Friday, January 30, 2009

Sylvia 10/10

Albert is putting the finishing touches of his goodbye note right before he places it on the mantle. Meanwhile, Charles and Mr. Webb are outside the mercantile as Mrs. Oleson sweeps the porch. No one Charles has checked with has seen Albert except for Harriet who saw the kid about fifteen minutes earlier. She tells them that he was riding out of town towards the Ingalls’ place, so they decide to head out that way as well. As they race down the trail, they miss Albert who is hiding behind a tree. Albert runs into town back to the livery, but he finds the door locked. Charles is at the homestead and finds the note Albert left. After reading the note, the two men try to figure out where Sylvia could be. Since Albert didn’t know her whereabouts the night before, he must have found her that day. Mr. Webb recalls that they split up twice. Charles realizes she must be at the Atkins’ place, since that was Albert’s location after the second split.

Sylvia is sleeping in her hidey hole at the Atkins farm. The door creaks open and somebody much taller and lankier than Albert creeps in. Whoever it is takes slow, deliberate steps across fallen kindling and tree bark towards the sleeping girl. After the twentieth crack of wood and twigs, Sylvia rises and expects to see Albert. IT’S THE MIME!!!!! He tries to grab Sylvia, but she ducks, grabs a two by four and hits the guy in the arm, knocking him off balance. Run Sylvia! Oh, she tripped on the wood scraps. Damn petticoats. The mime takes off his askew mask’s Mr. Hartwig! He runs over to the door to block Sylvia’s exit. She runs over to a ladder and starts climbing. He puts one hand on the ladder and I swear I think he’s about to knock the ladder over. Instead, he starts to climb. As he steps on the first rung, Albert jumps on Hartwig’s back and they start to wrestle. Sylvia is now at the top of the ladder but has nowhere to go from there. As she tries to reach for a rafter, the rung supporting Sylvia snaps and she falls about 30 feet to the ground. Hartwig glances over towards Sylvia then grabs a two by four to brain Albert with. Before he can swing, a gun goes off and Hartwig falls to the ground. Good shot Mr. Webb.

Albert sees Sylvia is unconscious by the ladder and he crawls over to her, his drooping lip wavering. He starts whimpering as Mr. Webb and Charles look on. “I’ll get Doc Baker,” Pa says and runs out of the barn. The camera then focuses on the fallen mime mask.

That evening at the Webb house, Doc Baker exits Sylvia’s room and reports that the patient would like to see Albert. Albert walks slowly to the bed and sits by Sylvia’s side. Sylvia reports that she fell and asks Albert if she is going to die. Albert says she isn’t and that she and her pa won’t be leaving after all. I guess raping the daughter of the homeowner causes an escrow issue at closing. Not to be all Scooby-Doo about this, but given the plot elements of this story, did Hartwig rape Sylvia as a means to acquire the Webb property?

Sylvia can’t believe everything that happened and she asks if they can still get married. “When you’re up to it,” Albert replies. “I wish we can have a church wedding,” Sylvia says. Albert asks why not, causing Sylvia to hem and haw and say “ya know...” Please do not try to play charades here, kids. They start reciting their wedding dreams and I slowly lose interest. She finishes with a “kiss me, my love” and then they make out. Her eyes close and it is a little unclear if she just died or if she simply fell asleep. Seeing as how we don’t hear about her ever again, I’m guessing it is the former. We then get a replay of the slo-mo smooch from their first date and the episode ends.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sylvia 9/10

The next day the Ingalls men and Mr. Webb have formed a posse to look for Sylvia. I know back in those days a posse was the most efficient way to track down someone, but it amazes me that anyone has ever been found with the method. We see that Sylvia has found shelter in a dilapidated barn of some sort and it just so happens that it is the first place Albert looks. See, how does that work? Sylvia calls out to Albert and he runs over to hug her. Sylvia does not want to go back home, even after Albert assures her that Mr. Webb isn't going to try to shoot Albert in the face any more. For some reason her face is all dirty and it looks like she has a five o’clock shadow. She goes on another “I love you” soliloquy, which is much like the other three or four that she or Albert have already given, so I’m not going to transcribe it again. Blah blah blah, I love you, blah blah blah, hugging.

Albert agrees not to return Sylvia and decides that the two of them should run away. Yeah, the rest of your posse won’t catch on to that until at least sundown. As they hug yet again, Albert notices that Sylvia is freezing and runs off to get her a blanket. He also grabs some food for her. What a gentleman. He gives her a kiss before he leaves again to get eloping supplies. As he leaves, Sylvia says I love you again. Man, Caroline totally called the superficial nature of this relationship, didn’t she? Albert rides away and rejoins his father and Mr. Webb. He lies about not finding Sylvia. Mr. Webb decides to check back at home, Charles is going to check the farms in town while Albert volunteers to check with the businesses in town. They agree to meet up at the Olesons’.

