Little House on the Prairie

Episode 0

Look Back to Yesterday

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Dec 12, 1983 on NBC



  • Trivia

    • Charles' attitude about Albert dying in this episode is significantly different from his attitude about James dying in the season 8 finale He Was Only Twelve. In that episode, several people tried to make Charles accept that James was going to die from his gunshot wound, but Charles refused to accept it and went out to pray for a miracle instead, which ended up being given to James. In this episode, Charles accepts the news about Albert dying and he takes Albert back to Walnut Grove because Albert wants to spend his last days there. Then Charles gets mad at Laura when she refuses to accept Albert dying, even though he acted like that when James was dying in He Was Only Twelve. Charles seems to have forgotten all about his attitude when James was dying and the miracle that saved his life.

    • We never find out what really happened to Albert at the end of the series. At the end of season 9's Home Again, Laura's narration states that "years later, Albert Ingalls returned to Walnut Grove, and we were all so proud to have Doctor Albert Ingalls home again." In this episode, the doctor says that Albert's disease is incurable and he is going to die, but we never see or hear anything about him actually dying in this episode and nothing is brought up about it in the 2 movies after this. Therefore, it's possible that Albert could have survived his illness, returned to Walnut Grove as a doctor, and left Walnut Grove sometime between this episode and when the town of Walnut Grove was destroyed in The Last Farewell or it's possible that Albert survived his illness, the town of Walnut Grove was rebuilt after The Last Farewell, the citizens gained ownership of Walnut Grove, and Albert came back to Walnut Grove as a doctor after that.

    • Caroline and the rest of the Ingalls family in Burr Oak don't appear at all in this episode, even after Charles is told that Albert is dying. Despite the possible conflicts with having work and school in Burr Oak, it seems out of character for Caroline to not make arrangements for the whole family to visit Albert and Charles in Walnut Grove after she is told that Albert is dying.

    • In the last scene, when Laura and Albert are on top of the mountain, there are two close-ups of when they raise their hands together. The first time, you can see that the sleeve of Laura's dress is unbuttoned, and the second time, her sleeve is buttoned up.

    • Notice the scene where Albert comes back to Walnut Grove for the first time since his illness was revealed, and everyone is there to greet him. Melissa Gilbert (Laura) confessed in her 2009 memoir, Prairie Tale, that she had been out drinking the night before, and she was still hung over as she filmed this scene. She says it's particularly noticeable when she goes to hug Albert, and the camera zooms in on her face. To this day, she still feels a little guilty about it.

    • Notice the scene after the baseball game, after Albert has collapsed and Doc Baker is caring for him at Laura's house. When Charles says to Albert, "You don't want anyone to be ignoring your advice when you're a doctor, do you?" Albert says, "Of course not," sits up, and the blood comes pouring out of his nose. But in the very next shot, when Charles runs over to put the cloth to his son's nose, there is clearly no blood on Albert's shirt. The way it came pouring out, though, there's no way he couldn't have gotten any on his clothes.

    • Twin toddlers Michelle and Jennifer Steffin make their debut as baby Rose here, and they appeared in all three of the final Little House movies. However, because they were hired as extras and did not have speaking roles, they did not appear in the credits. Today, Michelle works in a warehouse, and Jennifer is a medical assistant with children of her own.

    • Young actress Shonda Whipple, who plays Jason's love interest Amy Bryant, is the same little girl who was in Season 9's Home Again, Part 2, only in that episode, her name was Tami Cook.

    • Look closely at Almanzo early in the episode, when he, Charles, Mr. Montague, Mr. Edwards, Laura, Jenny, and Albert are eating dinner and talking about the crops. It looks very much like Almanzo is wearing jeans, which would obviously be a huge and careless clothing error in depicting this time period.

    • Laura tells Almanzo of a childhood "club" she belonged to as a child that was made up of herself, Albert, Willie, and "a boy named Andy Garvey." It's surprising that Laura would explain Andy to Almanzo as if Almanzo didn't know who he was. Almanzo knew the Garvey family well, both in Walnut Grove during Season 6 and after Jonathan and Andy moved to Sleepy Eye in Season 7.

    • Goof: When Albert is climbing the hill and he drops his coat...Laura picks it up, but then the next picture he's holding it again, the next scene Laura is holding it again.

    • Nitpick: In reruns where this episode is split into two parts, you may notice, credits at the end of the first part are old ones and no credits start the 2nd part at all.

  • Quotes

    • Sarah: (when Laura is near tears because of Albert) Laura, I could finish this if you would rather.
      Laura: No, that's all right. It helps to keep busy. You know, I keep thinking this is all just a dream, and I'm going to wake up.
      Sarah: I know. Jeb and Jason haven't known Albert for very long, but that didn't make it any easier to tell them. I think it's easier for a child to accept an adult dying, but when it's somebody like Albert.......

