Nels is outside the mercantile, palling around with an enormous dog.
His first mistake is going inside, where Harriet is complaining about the new hunting dog, and the mess Nels left, and his stinking fishing gear. Jeez - anything else? She continues griping in the store room, while Nels uses his moment of solitude to throw back a little booze.
But Harriet's onto him and his sly cough syrup drinking. It's demon rum. Yeah, and it's about to turn Nels into a demon. Stay tuned! Ma Ingalls comes in to sell eggs. OMG, always with the drama surrounding the egg sale.
Harriet says the eggs aren't as good and won't fetch top rate. Nels says that the eggs are OK. But it doesn't end there. Harriet wants to be left to judge the eggs.
Nels: "Judge? You're not the judge of anything. You want to know what you are? I'm going to tell you what you are. You are a mean, nasty-tempered woman. It would be better off for this whole town if you were locked up in a cage and fed with a stick. You have made life miserable for- "
Harriet finally interrupts.
Dude, how else did you think this was gonna end?
And Ma is still standing right there! Awk-ward! Nels pays her for the eggs, and she leaves .
Back at the little house, Ma describes the whole terrible scene to Pa. Pa loves it and is pretty much dying doing the weeze laugh.
Later on at the Oleson's, Nels and Harriet are 12 feet away from each other trying desperately to ignore the other. Nels decides to make peace, but bungles it by saying that everything he said was true, just not very nice, and that Harriet loves nagging. Loves it!
Harriet: "You are a cheap excuse for a man. You are a lazy and cowardly and snivelling stubborn jackass!"
That night Ma's guilt over inadvertently causing the Oleson's quarrel goes waaayyy outta control. She wants to invite Nellie and Willie over for a few days. It's winter. Are ya gonna make them sleep in the hayloft, like you do your other guests? And seriously, Nellie and Willie? You don't want them around. Trust me.
The next morning, Mary and Laura (in my favourite hats!!) spot Nels leaving the mercantile with his dog and all of his worldly possessions, and renting a room at the post office/hotel.
They run home to tell Ma and Pa. Poor sensitive Ma can't stand the thought of a family broken apart like that. What a phony. She probably loves it.
Nels reports for work to find a line-up of busybodies and gawkers waiting for the mercantile to open. Cripes, people, get a life. There's like 15 Walnut Grove nobodies crammed into the mercantile, just waiting for the next blow up.
Pa follows Nels to the back room, where Nels confides, "I'm a clown, Charles". Sorry, Nels, but that is not news. If you are only becoming aware of this now, then you should probably have Doc Baker check to see if you've had a pulse during the last 15 episodes.
Ma offers to take the kids from Harriet for a few days. Harriet is flustered and almost breaks down, but rushes away to help Mrs. Foster in the ribbons and trims section.
Sunday at church, Nels and Harriet sit pretty much as far away from each other as they can. Nels is sitting with Hansen, for jeez sake! That's kinda immature. Think of what you're doing to your kids.
Naturally, Reverend Alden butts wayyy the hell in. He recites some wedding garbage, and implores that Harriet remember her vows. Harriet wants no less than a public apology, but Nels is all: "No dice."
Doc Baker thinks that his job includes healing broken marriages for some reason. He starts bugging Lars Hansen. This is priceless. No one cares about losing something that no one else wants. There needs to be a threat of someone stealing Harriet away to make Nels react.
Hansen listens to Doc Baker's plan... and then tries to run away. Doc Baker outlines a future where Hansen's mill goes under when the Olesons close the mercantile and move and the town collapses.
The Doc and Hansen (complete with suit, hat, and flowers) walk toward the mercantile. Hansen is clearly uncomfortable with this plan of pretending to be attracted to Harriet Oleson. He tries to escape once more, but Doc Baker manages to get him inside the mercantile, then skips merrily away. I wonder what the hell Doc Baker was supposed to be on during some of these episodes. He's friggin' bizarre at times.
Ma is somehow in the mercantile AGAIN when Hansen arrives, so luckily we get to hear what happened firsthand as she tells Pa. Harriet was so shocked by the cheek of Hansen that she dumped a scoop of flour on him. Now she's taking the children and going back East... for good!!
The next morning, Mary and Laura meet Nellie and Willie on the way to school. Nellie confirms that they will be moving east with their mother, and says that she will write to Mary and Laura, her only friends. Laura "supposes" she will write back. Yeah, I'm not that confident in her pen pal abilities.
Ma is preparing for her last visit with Harriet. Oddly, she is sad. Pa has one last meddlin' plan though.
As Ma helps Harriet pack, she starts ragging on Nels... hardcore. Not only is he "not an ideal husband", he's lazy. Messy. Bad at business. A bad father. How much further can Ma take this before Harriet intervenes? Disreputable.
That's the one. Harriet starts defending Nels and reflecting on his good qualities.
Outside, Pa plays the same game with Nels. Nels is quicker to come to Harriet's defense, and even gets to the point where he's dissin' himself.
Pa looks real smug when Nels runs off toward to mercantile. Come on, Pa. We know that always having the answer is just all in a day's work for you.
Nels and Harriet reunite, and Ma slips quietly out of the mercantile.
An unspecified amount of time later, Ma is back at the merc selling eggs. ZOMG, how many times? Harriet butts in on Nels's egg dealing, while Ma does a major teeth-grit. It's so extreme that Harriet is insulting Nels's handwriting - but he won penmanship awards, I'll have you know!!! Ma leaves quietly, again. A crash sounds from inside the shop, and the large dog runs out and away, probably never to be seen again.