Friday, May 8, 2009

I'll Be Waving as You Drive Away 5/10

It looks like the bed has been moved downstairs from the loft since Laura is making the bed in the common area as Mary sits in the rocker. Laura asks if she can get Mary something, but Mary curtly says no. Laura lists a couple beverage options, but Mary is all "I told you no." Jeez, I don't want to sit next to her on my next flight. Mary is just staring off with an angry look on her face. Laura tries a new tact by telling her sister that she just ironed a dress and she can help Mary change. This just angers the girl even more as she yells "no." Laura desperately wants to interact with Mary, so she offers to brush her hair. Mary says she can do that, causing Laura to say "well, you haven't. It needs it." To be fair, Laura isn't catty when she says it, but I still think it's funny. Mary isn't laughing and says she doesn't need to brush her hair since no one is going to come by to see her. Not with that attitude.

Caroline comes in and greets the girls cheerfully, but Laura silently shakes her head to let her Ma know that now is not smiles time. As Caroline hangs up her bonnet she announces that she'll start making lunch. Mary says she isn't hungry causing Laura to give up on interacting. Laura tells Ma that she can rejoin Carrie at school and eat lunch there. Wait, Laura has to miss school to be caretaker? Where's Pa? It's not like he's working now.

Anyway, Laura leaves and Caroline decides to have a sit down with Mary. Ma tells Mary about the conversation with Doc Baker and the school for the blind. Mary is in pity party mode and is not all that receptive to the whole school idea. She asks if the school can make her a teacher -- not in the "can I finish my degree in three years?" way, more like the "how can I play Chopin with stumps for hands?" way. Caroline tries to negotiate with Mary, but the girl is dead set on shutting her Ma down. This is when Caroline drops the bomb about shipping off Mary. "You just want to get me out from under foot," Mary accuses. Caroline denies this, though she it should be noted she hesitated a second before saying so. Mary starts to cry that she doesn't want to get sent away and having complete strangers feeling sorry for her. You know, based on her life before the blindness, I thought Mary enjoyed having people feel sorry for her. Maybe it's the fact that it's strangers that makes it a turn-off. Whatevs.

Caroline tries to make the point that Mary can't spend her life sitting in a rocking chair. Mary screams back "why not?!" and Caroline gets that look on her face that says "I will cut you". Mary restarts the pity party and starts to talk about the darkness again. When Ma doesn't respond right away, Mary figures out that her parents have already started the enrollment process. Caroline confirms this and gets up to make lunch.

Meanwhile, over at the livery, Laura is chatting up Seth. He admits that he hasn't visited the Ingalls' place for a while but it isn't because of the blindness. Laura asks for the real reason and he says it's because he wouldn't know what to say. The audio is really weird here, like Laura is yelling into a tin can while stressing the wrong syllables. She tells him that Mary needs him more than ever and then starts to weep. "I love my sister," she wails, "I thought that you did too!" Laura runs off. Apparently she's over the whole jilted thing. Either that or she is trying to set herself up for a rebound down the road.

Back at the house, Mary is napping on the new bed when Caroline comes in and announces that Mary has a visitor. Mary sits up as Seth enters and Ma excuses herself. They start with some small talk that usually follows a one-night stand, complete with half-truths of how fabulous life has been since they last encountered each other. Mary lies about how excited she is about going to school in Iowa and suspects that the whole town has blown the whole blindness thing out of proportion. Come to think of it, we haven't heard from Harriet in a long while. As Mary prattles on, Seth just looks at her with sadness and pity. He doesn't say anything, so Mary stands up and tries to offer him a polite exit. She tries to walk over to where Seth is standing, but a chair is in Mary's path and she stumbles. Seth catches her, but she starts to spazz out. She yells at him to leave her alone and Seth quickly makes his exit. Mary Ingalls sucks at gratitude. And flirting.

