Friday, January 23, 2009

Sylvia 5/10

Laura is in the middle of giving the class an assignment of writing ghost stories. The kids seem into the idea, though the 500-1000 word limit may stifle the future Stephen Kings in the class. Willie asks if they will be making costumes again. Laura replies that the school board is holding a costume contest. Willie says that his mom already bought his costume and has gone ahead and torn out the labels so that people will think she made the costume. I really hope we don’t have to see this contest play out because I already know I’m not in the mood.

Laura dismisses the class. Sylvia puts her head on the desk and is not all that responsive when Albert checks on her. He calls Laura over and Sylvia looks up and says she doesn’t feel well. Albert goes to get some water for Sylvia as Laura helps her outside for some air. As Sylvia drinks the water, Laura suggests that Albert go to Almanzo’s to borrow his buggy so they can take Sylvia home. Sylvia refuses, saying she needs to meet her Pa at the Feed and Seed. Albert offers to walk Sylvia over, but she refuses. She goes back to the school to get her books. The siblings follow Sylvia inside and watch as she collapses between the desks. Albert runs to get Doc Baker.

Doc Baker exits the examining room and reports that Sylvia is conscious and resting. The diagnosis is exhaustion and the rumor is that Mr. Webb is the one responsible. “Exhaustion is only part of it,” Doc Baker continues. He asks Albert to wait outside, but the Ingalls boy wants to know what’s wrong since he hasn’t seen Sylvia for a while. Doc Baker asks how long and Albert says a couple of months. “She’s with child, son.” Albert is dumbfounded by the news, particularly since he claims that they didn’t do anything. Albert starts to freak out then runs out of the office. Laura asserts that Albert isn’t lying and Doc Baker believes her.

Doc Baker calls the Feed and Seed to break the news to Mr. Webb. He winds up the phone and asks Mrs. Oleson to make the connection. She complains about her knee, but Doc Baker tells her to make an appointment and connect the damn call. There’s no answer at the store, so the Doc tries the Webb house. Mrs. Oleson is prattling on about something so Doc Baker has to put on his mean face. It looks good on him. Mr. Webb arrives home as the phone rings. When Webb picks up, Doc Baker gives the background of what happened and suggests that Mr. Webb come to the office for the more detailed version of the story. Mr. Webb doesn’t like that Doc Baker is beating around a bush, and demands the straight poop. Over the phone. That Mrs. Oleson is known for eavesdropping on. Hector does not take kindly to the news and slowly hangs up the phone.

Charles walks up to Albert who is contemplating life near a tree at the homestead. Pa tells him that Laura filled him in on what happened. “I loved her, Pa,” Albert laments. He then thinks about Sylvia’s current state: “I hate her,” he cries. Pa tries to console Albert, saying that Doc Baker told him neither Webb said anything about who the father was. Albert thinks she’s lying, but Charles suggests that maybe this happened against Sylvia’s will and that Albert shouldn’t be so quick to judge people. Pa tells Albert that Sylvia is going to need friends now, but Albert doesn’t think he can be her friend.

That night, Sylvia is sitting on her bed looking at the ceiling when her father comes into the room. “You stay around the house from now on,” he orders. “I don’t want you going into town.” Mr. Webb plans on selling the farm and moving to a town where no one knows them. “You blame me for this, don’t you?” Sylvia asks. His response: “You reap what you sow.” Are you kidding me with that?!

We now see a younger Laura Ingalls happily running down a hill while "The Next Item up For Bids" music starts to play. Oh, it's the credits.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sylvia 4/10

Dinner time at the Webb house. Sylvia gets her father some more stew and tells him about her day. “We had a test today. I think I did real good,” she says. Well, if the subject isn’t grammar perhaps. Ah, it was a history test. Sylvia then asks her father if she can stay after school to help grade papers for extra credit. Funny, you’d think we would have seen Laura ask Sylvia that. Mr. Webb isn’t too pleased about this and reluctantly agrees. Something is amiss.

