Friday, April 17, 2009

Next Week's Episode

My Ellen


1977 - A greiving mother who blames Laura for her child's drowning holds the girl hostage.

Bully Boys 5/5

Caroline pours some water from the kettle into a bowl to aid in cleaning Charles’ wounds. Doc Baker tells Charles to stay in bed until at least Sunday because he has at least three bruised ribs. Ouch. Mr. Edwards advises Charles to bring a two-by-four the next time he deals with roughnecks. There’s a knock at the door and Caroline goes to answer it. It’s Reverend Alden. He asks Doc if Charles will be alright and he replies, rather testily, that he’ll mend. I’m thinking someone got pulled out of his golf game to tend to the wounded. Anyway, Reverend Alden apologizes for what happened, but Charles isn’t interested. He accuses the Reverend of butting in and using soft words to try to appease the Galenders instead of addressing the problems the town is having with the newbies. Reverend Alden’s response: “Faced with violence, they reacted with violence.” Mr. Edwards calls bullshit on that, since Caroline was the one who was attacked first, albeit not as violently.

And then Reverend Alden has the chutzpah to ask if she perhaps misinterpreted the Galenders’ actions. This really irks Charles and warns the Reverend that today was just a sample of whatever shenanigans the Galenders have in store. The Reverend continues to defend the Galenders saying the Ingalls don’t understand the situation. Even assuming that their situation is real, Reverend, I fail to see how groping Caroline helps out the Galenders’ sick mother. Charles tells the Reverend to stop with the sermon that there is good in all people. Caroline is watching this like a tennis match, her eyes going back and forth between the Reverend and Charles. The Reverend pauses before telling Charles that he cannot approve of what happened today. Charles leaves the room and Reverend Alden leaves the house soon after. Mr. Edwards follows Charles and tells him “don’t you worry about a thing, Charles. I’ll get me a plow handle and by the time I’m done with them Galenders they’ll be too sore to wear their hats.” Uh, thanks? Charles tells his friend to stay out of it. As Mr. Edwards leaves, we see Laura and Mary sitting at the edge of the loft listening to everything that just transpired.

The next day, the Reverend rides out to the shack to speak with the Galenders. Bubba is outside splitting wood. He tells the preacher that his brothers aren’t home. “I see,” replies Reverend Alden. “Have they received any word about your mother?” he asks. This stops Bubba, who says that she hasn’t spoken to them in years. He asks how he knew about her, and the Reverend says they told him about her. This confounds Bubba since she left with some drummer shortly after Bubba was born. How 1960’s of her. Reverend Alden becomes Father Dowling for a moment as he figures out what is going on. Before he leaves, he asks Bubba to remind his brothers that he is looking forward to seeing them at church on Sunday.

School lets out Friday afternoon and the kids head down the steps. Mary, who was towards the front of the crowd, decides this is the best time to take a seat on the front steps. Mary Ingalls sucks at not screwing up traffic. Even Laura has to engage in some weird acrobatics to walk around her sister. Laura tells Mary to hurry up so they can soak their feet in the creek before they do their chores. Sounds like fun. Bubba comes out of the school a few moments later and grabs the writing tablet that Mary set down. Laura tells him to put it back. Bubba puts forth the legal argument of “Finders Keepers” while Nellie files the amicus brief of “Loser’s Weepers”. Mary quietly says “That’s my tablet, Bubba.” He says he doesn’t see her name on it and Nellie chimes in that she saw him find it. Mary seethes that her name is on the front cover and asks again for him to give it back. Bubba interprets this as Mary claiming he can’t read. Mary looks at him before replying through gritted teeth that she is not going to take any more bullying from him. Laura says “me too,” and takes a step closer to the action.

Mary stands up, picks up her pail, and walks up to Bubba. “There comes a time when people have to stand up for what’s right. We’re not backing down to you anymore.” Bubba tries to call her bluff and advises Mary to go talk to her papa to see what Galenders are capable of. Mary’s rebuttal: Swinging her pail across Bubba’s face. Mary Ingalls does not suck at hand-to-hand combat. Good for her. She throws down the pail and tries to get in a couple of hits while he’s on the ground, but Bubba pushes her away. Laura tries to dive in but he is able to push her away as well. Mary tries again, but Bubba is able to overpower her and push her away. Nuts, Mary Ingalls does suck at hand-to-hand combat. As this is happening, all the other girls are silently communicating their solidarity and bum rush Bubba shortly after Mary is pushed aside. Everyone except Nellie gets in on the action.

