Establishing shot of the house as seen through the open barn door. Inside the house, Caroline is using the table to lift herself up to the medicine cabinet. Horse linament? No -- she grabs a smaller bottle and starts chugging. After she takes whatever medicine was in that bottle, Caroline looks over at the table and sees the key to the front door. She slowly works her way across the table and grabs the key. We’re zoomed in on her hand, specifically her wedding ring, as Caroline struggles to reach the door. Once there she unlocks it, opens the door and goes outside. She steps with her right leg and drags her left (which is even grosser looking than before) and grabs some firewood.
Later, Caroline is sitting by the fireplace and is pulling a soaking cloth out of a kettle over the fire. She takes a moment before she throws the hot, wet cloth onto the wound. Caroline probably should have grabbed a wooden spoon to bite into before doing that. She does grab onto the rocking chair as the pain courses through her body. More wedding ring close-ups.
Then Charles, in his red full body underwear, swings on a rope and jumps into a lake. Laura is next to go. Really show? White nightgowns for the girls, the oldest of which is 14? I understand that those were probably the style of the time, but from a filming perspective WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Anyway, Laura and Pa are laughing and tell Mary to hop in. Mary’s all pensive, saying she doesn’t want her head to go underwater. She asks Pa to make sure he’ll catch her and he promises. He then crosses fingers on both hands and shows them to Laura in a way that even Mary should have been able to see but she doesn’t. And no, she isn’t blind yet. Mary grabs onto the rope, swings, and Pa completely misses his daughter. Mary isn’t too bothered by it, saying it was fun. Laura takes another turn and there is more laughter. Then Pa says they should get cleaned up before Reverend Alden shows up.
Meanwhile, Caroline is contemplating her current predicament. She looks like she has an idea and grabs her Bible. She starts flipping through it as if it were a magazine with a really good recipe for gingerbread. She’s found the passage she was looking for (here it is for those playing along at home). We get a closeup of the passage, then we see Caroline reading the passage aloud, then we get a tighter closeup with a literal spotlight on the phrase “cut it off”. Caroline thinks about it for a moment, then a third closeup with “cut it off” completely filling the frame. But it’s not your foot – it’s your leg. Caroline doesn’t seem to care about that argument, instead looking around the room for the sharpest thing she can find. She gets out of the chair and hobbles over to the drawer to get the dullest knife she can find. Yuck, self-amputation is bad enough but that knife is going to make it take forever. Caroline drags herself back to the Bible to reread the passage, knife in hand.
A babbling brook, some swimming ducks, and the Ingalls family playing Blind Man’s Bluff nearby. Charles is wearing the blindfold as the kids and Jack taunt Pa. Laura sneaks behind him to snap his suspenders while Jack bites at his feet. Did Jack read that passage, too? Charles eventually grabs Carrie and tries to guess who he has. He jokes about feeling whiskers on her face and guesses Mr. Edwards. Cute. Pa takes off the blindfold and says “It’s Carrie! How are you?” What’s funny is it works both as a daddy/daughter moment and a “oh, you’re still on the show?” moment.
Laura and Mary notice a wagon approaching and Charles can see that it is Reverend Alden. The family goes to greet the Reverend and Mrs. Foster. Alden tells Mary and Laura that their Ma’s pies were the first items to sell at the fundraiser bringing in $4. Alden takes some of the credit, boasting about his salesmanship. Uh huh. Charles approaches and asks if Caroline changed her mind about making the trip, but the Reverend thought she left early to join the family. Ruh roh. Charles is surprised that there wasn’t even a note but the reverend tells him he need not worry. Um, actually, that is exactly why you should be concerned. Charles decides to go home to check things out.
Back at the chop shop, Caroline’s leg is still attached but she is preparing for some unpleasantness. She has tied a spoon around her leg and seems ready to do what she believes she has to do. She moves the knife blade into the fire. Then we fade to a Scrubbing Bubbles commercial.
On the road back to the house a neighbor stops Charles. Apparently the Ingalls cow has been causing all sorts of trouble. Charles is surprised that Caroline has come to retrieve the animal. While the neighbor passive-aggressively complains about the cow, Charles decides to pick up the pace to return to the house. When Charles arrives he finds Caroline passed out on the floor. I don’t see any blood, but I also don’t see Caroline’s legs.
That night, Laura looks through the window into the bedroom as Doc Baker examines his patient. She walks over to join Pa and Mary, commenting that she has never seen her Ma that sick. Mary asks if Ma is going to die, but Pa tells her not to talk like that yet saying “God takes care of those that love him.” Laura suggests they all pray with all their hearts before she starts to cry.
Charles goes inside and sees Reverend Alden holding a sleeping Carrie in the rocking chair. The Reverend looks like he has seen better days. Outside, Mary and Laura are comforting one another. In the bedroom, Charles is praying at the foot of the bed while Doc Baker changes out Caroline’s wet cloths.
Sunrise the next day. Yet another closeup of Caroline’s wedding ring as her hand reaches over to touch Charles’s hand. He fell asleep at the foot of the bed, but his wife’s touch wakes him right up. Charles calls for Doc Baker who pronounces the fever broken. He says if Caroline didn’t open the infection when she did she probably would have lost her leg or even died. Instead, the prognosis is significantly better. Doc Baker goes out to tell the girls the good news. The Reverend overhears this as he stands watch outside the house. Doc Baker walks over and confides that he would have had a tough time making the decision that Caroline did. “How she picked exactly the right moment … only God knows,” says Baker. “I’m sure he does,” the Reverend replies. The entire family is now gathered around their recovering Ma. Aww, Deus ex Machina works in mysterious ways.
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