When Harriet sees Lou in the store, she says that she's never seen a midget before. This isn't true. Back in season's 6's Annabelle, she would have seen a midget then. Especially at the scene where they're at the restaurant, the midget opens up the doors and says,"Let us begin. Our leading lady is here." And by the way, the actor that played the midget in that episode was played by Billy Bart, the same one that's in this episode.
Apparently, John Carter never told Mr. Anderson that Lou was a little person, because Anderson seemed surprised when he saw Lou for the first time. The 1880's were not as progressive as now (and in fact, even now, in the 21st century, it's unlikely that a person in Lou's position wouldn't be stared at in public and in the workplace). Though John seems like a person who would not judge another person by their outward appearance, it's unrealistic that John would completely omit that information when he recommended Lou to Anderson.
In the scene where Sarah and Laura go to invite John to lunch at the restaurant, they walk away at the end of the scene, and there's just a shot of the two women walking from a distance. Pamela Roylance (Sarah) said in a previous interview that during this scene, Melissa Gilbert (Laura) shook her head and said, "This is one of Michael Landon's favorite tricks; he doesn't yell "cut," and he just lets you walk off into the sunset." Sure enough, when the two of them turned around, everyone was standing and laughing. If you watch the two of them in the scene as they are walking away, you may notice Laura shaking her head, and you'll know why.
Laura's overvoice at the end of the episode indicates that Lou stuck around Walnut Grove for a long time, working at the bank, and yet we don't see him for the rest of the series.
What happened to Nancy in this episode is very similar to what little Carrie Ingalls underwent in Season 3's Little Girl Lost, only this time around, Nancy is rescued a lot more quickly. In both episodes, the child victim could only be saved by a man who was fighting to earn the respect of a Walnut Grove townsperson.
When Lou steals from the mercantile, most of the town defends him, since Mrs. Oleson refused to let anyone hire him, and he needed some way to provide for himself and his child. However, Lou did steal a doll for the baby, which was not exactly a "necessity," so it wasn't the same as taking food or clothing. In that sense, then, Lou was in the wrong, but this was not addressed.
At the beginning of the episode, Lou tells his wife that they better not spoil their baby daughter, because she'll eventually be too big for them to spank. However, later in the episode, we see Lou telling baby Cynthia that he's going to give her a room of her own with pink lacy curtains, a beautiful doll, and all kinds of other things. I suppose most new parents melt as soon as they meet their children, even when they promise themselves they won't spoil them.
When Lou Bates is inquiring about a job at the mercantile, Mrs. Oleson doesn't know his name. He says Lou Bates and she repeats it saying, "Yes, Mr. Gates." No one corrects her mistake.
Look closely when Lou goes down the well to get Nancy out. When he first locates her, she is all sweaty and grimy, with dirt caked on her face, and her bangs are sticking with sweat to her face. However, when she is pulled out and reunited with her parents, her bangs are all neat and in place, she is not at all sweaty, and she appears to have only a little bit of dirt on her.
Nitpick: Lou Bates seems to have wispy white hair when told about a bank tellers job. The next scene shows him with reddish hair and the next day in the bank, wispy whitish hair again. A colouring out of sequence recording perhaps? Maybe not, as the light in the night may have given Lou reddish (or darker colour hair) and he has all the clown makeup and all in his wagon. So this is really nitpicking a scene greatly perhaps.
Goof: Upon meeting Lou Bates, Mrs. Oleson says she has never seen a midget before, but this is not true. In the season 6 episode Annabelle, not only was there a little person, but the actor playing him in that episode (Billy Barty) is the same person who plays Lou here. Additionally, Mrs. Oleson seems to have forgotten - once again - a lesson she's had to learn many times over the course of the series: not judging a person by their appearance.
Lou: I'm not going on with the circus, John. Alice asked me not to. She said it was because of all the traveling, but I think that was only part of it. I don't think she wanted our daughter to grow up watching people watching me, and laughing. You know, the funny little man in the clown suit. Maybe she was right.
