For some contrived reason, Charles is in Mankato. A ruckus overflows from the saloon! It's Mr. Edwards (not 'Edward', as the episode title would have you believe), throwing down! The saloontender offers Charles a table leg or something to defend himself. Pa's not scared; he drags Edwards outside and sobers him up by dunking him in the horse-water-box (trough??) thing.
Charles invites Edwards to come to Walnut Grove, you know, visit the family and all that. Even though he's a raging drunk, who, 3 seconds ago, was about to take out an entire bar full of people with a broken whiskey bottle.
Edwards isn't thrilled when they get to Walnut Grove and there's NO SALOON! What kind of cheesy-ass town is this? At the little house, Laura is sick in bed with a fever. Edwards spazzes. He later confesses that his wife and daughter died of smallpox and that why he freaked out at seeing Laura ill. Edwards = more complex than we ever even knew.
That night, Ma and Pa eat popcorn in bed and talk about who in town they can fix Mr. Edwards up with. The obvious answer is the Widow Snider. Unfortunately, she's already had a freakin' terrible first impression of Edwards when he was caught spitting outside the mercantile.
Pa gets Edwards a job at Hansen's mill. Edwards works at the cutter, singing the first of many, many versions of "Old Dan Tucker" that appear in this episode. Edwards ends the song with a wolf howl. Seriously.
He lifts his hat politely to a disgusted Widow Snider as she walks by. To the sounds of a slow, instrumental "Old Dan Tucker", she watches from the post office window as he drinks from an enormous brown jug, presumably filled with liquor. It's actually water, but naturally, everyone is gonna think that Edwards is boozing back the moonshine, cuz... it's Edwards. This is the guy who built a still in an abandoned field and got a goat drunk. That's just who he is.
Ma had asked Mr. Edwards to pick up the mail, so he would have a chance to talk to the Widow Snider. It doesn't go well. She shuts him down, and continues rubber-stamping envelopes with authority. Afterwards, maybe because he didn't seem as smashed in person as he should have been, she goes to the mill and starts sniffing around his brown jug. Edwards catches her and convinces her to drink out of the bottle. Now Hansen thinks Grace Snider's the alcoholic! She goes back to the post office, as Edwards sings "Old Dan Tucker (The Delight Remix)".
The comedy of errors continues at church, where Rev. Alden gives a booze sermon. Relief from your pain/struggles/burdens can ONLY come from the Lord. The sauce is not medicinal, no matter what you tell yourself. Doc Baker ain't prescribin'. After the sermon, Hansen tells Grace something like: "I hope you were paying attention to that".
Edwards doesn't go to church, which is apparently not awesome. At supper, Pa asks the girls about Sunday school. They're all up in tha WG gossip, like one girl passed a note to a little boy, and now this other girl is jealous. Pa starts getting angry; he wants to know what SUNDAY SCHOOL was about. Defeated, somber Mary says: "Sunday school was all about Jesus." Ha. Hahaha.
Inspired by Mary's story, Mr. Edwards writes a letter to himself and puts some lemon verbena that he'd bought for Laura on the envelope. He gets Laura to help address the envelope, I guess to have some feminine penwomanship. Edwards asks Laura if there's a rule in the family about having secrets. Haha, Edwards thinks the Ingalls family is so lame.
After accosting a letter carrier and forcing him to take the letter to Mankato to mail it, the letter arrives in Walnut Grove. Edwards picks it up from the post office, pulls up a chair on the post office porch, and reads it with relish right in Grace Snider's face. Grace had obviously noticed the lemon verbena scent and probably thought the letter was from some sexy lady/Beadle-esque schoolmarm in the city.
Edwards invites Grace home to the Ingalls' for supper. Charles went fishing and caught a whole mess of pike. Grace: "I haven't had pike for ages." Edwards: "[Caroline]'s gonna bawl me out right in front of the family... you don't have the good sense to ask her when you know she likes pike?!"
The Ingallses, Edwards, and Grace have a blast dancing around a bonfire to fiddle music. Edwards invites Grace to go fishing, which they do, and have a great time. Other than Laura blowing the secret about the letter. But that turned out all right... compared to what follows!!!
Edwards asks Grace to go fishing again, on Sunday morning. Like, during church. She asks him to come to church, but he doesn't believe. Grace is aghast and promptly turns down any and all non-Christian suitors.
Later, Edwards packs up his belongings in the Ingalls's hay loft where he'd been living. Ma climbs into the loft and asks him: "Do you believe in anything?" in that softly manipulative way she has of speaking, then leaves. Edwards breaks into "Old Dan Tucker (Depression Mumblemix)".
On Sunday morning, during a spirited singing of "Bringing in the Sheaves", Edwards slips quietly into church and sits next to Grace. The citizens of Hero Township continue singing, and some of the guys (including Pa) are waaayyy too into it. Like extreme head-bobbing. You should check it out.