Another school day on the prairie as Ms. Wilder enters to address the students. Some whimsical harmonica music is playing and it turns out to be Bart. Hehe, nice touch. Anyway, the announcement is that after the class projects are graded Ms. Wilder will be out the door. “I will miss all of you very much,” she says. “Or should I say, I will miss some of you.” She dismisses the class with these parting words: “I apologize, not only for myself but for the school board who allowed themselves to be bullied by a wealthy fool.” Bart doesn’t like the sound of that and stops playing. “You watch what you say about my Pa,” he threatens. “How did you know I was talking about your father?” Ms. Wilder asks. “Was it the word ‘wealthy’ or the word ‘fool’?” Ooo, snap, crackle and pop, Eliza! This gets a hearty and well-deserved laugh from the class. Wah-wah music plays as Bart follows the class out of the school.
As the Ingalls kids walk home with Clarence, Laura is keeping a lookout for Bart. Now might be a good time to point out that Carrie only seems to pop in and out when it is convenient. I don’t know why she isn’t with them now. Anyway, as soon as Laura spots Bart, she hands some tablets to Albert. Bart storms forward saying “You thought Ms. Wilder was real funny, didn’t you?” Laura says she did, but he was addressing Shorty, er, Albert, who is now foaming at the mouth. Albert pretends to spaz out and Laura goes to comfort him. She warns Bart that making Albert mad isn’t a good idea and sassing Ms. Wilder is bad for business. “He loves her. He loves her more than anything in the whole world. He’d even die for her.” Way to oversell it, half-pint. “Or kill,” Clarence adds. Bart actually starts to fall for this, but also suggests that maybe Albert has The Rabies (not the indefinite variety, either). Laura takes Albert away as Clarence and Bart look on. The big “kid” forces the little kid to tell him what’s going on. Clarence sells the story about Albert being a werewolf. Bart doesn’t fully buy it at first, “There aren’t any werewolves in Minnesota.” Yeah, those beasts are only in Wisconsin and the Chicago suburbs. Clarence seals the deal by giving Bart the copy of Ms. Wilder’s book. He also tells the bully that he can see the transformed version of Albert that night at the Ingalls’ barn.
That night Laura is babysitting and keeping watch for Bart. She summons Carrie to feed Grace and keep watch while she and Albert take care of business. Laura also tells Carrie to stay in the house. We then get treated to a scene of Carrie trying to feed the Raccoon: “Grace eat c’mon Grace eat Graaaace eat c’mon Grace eat c’mon or I’ll tell.” To recreate the effect at home, set up two blocks of wood so that one is shoving a bottle into the face of the other all while a rubber balloon is slowly deflating.
In the barn, Laura is putting the finishing touches on Albert’s disguise. A short while later, Clarence and Bart arrive. Laura exits the barn and asks what those two are doing. She doesn’t seem all that surprised that they are there, which is one of many tells that this probably isn’t going to work. She feigns outrage towards Clarence for spreading the Ingalls’ secret which is followed by Albert howling. This gets Bart’s attention. Laura checks to make sure that Bart wants to see this, and he agrees. She unlocks the barn door and beckons for Bart. Albert is chained to the wall and lunges for Bart. The “kid” flinches. Albert then breaks his chains and chases Bart out of the barn. Clarence trips Bart as he bolts out the door, giving Albert an opportunity to catch up. He grabs the papier-mache rock and lifts it above his head. Bart pleads with Albert and Laura. She tells him that Albert will stop only if Bart will do what the were-kid wants. Bart agrees. Laura’s demands include behaving in school, apologizing to Ms. Wilder and being nice. It’s not the most compelling list of demands but you can’t be too greedy.
At this point, Carrie comes out of the house asking for Laura to come inside. The elder Ingalls tries to shoo the younger girl away, but Carrie whines that the Raccoon isn’t eating. “And Albert,” she continues, “what are you doing with that paper rock you made?” Maybe this is why you aren’t invited anywhere, blabbermouth. Bart figures out what is going on and proceeds to wail on Albert. Yeah, you’d better run inside, Carrie.
The next morning, Laura and Carrie are still arguing over the bungling of the hoax. Albert breaks up the fight by saying it was nobody’s fault. Yikes. He’s starting to look a bit like Two-Face. “I guess there’s just not much a person can do alone,” Albert says, talking about what to do with Bart now. A light bulb goes off for Laura and she tells her siblings they need to get to school before the bully does. She and Carrie run off, but Albert is carrying his rock and needs to readjust before taking off.
When the kids arrive at the school, Laura runs up the steps and starts to ring the bell. After the students gather, she calls Albert up to the stoop so everyone can see what Bartholomew did to his face. “We’re losing a good teacher because of the same Bartholomew,” she says. “There isn’t anything anyone can do,” complains Willie, “he’s too big.” Laura nods and says, “There isn’t anything any one can do, but there’s plenty all of us can do.” Nothing like a Norma Rae moment to start the day. It would probably be taken more seriously if someone didn’t make a creepy clown face as their papier-mache project.
Showdown music starts to play as the Slater wagon approaches the schoolhouse. Mr. Slater heads into the Mercantile where we see the Wilders picking up some supplies. Ooh, it is a tense transaction with Mrs. Oleson. Meanwhile, Bart is walking over to the school. All the children are standing as a wall as the “kid” approaches. He struts over, papier-mache crocodile in hand, and comments on Albert’s eye. Laura tells Bart that she expects him to keep the promises he made the night before. “Who’s gonna make me?” he asks. The kids circle around Bart then collectively lunge at him. Oh good, they’re instilling angry mob justice at the grade school level. No hooligan left behind! Even the five year old girls are getting that gnashing in.
Ms. Wilder and Almanzo run out of the Mercantile when they hear the commotion. Mr. Slater is quick to follow. When he sees what’s going on he tries to rush over, but Manly stops him. “You’re the one who told me grown ups should let kids handle things on their own,” Almanzo tells Slater. As the camera zooms in on the mob, I can’t help but think of that scene in Galaxy Quest where the child-like aliens attack and gore their limping comrade.
Later that day, Ms. Wilder is hanging some clothes in the cloakroom. Bart is pretty roughed up as he walks up to Ms. Wilder. He apologizes and promises to behave himself. Ms. Wilder is speechless until the kids, who are all really roughed up, tell her to accept. I have a feeling there will be another school board meeting in the near future. Then they group hug, with Bart sitting off by himself.
New Laura Ingalls Wilder Themed Books Coming This Fall - *COMING IN SEPTEMBER* *A must-read companion to the Little House books* 2017 is the 150th anniversary of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday. Her beloved Lit...
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