Journey in the Spring, Part Two

“The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Seen”: The Life, Times and Appalling Death of Bunny the Horse

(a recap by Will Kaiser)

Title: Journey in the Spring, Part Two

Airdate: November 22, 1976

Written and directed by Michael Landon

SUMMARY IN A NUTSHELL: In what one of our reviewers described as “the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” the Tragical Quadrilogy of Bunny the Horse comes to a close.


WILL: Hey, kids, wanna see a horse get murdered?


WILL: . . . Better not watch Little House this week, then!

OLIVE: This show. It’s like a knife in the ribs sometimes.

Yes, friends, today’s episode is the extra-tragical finale to The Tragical Quadrilogy of Bunny the Horse. (Or quintilogy, I suppose, if you count Bunny being born in the Pilot.)

Let’s begin right away.

Unusually, we start with a clips montage from last week’s episode.

ROMAN: Ooh, a previously-on! They didn’t do that with the last two-parter.

Previously on Little House

Some moments in the recap get more weight than others.

ROMAN: Of course they give us Charles’s full crying scene.

Previously on Little House

Our story proper begins with Laura checking on Tom the turkey’s growth.

It’s a side point, but our dumb dog Nyssa thought Tom’s gobbling was the doorbell and ran upstairs barking.

Laura calls Pa for breakfast, but he says he has to go to work early today – despite it being a Saturday.

DAGNY: Oh, is he sleeping with Mariette Hartley again?

Previously on Little House

Laura says Carrie’s still in the dark about Tom’s fate, which is just two weeks away.

OLIVE: This is supposed to be November?

Actual southern Minnesota in early November

Pa just blows Laura off and exits.

Laura runs to the soddy, where Grandpa Lansford is looking at an old photo of Grandma Laura Colby. Since she was young and poor in the early Nineteenth Century, I think it’s unlikely such a photo would exist, but never mind.

They should have used the photo of young Jan Sterling I found last week.

“Don’t come in, child!”

Lansford and Laura walk towards the Little House.

OLIVE: I don’t like the grandpa. I’m sorry.

Laura’s still babbling about the turkey. She acknowledges the sitch is mainly Carrie’s problem, but says “it’s kind of everybody’s problem, because Carrie’s a member of the family.”

OLIVE: Barely.

Grandpa Lansford tells her she should trust Charles’s judgment on the question.

DAGNY: Now, is that his real speaking voice, or is he doing an “old-man voice”?

WILL: I think the latter.

OLIVE: Also, he’s just normal all of a sudden?

Laura tells Lansford if he orders Charles to free the turkey, he’ll have to do it, because The Code Of The Patriarchs.

And suddenly, we’re back at the turkey farm.

ROMAN: Again?

WILL: Well, they rented the turkeys, they might as well use ’em.

And sure enough, Grandpa and the Ing-Gals are RETURNING the turkey.

OLIVE: Charles won’t like this.

DAGNY: What the hell do they think is going to happen now? The turkey’s still going to die, and the farmer’ll get rich because he gets to sell the same bird twice.

WILL: Every time they eat an animal they do the same stupid storyline with Carrie. The rabbit, the pig. . . . 

DAGNY: Yeah. Hope they like mush for Thanksgiving dinner.

That night, Lansford and Charles sit outside, smoking hobbitishly and enjoying the lovely evening, as one does in Minnesota in November.

I was sure Pa was going to flip out when told about the turkey, but apparently he already knows about it and thinks it’s fine. (Lansford was wise to suggest smoking up before telling him.)

Lansford notes the therapeutic effects living with his grandkids are having on him. He seems surprised how much he’s getting back into life.

Then he says he wants to add a porch to the soddy.

ROMAN [as CHARLES]: “Listen, old man. Repairs are my domain.”

But no, Charles is delighted, interpreting this as a step toward making Lansford’s residence permanent. Gramps says he and “Half-Pint” will get to work on it.

WILL: Charles should punch his lights out and say, “Only I get to call her that.”

DAGNY: I can buy this guy and Charles’s brother as father and son, but I don’t believe he’s Charles’s dad. He also isn’t old enough. You know who should have played his dad? That guy from the old couple who wanted to buy the Little House.