Later that evening, Pa is enjoying his after dinner pipe outside with Caroline sitting nearby. The girls come out to say good night and Mary apologizes for getting into a fight. Pa says that the fight seemed inevitable, so he’ll let it slide. Laura asks if Reverend Alden would think the girls were wrong, but Charles guesses not since they won. Boosh. Caroline chastises her husband verbally while the bruised ribs chastise him physically. Mary says she learned a lesson: That if you stand together you don’t have to be afraid. That seems to be the bully antidote on this show. Laura starts to reenact the play-by-play, but Caroline warns her that being prideful of a fight isn’t advisable. Laura cuts herself off as she and Mary are sent to bed. Before Laura shuts the front door, Caroline verifies that Mary “socked him a good one”. Atta girl, Caroline.

It’s now Sunday morning and the congregation is arriving at church. Charles notices the Galenders walking up and snidely comments that the “Christians are on their way to church.” Before Charles can get super bitchy, Mr. Edwards walks up and greets the family. There is some milling about inside the church until the Galenders arrive. A hush falls over the crowd and everyone decides to take their seats. The Galenders sit in the front row and Reverend Alden gives them an icy glare. He says he’s going to bypass the hymn and go right to the sermon.

Today’s subject: HELL. Specifically, the concept of Hell serving a purpose in reminding people why they strive to do good things. “I’ve told you there’s good in all people,” starts the Reverend. “But that doesn’t mean that all people lead good lives. There are those who lie, who steal, who abuse those around them.” Sam and George share a glance that says “I know where this is going, but don’t lose your cool yet, bro.” Reverend Alden rehashes the Turn the Other Cheek adage and reminds people that it works 99% of the time. But every so often that 1% happens when the “devil is in our midst” and no nobility will protect you from the devil’s bidding.

George decides that this would be the right place to interject and ask if the Reverend is slurring the Galender name. Reverend Alden steps down from the dais and says that he is doing more than that. He commends the children for teaching the town the lesson it needed to fight against the devil’s work. Sam asks the preacher what he plans to do. “I intend to see you out of this church and out of this community.” Sam scoffs at this and tells Reverend Alden that it looks like he is still standing alone. Reverend Alden then grabs Sam, swings him around and slams him against the wall and Dirty Harry’s an “am I?” George stands up, but Mr. Edwards grabs him and throws him towards a group of men. We see a close up of a roughed up Bubba who is unsure of how to proceed. Sam can tell the game is over and assures the Reverend that they’ll be gone by nightfall. “You’ll go now,” commands Reverend Alden. He deputizes Mr. Edwards to handle the eviction and directs Caroline to lead the ladies in a hymn.

And now: The Walnut Grove Congregation Choir will accompany this afternoon’s eviction with “Onward Christian Soldier”. A-one, a-two, a-you know what to do.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bully Boys 4/5

Caroline runs into the house as Charles chases after her in the wagon. I guess they crossed paths at some point as she ran home. Charles runs in after his wife and asks “what’s the matter?” She tries to shake it off but he still wants to know what’s wrong. Charles notices that Caroline’s skirt is a mess and she tries to regain her composure. He can tell that she has been crying and asks her what happened. Caroline’s eyes well up again when she tells him she broke the eggs. Charles knows that she would not get worked up over something like that and prods her some more. “It was my fault, Charles,” she says. “If I just sold them the eggs like they wanted...” Charles stops her and asks if “them” refers to the Galenders. Caroline then goes on to tell her husband that she couldn’t just walk past them because they grabbed her. You can almost hear the “snap” in Charles’ brain when she tells the story. The old timey music with the “boing boing” takes a minor key as Charles storms out of the house.

The team of horses races over to the Galender shack. Sam and George are splitting wood outside. George is complaining about the task and says that Bubba should be doing the work. As Sam tells his brother to quit griping, he notices a wagon quickly approaching his house. Hmm, Pissed Charles Ingalls versus Two Brothers (One with an Axe). This is going to be awesome. Charles gets out of the wagon and George greets him with the most obnoxious buddy-buddy routine possible. Charles tells them he isn’t there for a social call and follows Sam inside the shack. George stands in the doorway behind Charles. Mr. Ingalls asks who put their hands on Caroline. Sam takes a swig from a canteen before adopting the play dumb route of “was that Mrs. Ingalls?” He continues by saying “you’re a lucky man; she’s a handsome woman. Soft, too.” George takes off his hat and adds, “real soft, you said.”

