That night Charles is in the barn working on a project of some sort. There’s not much light in this scene but it looks like it might be a wheelchair. Laura comes in dressed in her pajamas. Pa asks her what she is up to and Laura says she wanted to say good night. After they hug, Laura inspects the Pa's project. He confirms that it is a wheelchair that he is fixing up. I hope he does something about the seat back because it is worn through to the point that it is framing Laura in the shot. We can see through the busted wicker that Laura is a little freaked out by the wheelchair concept. “But she doesn’t need a wheelchair,” she claims. Pa pauses before responding, “Half-pint, we don’t know that.” Laura calls no waysies based on the fact that she prays to God every night that Nellie will get better. Pa tries to begin rebutting this point (I would start with “even God has limitations when it comes to Nellie Oleson”) but Laura flat out denies her father. “God’ll fix everything,” Laura says as she inches toward the door with a tear rolling down her face. “You wait and see.” The Melodramatic Piano of the Dentist Office Waiting Room music begins to play as Pa calls out for his daughter.
The next morning Charles ties the chair to Doc Baker’s wagon. They chit chat a bit before Caroline comes outside to greet the Doc. She invites him to the picnic that the Ingalls family will be hosting that afternoon, but he has to decline the invitation. “Folks around here seem dead-set on getting sick whenever the fish are biting,” he quips before taking off.
Charles walks over to his wife and asks if Laura has changed her mind about going to the picnic. Caroline says she hasn’t, so Charles offers to ask one more time. Inside the house Laura is working on an assignment. Pa enters and tells his daughter that the family is leaving. She tells him to have a good time and continues to work. Pa starts to say something, but Laura interrupts him again to say that she doesn’t feel like fishing anyway. Pa makes a frowny face then leaves.
Over at the Oleson house, the wheelchair is set up in the parlor and Doc Baker is carrying Nellie down the stairs. That girl has huge feet. Her nightgown is robin’s egg blue – a color that does not do her any favors. Doc Baker sets the girl down in the chair and she is instantly enthralled with the new digs. Harriet is being a, well, nervous Nellie, and I’m not sure if it is because of the second-hand nature of the chair or because her daughter is supposedly an invalid. Doc Baker tells Nellie how to work the chair and also reports that her arm splint will be able to come off in a couple of days. Nellie does a couple of donuts in the parlor (we see that some sort of patch was put on the wicker) while Harriet continues to fidget. Nellie seems pretty satisfied with her new toy and asks when her father will be back. Harriet reports that he should be back this afternoon when he and Willie return from Springfield with the new doll house. Doc Baker calls his patient a lucky girl and then heads out the door.
Harriet thanks Doc Baker for his service and says she will have to ride out to the Ingalls’ place to thank Charles in person. Once the door is closed, Nellie suggests to her mother that she ride out now. Harriet says she can’t leave Nellie alone, but the girl says she can take care of herself. She goes on to say that she can watch the store and that the customers can take down any items that are out of reach. Harriet is still reluctant until Nellie whines “Pleeeeease?” Harriet calls her daughter “brave”. You know who dislikes that sort of terminology? Disabled people. She then decides to head out. As soon as the front door is closed, Nellie hops up from her seat, runs to close the door to the Mercantile, jumps, and does a jig. Seriously?
We join Harriet as she rides up to the Ingalls homestead. Laura is in the stable and has Bunny all saddled up. She’s telling the horse that they’ll go for a ride so that they both won’t be cooped up all day. Harriet walks by the barn and stops once she sees the animal inside. “Where did you get that horse?” she demands. Laura acknowledges that she has been hiding the horse and Harriet jumps to the conclusion that that is why Laura has been so nice to Nellie. I guess since guilt is a concept unfamiliar to Harriet, this would be the next logical conclusion to reach. Laura denies Harriet’s reconstruction of the scenario but it is irrelevant since Harriet says she will take the horse with her. Laura screams “No!” and hops on the horse. Her stunt double rides the horse as fast as possible into town.
