This episode, the first of Little House's 6th season, gets the show back on the right track after a few season 5 missteps. More importantly, it introduces us to the man who would become Laura Ingalls' real-life husband--Almonzo Wilder. As season 4 did for Mary Ingalls, season 6 marks the beginning of Laura's official journey into adulthood.
The first day of school arrives, and along with it, a new teacher (remember that Mrs. Sims left Walnut Grove at the end of season 4, like everyone else in town, never to return). How convenient, since the new teacher, Miss Wilder, has a bachelor brother, a strapping young hottie named Almonzo. Laura is immediately smitten (who among us wasn't?). Mrs. Oleson, though, has her "eyes on the prize", too, hoping to hook up her oh-so-available daughter Nellie with the new guy in town. Nellie, by the way, has just graduated from school, and her graduation gift (thinly disguised as a husband magnet) from her parents is a restaurant and hotel, neither of which she asked for or knows how to manage. Chaos ensues as Nellie and her mother try to cook and serve daily for a rightfully upset crowd. Laura, in the meantime, sidles up to Almonzo whenever possible; however, he regards her as nothing more than a "nice little girl".
Meanwhile, Charles is injured in an accident at the mill. While recuperating, Caroline decides to pick up the financial slack by accepting the job as head cook at Nellie's restaurant. Mrs. Oleson arranges for an intimate dinner between Nellie and Almonzo after hours, but despite Mrs. Oleson's begging Caroline refuses to cook on a Sunday. Laura volunteers to do it "free of charge", and Caroline relents. Laura, of course, has an alterior motive; she wants the dinner date to be anything but a success. She prepares an appalling chicken dish which succeeds in gagging Nellie and Almonzo and ending the date before it really even begins. End part 1.
This episode is brilliantly written, works on many levels, and manages to cover a lot of bases: it introduces a new teacher, and Laura's husband-to-be, and it paves the road to the future for not only Laura but, importantly, Nellie Oleson. A funny, thoughtful, pivotal winner of an episode. Don't miss it when it airs!