Nels was a little out of character here because he's always been a kind man and for him to shun his sister is not like him, especially since he's married to a difficult woman like Harriet.
Goof: Charles is sitting with Mary, Adam, and some of the blind children at the circus, kind of giving them the play-by-play. The first time that one clown is about to douse another with a bucket of water, we hear Charles shout, "Look out--he's right in front of you!" It's clearly Landon's voice, but his lips aren't moving.
Right after Nels publicly announces Annabelle as his sister and gives her a huge hug, there is a shot of Harriet looking shocked and embarrassed, then Nellie and Willie standing up and cheering loudly. They clearly appear very happy about what they are seeing, but because Nellie is so much like her mother when it comes to things like this, you'd think she would be embarrassed by her father's actions, also.
Right after Laura (in the clown suit) douses Christy with water and Christy storms out, there is a closeup shot of a tightrope walker in an orange outfit. Then there is a shot of Nellie and Willie clapping, and Nellie yells out, "Yay!" in a tone that is actually very fake and funny. Additionally, this exact same shot was used more than once throughout the circus, particularly right after Nels hugs Annabelle at the very end. When they insert it at that point, Nellie's lips are moving to say "Yay!" but the sound is edited out. Reply: The editing in the circus scene (especially the sound editing) is about the worst in the series' history. Lip movements don't match dialogue; the lips move but no sound comes out; recognizable voices are heard clearly, though the character's mouth is closed. Plus, the reactions of the audience members (laughing, clapping, etc.) often don't make sense or correspond with what's happening in the ring. The whole scene is something of a hack job, and it's really noticeable.
During the first half of the circus scene, actress Brenda/Wendi Turnbaugh (Grace Ingalls), is absolutely sobbing, as actress Karen Grassle (Caroline) tries in vain to comfort her. The scene plays out to look as though Grace is supposed to be afraid of something at the circus. If you look at her, though, she's clearly not looking at anything going on in the ring, but in an offstage direction. I seems safe to assume that the goings-on during filming this noisy, visually overstimulating scene scared the little girl, and that she was crying for her mother or guardian, who would have been off to the side during filming. Grassle seems to be improvising (understandably) the script by saying things like "Oh, look at the clowns," and pointing to the ring continuously, in an effort to make Turnbaugh more compliant. Even more interestingly, this is not the last time that we see one of the Turnbaugh twins crying hysterically on camera. There were episodes in Seasons 7 and 8, in which Grace's evident distress was caught on film.
Goof: Mrs. Oleson is hanging a fabric sign advertising the Oleson Mercantile in the big top tent of the visiting circus.
Both the tent and the sign are fabric, why then is Mrs. Oleson using a hammer to hang it?
Annabelle: You know, I have a place in this life. I was put here on this planet for a purpose. Maybe not an exalted purpose, but a purpose. You know, I make people laugh, and I make them feel good. You know, that's not a bad thing to do, Nels.
Nels: Can you forgive me?
Annabelle: There's nothing to forgive.
Nels: I helped drive you out of the house. I insulted you, so you had to leave.
Annabelle: I wanted to leave, only I didn't have the courage until that moment. You know, Nels, in a way, you did me a big favor. I'm really happy. I have a big family, and they love me. I love them.
London: (calling) Annabelle!
Annabelle: Coming. (looks at Nels and chuckles) So skinny. Still so skinny. Go on home to your own family. (leaves)
Annabelle: Looking for me, Nels? (long silence, Nels goes up to her)
Annabelle: Don't worry, Nels. I won't tell any of your townspeople about us.
Nels: I don't care if you tell them or don't.
Annabelle: My dear, sweet flesh and blood. You care so much. So much. Remember how you used to get up at 5:00 in the morning, and get washed and dressed, even fix your own porridge, so you could walk to school alone? They used to say that you were at the schoolhouse even before they lit the furnace in the morning! You preferred sitting out there in the cold, rather than being seen walking to school with your own sister! Don't you think I knew it, Nels? I knew it then, and I accepted it, just as I accept your behavior now. Nothing changes.
Nels:I went to school early because I.......(long pause) that's strange. I was going to make something up.
Laura: (to clown) I'm just as sad as you, or at least as sad as you look. We're alike, you and me, so sad and can't tell anybody why. I mean, Albert sort of knows, but not really. I can't tell him how I feel, because he might up and tell Pa. I could tell you, though. I need to tell somebody. (pauses) You see, I love someone. His name is Almanzo. I call him Manly. I'm a little too young for him now, but if we'd just wait a while.....that's why I'm sad. I'm afraid he's gonna fall in love and marry someone else before I have a chance to be old enough.