We’re now at the side of a babbling brook where Sylvia and Albert are fishing. Ah, apparently she meant “Albert Ingalls” not “Laura Ingalls” and “suki suki” instead of “extra credit”. Anyway, Sylvia is excited that she has caught another fish and Albert is a tad grumpy that he hasn’t caught any. She starts laughing and admits that she’s happy to be with Albert. Aw, they’re getting all lovey-dovey. “Maybe I’ll have better luck if I sat closer to you,” Albert suggests as he scooches over. Eeek! We’re not the only ones watching this romance bud. A gloved hand is pushing some brush away and the unblinking eye is staring across the water. This is a bad sign.

Speaking of signs, Albert has carved “Albert Loves Sylvia” into a tree. He did a really fancy job of it too, cutting out a square frame and everything. That must have taken the better part of the afternoon. We then get a profile shot of the two of them going into a slo-mo smooch. Aw.

Later on, we see Sylvia bounding towards her home. Oops, guess she lost track of time because she is late and Papa Webb wants his dindin. As Sylvia scrambles to light the stove, her father asks about the paper grading and whether it is helping Sylvia or not. Sylvia says it is, but Mr. Webb reveals that he wasn’t sure so he went and checked with Mrs. Wilder about it. Uh-oh, busted. Not only does he know about the lying, but Papa Webb knows that Sylvia lied so she could see Albert. As a result, Mr. Webb declares the Ingalls boy off limits.

The next day Albert runs to catch up with Sylvia after school. He asks what’s up but all she says is that she has to get home. “You don’t like me anymore, do you?” Albert pouts. Sylvia explains the situation, about how she lied to her dad and such, and that she can’t see Albert anymore. As she runs off, a blacksmith walks from the background to ask Albert what’s wrong. When did this become Amelie? And who’s that guy? Or, it’s Mr. Hartwig. Yeah, I don’t either. He tries to console Albert by saying that Mr. Webb is trying to raise Sylvia as best he can. “He’s trying to keep her from being too wild,” he says. Is there something about Sylvia from an earlier episode that I completely missed? Was she one of those kids that you see on Maury or Jenny Jones that got sent to boot camp because she was an out of control tween? Somehow Sylvia got a bad rep and I don’t know why. Anyway, Hartwig suggests that Albert give things time and it should all work out.

Grace is freaking out in her high chair at the homestead. Sounds like Ma made another tasty breakfast, but Albert is just moving the food around his plate. Caroline checks to see if Carrie is ready for school. Carrie steps into frame, says she’s almost ready then steps out again. She earned that residual check, let me tell you. Charles can tell that something is bothering Albert and he guesses correctly that it is Sylvia. Apparently two weeks have passed and things have not gotten better. Thanks for nothing, Hartwig. Albert can’t believe that Mr. Webb is still mad about the whole lying thing, but Charles mentions that Webb has been acting strange towards everyone the last couple of weeks. Neither of the male Ingalls can figure out what’s up, but Pa suggests that Albert keeps persisting. Do chicks dig that?

The kids leave for school and Caroline takes this opportunity to compare notes with Charles. Mr. Webb has stopped coming by the restaurant and Mrs. Foster had to deliver a package to his place rather than waiting for him to pick it up. Also, when Mrs. Foster was at the Webb house, she noticed that Sylvia was working the fields. Charles mentions that Reverend Alden is planning on paying a visit as well, which seems to ease Caroline’s mind a bit.

“Mornin’ Hector!” Reverend Alden calls as he drives up to the Webb house. The Reverend is jovial as always and says that he’s just checking to see if the Webbs are feeling alright. Then he goes into parole officer mode trying to find out why Sylvia and her father haven’t been at church. Mr. Webb says that he’s been busy and such, which is met with the typical “day of rest” retort. “The Lord didn’t have a mortgage payment to make,” Mr. Webb snaps as he walks away. The Reverend still wants to know what’s up and tells Mr. Webb that people in town are worried about him. “I’m not interested in what Charles Ingalls has to say,” Mr. Webb bellows. I can’t help but laugh. I guess Mr. Webb never watches this show – it’s all about what Charles Ingalls says. Hector is pretty steamed at this point and he assumes that the Reverend is there only to collect tithe money. Mr. Webb throws a wad of bills at Alden before driving out, saying he’s paid up for the month. God'll getcha for that one, Hector.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sylvia 3/10