Charles waits a beat before he grabs a chair that was sitting on top of a table for some reason and swings it behind him, hitting George right over the head. George falls over and Charles closes and locks the door behind him. Sam runs over and grabs Charles, but Mr. Ingalls just starts punching. We see George recovering from his hit as we hear the ruckus from inside the shack. Sam calls for help and the view keeps switching from outside, where George is trying to figure out a way in, and inside where Charles is totally kicking ass. Charles manages to pin Sam to the ground and starts making music on Galender’s face. After the sixth or seventh punch, George kicks in the back door and Charles looks up.

Meanwhile, Mr. Edwards is bumbling around the countryside. He sees the Ingalls’ wagon and team running down the road but there doesn’t appear to be a driver. Mr. Edwards runs over and gets the team to stop. Once stopped, Mr. Edwards hops into the wagon to see what’s going on and notices a heavily beaten Charles. I guess Sam got a second wind.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bully Boys 3/5

It must be Sunday because the school house is filled with Reverend Alden’s congregation. This week’s sermon vague touches on the financial losses and abuse brought on by the Galender clan. The Reverend points out that many hymns talk about “Christian Courage” and that the Bible does not reward cowardice. Blah blah blah “turn the other cheek” blah blah blah Mary’s eye isn’t really looking any better. I think Reverend Alden is picking up the vibe that the congregation isn’t really buying what he’s selling, so he tells them that he will go speak to the Galenders.

At the Galender shack, Bubba slaps down a writing pad and says “You know you’s wrong about that man’s poke.” What? Oh, the math riddle from a couple of days ago. Bubba proudly says that Sam was wrong: it isn’t a dollar and a half but $1.35. Your Brain Age isn’t improving, kid. Sam is completely disinterested and says that someone will take that poke before Bubba finishes adding anyway, so the actual total is irrelevant. There’s a knock at the door and Bubba announces that “it’s a preacher!” the way that someone would say “it’s a zombie!” Sam invites the Reverend in and introduces the rest of the family. Sam tells George to set a place for the preacher because their mother always said “you gotta feed the preacher or you gonna pay the devil”. The Reverend chuckles at this and marvels that Mama Galender must have been a God-fearing woman and segues into asking why the boys have been total jackholes since they’ve arrived in Walnut Grove. Sam and George play dumb and ask the Reverend for clarification. The Reverend mentions the purchases made, running up bills they didn’t offer to pay and the intimidation tactics. The brothers continue to play dumb and innocent and mention that their bank draft is overdue. Although that takes care of the purchases and over-billing issue, Reverend Alden still takes exception at the lumber scam that the Galenders pulled.

Sam waits a beat and asks Bubba to leave the room. Bubba complains but complies. That buys Sam enough time to come up with what is probably a cock-and-bull story about their Ma getting sick right after the lumber purchase. Wow, you can get word about your ailing mother faster than you can get a bank draft from St. Paul? Reverend Alden is far less suspicious than I am and decides that sympathy is the best approach to the situation. He wonders why they didn’t explain the situation to Mr. Hanson and Sam says that he didn’t want Bubba to find out. Reverend Alden agrees to keep mum about their mum as the Galenders apologize for skipping out on Sunday services and promise to be in attendance next week.

Another recess at Walnut Grove K-12. Mary is sulking on the front steps and Miss Beadle walks over to check on her. Mary says she doesn’t feel like playing and runs off. Miss Beadle sighs and shrugs before heading back inside. The soundtrack at this point sounds like the interlude music from the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Meanwhile, Laura and Willie are playing marbles and, judging by Laura’s trash talk, the Oleson boy is losing. As Laura gets ready to shoot, Willie says she is hunching and they agreed to no hunching and knuckles down. I have no idea what they are talking about, but Laura is totally hunched over. Laura fires and hits a marble. Yay? Nellie and Bubba are walking arm-in-arm towards the game. Nellie accuses Laura of cheating and Bubba says he should get in on the game. Laura says no, so Bubba puts his foot on the marbles and says that the game must be over because she’s out of marbles. Mary is watching the argument ensue from the distance and runs over when Bubba pushes her sister to the ground. Mary tells Laura to stop because he’ll just knock her down again. Bubba points to his eye and says “Your sister knows: you’d better listen to her.” Nellie smugly smiles at this and it makes me wish horrible things will befall this terrible twosome. Bubba picks up all the marbles and puts them in his pocket. After he and his girl go to the swing, Laura remarks that Bubba is a bully. That took a little too long to figure out, wouldn’t you agree, Laura?

