It will become a permanent role for him in this community.)

Now, I was thinking it also couldn’t have been long between Neal’s death and her funeral, because of the lack of . . . preservatives at the time. But apparently the embalming of bodies became pretty standard in the U.S. during the Civil War. 

WILL: Did you know the embalming of bodies became pretty standard in the U.S. during the Civil War?

DAGNY: Sure. It’s so they could ship the soldiers’ remains to families in good condition.

WILL: Oh. Well, never mind, then. Who is Walnut Grove’s town embalmer, though? Doc?

DAGNY: Probably.

WILL: Would he have the right equipment or skills for that?

DAGNY: I think it’s pretty easy. It’s just like siphoning gas out of a car.

Anyways, whether it was a short or long hiatus between death and service, we learn Grace has been taking care of the Sanderson kids since their mother passed. This works, as we previously saw her provide child care when Ma and Pa took poor Baby Freddie to Mankato.

Previously on Little House

(She did fake sick to get out of babysitting the Ing-Gals once, though.) 

Previously on Little House

But I wonder who’s minding the Post Office while Grace takes care of these kids. Maybe this is when she took on Mrs. Foster as part-time help. But that actually could be a pre-existing arrangement, since you’ll remember Grace also delivers babies as a side gig.

That’s enough wandering the raspberry bushes for now, though. Mr. Edwards, who barely spoke last week, then makes a little speech, saying “there’s something about a buryin’” that allows mourners to finally relax – “and all that tired catches up.”

Grace points out the Sanderson kids look like Patricia Neal, though as we noted last week, only John really does.

“That John Junior,” she says. “Did you see him today? He stood beside Carl and Alicia just as straight and strong as a tree. So much like her.”

“Yeah,” says Mr. Ed. “He talks a lot higher, though.”

Mr. Edwards then says he’ll get going. It was beginning to wonder if they were living together unmarried by now, you know, sort of Jude the Obscurestyle.

Actually, now that I think about it, the similarities between the two stories are a bit close for comfort in multiple ways.

Alicia comes out holding Mine the puppy. I don’t really think of Alicia as being a Nineteenth-Century name; but actually I see there’s another Thomas Hardy work, from 1887, that features a girl of that name. I never read that one, but it’s also quite twisted, apparently.

Thomas Hardy (art by Barry Blitt)

Anyways, Alicia says Mine peed the bed. 

Sure he did, kid

Mr. Edwards reassures her nobody’s mad about the wet bed and goes in to change her sheets.

He says he’ll make Mine a doggy bed, but in the meantime the puppy can still sleep with Alicia.

“Thank you,” she says . . . and then sticks her hands into Mr. Ed’s beard.

OLIVE [as ALICIA]: “I’m going to give you a beard massage for not killing my dog.”

ROMAN: That’s a pretty weird thing to do.

WILL: She should find lumps of food in it.

DAGNY: Yeah, or tobacco.

Art by Al Hirschfeld (and limerick by Edward Lear)

Mr. Ed comes back out and tells Grace there’s been a change in plan, he’s decided to sleep in the barn so he can make Alicia the doggy bed tomorrow.

Grace stops him on the way out to tell him he’s still holding the dog-pee sheet. “Are you going to do the washing, too?” she asks, and they both have a good laugh at such a ridiculous prospect.

A man do laundry? AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

They say good night (no kiss), and Mr. Edwards takes off singing “Old Dan Tucker.” 

DAGNY: Oh my God! He sings this the day of the funeral?

WILL: Well, if anyone needed proof it’s the song for every occasion, here it is.

(IMDb TV must have brought in a new transcriptionist for this one, since the subtitle just says “Isaiah singing indistinctly,” not “Old Dan Tucker was a fine old man,” etc.)

Somebody skipped Little House subtitle orientation

Some time later, Charles arrives home, saying he’s come from the Nelsons’ place – by which I assumed he meant the Gray-Haired Dude, Cloud City Princess Leia, Luke, and the Midsommar Kid, who we deduced some time ago (may) have that surname.

