This is the third consecutive season to have an episode where the Garveys are devastated by a fire (and of course, this episode has the saddest ending). Season 4's The High Cost of Being Right and Season 5's Barn Burner presented similar trials for this family.
This is the first and only episode where a recurring character dies tragically on-screen.
In the scene where Pa goes up in the loft to talk to a pain-stricken Andy, notice how Patrick Laborteaux (Andy) briefly stumbles over his words. When he says "My Pa is mean. He's so mean sometimes, and it scares me," he mumbles halfway through and doesn't fully get the words out.
Notice actress Melissa Sue Anderson's make-up job as she sits in a near catatonic state in bed at Nellie's Hotel. She's wearing lots of orange-ish rouge, pink lip gloss and quite a bit of frosted blue eye shadow--definitely more 1980's than 1880's. Besides being over-the-top and out of place, Mary would have looked much more unkempt if she had really been sitting in bed for days on end. Furthermore, her curls are perfectly coiffed in many of those scenes. It makes sense that her mother and sisters helped brush her hair every day, but are we expected to believe that they washed and curled it too?
Nitpick: Unless there had been a gas leak at the blind school, it is doubtful that a fire would have spread as rapidly as it did after Hester Sue opened the basement door. It took all day for the smoking pipe to even catch fire, and then only a matter of minutes for the fire to have the entire building in flames.
When Hester Sue opens the basement door and sees the fire, why doesn't she shut it again? (Also, wouldn't the handle have been burning hot when she reached for it? We all remember learning that during fire prevention week in school!) Instead, she leaves it wide open, and the fire springs to the first story, rapidly engulfing everything.
Reply: The flames come barreling out in Hester Sue's face immediately, which doesn't give her the time or the opportunity to close the door again. A bigger question, though, is why didn't Alice Garvey shut the bedroom door when she saw the fire in the upstairs hallway? The viewer can clearly see that the flames were several feet from entering the room. She could have saved valuable minutes, and maybe calmly opened the window and escaped with the baby via the covered porch (which wasn't yet burning) if she had just slammed the door.
Second Reply: Also, given the fact that Hester Sue is normally a very intelligent woman, wouldn't it have been a red flag for her when she saw the clouds of smoke billowing out of the door before she opened it?
The poem that Albert reads to Mary in the scene in which his guilt drives him to soothe her is the first one in "Sonnets from the Portuguese" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Laura, Carrie, and baby Grace are not present in the pivotal final scene, which is unusual, since it is supposed to be a family/community gathering.
When Mary comes out of her shock toward the end of the episode and starts screaming violently, Albert steps back, gets upset, and runs out about 30 seconds later. It is only when he runs out the restaurant door that Laura emerges from the kitchen and runs upstairs. Mary had been screaming at the top of her lungs for a long time until Laura and Nellie finally hurried up there, which doesn't seem quite right.
When Alice and the baby are alone in the burning house and Alice is breaking the window frantically, look very closely and it looks very much as if she is using the baby like a stick to pound through the window.
The Blind School that burns down was mentioned before as being Lars Hanson's old house given to the Blind school when they came from Winoka. Later we see the same building again mentioned as Lars Hanson's house in the 9th season episode "Welcome to Olesonville" The building doesn't seem to have gone through any devasting fire!
With Albert's pipe smoking incident, it implied that it was the first time he tried smoking a pipe. His first time smoking a pipe was actually on the episode Blind Journey, when his face turned green as a result.
It seemed like Hester Sue didn't discover the fire until she opened one of the doors, even though smoke was coming through that particular door.
Nitpick: The picnic was meant to be a fundraiser to put an addition on the blind school. Why did they need a fundraiser when just two episodes earlier, Charles donated a hefty sum of reward money to the blind school? Also, the money they raised could have went to rebuilding the new school, at least partially, and yet they never mentioned that.
Reply: It is possible that the money was stored in the blind school on the night of the fire, and it burned to the ground with everything else.
Adam: As some of you may know, I was back East last week in New York. I spent some time with my father and told him about the tragedy we have had. You'd all have to know the way my father was in the past to realize what a miracle it is when I tell you that he has asked to be able to finance the rebuilding of the blind school. Believe me, I will never again look at any man on the face of the Earth and say that he'll never change. My father did make one request, that he be allowed to name the new school. He sent this plaque back with me. Mary? Jonathan? (Mary, Jonathan, and Andy step forward) We dedicate this school in memory of Alice Garvey and Adam Charles Holbrook Kendall. (Adam unveils plaque) May we make them proud.
Jonathan: (in tears) Oh, dear God, Charles, I keep thinking this is all a dream, and I'm gonna wake up, and Alice is gonna be here.
Charles: Well, if she was here, what do you think she'd say to you? What do you think she'd say to you?
Jonathan: I don't know!
Charles: She'd say, "Jonathan Garvey, what in God's sake is wrong with you?" That's what she'd say. She'd say, "What in God's sake is wrong with you, man I love? What is wrong with you?" That's what she'd say, isn't it, friend?
Jonathan: I just don't seem to know what I'm doing. Oh, dear God, am I supposed to forget her?