The older Galendars are napping in a wagon somewhere in town. George looks around and remarks that Walnut Grove is a nice little town. His favorite part: the God-fearing people. He asks Sam if he thinks they’ll let them stay for a while and they both start to laugh. Sam says a man could have everything he wants in this town. George looks off in the distance and says “Just about everything.” Uh oh, it looks like Caroline has caught his eye. She’s walking down the road with a basket of eggs. George remarks that he wants some farm-fresh eggs and I worry that he might be using a euphemism. He climbs out of the wagon and approaches Caroline. He asks if those are fresh eggs, she says they are and tries to continue on her way. George holds her by the arm and she tells him to let go. Sam has joined them and Caroline looks over to the mill to see if Charles is nearby. He isn’t, so she tries to say the eggs aren’t for sale. George calls her bluff and Caroline tries to struggle, knocking the eggs out of the basket in the process. The two brothers get all up in Caroline’s personal space and she screams for them to leave her alone. She manages to run away before things get even sketchier and the Galenders laugh at her.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bully Boys 2/5

Recess! The girls are in a circle playing a game involving bouncing a ball towards one another. I think it might be dodgeball fueled by estrogen instead of testosterone so it's very low key. Bubba is over by the school building observing this game and seems annoyed by what he’s watching. He walks over and grabs the ball and tells the girls how to play the game for realsies. He promptly beans an 8-year-old in the face and she falls like a sack of potatoes. As physical comedy goes that’s gold. The music sting and Laura seem to disagree with this assessment. Laura checks on the girl then walks over to Bubba and tells him that you have to bounce the ball first. “What’s it to you, pee-wee?” he sneers. That’s “Half-pint”, buster. Laura tells him someone could get hurt playing his way and they get into an argument about the merits of whatever “sissy” game is being played. Laura tries to take the ball back, but Bubba knocks her to the ground. Mary runs over to her sister and tries to hold her back from fighting with the boy. Bubba laughs at this but once Mary calms down Laura she heads over to confront the boy. “You’re older and bigger,” she tells him, “that’s why we have rules so the little ones don’t get hurt.” Bubba’s rebuttal: punching Mary across the face. “Well that’s my rule,” he says to Mary as she lies on the ground. Not cool, dude. The bell starts to ring as Mary “Glass Jaw” Ingalls holds her hand to her eye. Bubba also warns Mary not to go “snitchin’” to Miss Beadle.

That evening at the homestead, Charles comes home from work as Caroline and Carrie are exiting the barn. Carrie goes to greet Pa in that robotic way she has and they have an in-depth conversation about milking. Charles apologizes for being late because he had to complete the Galender delivery. As Caroline finishes preparing dinner, Mary is icing her eye up in the loft. She asks Laura if the shiner looks any better, but Laura is too engrossed in her homework to answer. Mary asks Laura not to say anything to Pa. The girls go downstairs for supper. Pa is washing up and asks the girls about their new schoolmate since the older Galenders mentioned their little brother started school. Laura politely mentions that Bubba is not little. Pa agrees since the older boys are quite large and Bubba is about Mary’s age. Pa walks towards his seat and finally notices Mary’s eye. He asks what happen and Mary tries to stay vague by saying she got hit in dodgeball. Pa thinks that is a weird way to get a black eye, but Mary totally plays the “sucks at life” card in order to bypass the real explanation. Caroline is thankful that Mary didn’t have her glasses on at the time of the injury. I agree – Mary could have been blinded by the accident and then how would her life have turned out? Laura asks Pa if he ever had a black eye and he says that he did and that it taught him a lesson: “The only thing worse than one black eye is two black eyes.” They say grace and presumably chow down.

The next day at school Laura and Mary are playing on the teeter-totter. Laura tells her sister that her eye looks much better. As they chat about eye issues, Bubba hops on the fulcrum of the seesaw and stops their activity. Laura says “hey!” but Mary tells her to move along, so they head over to the swing. Nellie walks over to Bubba and compliments him on his trick. She offers Bubba a sour ball for use of the teeter-totter and they begin to form a symbiotic relationship. That’s what it’s called when two parasites feed off each other, right? Willie tries to tag along in this transaction, but Bubba pushes him out of the way. As Nellie seesaws sidesaddle (say that three times fast), Mary and Laura comment unfavorably on what they just observed. Mary points out that, if anything, they’ll both wind up with rotten teeth. Always the optimist.