A few days later, a wagon has been set up in front of the homestead. Pa guides Mary outside and lifts her into the wagon. Caroline, Carrie and Laura are watching as the final arrangements are made. Caroline tries to reassure her daughter that it is a nice day for traveling, but Mary isn't all that interested. Caroline says they love her while Laura tells her sister to hurry back. Mary says bye as her sisters hug. Caroline and Charles hug and ask each other if they are doing the right thing. Charles hops onto the buckboard and they set off for the train station. None of the Ingalls appear to be waving as Mary drives away.

A post-production (as in after the series was off the air) graphic reads "To be continued".

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I'll Be Waving as You Drive Away 4/10

Seth is back in town and runs up the hill to the mill. Mr. Garvey is there closing up shop along with everyone else in town. Seth has been in Sleepy Eye the last few weeks so he didn't know how bad things have gotten in Walnut Grove since the railroad strike began. He asks about Mr. Ingalls and Jonathan tells him that he hasn't been in town much recently. Seth wanted to tell Charles about the new livery he opened with his Pa in Sleepy Eye. Speaking of "sleepy eyes", Mr. Garvey decides to break the news about Mary. At first Seth thought he was just referring to her eyestrain, but he looks stunned when Jonathan tells him that Mary is losing her sight. Once Seth processes the news, he runs down the hill.

Later on, Jonathan rides to the Ingalls Tree of Contemplation where he finds Charles, well, contemplating. He lets Charles know that the mill has been shuttered so he won't need to make an extra trip into town. Charles mumbles his thanks and continues to stare down the tree. Mr. Garvey offers to help Charles with anything he might need, but Mr. Ingalls says he doesn't need anything. He goes on to say that if he heard the news about the financial devastation of Walnut Grove a few weeks ago he would have been hopping mad. Instead, it's the least of his problems and he wonders how important those sort of problems actually are. I...guess that's optimism? Silver lining? Sunshine on a rainy day? Jonathan isn't sure how to respond, so he just repeats his offer of helping Charles out if he ever needs it. Charles again says he doesn't need anything and gets up to leave. Jonathan just watches as Charles walks away.

It's breakfast time at the Ingalls house. Laura and Carrie are clearing the table as Pa drinks coffee. Caroline walks in from the bedroom, presumably having just nursed the baby. She takes a seat in the rocking chair and things seem rather idyllic. That is until Mary starts screaming for Pa from up in the loft. All the females freeze in place as Pa races up the ladder. Mary is freaking out, screaming about not being able to see. I could not imagine how terrifying that would be. I mean, my eyes are pretty bad but it's just blurriness instead of darkness. Mary starts screaming about not being able to breathe, so I imagine what she is experiencing is not unlike waking up in a coffin already buried. Unenviable, to say the least. We see Caroline listening to the commotion and looking absolutely mortified. Charles tries to calm his daughter down, but I'm guessing that is going to take a long while.

Some time later, either that day or a couple of days, Caroline pays a visit to Doc Baker. She confides in him that she is at a complete loss in terms of what to do. Mary believes that she is now a burden to her family despite what others say. Doc thinks Caroline may be doing too much in this situation and that Mary will need to learn to cope with her disability and learn how to fend for herself. Charles is in the office also and says that Mary needs their help. Doc Baker disagrees, saying that if they try to take care of everything Mary may just end up as a shut-in. He advises the Ingalls to enroll Mary in a school for the blind. The closest one is in Iowa, which isn't that close when you live in Minnesota in the 1870's. Caroline poo-poos the idea, but Doc Baker says that Mary is living in fear and resentment and the only thing that will help her is proper training. Caroline looks at her husband. Charles ponders for a moment before agreeing with Doc Baker. He asks the doctor to make the arrangements. Caroline looks really sad, but Doc Baker assures her that this is for the best.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'll Be Waving as You Drive Away 3/10

Night has fallen and Charles is out in the barn sanding a piece of wood (not a euphemism). Caroline walks in and says she wanted to come out and be lazy with her husband. He claims he is refinishing a cupboard door, but Caroline busts him saying the door doesn't need refinishing. Charles stops and mumbles "It's been three weeks -- she's getting worse, isn't she?" Caroline sighs and affirms.

