It’s the day of the circus and Laura is getting ready to make her dress delivery. Caroline takes a look at the finished product and declares it beautiful. I dunno, Michael Kors is going to take one look at that fabric and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t call it “dowdy”. Ma takes a second look and notices that the skirt is basted. Laura! Nina is going to notice and tear you apart. Half-pint is getting “auf’d” tonight, I just know it. Laura assures her Ma that she’ll do the finishing work, but the grin on her face after Caroline leaves suggests otherwise.
There’s a knock on the door of Christie’s bachelorette pad. Laura has arrived with the dress. Christie takes the garment and inspects it. As she holds it up to her body, Christie reminds Laura that she was supposed to have made the delivery by five o’clock. The clock behind Miss Snootypants shows that it is 5:05, therefore she is only going to pay half. Laura is all “bitch, please,” and I have to agree. A five minute delay does not a breach of contract make, particularly a penalty of half the cost. Christie hands Laura some money, telling her it is all she is getting. Laura decides that she can’t accept any money saying that she shouldn’t have been late and that “it would be on my conscience.” Christie is okay with this arrangement, particularly if it has taught Laura a lesson. “My Pa says it’s good for people to learn a lesson once in a while.” As Laura leaves, she turns back and insincerely wishes Christie a wonderful time at the circus.
Nels is sitting on the side of his bed again, looking at his ringmaster notes as the sun sets on Walnut Grove. Harriet comes in and tells him he has five minutes to get ready. He half-heartedly says “yes, dear”, which does not amuse Harriet. She tells him he is going to need a lot more pep for tonight. When that doesn’t cheer her husband up, Mrs. Oleson then reminds him that once the show is over Annabelle and her blood-related past will be gone and no one in the town will be any the wiser. Even so, Annabelle is still Nels’ sister and he reminds his wife of that fact.
Circus time. The band plays as an elephant wearing a bowler hat leads the parade. You know, all of my circus experiences involving elephants also involve copious amounts of elephant poo. Is that really the best animal to lead the parade? We see Almanzo clapping away at the parade as a disinterested Christie tries to put the moves on him. Billy Barty, dressed as clown, gets all up in Grace Ingalls’ face and she instinctively freaks out. Yeah, Caroline will be spending the rest of her evening trying to calm that kid down. Nels comes out to start the show. All that preparation ahead of time didn’t seem to help as he has to read off the names of the events directly from a list.
As Nels attempts to introduce the first act, two clowns start running around. One clown is carrying a large bucket and is chasing the sad clown. Charles is narrating the action for the blind kids, telling them that the clown with the bucket is right in front of them with a bucket of water and is aiming for the sad clown standing in the second row. The bucket clown fires and confetti is thrown all over Roscoe. You know, aside from putting out a fire, I can’t think of a situation where it is ever appropriate to throw a bucket of water or confetti at a blind person. Roscoe doesn’t seem to mind, but the blind kid sitting next to him seems to agree with me as he sullenly wipes the confetti off his person. While some acrobats are performing, a third clown runs over to Christie and presents her with a flower. When she makes eye contact with the clown the flower keels over. Almanzo gets a kick out of this, but Christie just smiles with even more bemused interest than before. Nels returns to the tent and introduces a baby elephant. Grace is still freaking out while Adam and Mary are attempting to get a sense of the action. I wonder if it was in the stage directions that they should be facing in two completely different directions. This is not a blind friendly episode. Almanzo loves every minute of the elephant dance though his date looks like she wants to be anywhere else on the planet. After pointing out that circuses are more intended for children (“Manny” disagrees with that point), she hopes that they don’t have to stay for the whole thing. What other plans did you have in mind there, toots? The whole town is at the circus so nothing is open and sex hasn’t been invented yet. You’re at the only show in town, so you might as well enjoy it.
After the elephant leaves, the clowns return with another bucket. As the chase continues, Caroline asks the Garveys if they happen to know where Laura and Albert are. The clowns start running around Nels and he gets splashed with confetti as he tries to introduce the next act. Everyone gets a kick out of this except for the Raccoon who promptly starts freaking out again. Willie says he wished the bucket had water. Nellie doesn’t like the idea of seeing her father doused while Harriet doesn’t want to see his new suit ruined. “You people” Willie says (a phrase that, unless followed with “are fantastic”, usually will get you into trouble), “you don’t know what’s funny.” The strongman comes out with a barbell labeled “1000 pounds” and holds it above his head. Caroline tries to use the feat of strength to calm down Grace. I don’t she celebrates Festivus, but she could be like me and is only impressed if he can move a semi-truck with his teeth. He does some more tricks as Christie goes into a deeper catatonic state. As the crowd cheers, Billy Barty strikes the set, carrying a couple of the papier-mache weights out of the tent. The strongman chases him out as another clown, obviously a child, carries away the barbell. Somehow, Caroline recognizes the clown as Albert and tells the Garveys and the Olesons.
Manly looks over at his date and she is in her own private hell. He makes a face that seems to say “nuts to you” and goes back to enjoying the show. The confetti clowns are back once more and Charles narrates for the blind kids, adding that he bets it just has confetti again. Nellie is caught up in the drama as the chase ends right in front of Christie and Almanzo. The sad clown makes a taunting face behind Prissypants and the other clown fires. This time the bucket has water and Christie gets soaked. Mary, who is sitting next to Charles, asks what happened. Mary Ingalls sucks at listening to narration. Christie stands up and the bucket clown takes the opportunity to publicly pants her by pulling down the skirt. Christie stomps out of the tent, swinging her purse behind her. The clown laughs, kisses Almanzo, and runs over to Caroline to say “Hi, Ma,” then runs out. I guess Laura can cross all that stuff off her bucket list.
A high wire act does some stuff before Annabelle makes her debut. Nels introduces Annabelle and Company, an act that consists of Annabelle holding onto the high wire from below (her feet are still on the ground) and midgets grabbing her legs. I guess they are trying to hoist her up? I’m not sure of the full scope as we hear Harriet and the kids making more fat jokes. Nels watches as the team of clowns try to help with the hoisting. Harriet remarks on how thankful she is that no one knows that Annabelle is a relative. The act goes on for about thirty more seconds and then Annabelle leaves. Apparently that was the grand finale because the rest of the circus comes out for a curtain call.
Once the circus cast is assembled, Nels quiets everyone down and thanks the show on behalf of Walnut Grove. He thanks them for the thrills and laughter and remarks that it is a wonderful thing to do for people. Nels then goes on to say that he is proud that one of the people in the circus is someone close to his heart. He introduces his sister Annabelle to the crowd. The crowd continues its standing ovation, though Harriet has to sit down as she is horrified that Nels revealed that tidbit. Annabelle joins her brother center stage and they hug.
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