But these must be different Nelsons, since Charles says they’re a couple who’s decided to try to have their own children rather than adopt the Sandersons. So it can’t be the Gray-Haired Dude, as he’s a widower with three kids already. (Unless he’s taken some young new wife. News to me if so.) 

Anyways, it’s a very common name, especially here in Minnesota, and we’ll meet some other Nelsons down the road, too. 

Charles then mentions he’s been trying to place the kids for a month now.

Caroline says it’s okay, they’re in good hands with Grace and Mr. Edwards for the moment. In fact, she adds, laughing, “they can already spit further than any children in Hero Township!” This is really cute, and shows how Caroline has loosened up since the pilot, when she took an immediate dislike to Mr. Ed because he taught Laura to spit.

Sweet Caroline

The next scene, I’m sorry to say, falls into the category of Jokes That Don’t Quite Work. Mr. Edwards is building a treehouse for the Sanderson kids, but John and Carl point out he’s forgotten to put in a door.

The thing is, there is a door, which is what they’re having this conversation through, and so the whole thing makes no sense.

My guess is in the script he sealed himself up altogether, but when it came time to film it, they figured the audience wouldn’t buy even an illiterate alcoholic like Mr. Ed building a wooden box completely around himself.  

But we soon leave this door nonsense behind as Charles, Caroline and Carrie approach in the Chonkywagon.

Adorably, Mr. Edwards picks Carrie up and says if she doesn’t stop growing he’ll bite her feet off.

“I’m gonna play Dollee,” slurps Carrie, apropos of nothing.

She can slurp a conversation right into a brick wall, can’t she

She and Caroline head to the house, and Charles and Mr. Ed catch up on recent events. Mr. Edwards says he’s too busy helping Grace to go back to work at the mill yet. (So I guess he’s just freeloading off her at this point?)

Charles takes off then, leaving Edwards alone, a state of being that usually immediately triggers him into singing “ODT.” But astonishingly, this time he just goes back to helping the boys with the treehouse! 

Mr. Edwards not singing “Old Dan Tucker”

Charles arrives at the Mercantile, where Nels helps him with an order of “two-penny nails.” (Those would be 55-cent nails today. Pretty expensive for nails, I should think.)

(Actually it’s more complex than that – who knew?)

Mrs. Oleson appears, and, with uncharacteristic friendliness, she invites Charles to come talk to her in the house.

Bizarrely, she and Charles are wearing the exact same top today.

AWKWARD

Mrs. Oleson introduces Charles to her cousin Minerva Farnsworth (Harriet’s maiden name?), a rather refined-looking older lady.

OLIVE: Minerva! I love that name.

DAGNY: So do I.

Minerva (known as Athena in Greek mythology) was a brilliant ass-kicking goddess of the old school.

Miss Farnsworth is played by Irene Tedrow, another TV bit player with about a zillion credits to her name, including a couple Twilight Zones herself. She specialized in playing widows, maiden aunts and the like. (She was literally credited as “Motherly Type” on a 1971 episode of Ironside.)

Notably, she also played a wealthy tourist devoured by giant bugs in Empire of the Ants. (The boys and I just watched this one recently, but I think you can skip it.)

Irene Tedrow (center left) in Empire of the Ants

Mrs. O immediately starts jabbering, but Miss Farnsworth interrupts her to invite Charles to sit down, quite cordially.

Mrs. Oleson continues talking over her cousin, telling Charles he’s never going to find a home for all three Sanderson kids together. Then she starts bragging about how rich Miss Farnsworth is. She says Minerva is “young – about my age,” which is hilarious (actually Irene Tedrow was 68 – eighteen years older than Katherine MacGregor – but I don’t think she looks it). 

DAGNY: God, Harriet is crass. This cousin has given her side-eye three times already.

Mrs. Oleson says Miss Farnsworth is unmarried and “has often talked about having an heir,” when Minerva, finally having had enough, interrupts.

