This is a charming episode. The town-wide celebration of Founder's Day provides the writers with an opportunity to explore lots of different characters and character relationships. The Ingalls/Oleson rivalry is three-fold here with Laura losing to Nellie, Mary losing to Willie and Harriet and Caroline competeing against one another in a pie contest (neither wins). The 'elitism' of the Oleson's is reinforced by the fact that they eat at a table in their yard, set with china and silver no less, while the Ingalls family picnics on the grass. Mr. Hanson has some fine moments in this episode. He has always been a favorite 'townie' of mine. I love the look of pride on his face each time he announces that the prize for the wood chopping contest was donated by Hanson's Lumber!
Charles is interesting here. There are several facets of his personality on display in this episode. Traits we've seen from him before, to be sure, but never all at once. There is proud Charles. He is fiercely determined that he is going to put Mr. Tyler away in the contest. He has allowed the man to get to him and he is going to feel so much better after he whoops him.
And then there is 'family Charles'-so proud of his girls, having a good old fun time at the celebration, laughing that belly laugh of his when they fall in the mud-such a fun guy. And finally there is empathetic Charles. After a beautifully delivered speech by Mrs. Tyler he decides to do the 'right' thing and lets Mr. Tyler have his day. This is a great scene. The monologue was well written and, as I said, delivered with eloquence. Charles says nothing in this scene, which is very powerful. We are left to decide for ourselves what he will do. It's not until the close-up shot of the old axe do we realize what the outcome will be.
His explanation to Laura at the end was simple and lovely, a touching moment that didn't have to try too hard.
This was a great episode with which to end the first season; it definately leaves one wanting more.