Mr. Webb is rocking out 19th century style (in his rocking chair) when he hears a thud outside the front door. It’s Sylvia and she looks roughed up. “Help me, Papa,” she whimpers. He shows almost no emotion at this, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since it is nighttime and he apparently isn’t too concerned with the whereabouts of his daughter if he is rocking out in the living room. He helps her up and carries her to the bedroom. He asks what happened as he covers her with a blanket. She tells him someone grabbed her, pulled her down, and starts to cry before finishing the gruesome tale. Mr. Webb reels back, horrified at what happened to his daughter. He looks in the mirror, turns back to his daughter and asks who did it. She cries that she doesn’t know because he wore a party mask. “The clown face. The clown face.” Mr. Webb slowly exits, but before he leaves he tells Sylvia that she is not to tell anyone what happened. “No one must know of this disgrace, do you understand?” Boo!

The next day at school, all the kids are playing outside including Albert’s friends who are running around chasing Willie. Sylvia is sitting on the swing when Willie comes around, grabs the swing and she unwillingly gets in the middle of a tug-of-war. To be fair, I don’t think they were targeting Sylvia, but she starts to freak out and starts flailing and hitting and screaming no. Her rage starts to focus on Willie and the other boys try to calm her down to no avail. Laura and Albert run outside to check on the commotion and rush over to help. Laura puts her lack of Special Victims training to good use as she slaps Sylvia across the face to calm her down. Surprisingly, this works. Laura takes Sylvia away as Willie claims innocence.

Over at Doc Baker’s Laura is pacing while Sylvia is examined. Doc Baker doesn’t know what’s up because Sylvia is not talking. Laura relates what happened to the doc, but he seems puzzled that Sylvia was hitting the boys even though the boys didn’t hit her. He mentions that there is some bruising on Sylvia, but then Mr. Webb barges in. Doc Baker tries to both give and receive information, but Mr. Webb isn’t interested. He uses the “fell down the stairs” excuse and accuses Doc Baker of calling him a liar when told that the bruises aren’t consistent with that type of injury. Doc Baker is absolutely baffled by Webb’s behavior and Laura agrees that something is amiss.

At the homestead, Albert tells Ma and Pa what happened. Apparently the incident scared Carrie, which is why it is dessert conversation. Albert promises his parents that he is going to protect Sylvia from any teasing. Pa thinks it’s a good idea then sends Albert to bed. Not much going on in this scene.

Willie and his porn buddies spot Sylvia sitting on the schoolhouse steps before class. They run towards Sylvia, stopping in front of her, Willie screaming “No! No!” as the other boys pretend to slap him silly. The Olesons really aren’t doing much to curry my favor this episode. Sylvia doesn’t even get offended at this display as she just sighs in a resigned fashion. Albert walks over and tells Willie to stop, first by asking, then by pulling him away. The pranksters ask what the problem is and Albert says he told them to stop. “Yeah, well make me,” Willie sneers. So Albert slugs him right in the face. Yeah, that’s good for two points. Go Albert! Willie runs home to mother to take care of his bloody nose. The other boys walk away, disappointed that their fun is over. Albert tells Sylvia that they probably won’t bother her anymore, says see ya, and walks away. She smiles as he leaves. Awww.

Later that day Sylvia is walking home and Albert runs up to her. They talk about that day’s test and how they did. She thanks him for his intervention earlier and the awesomeness of punching Willie’s face in. I like this girl. Albert jokes that he learned it all from Laura and they share a laugh. Albert offers to carry Sylvia’s books, but she politely refuses. “I’m trying to be a gentleman, but you have to give me a chance,” he lectures and she gives in.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sylvia 2/10

The next day at school, a girl walks over to Albert and hands him some books. Oh, this must be Sylvia. I think the best way to describe her would be “fourteen-year-old extra on Little House on the Prairie”. He thanks her and apologizes about what happened. She brushes it off and it seems like things are settled. I think they’re totally crushing on each other so the conversation is very awkward.