We then hear some glass breaking and Laura screaming "Fire!" Charles and Caroline run into the house where one of the chairs is up in flames. Pa tells Ma to get a blanket, tells Laura not to throw water on the blaze and then grabs the chair and takes it out the front door. Caroline smothers the fire with the blanket as all three Ingalls girls stand by watching silently. Once the fire is out, Mary apologizes and Pa says there was no harm done. He asks what happened and Mary says she was trying to read but it was so dark that she went to get another lamp and she dropped it. You know, Mary is a bit of a fire bug. Caroline is comprehending the gravity of what is happening to her daughter, but she tries to play it off as Mary overworking herself. She offers Mary a cool cloth to help rest her eyes, but Mary decides to go to bed instead. Pa is listening and looks miserable. Wait a minute -- I don't think they've told Mary yet. Dude, it's been three weeks! Mary apologizes again before heading up to the loft. Caroline asks Laura to get a mop, but Half-Pint is not amused. "Me again? Mary gets to do anything she wants and I have to do all the work?" Sorry Laura: Mary's raw deal outweighs your raw deal. Charles yells at Laura to get the mop and she runs out of the house to retrieve it. Caroline sends Carrie to bed before rejoining Charles at the back window. He decides that they need to tell Mary the truth. Ya think? Caroline offers to do it, but Charles decides that he'll do it tomorrow.

Charles decides to head over to the church for some contemplation. It must be Saturday since Reverend Alden is there setting up the room for services the following morning. The Reverend takes a seat next to Charles and informs him that Doc Baker told him what is going on. I haven't really touched on this yet, but Doc Baker rarely takes patient privilege into account, like, ever. It's not like he blabs the news all over town, but even passing the news on to someone who also has a privilege relationship (religious privilege in this case) is still a breach. Charles doesn't seem as concerned about this as I am as he just sits there while the Reverend offers help. Charles asks "why doesn't God listen?" The Reverend replies that God always answers prayers, just not the way that we would want them answered. In other words, all of the operators are with other customers at the moment and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received. I would not want to work at that switchboard. Anyway, the Reverend assures Charles that God has the best intentions with what he is doing, though Charles can't understand why taking away the sight of a fifteen-year-old seems like a good idea. Reverend Alden believes that Mary was chosen for some special purpose. Charles says he has to tell his daughter that she is going blind and that an undefined "special purpose" is not the most effective spin on the situation. The Reverend takes several moments to think about it, but Charles gets up and leaves before he can respond.

The next day, Mary is sitting by a stream reading a book with her reading glass. Ah yes, using a magnifying glass on a book when the sun is beaming down on you. Fire bug. Charles takes a seat next to his daughter and she puts the glass and book down before any of the pages begin to smolder. Mary notices that something is bothering her Pa and she asks if he is worried about the railroad strike. They talk a bit about the economic meltdown of Hero Township, but it becomes clear to Mary that her Pa is bothered about something else. Charles' voice starts to waver as he explains what the scarlet fever did to Mary's eyes. She asks if things will get better, but he finally breaks it to his daughter that she will eventually go blind. It should come as no surprise that Mary does not take the news well. I think the scarlet fever may have affected her tear ducts as well because her crying is really not all that convincing. Eventually Mary runs off as Pa absorbs what just happened.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I'll Be Waving as You Drive Away 2/10

The next morning, Charles arrives at the mill where Jonathan and Mr. Hanson seem a little despondent. Charles asks what the problem is and Mr. Hanson reports that the railroads are starting a war with the grangers. The trains are refusing to carry grain and not making any stops in Hero Township, which is bad news if you run a feed and seed business. Or a mercantile. Or a...well, I guess that's all the industry in Walnut Grove at this point. "You can't beat the railroads unless they want you to beat 'em," Mr. Hanson says in disgust. I think that was the third place entry in the Trustbuster Slogan contest, right after "Give 'em Hell, Tarbell" and "Colbert".

