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.
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.
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: 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: 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: 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!
This is the last episode of the series where we can hear one of the show's most popular church hymns, "Bringing in the Sheaves".
This episode marks the final appearance of Hester-Sue Terhune in the series.
Featured characters: Laura and Dr. Baker
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