Sunday, February 7, 2010

Child of Pain

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.

Including a human being.

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.

Oh, snap! Cured!

He admits to himself and to Charles Ingalls that he blamed his son for his wife's death. Now everything is cool.

Pa can go home, and the possible first-ever rehab success story and his kid are reunited.

Never to be seen again in Walnut Grove.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Circus Man

We open on a peaceful, sleeping little house. Suddenly, there's a loud noise! Some kind of prowler/possible prairie ripper is creeping outside! Pa runs outside shooting, only to be met by William O'Hara, a self-proclaimed circus man who was trying to be a good neighbour by saving the little house from bobcats.

Neighbour? O'Hara, we know you're not from around here, so save the bullshiitake for someone who... oh, nevermind, Pa has invited him to stay. I guess my suspicions against this guy were totally unfounded. His bizarre wardrobe and crazy eyes make him a natural choice for someone you'd want to have around your family.

The next morning, O'Hara stops Mary & Laura when they leave for school. Actually, he pops out from behind a clothesline he put up. He's got a talking bird, and an exotic congrilla, "masterrrrrrrr of the jungle!" Except it's freaking Bubbles. It's a chimp, you guys. Mary's got a good head on her - she's not buying this guy's fantastical stories. She's totally scornful. The girls leave for school, and O'Hara impresses Ma & Pa with some fancy sleight of hand tricks over at the chicken coop. Old guys: annoying people with lame tricks since 1872!

Later, at the mill, Hansen is complaining about a headache. Doc Baker thinks it's time for a check up. Hansen can't go for that, no can do. He's been taking pills and they don't work! He doesn't trust the doc's modern medicine. Uh oh, I smell a mystical circus man cure... or else Hansen's gonna get turned into a congrilla.

Back at the little house, O'Hara brings the drama, yelling: "Thief! Robber!" out loud into the darkness of night. Pa goes to investigate & finds no Plum Creek Strangler or anything, just O'Hara on the ground. The prowler "crrrrrrracked a couple of me rrrrrrrrrrrrribs".

Pa tapes up O'Hara's ribs inside, then for some reason sends Mary out in the dark to the crime scene to get some stuff from O'Hara's wagon. O'Hara starts brainwashing the children with his extreme accent hypnosis. He mixes a potion that's gonnna heal his phony broken ribs with one delicious sip.

The next day, Hansen's at the Merc. These pills are not helping his headache! Is there a money back guarantee by any chance? Apparently the medicine is good for a whole whack of old fashioned ailments (I'm talking coated tongue, thin blood, and spots before the eyes), but not headaches. Lucky for Hansen, Mary & Laura are in the mercantile too, and start telling him about O'Hara's secret medicine elixir. He boots it to the congrilla wagon. Just seconds after using the potion, Hansen is cured.

Doc Baker is furious that Hansen won't submit to a full examination. Doc even tells off Charles about the situation. He cares so much about Hansen... it's a little weird. Plus, Doc's got O'Hara's number: he cured Hansen for free, this time. Next time, woo woo, Daddy needs a new pair of shoes. Pay. Up. Sucka.

O'Hara has the stinkin' guts to go into the mercantile. Doesn't he know that his bogus remedy is taking business away from honest merchants? OMG, are you serious, Harriet? I might side with you on this one, but you torture Ma about the eggs EVERY SINGLE DAY. That's kinda sleazy.

Harriet informs this circus drifter that his time in Walnut Grove is up - they don't care for scalliwags here. O'Hara picks up a fricking anvil offa the floor, presumably to bash Mrs. O... nope, just showing off. His imaginary ribs are broken, but look what he can do. No sham medication could give you that result!

Turns out Mrs. Oleson has some private pain that even Doc Baker can't fix. Why'm I saying "even"? Pretty much nothing gets cured on his watch. He watches ladies give birth & stalks Hansen... annnn' thassit. O'Hara agrees to give Mrs. Oleson some medicine to try, free of charge.

Doc Baker rides into Plum Creek like a bat outta hell. "A useless remedy is as dangerous as a loaded gun!" Appropriately, Pa tells him to calm the shit down. Harriet Oleson has a serious case of appendicitis, but won't have surgery because O'Hara's elixir is gonna fix her.

Ma & Pa start to have second thoughts about hosting old Willy con Carny on their land.

Doc Baker strong-arms O'Hara into convincing Harriet to get the operation. He visits Harriet on her soon-to-be-death bed, and tells her that only royalty get this type of surgery, so she should totally go for it. I heart manipulation. He does this really creepy wave on his way out the door. I thought he was bad with his hat ON. Ugh.

So, Doc does the surgery. The entire township is gathered on the mercantile's porch, I guess to see if Harriet makes it. I can't imagine that they all care. There's probably just nothing better to do. Doc comes out looking totally haggard.

Time's REALLY up for O'Hara. He admits to Pa that the powder is blarney. Now he's gotta slink out of town under the cover of darkness.

The next morning, Mary & Laura are disappointed to find him gone. It's the freakin' weekend & they wanted to learn some magic tricks! Well, get hip to the fact that the number one thing you gotta know about circus people is that they're unpredictable. Pa buys the girls' happiness with pennies for candy.

Laura & Jack chill in front of the merc until a kitty agitates Jack.

He runs in front of a wagon & is dramatically run over right before a commercial break!

Laura freaks. O'Hara's the only one who can fix Jack! Pa tries to break it to her that O'Hara was a big faker, but she won't believe it. Pa thinks maybe the kids could use a hard lesson & goes to find O'Hara.

They arrive back at the little house after dark. O'Hara gives Jack the potion. Pa wants him to come clean to Laura, but O'Hara wants to keep hope alive until Jack either dies or lives permanently.

As the night goes on, Jack eventually stirs awake. Laura believed! If O'Hara stayed in Walnut Grove, there'd be no sick people or animals! They don't even need a doctor. Baker's been rendered obsolete! Pa gives O'Hara a major stink eye while Laura spouts off. He finally tells the g.d. truth that nothing about him is real, not even his name or the way he talks. Oh, great. I've been sitting through this accent for 43 minutes & it was completely unnecessary?! Boo!!!!

O'Hara finally leaves in what shoulda been disgrace, but Pa invites him to come back sometime. Spoiler: doesn't happen. All together now: "And he was never seen again!"