WILL: Oh my God, E.J. André? He’s been on twice already!

DAGNY: I could buy him as Pa’s dad, though.

WILL: Well, you’ll get to meet him again very soon

And his wife!

Well, next we see Lansford and Laura putting the finishing touches on a porch. Laura sets potted plants all over it. 

WILL: Great time to hang plants in Minnesota, two weeks before Thanksgiving.

DAGNY: It’s a bad idea in any season. The wind will blow them right off the rail.

I have to make a digression here and tell a story. Dags and I once went to a friend’s wedding out in the country.

It was a beautiful spot, in the back yard of a little house next to a creek – not at all unlike the Ingallses’ place, actually.

The wedding was small and quite casual, but also a little disorganized, as small, casual, yet important events often are. 

We arrived half an hour or so before the ceremony to find everyone scrambling to finish decorating the yard. The bride herself was getting ready in the wings, but a friend had taken charge of the tasks that remained and was putting the guests to work.

This friend pulled a group of us over to a pile of flowers and directed us to trim them, make up some little arrangements in a bunch of mason jars, and place them aesthetically around the wedding zone. We were quite charmed to get to help, and happily started arranging.

Soon the yard was filled with little jars of flowers. With the creek right there, it was very convenient to scoop up water for each one. 

There were kind of a lot of flowers, and even more mason jars, but we found places for them all. We lined them up and down the porch rails, put them on the steps, on the ground, on windowsills, nestled them on tree branches, and so forth.

A few minutes before the ceremony, the bride appeared. Then she stopped short and literally shrieked.

“Oh my God!” she screamed. “THOSE JARS ARE FOR DRINKING OUT OF!!!!!”

So yes, we had filled all the drinking vessels for the reception with flowers and muddy creek water and hideously cluttered the wedding site with them. Plus, the flowers were meant to make bouquets for her and her bridesmaids, which is I guess what we were supposed to be making.

Despite this, the ceremony still happened. Whether the bride still speaks to everyone involved is a matter of conjecture, though.

Back to the story, though. Grandpa Lansford reminisces about the porch he once built for himself and Grandma Laura Colby. He remembers fantasizing about having fine furniture someday.

LANSFORD: Oh, not homemade! Store-bought – stuffed and tufted.

WILL: What did he say?

ROMAN: Stuftatufta.

Laura reminds him it’s the people in life that are important, not the things. Then they hug.

OLIVE [as LANSFORD]: “Okay, Half-Pint, let’s go kill that horse.”

Sure enough, we cut to a field where Laura is riding Bunny around.

Once again, she’s wearing her giant horse-riding bonnet that conceals the stunt-person’s identity in the long shots.

Grandpa and Laura cook up an idea for her to do a sort of race against nothing in the field.

WILL: Now, here’s a question. If you saw a real-life headless horseman, would you ever leave your fucking house again?

DAGNY: I would struggle with that. Laura’s made of strong stuff, but I don’t know.

Previously on Little House

But never mind that now. On the soundtrack, David Rose gives us his sprightly “Lemming Holocaust” number again whilst Grandpa Lansford laughs.

DAGNY: Wouldn’t it be funny if he laughed like Paulie from The Sopranos? “Heh heh.”

Bunny and Laura race around, and the music gets merrier and merrier.

Then Landon has the camera focus suddenly on a length of barbed wire.

DAGNY: You really don’t see it coming, do you. Everything’s fine, then he pulls the rug out. 

ROMAN: It’s pretty bad. It’s like “Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday!” in The Godfather.

Well, Landon does really pull out the stops artistically here, as we see Bunny’s final run through the barbed wire fence . . . in slow motion.

WILL: God, slow-mo! This IS like The Sopranos.

DAGNY: It’s sadistic.

OLIVE: It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

Bunny and Lansford scream, and Laura gets thrown.

Laura’s okay, though. She remarks that somebody must have put up a new fence there.

But Bunny . . . 

Not so good

OLIVE: Would that really KILL her? A barbed wire fence?

WILL: I don’t know. There isn’t even any blood.

DAGNY: It could happen. Her guts would be hanging out, but because this show’s for seven-year-olds they can’t show that.