The stunt double arrives at the Oleson’s place. Laura dismounts and peeks through the window. Well, well, it looks like Nellie asked her doll to the Sadie Hawkins dance and they are getting their waltz on in the parlor. The filming switches to voyeur-cam as Laura sees the action between the curtains. Laura backs away from the window when she realizes that she has been scammed. She knocks on the door, causing Nellie to slam the music box shut and hop into her chair. However, Nellie’s nightgown gets caught under her right foot causing the fabric to tent. Aside from the almost instant continuity error, wouldn't Nellie realize that there is no way for that to happen and therefore fix it before telling whoever is knocking to “come in”? Check-minus, show -- do a second take next time.
Anyway, Laura opens the door and asks Nellie what she is doing. Nellie says she is watching the store for mother. Laura says she just saw Nellie’s mother and that she was asked to take Nellie outside for some fresh air. Laura is all catatonic as she is delivering her lines, which Nellie doesn’t seem to notice. Laura pushes the girl out the door. Hmm, another error: how did Laura get Nellie down from the porch when there’s no ramp? Laura is jogging behind Nellie and tells her she needs to pick up speed to get up the hill. Nellie is getting rather nervous at this point. They reach the top of the hill near the mill and Laura claims she has to take a breather. Nellie is all "whatever" at this point, mainly because she is somewhat powerless to extract herself from this situation. Laura starts to ramble about how her life has changed after the accident, causing Nellie to ask if she is alright. Laura wonders why she would ask that. “You just seem to be acting funny,” Nellie replies. No, more like acting poorly.
Just then, Mrs. Oleson rides into town and Laura notices the wagon. She stands up and calls for Mrs. Oleson’s attention. Harriet stops, looks up and yells “Laura Ingalls, what have you done with that filthy animal?” Laura runs behind the chair saying, “Nellie, your mother wants you!” She then pushes Nellie’s chair down the hill. Nellie starts to scream, most likely because she is in a situation where she could ACTUALLY BE KILLED. WTF, Half-pint? “You’re such a good friend, Nellie!” Laura says smiling. Nellie and her stunt dummy make it all the way to the bottom of the hill but the chair hits a rock causing Nellie to flip over and land in some water. Harriet is shocked that her daughter is soaking wet but rather subdued for someone who might have just seen her daughter being murdered. Nellie stands up and whines and sobs about being soaked. Harriet sees this as a miracle and swoons backwards out of her wagon. Jeezy creezy, this is so cliché and stupid.
Back at the Oleson house, Laura is pacing outside as Bunny stands off to the side. Nels comes outside and Laura asks if Nellie will be alright. He says yes and says he doesn’t blame Laura for wanting to scare his daughter. He acknowledges that Nellie may be more in the wrong here than Laura. I have to disagree. Laura was stubborn and a doormat in dealing with the Nellie situation but her reaction was a little bit over the top and not quite justified. Whatever, if Nels is okay calling it zero sum, that’s his business. He then surprises Laura by giving her the horse. “An animal is no different than a person,” he says, “it needs to be with someone who loves it.” Sure, why not? Laura’s stunt double rides down the street a bit before running into Jason. Laura asks if he would like to join her and Pa on their next fishing trip. He agrees and they head out.
Nellie watches this scene unfold from her bedroom window and she is not happy. “I HATE YOU LAURA!” she screams (and repeats) as she begins to trash her room. She throws her doll against the wall then gets in a pillow fight with a vase of flowers on her desk. After throwing some books, she grabs a hairbrush and sets her sights on the new doll house. As she gets all smashy smashy on the roof, Willie barges in and tells her to stop. “Don’t break that stuff, give it to me,” he says. Nellie keeps swinging as she calmly says “it’s girl stuff.” Willie says he could sell it, but his sister turns around and she has this look in her eyes that seems to suggest that he will be the next smashy smashy target if he doesn’t leave the room. After Willie runs out, Nellie grabs a horse figurine and says, “I’ll fix you, Laura Ingalls. I’ll fix you.” She throws the horse at a framed needlepoint picture of Harriet. Girlfriend should go to Charm School.
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