“Harriet,” she says, “I’m capable of speech.” It’s a tart comment, but she makes it sound elegant and gracious.

Miss Farnsworth goes on to say she’s decidedly not young, and tells Charles she couldn’t have children even if she had a husband, which is a thing she doesn’t want.

DAGNY: A lesbian?

WILL: Quite possibly.

She describes herself as “a lonely spinster,” and Harriet starts squawking “Oh, Minerva, I wouldn’t say that!”

“Well, you didn’t, I did,” says Miss Farnsworth, again the epitome of charm and grace. She sort of seems like she wandered in from a different show, in fact, probably on PBS.

Miss Farnsworth says she came to see about possibly adopting Alicia – but not the boys.

Charles starts muttering, but Miss Farnsworth politely says she knows the difficulty he’s been having finding a single home for all three. She says separating them this way, while not ideal, at least means they’ll all have good homes in the end.

Mrs. Oleson starts sputtering again, and Miss Farnsworth sends her to the kitchen to make tea.

DAGNY: Yeah, get her the hell out of there.

(I will say, Katherine MacG is actually really good in this scene. Here we get a Harriet who’s clearly nervous around her older, cooler cousin, trying to impress Minerva by flattering her and realizing that’s the opposite of what she should have done. Plus, she’s trying to be nice to Charles, which is difficult for her to do for some reason – even when she means it!)

Miss Farnsworth says she’d like to meet Alicia and see how compatible they are, and says all she asks of Charles for the moment is that he think about it.

Appreciating her direct style, Charles smiles and says he will.

That night, Caroline comes out to the barn, where the Magic Man himself is brooding.

She’s checking on his emotional state, but he bites her head off and makes an angry, self-pitying speech about how it’s not his fault they have to split the kids up.

He also says “It’s the first time in my life I wished I was rich!”, which is a laugh, since whenever they run low on cash he acts like it’s the end of the world.

Previously on Little House

Charles turns his back to her, informs her roughly they’re having a picnic on Sunday, and orders her not to tell the kids anything he’s said. Then he walks out without even looking at her.

DAGNY: Well, I’m sure she’s glad she came out.

Notably, Caroline does not follow him in. Commercial.

We return in the midst of said picnic, out at Cattail Lake or Grover Oaks or whatever the hell they’re calling it this week.

The kids are wading and having fun, but Charles, Caroline, Mr. Edwards and Grace all act like they’re in the waiting room for colonoscopies.

Miss Farnsworth is also with them so she can meet Alicia. She’s sitting on the beach holding Mine.

Mr. Edwards approaches to gather a bucket of water. I have to say, this lake looks pretty stagnant to me.

Miss Farnsworth attempts some chit-chat, but Mr. Ed just answers in monosyllables. 

“Mr. Edwards,” says Miss Farnsworth – direct as usual – “have I done anything to offend you?”

WILL: She’s a perceptive woman.

DAGNY: She is, there’s no getting past her.

Eventually she gets him to say it’s nothing personal, but he resents the idea of Alicia going to a rich person’s house (which isn’t really his true beef at all).

“Mr. Edwards,” Miss Farnsworth says again. “It may come as a surprise to you, but even rich people can love.”

DAGNY: A Republican, huh.

ALEXANDER: Well, the Republican Party was basically liberal in the Nineteenth Century. Over the next hundred years, the parties more or less flipped on every issue.

Mr. Edwards walks away, but not really rudely. (For him.)

Now we come to a good part. Charles comes over, asks him what he thinks of Miss Farnsworth, and says, “Alicia sure has taken a liking to her.” It’s unclear if he already told Edwards about the adoption plan himself or is just wormily inching up to the subject.

Either way, Mr. Edwards refuses to look at him, so he sees the writing on the wall.

A lot of refusing to look at people in this one

Charles prods Mr. Ed – well, not literally – and he finally turns around and gives the Walnut Grove Miracle Worker an earful. 