(I actually think it would be MORE traumatic for kids to see Bunny lying on the ground dying of apparently nothing, but what do I know.)

Grandpa sends Laura to get Charles, adding at the end, and for no reason whatsoever, “Bunny’ll be all right, I promise.”

Back at the Little House, Laura tells Pa about Bunny and the fence. He sends her out to the wagon and grabs his gun.

ROMAN: Is he gonna kill the guy who put up the fence?

Seconds later, it seems, the Chonkywagon is zipping across fields.

WILL: Where are they? I thought they were just in the Little House’s back forty.

OLIVE: They are, Pa just brought the wagon so he can get the horse chunks home.


With a touch of self-conscious defiance, Laura says, “We’re gonna make you all right, Bunny. You’re gonna be just fine.”

OLIVE: Come on, she’s a country girl. I don’t believe this.

Pa gives Lansford a Landonly look, and says he should take Laura home. She starts objecting.

Pa tells Laura there’s no hope for the poor dumb brute. 

WILL: Why don’t they get Doc?

DAGNY: Yeah, considering he’s such a veterinarian that Mrs. Oleson hates him, you never see him working on animals.

Previously on Little House

Laura then turns to her grandfather and demands he invoke his patriarchal powers to stop the euthanization.

Pa intensifies his tone to show this is no time for displays of sass, but she shouts him down.

Then CHARLES turns HIS patriarchal lasers on his father.

But in a shock twist, Lansford says, “No . . . I’ll tend the horse.”

Pa rises in sheer disbelief. Michael Landon’s acting has really been fantastic in both parts of this.

WILL: Ingalls versus Ingalls!

They argue briefly. Charles is quivering with anger, whilst Lansford just looks sort of blank.

Then Pa sends Laura away. Rather horribly, she pauses before leaving and says, “Don’t let him do anything, Grandpa.”

WILL: You know, through this whole series, you could interpret both Charles and Laura as self-portraits of Michael Landon.

DAGNY: Oh, they definitely are. And with Lansford you get the complete trinity: father, son, and holy terror.

Charles approaches his father. 

A couple style notes here. First, we noticed Charles is wearing very light-green suspenders, so light in fact I mistook them for white at first.

Second, Lansford is wearing an interesting hat.

DAGNY: What is Grandpa’s hat made out of? Velour? It’s kind of a Mad Hatter look.

WILL: Yeah, but not quite a top hat or stovepipe.

Charles and Lansford then have an awkward conversation about making promises you know you can’t keep. I’m not sure what to think about it.

CHARLES: Why are you doing this to me, Pa?

LANSFORD: She loves me. She expects me to make it right.

CHARLES: But you can’t.

LANSFORD: You don’t know that!

CHARLES: Oh, come on, Pa, we both know that, now you gotta tell her. You got her thinkin’ you can DO somethin’! I can’t put that poor animal out of its misery until you tell her there’s nothin’ else we can do.

LANSFORD: . . . I can’t.

CHARLES: You can and you will, we’re not playing some kind of a game now, like bringing a turkey back to its folks. There’s an animal lying there in pain on account of you want to convince a child you can do anything. Well, you can’t. Now you’re gonna tell her.

Out-maled by his own son, Lansford shrinks away to tell Laura he was wrong. She doesn’t receive the news very well.

Charles commands the troublesome Ingallses to depart, but Laura calls Gramps a liar and refuses to go with him.

She starts to run away.

ROMAN: She should run into another fence. They’d feel bad then. 

But literally two seconds later, she hears the fatal shot.

DAGNY: This fuckin’ show!

OLIVE: I hope he didn’t let the Chonkies see, for God’s sakes.

ROMAN: Yeah, they’ll revolt!


OLIVE: Couldn’t they have euthanized her more quietly?

DAGNY: Maybe. Suffocation?

WILL: Nah, a horse is way too strong. She’d kick you off.

DAGNY: Stake through the heart?

Despite the hazy sun, rainy-day music plays Pa back to the Little House. The cow says moo.

WILL: That stupid cow. Does it have a name?

OLIVE: I dunno.

Lansford sits in the back of the wagon, but there are no horse chunks as far as I can tell.