Laura calls Sylvia from the stoop and asks the young girl to come into the schoolhouse. There’s a special meeting of the school board, which usually means that it is a meeting of the “special” school board. They want to talk to Sylvia, so you can probably guess what the topic du jour is. This week’s board is composed of Charles, Doc Baker, Nels, Harriet, and some townie. Harriet starts off the inquisition by saying that she has heard reports of things going on that have been deemed improper. Sylvia has no idea what Mrs. Oleson is talking about and apparently that has been Laura’s stance throughout the meeting. Harriet asks Sylvia why the boys were at Sylvia’s house. That’s like asking the money why it was in the bank that was robbed. Sylvia is having trouble following Mrs. Oleson’s logic and says that the boys were just being silly. Harriet doesn’t like this definition of silly at all.

Mrs. Oleson then asks the girl why the boys chose Sylvia’s house when there are so many other houses to choose from. It’s a leading question, which Harriet answers by accusing Sylvia of being a tease. There is so much that is absolutely disgusting about this scene. First off, it is apparent by the line of questioning that which ever girl was the unfortunate victim of Willie’s peeping would be subjected to this treatment. Also, it’s not like Sylvia is being an exhibitionist here. Looking at her I don't think she's a Hussy McSluterson, not that that is relevant anyway. She didn't consent to the peeping, so back of Harriet. As obnoxious as Mrs. Oleson is throughout the series, this is by far one of her worst moments and it makes me sick.

Charles finally intervenes, pointing out that the situation is turning into “he said she said”. Mrs. Oleson is bothered that Mr. Ingalls is on Sylvia’s side, despite Albert being “lured” to the girl’s house. Charles relates Albert’s version of the events and chalks everything up to natural curiosity. Harriet considers this condoning the boys’ actions, but Charles equates what happened with peeking around the swimming hole. “I certainly don’t remember any of the boys sneaking around the swimming pond when I was a girl.” Nels mutters something under his breath. Hey, Nels? You picked her. Remember that.

The consensus among everyone except Mrs. Oleson is that boys will be boys. Laura wants to start school and Doc Baker calls for the meeting to adjourn. Harriet storms off as the rest of the board files out. Laura apologizes to Sylvia and lets her ring the bell. Despite all the problems that have come up in the last day or so, that Sylvia is pretty well adjusted. I hope that lasts.

The bell starts to ring as we see the feet of kids scrambling to gather their things and enter the school house. We then get an extreme close up and pan across some flowers. The pan stops on someone’s eye. Uh-oh, that eye is aimed directly at Sylvia. And it does not blink.

After school, Sylvia is walking home with Albert and a couple other boys about forty feet behind her. She turns around, see the boys, and walks a bit faster. The boys start teasing Albert that Sylvia was making eyes at him. The porn critic thinks Sylvia has the hots for Albert and suggests peeking through her window again. Albert pushes the kid to get him to shut up. Albert walks away.

We now see Sylvia walking through a wooded area gathering some flowers. Serene music plays as birds chirp the day away. She arranges the flowers into a bouquet and stops when she hears some twigs cracking. She looks up, but doesn’t see anything. More twigs crack, so Sylvia gets up to investigate. She walks towards the sound and some birds fly out of the tree.

Sylvia smiles as the bluebirds fly away, but suddenly a gloved hand grabs her mouth. Ahhhhh! Whoever grabbed her has on a black hood and a creepy mime or clown mask covering their face. The mask doesn’t have eye holes either, so it looks like a disturbing hybrid of the comedy/tragedy masks. The attacker forces the bouquet out of Sylvia’s hand for maximum symbolism. Yikes. What makes it worse is that the Hallmark Channel thinks this is the best time for a bottom of the screen graphic advertising “another great episode” of Little House coming up next. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sylvia 1/10

1981 – Albert falls in love with a 14-year-old, unaware she is the victim of rape.

Let me just start by saying that this episode (a two-parter!) is the inspiration for this blog. For reals.

