One of the series first episodes, and it deals beautifully with the issues of love of family and sacrifice. The Ingalls are looking to have their first financially successful year in a long while when a hailstorm comes and destroys not only their cash crop but their own personal store of winter food. Undaunted (well, maybe for a minute), Charles announces that he will leave to find work. Along the way he makes fast friends with two fellow farmers and the women of Walnut Grove band together to salvage what little they can of the winter wheat. This is a fabulous episode, but it does set an annoying precedence that runs the entire length of this 10-year series: a character is introduced and dies in the same hour (on this occasion blown to bits in a mine explosion, no less). Down the road similar characters will be quickly introduced and just as quickly dispatched: the widow Sanderson, by cancer; a schoolboy's father, frozen in a blizzard; a civil war vet, by suicide; a lukemia-stricken young farmboy; a friend of the Ingalls girls, Ellen, drowned in a pond; an entire family, by typhus; an old gold-country hermit, by self immolation (no, that's not a typo); Mary's unborn baby: Laura's infant son; and of course, Sylvia, who falls to her death while being chased by her rapist. The list goes on, and on...and on. I understand the need for such episodes, either as mid-season "fillers", or to introduce an new plotline (think James and Cassandra's parents and their cliff-jumping covered wagon), but such freak occurrences and calamities seemed to happen with dizzying frequency in Walnut Grove. I know times were hard for the pioneers, but geez...
This episode mainly focuses on Charles and Caroline.
The Ingalls family feel blessed when they have a 100 acres of wheat to be harvested. They start making plans on what they can buy from the money they will be earning from it. However, that night, a bad hailstorm ruins their crops, and Charles has to go to other towns to earn money. He leaves his family and on the way, he meets a man named Jack Peters. They soon become friends, and at night while camping and having their meals, a man named Jacob Jacobsen meets them. The three of them soon become good friends and find work in the quarry, hammering rocks. While they are working hard, Caroline gathers the women in Walnut Grove and comes up with a plan to harvest the remaining crops in the field. All the women eagerly start working except for one named Willa, who just seems to complain a lot. But Caroline gets through to her and they all work hard to harvest the remaining crops. Unfortunately, Jack Peters dies in an unfortunate accident, and Charles has to give Jack’s family the news of his death on his way back. Charles finally returns home after earning his due and everyone is happy to see him.
I wouldn’t say this was one of my favorite episodes, because the scenes where Charles and his friends are working in the quarry was a little boring. The ending is a little sad when Charles has to meet Jack’s wife and son, but apart from that, this episode did not move me too much. I wouldn’t call it bad because it had its moments, but on a whole, if I had a choice, I probably wouldn’t watch this episode again.
With just days to go until Charles brings in what will be a bumper wheat crop, the heavens open and send a hail, wind and rain storm that completely destroys not only the crop but also Charles's hopes of buying things his family desperately needs.
With winter not too far away, Charles knows he must have money set aside and so he sets off many miles away to find blasting work in a quarry. It's dangerous, but the pay is good. Meanwhile, with all the women of Walnut Grove in a similar situation, Caroline decides that they can do something with the wheat which isn't as ruined as it appears to be.
A good episode which shows how both sides of the coin can work in unison and achieve a good result.
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