Little House on the Prairie

Season 9 Episode 18

A Child With No Name

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Feb 14, 1983 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
60 votes

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Episode Summary

With the birth of a beautiful baby boy in the spring, it appears that Laura and Almanzo's family is now complete. However, when the infant dies for no apparent reason, a distraught Laura blames Doc Baker, who spent days insisting that their son was perfectly healthy. Quickly alienated by the entire Walnut Grove community, his tainted reputation forces him to consider moving his practice elsewhere.moreless

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  • It was very touching

    I love this episode because it's very touching. Knowing that that also happened to Mary and Caroline you feel the pain. It is very hard watching Laura break down like that but it's a very good episode. I wouldn't watch it though if you can't take some sadness.
  • Worth a watch just for the riviting speech in the end

    This is the typical cliched type of story you get from this series, but the speech Laura made in the end was poignant and powerful. When she said \"I am so ashamed,\" I got to admit it brought tears to my eyes. Very strong speech, nothing superfluous, and delivered exceedingly well. Superb heartfelt writing.

    I wasn\'t able to see the first 15 minutes to see how it all started. However, it kept my attention as the story went on. I did find it hard to believe the town would be against their beloved, long-standing doc as they were. This piques my curiosity all the more to see what credible incident could cause this.moreless
  • Still watching this show brings tears to my eyes!

    Watching this episode brings tears to my eyes. Even to this day. As Laura's unnamed baby son dies. And she blames Doc Baker over it. As do the town except for Almonzo, Neils, and Mr Edwards. Her toddler girl gets sick and Doc gets her well. But still, he leaves town and tries to start all over after two weeks of only having one patient. An old man with a sick mule. The speech was riveting as well as the town asking for his forgiveness. Funny part as Mr Edwards tells the cold-hearted Harriet that she is ugly. LOL!moreless
  • Laura's infant son dies and in her grief, she pins the blame on Doc Baker. Others in Walnut Grove do the same until the good doctor succeeds once again in his practice.moreless

    I don't know if it's possible to call this episode a JTS moment: Jaws had probably leapt long before this one aired. Okay, let's review the plausibility of this: Laura (who has known Dr. Baker most of her life, as she states) is going to bar him from the funeral?! And Harriet's scene with Nels, where she gets hysterical about Doctor Baker was truly bizarre and over-the-top. I thought: is she supposed to be the foil for all the heaviness? I was also offended by Mr. Edwards calling her ugly twice. For one thing, it's a sexist remark. It's also untrue. And it just seems like lazy writing: put down the meanie and the audience will love it.

    But one of the biggest, most glaring abnormalities, was the fact that the Ingalls are never even mentioned during the tragedy of Laura and Almonzo's loss. That is totally incomprehensible. Why weren't any of Laura's family at the funeral? They had to go to Walmart? Hester Sue even showed, so where was Mary? Lame!moreless
  • Laura and Almanzo's newborn baby dies unexpectedly and Laura feels that Dr. Baker is to blame. When Rose becomes gravely ill, he cares for her around the clock until she is well again and Laura has forgiven him.moreless

    The character of Dr. Hiram Baker has always been a favorite of mine and any episode in which he is featured rates a little higher in my book. I always thought that the character was written very well, with an appropriate mix of humor and humility. Kevin Hagen was a fine actor and he played this role like it was a favorite old hat; fits so well, you don't notice it's there. In other words, he was at home playing Dr. Baker and it showed.

    This episode is one of his rare emotional ones and it's a treat to get to see him flex his acting muscles. Notice the contrast between how easy-going he is in the beginning to the very tense scenes during Rose's illness where there is very little dialogue. Some actors cannot play such extremes in the same character without it coming across like two different people. But Kevin had the ability to take Hiram from devil-may-care to despondant and frustrated without us ever feeling that he wasn't the same guy. And *that* is what made you really care about what happened in the end. You knew this man who had treated and healed so many in Walnut Grove (and lost a few too, but more on that later)and couldn't stand to think that he was just going to walk away from it all because of one hysterical grieving mother. (I didn't care for Laura's character in this episode; I thought she was written as far less reasonable than she usually is. Then again, she had never lost a child before......)

    The ending is great, but the best scenes are the ones I mentioned earlier; the tension filled days and nights of treating the baby and waiting to see what the outcome would be. The steady monotany of hand washing and bathing and medicating is finally broken along with Rose's fever and as we heave a sigh of releif, Doc Baker's chest heaves with sobs. He's exhausted and broken, but glad that she's OK and grateful that the whole ordeal is over. It's a marvelous, heartwrenching moment. And so it is a relief when Laura makes her big speech at the end and he stays. (OK, we knew he would, but I was still relieved. And bawling.) This is not the first time that Dr. Baker has almost left because he lost a patient. He actually quit his practice for a few weeks after he failed to examine a pregnant patient's husband after a fall. Turns out he had internal injuries and died as a result. Doc beat himself up pretty badly over this, but was drawn (dragged actually) back into practice when it was time for the woman to give birth and Caroline ran into problems. He delivered the baby and went back to doctoring. He's a very "all or nothing" kind of guy, but I think that's a by-product of how much he cares about what he does and the poeple he treats.

