This episode could be labeled "painful to watch" as well. It is truly heartwrenching to watch Luara find her infant son dead and agonizing to watch the aftermath of her grief. However, it is equally awful to watch the way she treats Doc Baker, and the way the town seems to mindlessly join in the cruelty. Equally frustrating in this episode are all the things that just seem so ugly and out of character. Laura agreeing to let Doc Baker treat Rose and expecting him to help heal her, but stating to his face that even if he does, her feelings towards him will not change. Then when he does cure Rose after two weeks of grueling care, Laura immediately goes to bed instead of thanking him profusely and asking him forgiveness. She figured that could wait till morning, and by morning he's gone. Mrs. Oleson joining Laura's side (has that ever happened?) and the rest of the town being so hideous to poor Doc Baker. The poor guy has a heart of gold, yet he gets paid in livestock instead of money, in 20 years he can never find a woman who will have him, and he's expected to be the town miracleworker and ostracized when he can't deliver one time out of twenty on a godforsaken prairie in the 1800's. When he cries out in the barn after Rose has recovered, it's just so hard to watch.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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