As a general rule I am not a huge fan of "clip shows", but this one is an exception. The premise is simple and somewhat realistic (though I'm not sure people went to pre-marriage counseling in 1870 the way they do today). Initially thinking that there isn't much to be discussed, Dr. Mike and Sully are fairly breezy and unconcerned about the appointment. However, as the Reverend gently prods, past issues, some resolved (whether Michaela had what it took to keep up with Sully in the wilderness), and some not (past romantic interests other than each other) are re-visited in the form of flashbacks. After rehashing the events of "Bad Water" and "Money Trouble", they agree that they have already come to terms with these problems. Pretty easy stuff to start off with, and informative to the viewer who may be catching up after coming on board late in the romance. It's when the touchier issues surface that things get dicey. Michaela's fear of physical intimacy is briefly discussed and then it's on to the biggie: other people in their lives. In an uncomfortable moment, Sully recalls that the Reverend himself once proposed to Michaela. But before Timothy can get too ruffled over that, Sully points out that at least 2 other men have vied for her hand during their courtship. We then watch clips of Michaela rejecting both Dr. William Burke and her former fiance David in favor of being with Sully. Yay! Now it's Sully's turn to squirm when Michaela brings up Catherine, the White/Indian woman from "Another Woman" who, Michaela feels, very nearly ruined their relationship. Sully never understood, until this very moment, how very much that experience hurt her. The past pain, not to mention the tenseness between them now becomes too much for Sully and he leaves. It was at this point I had to keep reminding myself that I had already seen trailers for the wedding episode; they were going to get married!! But for a brief moment the viewer feels that this is just too much to bear for either of them.
There is a moment like an audible holding of the breath as we watch Sully walk slowly over to the bridge. Here we begin to feel the hope that we did not feel earlier when Michaela went riding off without him, declaring that she needed time to be alone. They have toyed with us long enough, though, and now it's time for our hero and heroine to find a way past these past hurts. It's interesting that it's Michaela who begins to give in by telling the Reverend that it's not like Sully to run off, that he's always been there for her. We know how stubborn she can be. Remember the night the barn caught on fire and she screamed at him "where were you?"? But that Michaela was filled with doubt about their new relationship. This one, the one telling the Reverend how noble and loving he is, is sure of their bond. You can hear it in her voice even when we are only seeing Sully listening from the door or watching a clip from "The Epidemic". When he finally re-enters the church, we are treated not only to their reconciliation, but also to a fine moment provided by the writers. It is half romance and half comic relief as Mike and Sully wrap their arms around each other and declare their love and forgiveness all while the Reverend tries in vain to congratulate them on their breakthrough. They have eyes and ears only for one another and he makes a hasty exit with a cute little grin on his face. It is a very well played scene that is particularly satisfactory to folks like me who were nervous for a while there.
What makes this 'clip show' so much more effective than most is that the clips are set up by such fine writing and acting. Jane and Joe had great chemistry, and Geoffry Lower was the perfect innocent foil by brining up issue after issue that needed to be dealt with.
I always watch this one first whenever I get a hankering to watch FBOW again-it serves to remind me how far they went to find happiness.