    This was a great showcase episode for Hagen, and well deserved for his many years of devotion to the show.moreless
Dean Butler

Dean Butler

Almanzo James Wilder (co-star prior to season 7)

Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Dabbs Greer

Dabbs Greer

Reverend Alden

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Ketty Lester

Ketty Lester

Hester-Sue Terhune (1982-1983) (co-star 1978 - 1981)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • There is a significant time jump between this episode and the previous one. The announcement of Laura's pregnancy, the following nine months, and the birth of her and Almanzo's baby boy are all crammed into the first few seconds of the episode.

    • When Doc Baker goes to catch the stagecoach at the end of the episode, he soon sees all the citizens of Walnut Grove walking out of the Church. However, when he and the stage driver are looking around at the "ghost town," the camera pans to the church/school, and there are no buggies or horses outside whatsoever. Are we expected to believe that all those people walked into town?

    • The real Laura and Almanzo Wilder had a son after Rose, and he died as a baby. The real Rose Wilder had the same thing happen to her when she was an adult; she had a son who died shortly after birth. A subsequent surgery left her unable to bear any more children. Very little information is given about this part of Rose's life.

    • It appears that Almanzo is not able to tell when a baby has a fever. He is putting his hand all over little Rose's head as she is screaming hysterically, and he has no reaction. It's only when Laura takes her and feels the back of her head that they realize she is burning up.

    • At the beginning of the episode, Laura explains in her narration that the past December marked Rose's birthday and the news that Laura was pregnant. It doesn't take an eagle eye to realize what's wrong with this. First of all, Rose was absolutely not born during the winter, as evidenced in the summer-like weather that was going on during her birth episode, Season 8's Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow. Secondly, if Rose really did turn one at the same time Laura found out she was pregnant again, then she would have been almost two years old when her little brother was born--and yet throughout the episode, it's obvious that she isn't even a year old yet--probably only about 6 months, which correlates fairly closely with the amount of time that passed since her birth in Season 8, but it doesn't make sense with what the current plot is telling us. It's an absolute joke to say that Rose and her biological baby brother are only months apart. Physically impossible! My only question is, WHAT were the writers thinking???? The only logical explanation is that Michael Landon couldn't find twin toddlers of the right age to play Rose at this time, so their only choice was to have her remain a baby.
      Note: Actually, the real Rose Wilder was born on December 5, so what the narration said about that was at least true.

    • At the beginning of the episode, Laura mentions that baby Wilder was born in the late summer of 1889. However, in Times are Changing, Part 1, Laura said that it was 1887. It's not likely that two years passed all of a sudden, especially since none of the children on the show have aged.

    • The infants who play Rose demonstrate a lot of misery and crying in the scenes where Rose is supposed to be very sick--an instance where viewers can't help but wonder how they managed to make a baby look like that in front of the camera. There is no such thing as an infant actress, and we all know that kids that age don't lie, so this is very interesting to note. Furthermore, it's not the first time that a very young child has shown that kind of distress on Little House--baby Grace was also known to do this in some episodes from the later seasons.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Mr. Edwards: (after the town stands behind Doc Baker) This calls for a celebration! Everybody in the restaurant! Everything's on Mrs. Oleson!

    • Laura: What are you laughing at?
      Doc Baker: (to her and Almanzo) You two, that's what. This is the third time in two weeks that you've brought this baby in to be checked.
      Almanzo: I knew all along that he was fine.
      Laura: It's just that boys don't run much in my family. I grew up knowing how badly Pa wanted a son, and when he finally got one, the baby died.
      Doc Baker: (pauses) I'm sorry, Laura. I should have been more sensitive.
      Laura: It's all right. I just want to make sure my baby's healthy.

    • Laura: (about naming the baby) It was so much easier when we were sure it was gonna be a girl.
      Almanzo: Yeah, and the only problem is, I can't think of a boy's name similar to Elizabeth.