Albert’s first stop is the livery stable, but no one is in. Albert realizes he has an opportunity and begins to rummage through Hartwig’s desk. He pulls out a cashbox and grabs some money along with a piece of paper. He starts to write a note to Hartwig but before he can reach the verb of his first sentence Hartwig enters the room. Mr. Hartwig sees what’s going on and accuses Albert of stealing. Albert tries to defend it as a prematurely approved loan, but Hartwig still calls it stealing. Albert goes on about how badly he needs the money, but when Hartwig asks what for, Albert says he can’t say. Hartwig starts to drag Albert away so he can tell Charles what is going down, but Albert decides to spill the beans instead. He tells Hartwig everything: the marriage plans, that Sylvia is at the old Atkins place, the fact that Albert was going to ask for an advance instead of pursuing the prematurely approved loan. Hartwig isn’t sure he wants to be an accessory to whatever Albert has planned, but the kid convinces him that no one will ever know his involvement. Hartwig agrees and offers to saddle and feed Albert’s horse and provide another horse as well. That’s...awfully generous for someone who just seconds ago didn’t want a part of what was going down. Albert is grateful as he leaves the stable to gather supplies back at the homestead.

Sylvia 8/10

A thunderstorm is brewing as the Ingalls sit down for dinner. Charles is looking forward to the rain as there has been a bit of a drought recently. Albert is falling asleep at the table, either because of the dullness of the conversation or because of all the work he has been doing the last couple of days. “Pa, how old was grandpa when he got married?” Albert asks. Pa thinks about it for a second before Ma interjects that he was fourteen. Pa agrees with that answer, though he doesn’t seem to be picking up what Albert is laying down. Caroline seems to have read between the lines and looks none too pleased with where this conversation is headed. “Charles, can we talk about it later?” she asks, but he wants to talk about it now, oblivious to what the actual subject is. Albert drops the bomb about getting married and Charles does not take it well. Caroline asks to delay the conversation again, but Pa is riled up at this point. “You’re not going to become a doctor working at a livery stable, ya know.” Albert whines that he doesn’t have to be a doctor. This does not end the argument.

After he sends Carrie to her room, Pa asks Albert if he really thinks Mr. Webb would allow Sylvia to marry Albert. “Yes, I do,” asserts Albert. I suppose if you operate under the theory that Mr. Webb has been acting rather irrationally of late then, yes, he probably would consent to this marriage proposal. I don’t think that’s the smartest course of action for anyone at this point. “Just what makes you think that?” demands Pa. “Because,” starts Albert, pausing as he completes the thought, “I’m going to tell him I’m the baby’s father.” Ma and Pa let the words sink in a bit before Pa asks if what Albert says is true. “No, but I might as well be,” replies Albert. Since he loves Sylvia, and the baby is part of Sylvia, he would be able to love the baby as if it were his own. “It’s not the same,” says Pa. “Then you lied to me,” Albert responds. “I’m not your son either, but you told me you love me just the same.” I guess you can be a lawyer if you work at the livery stable. This stops Charles dead in his tracks, so he goes into the kitchen and asks his wife to talk some sense into the boy. “A boy your age has no idea,” she begins, but Albert cuts her off. “Ma, please don’t tell me I’m too young to know how I feel,” he whines. Caroline gets that look in her eye that she had when she dealt with Mrs. Oleson earlier. She warns Albert not to raise his voice like that again. Dude, do not mess with Caroline Ingalls. That’s all I’m saying.

Ma’s sweetness face returns as she tries to explain the caveats of love. She focuses on how love is big at the beginning, when it is easiest to ignore or push away all the glitches and imperfections and problems that real life has to offer. “Facing those problems can be painful,” she points out. Basically, love is denial. Albert is in denial about this assertion. Caroline realizes she still isn’t getting through to Albert, so she tries a different approach. “How does Sylvia feel about the baby? Have you asked her?” Albert hasn’t. “The child,” continues Caroline, “was not conceived in love. It was a brutal thing. It won’t be easy for the girl to forget.” The two of them hug.