    • Amy: Jason Carter, I wouldn't kiss you if you were the last boy on Earth! (runs away)
      Jason: (to Jeb) See what you've done?
      Jeb: I didn't do nothing!
      Jason: You heard her. She said she wouldn't kiss me if I was the last boy on Earth.
      Jeb: And you believe that?
      Jason: You think she was lying?
      Jeb: Of course I do.
      Jason: (eyes light up) Yeah!
      Jeb: Now all you have to do is wait for the rest of us to die! (laughs and leaves)
      Jason: Thanks a lot, Jeb!

    • Albert: Mr. Carter? Mr. Edwards agreed to give our team a rematch. What do you say?
      John: (smiles) I'm gonna do it, snake ball and all.
      Albert: (smiles, looks at Jenny, and tugs fondly on her braid) Come on. (the two of them leave)
      Mr. Edwards: I can't believe it. The boy wants to play baseball.
      Charles: He wants us to treat him like nothing's wrong, and that's what we're gonna do. That's exactly what we're gonna do.

    • Albert: I wanted to go back out and help with the farm! Why didn't somebody wake me up?
      Laura: Well, I asked Pa not to. I didn't think you needed to be in that hot sun.
      Albert: It's really not that bad. I enjoy working and talking with everybody.
      Laura: Albert, you've got to get some rest. Why is it that you have to be doing something all the time?
      Mr. Montague: If both of you will excuse me, I have to get these chapters on the afternoon stage.
      Albert: Mr. Montague, would you mind giving me a ride into town?
      Mr. Montague: Why, no, not at all. I'll bring the buggy around to the front. (leaves)
      Albert: Laura, the things I want to do, I can't put off until tomorrow! Pa understands that. I just wish you could.

    • Albert: (reading a letter from the college) "I proudly award you a four-year scholarship to the University of Minnesota School of Medicine." I made it. I made it!
      Charles: Darn right, you did.
      Albert: You know something? I really think I would have made a fine doctor.
      Charles: I know you would have. And I'm gonna tell you something. You've been the greatest son a man could ever have, I'll tell you.
      Albert: You weren't so bad yourself. (they hug)

    • Laura: I can't believe you're going along with this!
      Charles: Laura, he's going on a field trip. It's no different than anything else he's been doing.
      Laura: Well, I guess it's all right, then. I mean, if Albert wants to play baseball or stay up at Michelle's house all hours of the night, everyone just smiles and wishes him well.
      Charles: These are the things he wants to do. You know that.
      Laura: Pa, you've seen him. He looks so weak! He needs to get some rest!
      Charles: Why?
      Laura: (pause) I guess it doesn't matter what I have to say. I mean, if it's climbing up to the keepsake tree, if Albert wants to do it, then he's just gonna go right ahead and do it.
      Charles: All right, what is it you want me to do?
      Laura: I want you to tell him that he cannot climb that mountain!
      Charles: Laura, Albert is going to die.
      Laura: I know that. Why are you telling me that?
      Charles: I want him to spend the time he has left doing what he wants to do. If you had it your way, he'd spend the rest of his life in bed.
      Laura: Well, why not? It's better than watching him drain himself!
      Charles: Better for him, or better for you?

    • Nancy: Could I ask Albert a question?
      Miss Plum: Well, certainly.
      Nancy: What's it like knowing you're gonna die?
      Children: Nancy!
      Miss Plum: Nancy, I don't think that's any of your business.
      Albert: Oh, it's all right, Miss Plum. I don't mind talking about it. I, um......well, first, I was scared and angry. But once I started to think about my life, I found that I made myself some wonderful memories--you know, all the good times, all the good friends. And you know, the best thing about it all is that they all took place right here, and that's why I came back, because there's no better place on God's Earth. Just don't waste the time you have left. All of you. Just go out and have a good time, and make yourself lots of good friends. You see, that way, when it's your time to look back and find your memories, you'll see that you won't be scared or angry, either.

    • Mr. Edwards: (at the town meeting, after Zach insulted Albert) Quiet! Quiet a minute, I said! Zach Taylor, that boy that just walked out of here is more of a man than you will ever be. And he cares a hell of a lot more about this town! He remembers it when it was a town, full of friends and neighbors who cared about each other, who were willing to work together, no matter how tough it got! You told him to come back here when he's a man. You see, he can't do that, because he's dying. But he came back here, because of all the places in the world, this place--this town--is where he wanted to spend his last days. And you all think you've got it tough! I'm just sorry he saw what happened to this town.

    • Charles: I talked to Laura. She and Almanzo are making plans to come and see you before I take you home.
      Albert: Pa, I've been thinking. I want to go home, but I don't want to go home to Burr Oak. I want to go home to Walnut Grove.
      Charles: Walnut Grove? But you ought to be with your family.
      Albert: Pa, just hear me out. I've been trying to think about what I'd like to do with the time I've got left. You know, seeing some of the places I've been talking about going to see. But my mind keeps going back to Walnut Grove.
      Charles: But your Ma--
      Albert: I've been thinking about that, too. I've been thinking about Ma, and my brother, and my sisters. Pa, I don't want them to watch me die. That's all they'd be doing, watching it happen. They won't be able to do anything about it. It's better for them.
      Charles: No. They want to be with you.
      Albert: But I don't want them to be. I don't have much time left. I want to spend it doing as many things as I can. Things I used to do when I was a kid. I know it sounds selfish, but it's my last chance.
      Charles: Albert, I understand how you feel, but--
      Albert: No, you don't understand. Nobody understands how I feel but me. I know you're trying to, but you don't know. It's my time, Pa. Don't you think I have a say in what I want to do with the rest of my life?