Meanwhile, over at the Mercantile, Mr. Hanson runs into Mr. Henderson. He asks how things are going and tells his customer that his lumber order should be ready by Tuesday. Henderson sets down his supply bag and tells Hanson that he was headed over to the mill to cancel his order. It turns out he got a better price. Mr. Hanson can’t believe that someone was able to beat his price, but a couple of guys came by the Henderson place that morning and offered a price of $15. You can see the gears turning in Mr. Hanson’s head and he seems to have figured out what happened. There don’t appear to be hard feelings, but Hanson asks Henderson who the sellers were. Galender, you say? There’s a surprise.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bully Boys 1/5

Old timey western music with the “boing boing” sound effect and an establishing shot of a run down shack open up this episode. A man walks out of the shack while putting on his shirt, spits, stretches, and walks over to a barrel of water to wash up. This is the opposite of sexy. “George, Bubba: get a move on” he calls into the house. An older fellow walks out and asks “what’s the hurry, Sam?” That must be George, since Sam says Bubba needs to go to school and the kid who is now in the scene starts to whine. Sam explains that one day the kid “is going to pick up a man’s poke [huh?] and it’s going to have a dollar in it, a quarter, a dime and a nickel and how much are you going to have?” Bubba says he doesn’t know, making his Brain Age 75. For some reason Sam is thrown by this, stammers that it’s a dollar and a half (wrong), and tells Bubba to wash his face. As Bubba cleans up, he asks what he should do about lunch. Sam tells him to find some since someone there will have more than they need. Ugh, Bubba’s going to be that kid that is always asking to borrow a piece a paper AND a pen AND the answers. He runs off and the two older guys decide to head into town.

Mrs. Oleson is getting the Mercantile ready for the day, including sprucing up a crystal punch bowl set. Who besides the Oleson family would want to buy that? Sam and George enter the store and Mrs. Oleson is instantly dubious as she says “good morning”. Sam is eating a pear and Harriet takes notice, letting them know that they are “not inexpensive” at twenty cents a peck. Sam is all “fine, we’ll take a bushel.” This surprises Harriet, but since the guys are planning on spending money she starts to change her tone. After some more formal introductions, Sam tells Harriet that his family is moving into Walnut Grove and they need provisions. Mrs. Oleson’s Spidey Sense is still tingling and she is a bit unwelcoming towards the Galenders and tries to upsell them out of the store. Sam tells her that price isn’t a concern and this charms Harriet.

As this awkward and off-putting transaction is taking place, Nels is riding up to the Mercantile. He walks in carrying a package as George lights up a cigar in the showroom. I’m not sure if this is objectionable to the Olesons but I’m not a fan. Nels greets the two men and his wife and she updates her husband on who these guys are. Nels welcomes them and hopes they like the town. “If everyone is as kind as your wife, I’m sure we will,” says George. Oy, where to begin? Harriet accepts the compliment and then tallies up the Galenders’ bill at over $16. Sam takes a look at the bill and tells the Olesons to charge it to their account. The Olesons balk at this. Nels tries to stammer out an explanation of their credit system but doesn’t get too far before George drops one of the glass decanters from the display table. Harriet’s jaw drops as George tells them, in a semi-menacing way, that the broken glass should go on their bill, too. Sam tells his brother to stop being clumsy then explains to the Olesons that he has a bank draft coming in on Friday that should cover the bill. That sounds rather Wimpy to me, but the Olesons seem to be okay with this arrangement. Now my Spidey Sense is tingling.

Over at the school, Bubba is telling Miss Beadle how to spell his last name. She also asks if Bubba is his given name, which causes the class to laugh before he authoritatively says “That’s right.” Miss Beadle calms the class down and welcomes Bubba to the school. She also explains that there are so few boys in the class at the moment because it is right in the middle of growing season. “All farmers, huh?” Bubba asks with a smirk creeping across his face. He sits down next to Willie, who stares at the new kid a moment before informing him that Bubba is the silliest name he ever heard. Bubba promptly knocks Willie to the ground. The Ingalls girls observe this and do not appear to be amused.

Over at the mill, Charles is loading a wagon with some lumber. The Galenders are walking over and ask Charles if he is Mr. Hanson. Charles calls his boss over to talk with the Galenders about a lumber sale. Sam and George introduce themselves and tell Mr. Hanson they need the lumber to fix up their new place. Hanson tells the guys they’ll need plenty of lumber and the Galenders guestimate that the wagonload that Charles is preparing should be enough. Hanson tells them that Mr. Henderson has already reserved that lumber, but Charles cuts in saying that Henderson isn’t starting his project for a couple of weeks so a new load can be prepped for him by then. George offers to pay an extra $2 for the wagonload, but Hanson says that he is only going to charge $18 since that’s what he is charging Henderson. Sam explains the bank note situation to Hanson, but he agrees to deliver the goods that afternoon. Wimpy!