Charles: No. Dear God, no, you don't forget her. Time doesn't make you forget, not somebody you loved. You're gonna remember Alice, and I'm gonna remember my grandson. But we're gonna go on, and we need to try to live in a way that would make them proud. We've got to try.
Jonathan: Oh, God, I can't!
Charles: You can!
Jonathan: I can't!
Charles: Yes, you can. If you really love Alice, you can.
Jonathan: I can't!
Charles: You can! Andy's not just your son. He's a living part of Alice, a part of the woman you love. Every time you hurt him, you hurt Alice, and you hurt yourself!
Charles: I just thought I'd stop by.
Jonathan: Well, that's nice, but I'm fine.
Charles: Well, your son's not.
Jonathan: Get out of here, Charles.
Charles: No, Jonathan.
Jonathan: I didn't invite you here, so it would be best if you left now.
Charles: Not until we talk.
Jonathan: (getting angry) I don't want to hurt you, Charles.
Charles: Why, because I'm your friend? Andy's your son. You don't seem to mind hurting him.
Charles: I just don't see any sense in taking Mary to one of those.......what do you call them?
Charles: Psychiatrists. It doesn't make any sense to me, just sitting and talking to somebody. It would be different if they prescribed medicine or something.
Caroline: It's something new. It's worth a try.
Charles: Well, it's a waste of time and money. I'm surprised you'd go along with it.
Caroline: You just don't want Mary and Adam moving back East. Why don't you admit it?
Charles: Well, do you?
Caroline: What I want and what's good for Mary are two different things.
Charles: How's Albert been?
Caroline: Mm, about the same. He's willing to help with Mary, but he seems to close to tears all the time.
Charles: I'll have a talk with him tomorrow.
Caroline: Seems like a waste of time.
Caroline: Well, what good is it going to do just to talk to him? I mean, if you were going to give him medicine or something like that, then I could understand.
Caroline: Remind me never to argue with you.
Charles: Why don't you come to Church with us on Sunday? It helps, believe me.
Jonathan: Thank God for letting my wife die? That's what He did, ain't it? That's what He did for me. He let her die. And you want me to praise Him?
Jonathan: No. If you want to believe, that's fine for you, but not for me.
Charles: You believe, and you know it.
Jonathan: I don't want to. I don't want to believe. It's easier if I don't. Cuz if there is a God, Charles, he let your grandson die, and he let my Alice die, and I don't want to be believing in a God who would do that.
Charles: Why is God responsible? It's just something that happened.
Jonathan: Because he could have stopped it. I read about all them miracles in the Bible. If he could perform them miracles, then why didn't he perform one the other night? Why didn't he stop it? Tell me, Charles. Why?
Charles: I don't know. (long pause) If I did know, I'd be God.
Adam: All right, whose turn is it for prayers?
James: Mine. Dear Lord, thank you for all your blessings, and thank you for all the folks of Walnut Grove who helped us today. And I know you'll do something bad to the folks who didn't help.
James: Yes, sir?
Adam: Prayers are for thanking the Lord, not telling Him to punish people.
James: I didn't tell Him to do nothing. I just said I knew He would!
Adam: Just finish the prayer, James.
James: Yes, sir. Do what you think is best, Lord, and God bless all our loved ones. Amen.
Doc Baker: (as Jonathan and Andy sit by Alice's dead body) Jonathan? There's a room for you and Andrew at the hotel. Why don't you go on over there and take a rest?
Jonathan: I can't leave Alice.
Doc Baker: She'll be fine.
Jonathan: I don't want her in a plain box. She'd have wanted something pretty. Warm-looking.
Doc Baker: Whatever you say, Jonathan.
Jonathan: Promise me, Doc. No plain box. Something pretty.
Doc Baker: I promise.
Harriet: Oh, Adam! Adam!
Adam: Hello, Mrs. Oleson.
Harriet: Oh, my, it's just amazing to me how you can pick my voice out in such a large crowd of people!
Adam: Well, some voices are easier than others....
Actor John Zaremba (Judge Adams) appeared in literally hundreds of TV broadcasts in his fifty year career. In shows where he played a regular cast memeber, he almost always portrayed a doctor. He was Dr. Chaff on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the Medical Examiner on Perry Mason, Dr. Jensen in Ben Casey, Dr. Swain in Time Tunnel, and in his final recurring role, Dr. Danvers, in Dallas.
The scene where Alice is clearly using Mary and Adam's baby to break the window during the fire is a very dramatic one, but actress Hersha Parady (Alice) has actually laughed about this scene in previous interviews. According to her, Michael Landon used to joke about it being the "using blind Mary Ingalls' baby as a battering ram" scene.
"May We Make The Proud" is Hersha Parady's (Alice Garvey) and Patrick Laborteaux's (Andy Garvey) favorite episode.
Believe it or not, actress Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey) credits this as one of her favorite episodes. "It was a great fun playing with fire and getting to act up a storm," Parady once said. "And what a way to go!" Parady has even been known to re-enact her final, dramatic scene at some cast reunions.
Ted Voightlander was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a Series for this episode.