Surprisingly, Mr. Edwards seems to identify with the children, comparing their separation to the loss of his own wife and child, who you’ll recall died in a smallpox outbreak in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

He says:

When I lost my wife and daughter, a part of me died too, and that part of me ain’t never going to come back to life again. Oh, I know, I’m just happy-go-lucky Mr. Edwards to all you folks. Just having fun, laughin’ all the time. [EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m surprised he doesn’t mention “Old Dan Tucker” here.] . . . Let me tell ya somethin’. It’s different when you’re alone. When you lie in bed at night and listen to the silence, and you . . . and you pray to God you could hear the sound of a loved one sleeping. All right, you made your choice, just don’t expect me to tell you it’s right.

There’s real contempt in his voice here. Victor French is fantastic.

Somewhat surprisingly, Charles snarls back that it’s Edwards’s own fault he’s alone, which, while accurate, has nothing to do with the matter at hand and is really just meanness. 

We all know people who do this during arguments, don’t we?

DAGNY: Wow, these are some hard truths they’re throwing at each other. It’s amazing their friendship survives this conversation.

Chuck stomps off before Mr. Edwards can reply. And David Rose gives us some music that sounds a little like the Jaws theme.

Charles gives Miss Farnsworth a ride back to the Mercantile, and she says she’s made up her mind to adopt Alicia, with his permission. She says the two of them could leave on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

ROMAN: Thanksgiving?

Yes, Thanksgiving.

DAGNY: Yeah, this has all the hallmarks of November in Minnesota. Picnics, wading in the pond. . . .

Thanksgiving in Minnesota, 2019

It is pretty risible. In addition to the summery weather and activities in this episode, last week we had several characters mention they were in the midst of a heat wave.

Previously on Little House

Anyways, Miss Farnsworth suggests they do the hand-off after the Thanksgiving church service.

And Charles reluctantly agrees. He asks if she’ll really love Alicia, and Miss Farnsworth says she will.

Irene Tedrow’s really good in this part too. The lines are written such that an actor could give them a cold edge if she wished – but Tedrow makes Minerva seem warm and believable.

We then see Charles standing over a grave, presumably Patricia Neal’s – though I suppose it could be Miss Maddie’s, or anybody’s. They don’t say.

I thought they buried PN in a cemetery, but now it looks like hers is a lonely grave under an oak tree.

DAGNY: Did Michael Landon direct this one?

WILL: Yes, he did.

DAGNY: You can tell. He’s posed like Mr. Hero in every shot. He probably woke up in the middle of the night and thought of this one, with the cross framing him and the light spilling onto his face.

Mr. Hero (Township)

He looks down the hill and sees the Sanderson house, so I guess it is Patricia Neal’s grave.

Meanwhile, inside the house, Mr. Edwards is playing the harmonica while Grace claps and the kids dance.

French and Bonnie Bartlett overdo it a bit, if you ask me

John stops clapping and stares with horror at the door as an evil shadow falls across the proceedings. It’s Charles Ingalls.

The evil shadow of Charles Ingalls

Everyone stares at each other for a minute, then Charles and the kids go into the bedroom, where he tells them about the divide-and-conquer plan. He says the Crumbums are “good people,” which the husband certainly isn’t, and tells Alicia about Miss Farnsworth’s big house in Minneapolis.

DAGNY: Think she lives on Lake Nokomis?

WILL: I was thinking more Nicollet Island.

Lake Nokomis (photo by Glenn Galen)
Nicollet Island

The kids just stare blankly as Charles tries to defend his decision. He gets up to leave, when John pipes up. He says they know Charles tried and he shouldn’t blame himself.

Charles doesn’t seem to take much comfort in this.

After another commercial break, we see a wagon driving down the thoroughfare. I had to pause it super-quick to see who it was, but it was a generic-looking clean-shaven man we’ve never seen before.

We see the kids coming out from school and hear a very high-pitched squeaking.

Hilariously, it’s Nellie, literally shrieking for Laura to wait up.