Annabelle: Why the long faces?
Owen: Wer'e sad because you're sad.
London: Come on, Annanelle, we're family, remember? Tell us, what's the matter?
Annabelle: Well, you know that Mr. Oleson, our host?
Annabelle: He's my brother. He didn't know I was with the circus, and I didn't know he was an important businessman here in Walnut Grove, or anywhere for that matter. I just saw him at lunch. You saw what happened. He looked right at me. If he'd only smiled, shown me a little love, I would have given him one of my extra-special, candid bear hugs! But he didn't. He just looked away. And I knew then that he was still ashamed of me. Ashamed of me and my bulk. You know, he was like that even when we were kids.
Owen: What's wrong with your bulk? What's wrong with my size?
London: Nothing. There's nothing wrong with any of us, but sometimes, people on the outside get crazy notions.
Owen: Annabelle, it hurts me to see you in pain. When her brother looked away from her, he looked away from all of us!
Owen: Why don't we pack up and go?
London: No, no, Owen, we can't. I signed a letter of agreement on behalf of all of us.
Owen: (to Annabelle) Ah, who cares about them, anyway? We're your brothers, not Mr. Oleson!
Albert: Hey, Laura, do you want my circus ticket?
Laura: Why? You worked hard for it.
Albert: Well, I thought maybe you'd like to ask Almanzo.
Laura: Almanzo? Why would I want to ask Almanzo?
Albert: Well, I just thought that maybe you'd like to.
Laura: Boys. They think they know everything.
Albert: Girls. They don't know nothing.
Albert: That's the truth! Good night!
Charles: Good night, son. (Albert goes upstairs)
Caroline: Laura, your brother was just trying to be nice.
Laura: I know. I'll go apologize. (goes upstairs) Albert?
Laura: I'm sorry I was rude.
Albert: Well, next time, just say no thank you, I don't want the extra ticket.
Laura: But I do.
Laura: I want the ticket.
Albert: But you just said--
Laura: That's because you asked me in front of Pa, and it made me feel funny.
Laura: Can I still have it?
Laura: Thanks, Albert!
Albert: Good night, Laura.
Laura: Good night. (goes back downstairs) I apologized.
Caroline: Good girl.
Albert: (calling down loud enough for Charles to hear) Laura, you better ask Almanzo to the circus first thing tomorrow morning. He might make other plans. Good night!
Laura: (coming back into the tent after finding out Almanzo's taking Christy to the circus) Here's your ticket, Albert.
Albert: What happened?
Laura: Almanzo has a date with Christy.
Albert: Oh, he's taking out Miss Snooty Pants, huh? (Laura doesn't laugh) Laura, Almanzo's too old for you. It's as simple as that.
Laura: Well, in all famous marriages, the man is much older than the woman.
Albert: Not Ma and Pa.
Laura: They're not famous.
Albert: Take my advice. Forget about Almanzo.
Laura: (talking to herself, working up the nerve to ask Almanzo to the circus) "Well, Manly, you see, I've got these two tickets to the circus, and I don't want them to go to waste, so I thought, why not ask Manly?" That sounds dumb. "I don't want 'em to go to waste!" I'll just be honest. No, I can't be honest. I wish I could be honest. "Oh, Manly, I love you so much. Please go to the circus with me." I'll just be friendly, that's all. (slaps herself) Would you stop talking to yourself and do it already?
Annabelle: (to Nels) I was put on this Earth for a purpose. Maybe not an exalted purpose, but a purpose. I make people laugh. That's not such a bad thing, you know.
Dressed in a clown's outfit and just after she's thrown a bucket of water over Christie, Laura goes over to Caroline
Laura: Hi, Ma!
Caroline: Laura Ingalls, you little devil!
In this episode, Mary and Adam attend the big circus at the end. Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary) has discussed in interviews how realistically, this was not the kind of event that a real blind person would be involved in, and for the show, it was basically just an effort to give Mary some quick screen time and show the audience that she hadn't fallen off the face of the Earth. This is one of the reasons that Anderson left the show shortly after this, because there really wasn't much more to do with her after her character went blind, got married, and moved on.
Billy Barty, who is part of the circus act in this episode, also appeared as the title role in Season 9's Little Lou.