Wanting to stabilize things somewhat, Charles invites his dad in for coffee (which is nice). But he says he’s just going to go to bed. 

When Lansford arrives at the soddy, though, he finds Laura has smashed all his flowerpots.

OLIVE: Oh my God, she broke his plants? That’s horrible.

DAGNY: It is low for Laura. That’s not her style. It’s more like Nellie.

Previously on Little House

Grandpa picks up a piece of pottery, stunned.

OLIVE: God, Michael Landon, what’s wrong with you?

ROMAN: Yeah, the suicide attempt just wasn’t dark enough.

That night, the mood is dismal around the dinner table. Grandpa Lansford is absent.

One of the Greenbushes stumbles over the line “Isn’t he hungry tonight?” – but it’s awfully cute and I can see why they left it in.

Laura isn’t there either, having also turned in early. Pa offers a peace prayer for all unhappy Ingallses everywhere.

The next morning, everybody bustles around the common room getting ready for church followed by a picnic. Mary and Carrie both look nice.

OLIVE: Mary and Carrie don’t care about Bunny’s death?

WILL: Well, Mary does have a cold heart.

DAGNY: Yeah, to match her ice-blue eyes.

Icy-hearted and -eyed Mary

Laura asks if she can skip the picnic, and Ma says if she prays about her situation, she’ll feel better after a while.

WILL: Caroline’s been wearing that gray bonnet almost exclusively recently.

OLIVE: I like it.

DAGNY: I always liked that Ma tied her ribbon on the side. It’s classy.

WILL: It’s sexy, is what it is.

OLIVE: Yeah, she looks snatched.


OLIVE: Snatched, you know. She looks hot.

WILL: I wouldn’t use that expression if I were you. “Snatch” is a rather nasty term for vagina.

OLIVE: Shut up, it is not.

WILL: It certainly is!

OLIVE: Well, that’s not how we use it in these modern times.

ROMAN [reading on his phone]: Looks like you’re both right.

DAGNY: Roman is the Wikipedia of our family.

Laura hugs Ma and agrees to come along.

Then Pa goes out to the soddy to gather Gramps, who doesn’t want to go to church either.

Anyways, we cut to the picnic. It’s on the water, in a sort of rocky-pool area like that depicted in “At the End of the Rainbow.” (Which, if you recall, we decided at the time was somewhere along the banks of Plum Creek.)

Previously on Little House

Mr. Edwards and Charles pose together on a rock.

Mr. Ed offers Charles some tobacky.

Charles declines, and Mr. Edwards says chewin’ makes more sense to him than smoking cigarettes. (Cigarette-smoking wasn’t widely done in Nineteenth Century America.)

Charles isn’t listening, though. Instead, he’s worrying and staring at Laura, who’s sitting in a rather bizarrely gnarly tree.

Then Charles and Mr. Ed have a sort of long blah-blah conversation where Charles catches him up on this episode’s plot.

Charles then recalls an incident from his youth, where Lansford was evicted in front of him.

DAGNY: Edwards is still trying to figure out fatherhood. This is probably overwhelming for him to hear. But it’s a taste of lived experience.

The music behind Charles’s speech is VERY intense and strongly suggests the Adagio for Strings.

Anyways, the only fun thing about this scene is you can see FISH jumping in the creek behind them!

Mr. Edwards goes over to talk to Laura. The tree she’s in really looks like it’s out of Pan’s Labyrinth or something.

Confirming they were in fact in church earlier, Mr. Ed starts going on about the value of prayer.

OLIVE: What? He’s lecturing her about religion now? Boy, he changed his tune.


Recognizing the audience might question this incongruity, Landon has Mr. Edwards talk about his transition from devotee of the Lord to unbeliever and back again.

Mr. Ed then says accidents sometimes just happen and are nobody’s fault. 

ROMAN [as LAURA]: “No. I blame Grandpa – the evil Lansford Ingalls!”

That is essentially what she says. But then Mr. Ed blathers on for a while and she suddenly changes her mind. She says she’ll go apologize to her grandfather right away.

DAGNY: This is a stupid story.

WILL: Yeah, kind of.