As Pa walks back from the kitchen to watch this scene unfold, Mr. Webb barges through the front door with his shotgun in his hands. He demands to know where his daughter is. “How dare you come in my house with a gun?” demands Charles. Webb says he’ll leave once he gets the truth out of Albert. Charles doesn’t take kindly to this and lunges for Webb, knocking him to the ground outside. Albert grabs the gun as he watches his father punch Webb across the face to calm him down. “Albert,” Pa yells, “tell him the truth! Tell him the truth, NOW!” Albert takes a moment then says he is NOT the father. “Swear it,” Webb calls out, “swear it to God.” Apparently that holds a lot more weight back in 1870 then it does now. I remember in first grade the class trouble maker always saying “honest to God” whenever he got busted. And he got busted a lot. Webb believes Albert and collapses into Pa. Pa tells Albert to hitch up the team so they can take Mr. Webb home.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sylvia 7/10

Albert runs through the wilderness towards Sylvia’s house and knocks on her window. For whatever reason, he’s wearing a stupid looking hat that he promptly removes once inside. Is it props or costumes that should receive my sarcastic “thanks”? Anyway, the two lovebirds embrace as Sylvia apologizes about breaking their date. Papa Webb has Sylvia under house arrest and she is now afraid of her father. Albert has a plan though. Apparently Pa said it was okay for Albert to get a job so that he can save up some money and marry Sylvia. Somehow, I think only the part about the job came out of Pa’s mouth. Even Sylvia is like “What?” when she hears this. Y’know, when even your fiancée is skeptical about your marriage plans it might be a good idea to take a step back, Albert. He says if anyone stands in their way they can just run off and do what they want. “Albert,” Sylvia starts, “I wish we could but we can’t. We’re too young.” How can someone so practical have such a bad rep in town? “Why? Why are we too young?” Albert asks. Asked and answered, small fry. He promises Sylvia that he can do this and wants the opportunity to prove it to her. Now I know why he has the hat – the kid is in over his head.

The phone rings and Sylvia answers. It is her father checking in and letting her know that the farm has been sold. They now have tickets to get out of town on Saturday. “I don’t want to leave you,” she cries as she embraces Albert again. “You won’t,” he replies. “I’ll think of something.”

Later on, Albert runs over to Mr. Hartwig’s shop to see if there is work available. Mr. Hartwig is reluctant since Albert is still in school, but Albert makes the hard sell. Turns out that since Hartwig bought the Webb farm he could use someone to keep an eye on the shop. He decides to hire Albert on a trial basis with the promise of steady work if the kid makes it through probation. The kid’s first task is to bring over a mare for shoeing.

Mr. Webb returns home that evening and recaps the day’s events for Sylvia. She asks where they will be going and the answer is California. “It’s so far away,” she whines. “Far enough, I hope,” replies her father. Hector reminds his daughter that it’s her shame that he is trying to hide. That’s just…ugh. I don’t have the words anymore. As he washes his hands, he looks over towards the doorway, throws down his towel and marches over to pick up the hat that Albert left behind. “I warned you what I would do!” he bellows to his daughter. I’m fully expecting him to smack her or do something else equally horrific, but instead he marches over to the cupboard to grab his gun. Sylvia begs her father to stop, saying that Albert was only there for a couple of minutes to see how she was doing. “Believe me for once,” she begs. “How can I believe a whore?” her father demands. Wow...that’s Somehow smacking her seems almost less disgusting, though I would have preferred that neither interaction took place. Sylvia cannot believe what her father just said, backs away and runs out the door. Mr. Webb finishes loading his shotgun.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sylvia 6/10

1981 – Albert secretly plans to marry Sylvia to prevent her father from taking her to another state.

Part Two of this episode starts out in front of the school. Albert drops off his stuff at the base of the steps and says hi to Marcy. She takes one look at him then runs off. Before he can start moping about his lack of luck with the ladies, Laura comes out and asks her brother to come inside. “What’s going on with everybody?” Albert asks. Laura breaks the news that Willie has been talking. Surprise! Mrs. Oleson listened in on Doc Baker’s phone call with Mr. Webb. Now word is traveling around that Albert is the father. Even they are surprised that Mrs. Oleson would stoop that low. Albert grits his teeth saying “If they want to believe it, they can believe it,” and he storms out of the school. Not the best exit line, but at least I’m getting his vibe.

Laura chases after Albert but he asks her to let him go. She agrees and he walks over to where Willie is chatting with some other boys. “You’ve been saying stuff about me,” Albert says. “Only the truth,” Willie replies, “my mother told me.” “Lord knows your mother wouldn’t lie,” Albert sneers. “So it’s true about you and trampy Sylvia?” Willie asks to the laughter of those gathered. “Yes it’s true, and she’s not a tramp.” Albert then slugs Willie across the face, again. I’m not going to lie; I do find those punches to be strangely cathartic. Anyway, Albert runs off while Willie complains about his bloody nose.

