It's nighttime in Walnut Grove. In a small barn, a dirty looking guy is scrounging through the haystack for a booze bottle.
There's not very much left, but, eh, apparently that's all he needs to become a drunken maniac. As we will see...
Inside the house, a wee boy is peeling vegetables. The drunken pa, John Stewart, was responsible for bringing the meat, but he forgot.
This kid's a nag. He's all, "You promised not to drink anymore" and "You never stop at one drink". So he'd broken the bottles of whiskey that were in the house.
Stewart is in drunken despair. Hey, guy, don't forget about that conveniently hanging belt just in front of your eyeballs. That's probably good for teaching a kid a lesson about busting yo' stash.
The next day at the schoolhouse, Graham Stewart shows up with a black eye & it's attracting a LOT of attention. Miss Beadle takes him outside for a conference.
Ok, setting up the meddle: Pa is in the doc's office paying off some bills when Miss Beadle brings in the kid. This shit is like crack for Charles Ingalls. C-R-A-C-K. He will not be able to resist. This guy is going to teach someone else how to beat an addiction?
I mean, seriously, this kid's back has been smeared with eyeshadow. We can't allow this to continue!
It's clear that Graham's father has been abusing him. Previous stern talks from both Doc Baker & the Rev haven't made him clean up his act & stop beating his kid. If Doc Baker wasn't so doggone civilized, he'd recommend a public horsewhipping.
He really would.
But Pa enjoys democracy. He believes that the majority of Hero Township isn't gonna wanna see that kid getting beat, but we need to be sure. He calls a meeting, which draws all the important townspeople, and a few knobs. It's unclear what to do, because there's no constable or sheriff until you get to Springfield.
Boozefiend walks in & starts intimidating them: "You talkin' about me? Well, here I am."
He engages in some general douchery, but Pa Ingalls makes it clear that the whole town has a beef & that they can take his boy away. But that's not gonna work because the kid is brainwashed. He loves his pa. If he wasn't bad, his pa wouldn't have to whip him.
After the meeting, Ma & Pa try to wind down. Even a dog stays with a master who beats him, which isn't really a satisfactory answer. Ma decides to use praying.
Next day: recess! Miss Beadle goes to mill to talk to Charles. Graham Stewart didn't come to school today. I smell trouble. Pa goes to investigate.
The Stewart place has been ransacked; there's shit lying everywhere.
Pa takes the kid's wrapped body to his wagon. Drunk father is passed out in the barn, an unconscious witness to his son's kidnapping.
Doc Baker won't know the kid's condition until he wakes up. And speaking of waking up, John Stewart is out of his stupor and in a rage at the doc's office.
Good thing Pa's got the muscles of a bouncer.
Pa wants Stewart to witness the carnage he's caused... ok, so that looks pretty tame. Unless the doc's disapproving stare is the worst thing you could ever imagine.
Stewart seems kinda shocked when the kid won't wake up. He's totally remorseful. He even says: "Help me. In the name of God, help me", basically giving Pa permission to punch his face every time he says 'whiskey'.
So, they lock up Stewart in Hansen's storeroom & hold another town meeting. Ma's hypothesis is that by helping the father, the son will be helped as well. Kennedy is in this episode, being a constant d-bag at town meetings, as he tends to do.
Pa ends up confiscating the kid back to the little house, and going back to Stewart's to help him rehab. Graham Stewart has a tough time getting down with life at the little house. Too many enthusiastic little girls. He runs outside. BTW - I just love Ma's shawl.
Ma tries to convince the kid to come inside and eat. Wouldn't his pa be upset if he didn't eat? Well, no. His pa is mostly blotto by supper time.
Pa asks Stewart to reveal his bottles. Apparently there's only 2 bottles in the whole house. Um, no. I know alcoholics. There's gotta be moonshine EVERY-WHERE.
After finding one more bottle in a secret wall compartment, Pa makes Stewart give 'em the old dump. Oh, he can't look!
So, it's either night or nap time. Stewart having a rough ol' time. He's shaking, sweating, and hallucinating bats.
He flips out and attacks Pa. The struggle is epic.
He goes limp and Pa puts him back in bed. Suddenly, he freaks again and pa has to apply the sleeper hold.
Graham and Mary bond at the chicken coop. I'm really only interested in the bat hallucinations at this point.
Pa's put Stewart to work, in between the shakes. Water provides no satisfaction: you can barely taste it. If he works hard all day, maybe the bats will leave him alone at night.
Anyways, it comes out that Stewart's wife, Lucy, died in childbirth. Whenever he gets wasted (every day), he blames his son.
He sneaks out while Pa is sleeping & digs up his last bottle of whiskey.