We’re flipping through the automotive section of the mercantile catalog as this episode begins. Look at those wooden axles! I need to replace mine since I tried to ford the river and killed my ox and my sister. Stupid trail. Whoever is flipping the pages stops at the “fallen womb” and “hysteria unguents” section. Mrs. Oleson? Oh, it’s Willie who is browsing and his eyes grow wide as he runs off with the catalog to his waiting friends. They all run up the stairs to Willie’s room. “Yeah, women’s understuff!” says one of the boys. One of the other boys is less impressed with this whacking material, since they are drawings instead of photos. I’m not sure if boudoir shots have been invented yet, son. Albert is there as well and seems bored by the whole thing.

“Let’s go over to Sylvia’s house and peek!” suggests the porn critic. The other boy is down with that plan while Willie is still captivated with the girdle sketches. Albert doesn’t move either, leading to the critic calling Albert chicken. Albert ambivalently agrees to join the other boys, but Willie decides to stay home. As soon as the boys leave, Willie waits about two seconds and runs off to join them. Before they leave, Nels steps into the scene to let Willie know that he needs to stay until Mrs. Oleson comes home. Willie lies about an important nature study school assignment. Nels is okay with this, and let’s the horndogs run off. Music reminiscent of “The Bunnyhop” starts to play. Continuing with the rabbit theme, maybe? I don’t know.

The boys are now in the yard of some house and sneak over to an open window. As they all peek through the window, we get an extensive play-by-play: Sylvia is putting sheets on the bed. That’s it. As Willie whines about the lack of a show, someone yells at the boys asking what they are doing. The boys run off but on the way Albert drops the pile of books he’s carrying and is grabbed by Sylvia’s dad. Is that Lee Marvin playing Mr. Webb? He is barely holding Albert, yet the kid is unable to struggle his way loose as he denies the peeping. Sylvia’s dad isn’t buying it and threatens to cut a switch. Awesome. Albert apologizes, but the old man still wants to teach the young man a lesson.

Before he can do that, Mrs. Oleson rides by demanding that Albert be released. As she pulls to a stop, Albert finally fights his way loose. “Go boy! Run!” screeches Harriet. Sylvia’s dad is pissed, especially when Mrs. Oleson gets all high and mighty about protecting Albert from getting hit. Of course when she finds out that Albert was peeping, she does a full 180 and is disgusted by that Ingalls boy. Mr. Webb also mentions that Willie was part of the Peeping Posse, to Harriet’s disbelief. Of course, he was able to describe what Willie was wearing so Mrs. Oleson hightails it home. Albert’s books are still on the ground.

Harriet runs into the Mercantile and checks with Nels to see if Willie is home. Nels says that he is, causing his wife to believe that Mr. Webb was mistaken about Willie being a peeper. Nels corrects himself saying that Willie just got home from a nature study, which shocks and I think grosses out Harriet. “Boys will be boys,” excuses Nels. “My son will not be a boy!” exclaims Harriet. Well, if that is what you want at least Willie has the female undergarments page already bookmarked. She runs upstairs.

As Harriet screeches “Willie!” as she goes up the stairs to his room, he hides in the corner behind where the door would open. She barges in, sees her son and then whacks him on the head with her hat. That is not a euphemism. “How could you be a peeping Tom?” Mrs. Oleson demands. “I couldn’t: my name’s Willie.” She hits him over the head again, not amused with the wordplay. He swears he didn’t see anything, not even her toes. That’s…uncomfortable. I think we know a little too much about Willie’s…predilections, shall we say? Harriet sits down, relieved that Willie didn’t see…see…“the difference!” Of course, Willie is so uninformed that he didn’t even know there was a difference. Geez, even abstinence only sex ed covers that. Anyway, Harriet wants to know why they picked Sylvia’s house. Willie isn’t too sure at first, but then says that the girl is “sorta grown up.” This mortifies Harriet. How dare that girl enter puberty? “She teases the boys, is that it?” she asks. Willie answers, somewhat noncommittally. That’s all the information Mrs. Oleson needs.