After dinner at the homestead, Charles is pacing while reading the newspaper. He rehashes the story for Caroline who asks if what the railroad is doing is legal. Charles gives the most accurate answer: "Legal or not, they're doing it." He says the grange is going to sue the railroad, which kicks Caroline's optimism into high gear. As they chat, Mary is trying to read a book with her nose about two inches from the table. Charles pushes the lamp towards her, but it doesn't help all that much. After Ma and Pa finish their conversation, he notices that Mary is still struggling with the book. She blames her trouble on shadows on the pages. Caroline asks if those are the new glasses and Mary says they are but not much better than her old ones. Charles says he thought they were okay and Mary says they first. Caroline rolls her eyes that a new prescription would be that far off, but Charles says that Mary can go back to the eye doctor and get this resolved. A baby starts crying and Caroline goes to check on it.

At Doctor Burke's office, the eye doctor is taking an even closer look at Mary's eyes. He casually mentions that he had a sore throat last week, so it is a good thing Mary didn't come in. I didn't realize awkward conversation during an eye exam was a time-honored tradition. He clears his throat a couple of times as he looks at Mary's file. He asks if she has had any bad illnesses recently. "I had an operation once," she replies. "It was awful. Worse than when I had scarlet fever." This causes the doctor to perk up. Apparently the scarlet fever didn't make it onto the chart. Mary Ingalls sucks at providing thorough medical histories. She asks about her eyes and Doctor Burke hems and haws a bit before asking Mary to fetch her Pa.

Mary waits in the lobby as Charles enters the office. He takes a seat as Burke semi-admonishes Charles about holding back on the scarlet fever info. The doctor asks how bad it was and Pa is like "uh, scarlet-y? How bad does it have to be?" Burke informs Charles that the fever damaged Mary's nerves in the eye to the point that they won't recover. In fact, Mary is going blind. Charles is understandably stunned by the news. The doc also informs Pa that there is no treatment or medicine available. Charles tries to cling to some form of hope that something can be done, but Burke says it will have to be a miracle and he is fresh out of them. With hope no longer an option, Charles begins to cling to denial. He proposes that it is just extreme eye strain, but Burke shoots him down saying that rest may only delay the inevitable. Charles starts to sob as Burke continues to explain the reality of the situation. The doctor then heads to the desk to retrieve a reading glass that might be useful for the time being.

After Charles composes himself, he tells the doctor "you're wrong" and heads out the door. He paints a smile on his face as he rejoins his daughter. Mary asks what the doctor said and Charles replies "nothing important." Uh, there are times when it is okay to tell your kid a little white lie but I really don't think impending blindness qualifies as one of them. She asks about new glasses and Pa tries to sell her on the reading glass. Mary looks a little baffled at this solution. Meanwhile, Doctor Burke walks into frame and I'm waiting for him to admonish Charles for not being at all truthful in this conversation. Charles and Mary leave before the doctor can say anything.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I'll Be Waving as You Drive Away 1/10

This episode opens with what I like to call "The Next Item Up for Bids" music. You know, the slightly up-tempo version of the main theme song that could also be used while describing a dinette set. Anyway, it is before school and the kids are playing outside. Nellie is reading on the front steps as Mary walks up and comments that Mrs. Simms (nee Miss Beadle) hasn't arrived yet. Mary decides that she should ring the bell, which annoys Nellie. Mary claims that she was instructed to assemble the class if Mrs. Simms was ever late. This claim is challenged by Nellie but Mary rings the bell anyway. As the kids walk towards the school a rather large child with the same hairdo as Mrs. Oleson starts running towards the building. Oh, it is Mrs. Oleson. She lets the kids know that Mrs. Simms kid has come down with the measles, so there won't be any school for two weeks. Harriet is really excited about this news, almost as much as the kids, which is weird considering she is usually the one in charge of the school board. Ah well, some things never change.