    • Charles: Wait a minute, wait a minute. This blood disease......I never told you before, but Albert had a problem with morphine a little while back. I think that this is maybe just an aftermath of that.
      Doctor: I don't think so. I've seen this disease in infants, as well as adults.
      Charles: Well, if you've seen it're supposed to be a doctor! You know what it is! Do something about it!
      Doctor: Mr. Ingalls, I've told you--
      Charles: I don't care what you told me! You're a doctor. You went to school to learn how to save lives. Save my son's life.
      Doctor: I can't. I can't.

    • Charles: How long will the treatments take before you can get him back on his feet?
      Doctor: Mr. Ingalls, I'm sorry, but......well, there is no treatment. Albert's not going to get any better. Only worse.
      Mr. Edwards: Wait a minute, Doc. Are you trying to tell us that Albert can't be helped?
      Doctor: Yes, that's right.
      Charles: I--I don't understand. I mean, he's been fine up until yesterday. He's been a little tired, but--
      Doctor: Mr. Ingalls, Albert has had this problem for a very long time, and now we're just beginning to see the symptoms because it's getting progressively worse.

    • Albert: (about Walnut Grove) Laura, are you happy here? I mean, now that you're married and you have Rose?
      Laura: Yeah, I'm very happy. If I had it my way, I'd stay here for the rest of my life.
      Albert: Me too. I'm going to school to become a doctor, but I want to come back here. This is where life seems to be the best, not in the city, where nobody has time for one another.
      Laura: Will the future "Doctor Ingalls" be giving my family a discount?
      Albert: Oh, of course. You can pay me with one chicken instead of two.

    • Jason: Wait a minute. Didn't the other girl like you kissing her?
      Jeb: I don't know. Come on, Jason, or the eggs will get cold.
      Jason: This is more important than eggs! We're talking about kissing!
      Jeb: Jason, will you just forget about it? Amy Bryant already told you she ain't gonna kiss you.
      Jason: Well, so what? I'll kiss someone else, then. I don't care who it is. Danburnit! I'll be an old man before I get any kissing!

    • Jason: Mr. Edwards, you probably know quite a bit about kissing girls, don't you?
      Mr. Edwards: Kissing? Aren't you a little young to be thinking about something like that?
      Jason: Oh, um, I wasn't asking for me. It's......for my friend. He's older, but kind of shy.
      Mr. Edwards: Oh. Well, it's pretty much up to the individual, but mostly you just pucker up and smack 'em on the lips!
      Jason: Do you keep your eyes open or closed?
      Mr. Edwards: Well, the ladies, they like to close their eyes, see, but I like to keep mine open.
      Jason: Why?
      Mr. Edwards: Well, because my aim ain't too good. See, you don't want to wind up kissing them on the nose, especially if you've got a cold!

    • Albert: You had a dream about us?
      Michelle: Yeah.
      Albert: Well, go on, tell me about it.
      Michelle: No, you'll just laugh and think I'm silly.
      Albert: I promise I won't, cross my heart and hope to die!
      Michelle: (about his death) Why do you joke about it?
      Albert: Why not?

  • Notes

    • This is the second time in the series that Albert addresses the children at the Walnut Grove School about the importance of living life to the fullest and making good choices. He did this previously, in Season 9's Home Again, Part 2.

    • If the young man playing Miss Plum's fiance Vance Reed looks familiar to you, it's because he is Cooper Huckabee, the actor who also appeared in Season 2's Troublemaker as one of Miss Beadle's problematic older students. It's been eight years since Huckabee appeared last, but when they show close-ups of his face, you can see that he looks exactly the same as he did back then, when he was just a big, immature schoolboy.

    • Katherine MacGregor (Harriet Oleson) did not appear in this episode.

    • Note that while Almanzo had longer hair in seasons 6 through 8, his hair is now the shortest it's ever been. It is a very significant difference, especially now that he's wearing his hat less often.

    • Goof/Nitpick: In the scene where Albert and Pa arrive in Walnut Grove at Laura and Almonzo's house, we're treated to a close-up of Melissa Gilbert as she hugs Matthew Laborteaux. She's clearly wearing 80's style, peach colored plastic ball-style earrings with butterfly closures on the back. They look totally out of place in this scene, as the plastic in particuar wouldn't have been available in that time period.

    • Sherwood Montague (Robert Casper) & Rachel Brown (Sherri Stoner) were credited as part of the town in this episode.

    • Michael Landon and Matthew Laborteaux are credited as special guest stars in this episode.

    • This was a 2 hour episode.

  • Allusions

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