We catch up with Ma and Pa at the homestead after Albert has gone to bed. They are pretty shocked about the day’s events and that people can be so cruel. I find that to be a tad naïve. I mean, they’ve lived in Walnut Grove for how many years now and they still don’t know how horrible Mrs. Oleson can be? You may not approve of her behavior, I certainly don’t, but she is pretty consistent and shock no longer seems like an appropriate response. Back to the story, Albert told Pa that he didn’t want to go to school anymore. Ma doesn’t really like the sound of home schooling, but Pa says it would only be temporary. She agrees then she starts talking about what she would like to do to Mrs. Oleson. Now we're talking. Pa is the only one who seems to be naïve in this situation. Good for you, Caroline. She decides to go for a walk to calm down.

The next day we see Sylvia walking past the well at her house. Oh dear, this is all shot from the perspective of someone watching her from a shack or a barn and it is obvious that she doesn’t see the watcher. She goes to the barrels alongside the building and whoever is watching is walking up to her. Sylvia is completely oblivious to the fact that someone is approaching. A hand reaches out and touches her shoulder. “No!” she cries and she runs away. Albert is there and calls out to her as she runs off. Asshole. Not Albert but Michael Landon who wrote this episode. She turns around and sees that it is Albert and not a mime from Hell. Albert tells her it’s alright and she hugs him. “I thought it was him,” she sobs. Albert has no idea who she is referring to, and she tells him about the man in the mask. “Don’t be afraid,” Albert tells her, “I love you.” Aww.

Mrs. Oleson goes into the restaurant all chipper and shrill as if she didn’t destroy the life of some 14 year old girl who has done nothing objectionable. Seriously, Sylvia is nice, the way that oatmeal is nice, and I still cannot wrap my brain around why all the adults in town think she’s the bad seed. Harriet goes into the kitchen where Caroline is kneading some dough. Willie told his mom what happened and Harriet wanted to offer the most insincere apology possible to Caroline. How considerate. “He was only repeating what he heard from his mother,” Caroline seethes as she works the dough. Harriet objects to the implicit accusation. “I never ever called that girl a tramp,” claims Mrs. Oleson. I don’t doubt that; I think she used far more offensive terminology. Caroline cuts off Harriet: “All you did was listen in on a private telephone conversation, add a few lies of your own, and spread it all over Hiro Township.” Mrs. Oleson is pretty steamed at this point and aggressively goes through a sack of baby clothes she brought over for Sylvia. “We don’t need your charity,” Caroline states. “Don’t be ridiculous!” Harriet snaps. Caroline stops kneading and asks her to leave. Instead of reading the room, Harriet decides to go into a self-righteous rant about how Caroline will be that baby’s grandmother. Caroline’s response: slapping the dough smack dab in the middle of Mrs. Oleson’s hateful face. Dude! Awesome! Ten points! Caroline walks out, telling Nellie she’ll be back in an hour and that Harriet better be gone. I think she’s going to get a tattoo or something else equally badass.

Albert and Sylvia are sitting on a log in the woods. Albert doesn’t understand why Mr. Webb hates him or how he can blame Sylvia for what happened. Sylvia wishes she could run away and be with Albert. Albert kisses her and you can see that some wheels are turning in his mind. Sylvia says she needs to go but agrees to meet up with Albert the next day. They exchange “I love yous” and finalize their meeting plans.

Sylvia is working the stove as her father shows Mr. Hartwig the house. The price is 1500 (man, he got hit hard by the housing crisis) and Hartwig wants some time to think about it. Webb is eager to sell, so he tells Hartwig that if another offer comes up he is going to take it. “Again,” Hartwig says, “I’m sorry that you have to go.” He says goodbye. Mr. Webb washes up and notices mud on Sylvia’s shoes. He asks if she went somewhere today and Sylvia lies that she was home all day. He points out the mud and she says she just took a walk. “Don’t you lie to me,” he bellows as he grabs his pregnant daughter by the throat. “If I see you with anyone I’ll kill ‘em, you understand?” Sylvia nods, still in her father’s grip.

“I’m gonna ask you a question and you give me an honest answer,” asks Pa of Albert. Geez, there is a lot going on in this first act. Pa wants to know if Albert is seeing Sylvia. Albert says he has and Pa asks about the wisdom of that choice. Albert thinks he’s in the right and that everyone else can suck it, but he states that more in the way a kid his age would back in those days – politely. He tells Pa that he loves Sylvia, to which Pa responds “Do you think you’re old enough to know what love is?” Albert says yes, since he loves his Pa. Whoa. Not the same thing, kiddo. At least, it better not be. They say good night and go to bed. Separately.