When Charles returns home that evening, Caroline is already in bed. She is less than thrilled that Nels opened a competing restaurant and that Charles is in cahoots. Before Ma gets too bent out of shape, Pa presents her a copy of the contract that Harriet signed. Charles cites article twelve, paragraph two. Caroline reads it and her face lights up. “Do you think it will work?” she asks excitedly. “I told you,” Charles says, “trust me.” He takes a bite out of an apple and proceeds to eat it the way that Marmaduke would eat peanut butter. Thanks, Michael Landon.
Meanwhile, Nels enters his bedroom while Harriet files her nails. She warns Nels that he is attacking Mrs. Sullivan’s army. If she doesn’t get employee of the month I will be disappointed because she has totally bought into the company philosophy. Nels begins to reply, but Harriet tells him to shut up.
We now see Mrs. Oleson outside the restaurant shrieking about coupons for a two-for-one dinner special. I seriously doubt that the home office would allow her to offer a deal like that. She hands a coupon to a man in a Stetson, but she oversells when she tells him he can bring his wife or girlfriend. Maybe I’ll be getting my Brokeback Prairie action after all. Oh wait, Oleson’s Restaurant has a three-for-one deal. Harriet doesn’t seem to notice that until we do, but this episode seems to demonstrate that she doesn’t read the fine print, even if it is written in 12 inch letters.
A few hours later things have really slowed down at Mrs. Sullivan’s. Carrie is walking down the aisle bouncing a ball as the boys play checkers. The Raccoon is watching Ernie eat dinner, most likely trying to figure out how to get the scraps when he’s done. Hester-Sue and Mrs. Oleson are sitting at the table nearest the kitchen and Caroline joins them. Harriet starts shriek-weeping about how everyone likes Nels’ cooking. Caroline tries to console her by pointing out that Ernie is still there. Ernie gives a thumbs-up to the roast lamb. A frustrated Mrs. Oleson informs him that he is eating pan-fried steak. “Pan-fried huh? Oh. Well, don’t make much difference to me one way or another no more. I ain’t tasted nothin’ for five years, ever since that thrasher ran over my neck.” WHAT?!?! Where the hell did THAT come from? How does that even work? Why would a thrasher running over your neck affect your sense of taste? And how are you not dead? And why is no one in this scene horrified by this revelation?
Of course, Major Guffey decides that this is the best time to drop by. As Mrs. Oleson shriek-wails her travails, Guffey goes a little too deep with military metaphors about casualties and strategic maneuvers. This episode needs to end. Harriet hands over the receipts and he is less than impressed. He’s also not too keen on the fact that she did not expand the franchise as he instructed her to do. “I knew it was a mistake to let a woman command a post,” Guffey bellows. Mrs. Oleson is shocked that he would say such a thing, since the company is supposedly run by Mrs. Sullivan. There is no real Mrs. Sullivan, Guffey informs her, just a board of men that are calling the shots “as it should be”. Harriet acts as though Guffey shot and killed the Easter Bunny right in front of her. Guffey cites article twelve, paragraph two, which essentially allows the home office to cancel the franchise at any time. He tears up the contract and dishonorably discharges Mrs. Oleson.
Harriet runs across the street to find Nels. She shriek-cry-dry-heaves about what just happened, but somehow he already knew. That’s a shame. Harriet loses her franchise and her title of gossip queen all in two minutes because somehow word travels faster than she does. Nels calls the news wonderful, which enrages his wife. Harriet is about to concede when Nels reveals that tonight will be the last night of business for Oleson’s Restaurant. Charles came up with the plan to develop a successful competitor to Mrs. Sullivan so that the franchise would fail and that the restaurant can return to being Caroline’s. Awww. Way to earn your porcupie, Pa.
A few days later we see a carriage pulling up to Caroline’s as Harriet is sweeping the front steps. A man in a white suit exits the cab and walks towards her. The man asks, in a Kentucky drawl, if Harriet is in charge. The hell? A Colonel Sanders lookalike? Anachronisms aside, this is just really weird (though not as weird as another Sanders TV doppelganger). I suppose as fast food symbols go he is the only human-based one. Unless you wanted to incorporate the Hamburglar, but I really can’t imagine this as a two-part episode -- it’s barely a one-part episode. Anyway, he proposes a franchise that serves only fried chicken. Mrs. Oleson laughs at the idea, despite the Colonel calling his idea the wave of the future. Nels comes out of the restaurant as the man drives away. Harriet rehashes the idea and they share a laugh. I’m not sharing it with them.
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