Laura runs off. By the way, the attendees of this picnic have just been the Ingallses and Mr. Edwards. Not even Alicia and Carl made it into this one, it seems.

But when Laura reaches the soddy, Lansford is gone. In his place is a rather horrifying letter, in which he says he’s been a promise-makin’ fool his whole life, but fortunately nobody’ll have to worry about that much longer. He closes with letter with “Goodbye” – awfully final-sounding.

OLIVE: No “I love you”?

WILL: No More I Love Yous.

That night, we see Pa riding up to the Little House on a mystery horse.  

OLIVE: Whose horse is that?

WILL: Must be a new one.

ROMAN: It’s Franken-Bunny.

We ran into a couple of Franken-Bunnys ourselves at the Minnesota State Fair this year! L-R: Franken-Bunny 1, Franken-Bunny 2, Olive, Will, Roman, Dagny, Amelia and Alexander

Mr. Edwards is still with them, which seems weird until he mentions he’s been out looking for Lansford as well.

Abruptly, Charles calls off the search, shocking Caroline and Mr. Ed.

Echoing what Sarek said in Part One, Charles says he’s exhausted from worrying about a mentally ill loved one and has no choice but to let him do what he wants. I think a lot of people can probably relate to this.

Charles then puts Mystery Horse away in the barn.

Then, in a nice moment, Mr. Edwards whispers to Caroline that he’ll go searching again in the morning despite what Charles said. (I like the Edwards/Caroline friendship.)

At this point, we see Laura has been listening from inside.

Mr. Edwards does come back in the morning, only to learn not only has Lansford not come back, Laura has now disappeared as well.

Completely useless Mary

Angered that Bunny’s death has caused his father and daughter to go crazy, Charles says, “That horse, I wish I’d never set eyes on it!”

Notably, he blames himself, rather than his father, for these developments.

Cut to Springfield, where a railroad worker is literally greasin’ the wheels of a train.

It’s Mustache Man, but I won’t tell if you won’t

Lansford emerges from the weeds and sneaks up to a boxcar. A reminder that it’s an eight-hour walk from Walnut Grove to Springfield; but since he left on Sunday morning, he would’ve had plenty of time. (Probably hasn’t had any sleep either, poor guy.)

Lansford opens the door.

WILL: Pee-Wee Herman should be up there.

He throws his bag in and starts to climb up.

DAGNY: Oh, the grandpa’s choosing to become a hobo!

WILL: I knew you’d be excited by this. Unfortunately, he isn’t any better at being a hobo than he is at anything else.

It’s true. His timing is so bad, the train starts moving and he falls off into a ravine.

DAGNY: Is this the end?

WILL: Yep. Bum-Bum-Bah-Dum.

But no, it seems Lansford is, surprisingly, okay. It’s possible to survive a fall unscathed, though. I recently fell off a ladder trying to knock a widowmaker out of our big tree with two flagpoles I screwed together. It hurt, but I’m amazed I didn’t break anything. (Didn’t get the widowmaker either.)

In pain, or simply feeling sorry for himself, or both, Lansford puts his head down on a railroad tie as the camera pans away.

DAGNY: This is a beautiful shot. It’s really cinematic. It reminds me of some of the camerawork in West Side Story.

Back in Hero Township, Mary discovers Laura stole all the “Christmas money.”

WILL: Watch, she’ll blow it all on homeopathic medicines.

Previously on Little House

Charles immediately concludes Laura took the money so she could buy a train ticket and chase Lansford down. (Which is odd, since no one has any idea where he went at this point.)

Psychic-powers Charles

Mr. Edwards and Charles take off for Springfield in Mr. Ed’s wagon. 

Pa makes sure to tell Mary to inform Ma of the plan.

WILL: Mary doesn’t get to do shit in this one.

Not-getting-to-do-shit Mary

Meanwhile, we see Laura entering a large wood-paneled office.

DAGNY: Is it the banker???

WILL: No. I thought it was too.

DAGNY: Oh, that’s sad! I was so excited to see him!

We love Mr. Sprague

But no, it’s the office of the train station in Springfield . . . though it doesn’t bear much resemblance to the tiny, cramped Springfield train office we saw in “The Runaway Caboose.” (Newly built, perhaps?)