    • Jenny: (looking at baby names for Laura and Almanzo's son) Here's my favorite. Nathan.
      Laura: But everyone's gonna call him Nate. How did that all get started, anyway? I mean, nobody ever called my Pa "Charlie," or James "Jimmy," or Albert "Al."
      Almanzo: You never minded Beth.
      Laura: Well, that's different.
      Almanzo: Why?
      Laura: Well, because only you call me that. Besides, it's pretty. I wouldn't mind having Beth for my real first name.
      Jenny: I still think there's nothing wrong with "Almanzo, Jr."
      Almanzo: Well, I wouldn't mind that either, Jenny, if I was sure he was going to be a farmer like me, but suppose he wants to be a doctor. I think he should have something more sophisticated, like Theodore.
      Laura: Teddy.
      Almanzo: Hmm?
      Laura: Everyone will call him Teddy. What kind of name is that? Teddy Wilder.
      Jenny: This is getting ridiculous. No matter what anyone suggests, there's always something wrong.
      Almanzo: All right, well, we need to figure out something for the time being. We know he's a boy, and we know he's a baby, so until we settle on a name, how about if we just call him Baby Wilder?
      Jenny: Oh, no!
      Laura: That'll make us want to think of a name real fast. But, until then, Baby Wilder it is.

    • Nels: Harriet?
      Harriet: Yes?
      Nels: Don't ever do that again.
      Harriet: Not dust the shelves?
      Nels: You know perfectly well what I'm talking about! You deliberately snubbed Doc Baker.
      Harriet: Oh, did I?
      Nels: Yes! He's a fine man, and he's a--
      Harriet: He's a quack! That's what he is!
      Nels: He's a friend of mine! And as long as he is, you will be civil to him.
      Harriet: Oh, is that so?
      Nels: Yes, that's so. And please keep your totally irresponsible opinions of him to yourself.
      Harriet: Irresponsible?!?!?
      Nels: Yes!
      Harriet: That man should thank his stars that he is walking around free, and not behind bars, where he belongs. Why, he as much as murdered Laura's child!
      Nels: That's not true!
      Harriet: It is true! And Laura herself believes it!
      Nels: Laura is a disturbed person! A person in her condition has got to have somebody to blame. Time will bring her around, but you have no reason to--
      Harriet: You listen to me, Nels Oleson, and you listen with both of your ears! The town has turned against Doc Baker.
      Nels: With no small thanks to you, I'm sure.
      Harriet: Because he's incompetent, that's why! Can't you get it through your head? I will never, and our children will never go into his office ever again, because if we do, that's irresponsible! (storms out)

    • Laura: All right, Baby Wilder, time to greet the morning! (reaches into crib, stops cold) Baby? (long pause, backs away) Manly? MANLY!
      Almanzo: Beth, what is it?
      Laura: There's something wrong. There's something wrong with the baby! Oh, God!
      Jenny: (walking in as Laura backs away in shock) Aunt Laura, what's wrong? Aunt Laura?
      Almanzo: (tries to wake baby up, long silence) Dear God. He's dead. Our baby's dead.

    • Laura: Doc Baker isn't still going to leave, is he?
      Almanzo: Of course he is. You told him you wouldn't feel any differently, no matter what happened with Rose.
      Laura: Manly, I've been such a fool.

    • Laura: What are you going to do? Manly!
      Almanzo: Beth, I'm going to get Doc Baker.
      Laura: No, you can't! I will not have that man touching this child!
      Almanzo: He's all we have.
      Laura: No, we can go into Sleepy Eye.
      Almanzo: With a fever like that?
      Laura: Yes! We have to!
      Almanzo: Now, you listen to me. Rose is my child too, and I'm not taking a chance with her life just because of your indifference to Doc Baker.
      Laura: I said I won't allow it!
      Almanzo: What is WRONG with you? Are you so blinded by your own feelings that you can't accept that you might be wrong?
      Laura: I'm not wrong. Manly, you can't do this!
      Almanzo: I'm going to get Doc Baker.

    • Laura: Doc Baker, I will not have you present at the burial of our child.
      Almanzo: Beth, please.
      Laura: No! Not when our son is dead because of him.
      Doc Baker: Laura!
      Laura: Just go away. You're not wanted here.

    • Doc Baker: Laura, we have a chance to cure Rose, but I want you to know the seriousness of this illness. We can only do what I know to do. Can you accept that?
      Laura: I'll have to. But I want you to know that no matter what, nothing will change the way I feel about what happened to my baby boy. Nothing.
      Doc Baker: (pauses) So be it. My only concern now is to cure Rose.

    • Mr. Edwards: It's like talking to a Chinese pack mule.
      Mrs. Oleson: What did you say?
      Mr. Edwards: You heard me!
      Mrs. Oleson: Huh! You're rude!
      Mr. Edwards: And you're ugly!

    • (Everyone enters the restaurant and Harriet is looking at the mule, another of Dr. Baker's patients.)
      Mrs. Oleson: Huh! And he's got a jackass for a patient.
      Mr. Edwards: Thats right! He's got you and the mule too!
      Mrs. Oleson: Oh shut up, you old reprobate!
      Mr. Edwards: And you're still ugly!
      Mrs. Oleson: Oh! Shut up!

  • NOTES (3)