This award-winning family drama was based upon Laura Ingalls Wilder's 9-part series of autobiographical books. Television producer and NBC executive Ed Friendly became aware of this enduring story in the early 1970s. He asked Michael Landon to direct the pilot movie, who agreed on the condition that he could also play Charles Ingalls. TIME: beginning in the 1870s. PLACE: the American frontier - more specifically, Walnut Grove in the state of Minnesota. THE CHARACTERS: Charles/Pa Ingalls: a homesteader farmer/woodworker; compassionate and loving, yet quick-tempered and ready to throw a defensive punch whenever necessary Caroline/Ma Ingalls: Patient and understanding wife and mother; the ideal prairie woman Laura Ingalls Wilder: The winsome, tomboyish second daughter of Charles and Caroline, who serves as the voice of the entire series, and eventually married Almanzo Wilder Mary Ingalls Kendall: Charles and Caroline's pretty and ultra-responsible oldest daughter, who longs to be a teacher and goes completely blind at the age of 15. She later marries Adam Kendall, although this is a fictional piece created just for the TV series Carrie Ingalls: The cute third daughter of Charles and Caroline, who didn't have a large role but was always portrayed as a very sweet little girl Grace Ingalls: Charles and Caroline's fifth and final child, who was only about 4 when her role in the series ended Jack: the loyal, lovable family dog, who was replaced by Bandit when he died in Season 4. Albert Quinn Ingalls: The fictional adopted son of Charles and Caroline--an orphaned runaway whom the Ingalls meet while living temporarily in Winoka James Cooper Ingalls: The fictional adopted son of Charles and Caroline, who comes to live with them after the death of his parents Cassandra Cooper Ingalls: The fictional adopted daughter of Charles and Caroline, and the younger sister of James Supporting characters include: Miss Eva Beadle: The first teacher of Walnut Grove, who taught Laura to read and helped Mary realize her dream to teach Dr. Hiram Baker: the loyal town physician Reverend Robert Alden: The town's devout and hugely caring Church minister Mr. Isaiah Edwards: The mountain-man/drifter-turned-farmer who settled in Walnut Grove, who had a drinking problem and, despite his happy-go-lucky exterior, had a lot of emotional turmoil in his life Grace Snider: A widow and town postmistress who marries Isaiah and adopts three orphaned children with him John Sanderson Edwards: the oldest adopted son of Isaiah and Grace, who lives with them after the death of his widowed mother, and becomes a writer Carl Sanderson Edwards: Isaiah and Grace's second adopted child, brother of John and Alicia Alicia Sanderson Edwards: The sweet youngest adopted child of Isaiah and Grace, and the younger sister of John and Carl Lars Hanson: The beloved founder of Walnut Grove, and proprietor of the Hanson Lumber Mill, where Charles and Isaiah worked Nels Oleson: father and proprietor of the mercantile (general store). Harriet Oleson: The rude, gossiping woman who spoils her children rotten and has a perpetual hold on her ever-patient husband Nellie Oleson Dalton: The bratty oldest child of Nels and Harriet, who butts heads with Laura throughout their childhood and later marries Percival Dalton (another fictional event). Willie Oleson: Nels and Harriet's youngest child, who is mischievous but has more of his father's kindhearted traits; eventually marries Rachel Brown Adam Kendall: Mary's husband, who is also blind and wins her heart by teaching her to reclaim her life when she first goes blind. Has two children with Mary, but they both die in infancy Almanzo Wilder: Laura's charismatic husband, a farmer who has two children with Laura, one of whom dies in infancy John Carter: A blacksmith and family man who moves from Walnut Grove to New York in Season 9 with his wife and two sons, moving into the Ingalls house when they relocate to Iowa. Sarah Carter: A newspaper editor and loving mother, wife of John Carter. Jeb Carter: John and Sarah's oldest child, fairly underdeveloped, but always a good kid Jason Carter: John and Sarah's adorable, endearing youngest son who was often Michael Landon's go-to kid for comic relief in some of the darker episodes from Seasons 9 and 10 Jenny Wilder: the sweet, effervescent fictional niece of Laura and Almanzo, who comes to live with them permanently after the death of her father, Almanzo's brother Royal. Nancy Oleson: A young girl that Nels and Harriet adopt once Nellie is grown; a monstrous, manipulative child who has her mother wrapped around her little finger
We have no clue in this episode whether Albert Ingalls is alive or not. There was an opportunity for Charles and Caroline to bring it up somewhere along the line, but they never did. At the end of season 9's Home Again, Laura's narration stated that "years later, Albert Ingalls returned to Walnut Grove, and we were all so proud to have Doctor Albert Ingalls home again." In the first post-series move Look Back to Yesterday, it was stated that Albert was dying of an incurable disease and he wanted to spend his last days in Walnut Grove. In this movie and the one before it, Albert is not in Walnut Grove and there is no mention of him.
Charles' attitude about Albert dying in this episode is significantly different from his attitude about James dying in the season 8 finale He Was Only Twelve. In that episode, several people tried to make Charles accept that James was going to die from his gunshot wound, but Charles refused to accept it and went out to pray for a miracle instead, which ended up being given to James. In this episode, Charles accepts the news about Albert dying and he takes Albert back to Walnut Grove because Albert wants to spend his last days there. Then Charles gets mad at Laura when she refuses to accept Albert dying, even though he acted like that when James was dying in He Was Only Twelve. Charles seems to have forgotten all about his attitude when James was dying and the miracle that saved his life.
We never find out what really happened to Albert at the end of the series. At the end of season 9's Home Again, Laura's narration states that "years later, Albert Ingalls returned to Walnut Grove, and we were all so proud to have Doctor Albert Ingalls home again." In this episode, the doctor says that Albert's disease is incurable and he is going to die, but we never see or hear anything about him actually dying in this episode and nothing is brought up about it in the 2 movies after this. Therefore, it's possible that Albert could have survived his illness, returned to Walnut Grove as a doctor, and left Walnut Grove sometime between this episode and when the town of Walnut Grove was destroyed in The Last Farewell or it's possible that Albert survived his illness, the town of Walnut Grove was rebuilt after The Last Farewell, the citizens gained ownership of Walnut Grove, and Albert came back to Walnut Grove as a doctor after that.
Caroline and the rest of the Ingalls family in Burr Oak don't appear at all in this episode, even after Charles is told that Albert is dying. Despite the possible conflicts with having work and school in Burr Oak, it seems out of character for Caroline to not make arrangements for the whole family to visit Albert and Charles in Walnut Grove after she is told that Albert is dying.
Even if there is no court order to get rid of the citizens of Walnut Grove, the U.S army could not compel it. Minnesota is a state which meant the Army would have illegally been used for law enforcement duties. County deputies or state police should have been sent to enforce the court order.
Adam is mentioned one last time when Charles says "There Berk and Davis that's the law firm my son in law use to work for".
When Charles and Caroline first arrive at the boarding house, and after Caroline hugs Almanzo, Charles tells her to go on up. How does she know where Laura's bedroom is, if she hasn't been there before?
In the last scene, when Laura and Albert are on top of the mountain, there are two close-ups of when they raise their hands together. The first time, you can see that the sleeve of Laura's dress is unbuttoned, and the second time, her sleeve is buttoned up.