Behind her are Willie, Nondescript Helen, Cloud City Princess Leia, Not-Joni Mitchell, Not-Albert, an Ambiguously Ethnic Kid and H. Quincy Fusspot.

Hilariously, the AEK and Quincy seem to be slapping each other, until little Quincy runs off in terror.

Nellie says she’ll pay 50 cents if Laura will let her have the puppy – about $13.50 in today’s money. (I’ve updated the conversion since we seem to be in the 1880s now.)

Laura says since Mrs. Oleson hates dogs (which she does), she won’t give him to her.

Previously on Little House

Nellie says Miss Farnsworth is happily taking Alicia’s puppy back to Minneapolis, so Harriet’s decided maybe dogs aren’t so bad.

Nellie refers to her as “Miss Farnsworth,” which seems odd. Shouldn’t it be “Cousin Minerva”?

The Ing-Gals assume Farnsworth is adopting the whole Sanderson bunch, but Nellie makes it clear the kids are going to be split up.

DAGNY: Nellie understands how the world works. She’s not a Pollyanna like these two.

Suddenly miserable, Laura and Mary trudge home.

DAGNY: Charles is gonna catch it now.

Mary comes into the house and gives Pa the cold shoulder. When he calls her on it, she says she knows about the dividing of House Sanderson.

Melissa Sue Anderson, who unlike most of the cast didn’t get to do much quivering last week, makes up for it now.

But Mary quickly caves and flings her arms around Pa’s neck.

DAGNY: That is NOT how this is going to go with Laura.

Pa then heads out to the barn to talk to Laura. As others have noticed, when Mary arrives home, it’s dark outside, but now it’s suddenly daytime again.

Laura is furiously brushing the puppy. Pa tries to explain, but she just screams at him and says if nobody cares what happens to orphans she’ll just give the puppy to Nellie after all.

Laura takes off, and Ma chases her down at Willow Lake or Founder’s Acres or wherever. She’s still got the puppy.

Caroline says Charles did his best and Laura shouldn’t blame him for there being no good solution. 

DAGNY: Who wrote this episode?

WILL: Also Michael Landon.

DAGNY: Uh huh. That’s why the script’s so concerned with Charles’s feelings. But actually, I will say he does a good job writing scenes for women. Maybe better than any of the other writers.

Laura eventually rolls over and forgives Pa. It’s not a very consequential scene, but both Grassle and Gilbert are good in it.

Laura runs to apologize. She finds Pa tilling the soil.

DAGNY: So he’s plowing at Thanksgiving?

WILL: Uh huh.

DAGNY: Okay. Is plowing the only farming activity they ever do on this show?

WILL: They dug potatoes once.

Previously on Little House

Back at the Sanderson house, Grace is making a sweater for Alicia. She says she’s not going to finish it by Thursday, so she’ll have to mail it.

WILL: Do you think Grace secretly mails things for free?

DAGNY: Oh, one hundred percent she does. With a splash of lemon verbena, just to rub it in.

They talk about how depressing it is the kids are leaving, with Mr. Edwards breaking off at one point to speak in uncommonly expressive terms about how much he admires Grace as a person.

The three kids come out in their jammies, and John, who clearly appreciates formal gestures, thanks Mr. Ed and Grace for taking care of them.

One final commercial, and then we’re back for Thanksgiving Day! This show knows how to stage a finale, doesn’t it? The big game, the big dance, the big ax-chopping contest.

(And in case you’re wondering, Thanksgiving Day became a federal holiday in 1870.)

In church, Reverend Alden makes the little “joke” all ministers do on holidays about how he wishes everybody would show up the rest of the year.