We're now over at a pond where a boy is fishing. Laura walks over to do some fishing herself and the boy invites her over for a sit-down. He's your run of the mill flirty Gertie, calling Laura "Brown Eyes" instantly. Two things to note: He is probably about 17 (Laura is about 11 or 12) and she is instantly googly-eyed. I think Laura just has a thing for older men. As he sets up Laura's line the boy introduces himself as Seth Barton. Laura giggles and tells him her name. Laura also mentions that she lives just down the road so she uses the fishing hole a lot. "I always knew I'd have good luck at this fishin' hole," he says. He's coming on a little strong but he is a cutie it, girl.

Later on, Seth and Googly-eyes walk back to the Ingalls homestead. Laura invites her new friend inside, but he politely declines. Meanwhile, Mary is coming out of the henhouse and he takes notice. Laura calls over to her sister and she introduces her to Seth. Uh oh -- there are smitty kitties all over this city. Laura isn't quite aware of this yet, so she invites Seth to go fishing tomorrow. He says he has to work. Mary asks where he works. He says the livery and tells Mary that he gets off work early if she would like to hang out. Mary says she'd like that as the smile fades from Laura's face. They decide on three o'clock and Seth pats "Brown Eyes" on the head before he leaves.

At dinner, Pa asks if the girls have any special plans now that they have a two week vacation in front of them. Mary reports that Mrs. Simms gave her a bunch of books to read. I would not be surprised if Mary has a "Strike Preparedness Kit" tucked away in the loft. Pa asks if Laura has any special projects lined up, to which she replies "not anymore." Ma asks what she means by that, which reminds Mary to tell Pa about the new boy in town. Mary Ingalls sucks at subtlety. Laura accuses Mary of stealing Seth which totally catches the elder daughter off guard. Laura formally declares dibs but Mary suggests that he may be a bit old for the younger girl. Both Ma and Pa are intrigued about who this kid is if it is causing these two to get all Flavor of Love on each other. Mary starts to rub her eyes as if this conversation is giving her a headache. Ma asks what's wrong and Mary says her eyes are a little tired. Pa remembers that she is due for an eye exam soon and that this seems like as good a time as any to get that task done. I agree -- I need to get that on my calendar at some point. Thanks, Charles!

The next day, Seth and Mary are either playing tag, kiss/chase, or tackle football. There is much giggling. Later on that day, Laura sees Seth at the livery. She runs over to say hi and he asks her to give a message to Mary. He is going to be a little late for their meetup that evening, which surprises Laura. "Are you going to see her her again today?" she asks. "Don't it get boring?" I don't know why, but I find that really funny. Anyway, Seth thanks Laura and pats her on the head again. Laura patronizes the patronizing she just received and kicks the fence post as she walks by. She kicked a little too hard and starts to limp for a couple of steps.

Over at the optometrist, we see a close-up of Mary's eye through a mirror. The doctor is looking through some elaborate Clockwork Orange gadget and then declares his work finished. Mary asks if her eyes are alright and he tells her that all he could notice was a little eye strain. The doctor invites Pa into the office for the remainder of the consultation. The doc suggests that Mary wear her glasses for more than just reading for a little while. He reiterates the eye strain and cautions Mary that she may be working too hard. Mary is then escorted to the lens evaluation apparatus for her prescription update. Either my optometrist is really old fashioned or the technology has not had a major update since 1880. We zoom in on Mary's eyes as she tries to read the eyechart. She's squinting. Mary Ingalls sucks at eye exams.

That evening Seth and Mary are leaving the Ingalls homestead. I guess Seth came over for dinner, or at least had a nice chat with Ma and Pa. He says goodnight to everyone and Mary offers to walk him to the end of the driveway. They hold hands. Aww. Charles lingers a bit to supervise, but Caroline drags him inside. The two young lovebirds chat a bit about the Seth/Ingalls Mutual Admiration Society, but he brings up that Laura might not be a member. Mary says Laura may like him too much, which causes him to go "ooo" as in "oops". And then they make out. I know! Laura is watching this whole scene unfold from the loft window. She goes over to the bed, says "I hate you Mary Ingalls!" as she throws a pillow to the ground. Oh, honey.