Previously on Little House

It appears to be night, and Laura has to wake the ticket guy up.

So maybe now’s a good time to begin to track the sequence of events. We know Lansford left on a Sunday morning, since the others were at church. I think we can assume he walked all day, but he’s also old, so probably he took a good rest in the middle somewheres. That would still easily put him in Springfield by late night Sunday.

Interestingly, I found a train map of the Upper Midwest from 1881 that shows a route going not through Springfield at all, but rather through Sleepy Eye and Walnut Grove itself! (Actually, that’s only because the town of Springfield, Minnesota, was actually called Burns, Minnesota, until 1881.)

You could get to the Big Woods of Wisconsin, more or less, by train in those days – via Sleepy Eye, New Ulm, St. Peter, Owatonna, and Winona. (Winona, not “Winoka.”)

Anyways, I think we can assume, then, that Lansford’s hobo adventure took place on Monday. Meanwhile, we know Laura left home before dawn to follow him, so technically it is possible she could make it there by nightfall. 

WILL: I doubt she really could do it, though. She’s a child with little legs. And she’d be utterly exhausted from walking all day.

OLIVE: Who cares, she looks cool in that coat.

Laura asks the ticket guy if by chance he’s seen a depressed, potentially suicidal man with a fake mustache who talks in a fake “old man” voice. (Paraphrase.)

And as a matter of fact, he has. He takes Laura around to a back room where he’s shoveled Lansford’s sorry carcass onto a bed.

The Ticket Guy reassures Laura her grandpa isn’t dead, just “bushed.”

DAGNY: Does he mean “bushed” tired, or “bushed” because he fell into a bush?

WILL: I’m sure this is where that expression comes from.

(Actually, people did apparently say this by the 1870s.)

The Ticket Guy, who’s nice, withdraws, presumably to spare the Ingallses the embarrassment of hashing over a situation like this in front of him.

Grandpa Lansford wakes. He doesn’t actually seem that surprised to see Laura, and soon he breaks down saying how much he wishes he’d brought Grandma Laura Colby to Minnesota years ago.

WILL: I don’t love this episode, but I do like Lansford. It’s a surprisingly accurate depiction of depression for the seventies. It seems very real because his depression manifests itself as him not wanting to do anything, and then REGRETTING not having done anything. There’s a whole alternative life he’s convinced himself he missed. And then he tries to break free of the cycle, but fucks it up, and that makes the depression even worse. I find him very relatable.

OLIVE: I’m not really interested in his story anymore.

So much for compassion, reader!

DAGNY: Was Landon’s father mentally ill?

WILL: I don’t know much about him, but I know his relationship with his MOTHER was quite difficult. She attempted suicide multiple times and punished him very cruelly for wetting the bed.

DAGNY: Mm-hm. That makes a lot of sense. It explains why he would really understand what depression is like. Plus it explains the kind of character he’s written Charles to be – always in control, but benevolent, understanding and supportive. Charles is the kind of parent he wishes he’d had.

WILL: Yeah. And smashing the flowerpots is what he wishes he could have done to the parent he DID have.

Anyways, Laura goes back out to the ticket desk. Melissa Gilbert is pretty good in this one, despite Laura sort of getting the short end of the stick characterization-wise-speaking.

She interrupts the Ticket Guy in the midst of sending a telegram, which seems like a bad idea. But he doesn’t mind. He was probably just sextegramming with somebody halfway across the country, anyways.

Laura asks where the next train out of town is headed, and the guy says, “Boston.” (Presumably with some stops in between, but what do I know?)

Laura says she’ll take one ticket please.

The Ticket Guy gives her a look and says he’s got to check the timetable.

WILL: He should turn to the camera and say, “These two are fuckin’ nuts.”

Grandpa Lansford is predictably upset about Laura traveling to Boston on her own. She says if he can run away from his life, so can she.


Well, all this is obviously meant to echo the scene where Lansford pretended he wanted to go along with Young Charles when he was running away. But it’s weird, because Laura doesn’t know that story.

Previously on Little House

But anyways, she can’t keep up the façade for long. She bursts into tears and hugs him. And he gets it.