And here are the attendees:

  • The Ingallses
  • Mr. Edwards and Grace
  • The Sanderson kids
  • The Olesons (plus Miss Farnsworth)
  • Miss Beadle
  • Doc Baker
  • Mr. Hanson
  • Mrs. Foster
  • Cloud City Princess Leia (once again, without the rest of her family)
  • Tom Carter
  • Mrs. Foster’s Bewigged Paramour
  • The Crumbums
  • Not-Linda Hunt and her youngish, prettyish dark-haired mom (who also attended the Women’s League meeting to discuss whether gambling was an abomination)
  • Two miscellaneous ladies and a random kid
  • The Generic-Looking Clean-Shaven Man who we saw driving the wagon earlier (I think), who is now revealed to be quite bald as well

Then the Rev asks everybody to hold hands, something we’ve never seen before and as far as I can determine not a usual practice for Congregationalists. (Not everybody does it, so maybe it’s a kooky new gimmick Aldi is trying.)

Alden then reads Psalm 100: 2-5, which mentions thanksgiving (in general terms).

And while he does so, Alicia reaches her little hand over and takes Mr. Edwards’s.

Dags loudly sang the Little House theme at this point

Everyone emerges from the church.

DAGNY: Bead, Doc, Hanson, Nellie. Teacher, doctor, businessman, bitch.

WILL: Yeah, they’re like Little House on the Prairie tarot cards.

Reverend Alden is shaking everybody’s hand, but Mr. Edwards is too lost in his own thoughts to notice.

The Hero Township Adoption Association is standing around looking miserable.

John says the kids would like a moment to say goodbye to each other. David Rose gives us a piercing high-pitched melody on what I think is an organ. 

Then we get some suspenseful Danny Elfman-type stuff on the harp.

Miss Farnsworth invites Alicia to come to her, but the girl just buries her face in John’s side.

Mr. Edwards suddenly speaks up and says this whole business is a travesty. (Paraphrase.)

He apologizes to Charles and Miss Farnsworth for his earlier conduct, saying his real objection was to separating the kids, not where they were going.  

Then he suddenly turns to Grace and proposes they marry and adopt the kids.

ALEXANDER [as MR. EDWARDS]: “I love you, Kristin!” Is that her name?

WILL/DAGNY/ROMAN/OLIVE: It’s Grace.

ALEXANDER: Pretty close.

“I love you, Kristin.”

The assembly is shocked.

DAGNY: This is like the scene in The Graduate where everyone starts screaming.

Rev. Alden says he can marry them on the spot if they like. He says they should hurry up, because he’s having Thanksgiving dinner with Amy Hearn. (Boy I wish they had made her a main character.)

Miss Farnsworth sums things up for everybody by saying she thinks this resolution is “beautiful.” And it is sort of turning into a Gilbert and Sullivan finale at this point.

(Julia’s still dead, though.)

Anyways, of course at the wedding itself we get an English horn honking “Old Dan Tucker.” 

Then it’s hugs and smiles all round. Mr. Edwards picks up Alicia and she plunges her hands into his beard again.

Gag, barf

THEN we get that wonderful Twentieth Century device, the FREEZE FRAME! This one’s on Alicia’s creepy kid teeth, and Patricia Neal’s voice comes in reading the “Remember Me” poem from Part One

DAGNY: Is that the mother’s voice? She sounds like she’s eighty years old.

WILL: Well, she did have lymphoma.

DAGNY: Oh, well, that explains it.

WILL: On the show, not in real life.

DAGNY: Oh.

And that’s it. You know, they never showed the Crumbums’ reactions to the final developments, did they? Oh well. Bum Bum Ba Dum!

STYLE WATCH: Minerva and Harriet wear big feathery hats to church.

Caroline wraps herself in a nice tartan blanket to go get her head bitten off by Charles.

Charles appears to go commando again.

THE VERDICT: “That was quality,” said Dags. 

And yes, both these episodes were pleasures to recap, and I’ll say right away my silly scribblings can’t really do justice to them. Moving writing, great direction and cinematography, and absolutely terrific performances from the whole cast. 

UP NEXT: The Camp-Out

Published by willkaiser

I live in the Upper Midwest. My name's not really Will Kaiser, but he and I have essentially the same personality.

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