Lou: (to his baby girl) As soon as I start my new job, we can get a nice house near town, and you can have your own room, all pink and pretty, with lace curtains on the windows. And you'll have the biggest doll in Walnut Grove, even bigger than me! There will be kids to play with, and school, and that's very important, because if you work really hard, you may even go to college. And if anybody asks you what your daddy does, you can tell them, "He works at a bank, and he's the best teller in the world!"
Harriet: (to Lou) You saved my little girl's life, and I don't know how to thank you. I'm so sorry for what I did. If I hadn't interfered, none of this would have happened. (long pause) I, uh.......oh, and I wired the circuit court judge and told him it was all a mistake, so you're free to go anytime you want. Oh, and I spoke to Mr. Anderson over at the bank, and he wants you to start working for him tomorrow. Well, that's about it......(more silence, Lou doesn't say anything, Harriet starts to cry) I don't expect you to accept my apology, but I want you to know that I am truly sorry. I don't know why it is I have such a short temper!
Harriet: I have such a short temper.
Lou: If anyone has a short temper, it should be me. (chuckles) I'm not a small man. I accept your apology.
John: What do you have against Lou Bates?
Harriet: Lou Bates? I don't know what you mean.
John: Yes, you do. You told Bill Anderson you'd cancel your account if he hired him.
Harriet: Oh, that Lou Bates.
John: Yes, that Lou Bates!
Harriet: Oh, for Heaven's sake, what are you so upset about?
John: I'm upset because he's a good man trying to earn a living, and you're stopping him. Why?
Harriet: Well, because I don't want his kind around here, in Walnut Grove. You should thank me.
John: What is his kind?
Harriet: Good Heavens, I shouldn't think I'd have to tell you that.
John: Well, you do!
Harriet: All right, then. I will. He is deformed. He's not like us. He's a troll, that's what he is! For Heaven's sake, you have eyes. You can see. Why, for Heaven's sake, he's spent his whole life in a sideshow!
John: Because people like you made him!
John: (about Lou) He has a family, and he's got to earn a living somewhere!
Harriet: Fine! Let him make a living somewhere else!
Harriet: Because he's not like us! I don't trust him. I don't trust him with the children. He's different.
John: Mrs. Oleson, cancel my account at the mercantile and the restaurant.
Harriet: Well, why, for Heaven's sake?
John: Because I can't trust you. Your eyes are too close together.
John: (when Lou is caught stealing) Why, Lou? Why'd you do it?
Lou: I don't know.
John: If you needed money or food, you could have asked.
Lou: Would it be easy for you to ask? Would you want your family to know that you're a beggar?
Lou: My wife wanted a girl. I'm sure it's going to be a girl.
John: How about you?
Lou: (smiles) Boy. Girl. Either one. Just as long as it's healthy. You know--big people. Oh, I don't mind--the circus has been good to me--but not for our baby.
Alice: (to her husband as she is dying) Don't, Louis, please. We've got to talk. I don't want you to go back to the circus. I know it's a lot to ask, but for your daughter's sake, please don't. It's no life for a girl, always moving around, never really belonging anywhere. I'm not asking you to promise, just to try.
Lou: You know I'll try. I'll really try.
Alice: (smiles, looks down at the baby) Cynthia is beautiful.
Lou: (about his new baby daughter) She's beautiful.
Alice: You're prejudice.
Lou: No. Uh-uh. Even if she wasn't ours, I'd say it.
Alice: She is beautiful.
Lou: Doc Baker says she's perfect. Just perfect.
Alice: We'd better not keep calling our baby "she." She has a name, you know.
Lou: Cynthia's perfect. We better not spoil her, because when she grows up, she'll be too big to spank.
Jeb: I'm just trying to figure out who's more excited about Lou's new job--you or Lou!
John: (laughs) It's just a good feeling to see something good happen for a guy like Lou.
Sarah: You're sure he'll get the job?
John: I'm certain of it. Couldn't be more perfect for him.
Featured characters: Lou Bates, Harriet Oleson, John Carter
Longtime Michael Landon fans may recognize this story. It's similar to the Bonanza episode "It's a Small World."