DAGNY: It wouldn’t be Little House without a tear-stained child’s face smooshed into a fuzzy flannel shirt.

After a final commercial break, we see Pa and Mr. Ed rolling towards Springfield. It’s daylight again, but Edwards says they’re still “a couple hours” away from Springfield, having “lost a lot of time last night in that fog.” 

Now, this makes zero sense, since they figured out where Laura was headed almost immediately on Monday. An empty wagon going at top speed could probably cover the 25-mile trip in half a day. So why did they wait until night to leave? Would Hanson not give them the day off? Hard to picture that.

Whatever the reason, seconds later they see Lansford and Laura walking along the road. Not to be pedantic, but based on what Mr. Edwards said, that means the girl and the old man have covered 15 miles on foot by this point. They must also have left overnight!

Well, Pa jumps down, and, bootstraps a-flappin’, runs to meet Laura.

Laura gives him a sly look that says, “I just Charles-Ingalls-ed the shit out of a situation, and now everything’s fine.” 

And if I were Pa, I guess I’d be pretty darn pleased.

Lansford says from now on he’ll only make promises he intends to keep, sort of, and he and Charles hug.

He also says he and Laura will be “fetching supper on Thanksgiving,” but I don’t know what the hell that means. It’s not like they could just run pick up some Marie Callendar’s or whatever.

The camera pulls back into some grape vines – not the most common sight here in Minnesota.

WILL: Doesn’t this one end with Voiceover Laura saying “Grandpa died the next day” or something?

Not quite, but close. What she says is that Lansford stayed with them through the winter, then announced he was going back to Wisconsin after all. To die.

Unexpectedly, we actually get a little leaving scene in the woods. Laura is mad because Gramps is going, but he’s not having any of her bullshit this time.

Then he tells her to smile, which annoyed some of our viewers.

DAGNY: It’s not her job to smile for him.

Grandpa kisses her, and turns to go.

WILL: Why are they saying goodbye now? Is he going back to Wisconsin on foot? Through the forest?

DAGNY: He’s not even on a path, he’s just walking through the brush.

(In real life, however, Lansford didn’t die until 1896, and it was in Burnett County, Wisconsin, over 100 miles from Pepin and the Big Woods. But at least the show got it right that they were united in death; Laura Colby Ingalls had herself died there in 1883.)

And NOW we really get the Bum-Bum-Bah-Dum!


In addition to the points made above, I’d mention the train has cool stars on its wheels.

Charles appears to go commando again.


OLIVE: I hated that one. But, at least they didn’t have a scene where Nellie laughs about Bunny dying. That would be too much.

A story perhaps not equal to the sum of its parts, “Journey in the Spring” has drama, horror, and insight, and yet in the end it’s hard to say what the point was. Is it about overcoming depression? Or not giving up on someone who lives with it? Is it about forgiving yourself for not living up to your dreams, or how you shouldn’t try to inspire dreams in other people? Or maybe the message is just “Get over yourself, everyone”? An admirably complex mix of ideas that doesn’t perhaps land the way it should.


OLIVE: Oh my God, “Fred” is the NEXT EPISODE? THAT’S how they follow this up???

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.

4 thoughts on “Journey in the Spring, Part Two

  1. Another great recap. This is a very sad episode. I like the sextagram; that was hysterical.🤣. It was also nice to see the cast of characters that help in your reviews.

    What I don’t understand is the hate for the “Fed” episode. I absolutely adore that episode. I guess because I am usually more geared towards the light hearted ones. Not to mention there’s just something funny about someone that gets kicked in the butt.🐐

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, no hate for “Fred”! It’s just a whiplash twist to go from this story, where the potential euthanization of an animal is depicted as the ne plus ultra of tragedy, to one in which it’s played for laughs. Expect our definitive ranking of all Fred’s ass-buttings soon!


  2. I’m going to start incorporating “I Charles Ingallsed the shit out of a situation” into my everyday parlance. Brilliant.
    Thanks so much for doing these recaps, I look forward to every one! And I can’t wait until you get to the episode where Carrie has an imaginary twin friend and Charles survives a moonshine explosion. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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