Little House on the Prairie

Season 5 Episode 23

Mortal Mission

1
Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Mar 12, 1979 on NBC
6.1
out of 10
User Rating
62 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Determined to make it through the winter season, a pair of men earn money by selling tainted meat to the Walnut Grove community. Several townspeople later become infected with anthrax, including Laura, Albert, Adam, Alice, and Nels. The victims are confined to the blind school, and with time running out to help them, Charles and Jonathan go out to retrieve some medicine.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • When two brothers knowingly sell tainted meat, they and many others in the town become victims of anthrax.

    8.5
    Two brothers have sick beasts, but they don't want to lose money on them, so they slaughter them and sell the meat to unsuspecting people across Hero Township. The result is that many of the key players end up with anthrax and the blind school is turned into a hospital.



    Of course, it's a repitition of "The Plague", but I found this one enjoyable in its own right, especially as Harriet Oleson showed a human side for the second time in the season! The part that I found the most annoying was when Jonathan and Charles were dispatched to the train station to collect medical supplies which Doctor Baker had ordered. On the way back, they are hijacked by a desperate man with a gun who wants their wagon and horses. He takes them prisoner in his home where his son is ill with anthrax and their home makes the Ingalls family look positively prosperous by comparison. I felt that this entire sub-plot was unnecessary and took away from what was happening in Walnut Grove itself. The two brothers died with anthrax and so did several others but the main characters survived (as we knew they would) and Ketty Lester treated us once again to her lovely singing voice.



    I enjoyed it, overall.moreless
  • Residents of Wlanut Grove eat tainted meat; the result is anthrax.

    6.0
    Yet another installment where characters are introduced and die in the same episode. When two brothers sell bad meat to the residents of Hero township, the result is anthrax. Many main characters become ill, but of course it's only the ones we've never seen before who die. This episode already played out in season 1's "Plague". The "mission" in the title refers to a trip Charles and Jonathan take to retrieve medicines, only to be held hostage (another recurring theme in seasons 5 thru 10) by a deranged father. Not bad, but don't go out of your way to see it.moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Patrick Labyorteaux

Patrick Labyorteaux

Andrew 'Andy' Garvey (1977 - 1981) (as Patrick Laborteaux)

Dabbs Greer

Dabbs Greer

Reverend Alden

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Matt Clark

Matt Clark

Seth Berwick

Guest Star

Jerry Hardin

Jerry Hardin

Slade

Guest Star

Charles Parks

Charles Parks

Virgil Fenton

Guest Star

Ketty Lester

Ketty Lester

Hester-Sue

Recurring Role

Dan Priest

Dan Priest

Stationmaster

Recurring Role

Ruth Foster

Ruth Foster

Mrs. Foster

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Goof: When Mr. Oleson is bringing the medicine to the blind school, two men come out of the school with a cot with what is suppose to be one of the dead people that they are carrying out. But when they walk by Mr. Oleson's wagon, you can see one of the men holding the cot reach up to hold his hat as a gust of wind comes. When he does this, he lets go of one side of the cot and it tips completely sideways, yet no body falls off, making it clear that nobody was actually on it.

    • Goof: When Caroline brings a sick Andy to Doc Baker at the blind school, they put him in a chair, and Caroline leaves to go get her children and Alice. Doc Baker is seen unbuttoning Andy's coat from the top to the bottom. But when it zooms in on Hester Sue, then back to Doc Baker, you see him unbuttoning Andy's coat from top to bottom again!

    • Notice the look on Patrick Laborteaux's (Andy Garvey's) face as the camera pans the room while Hester Sue sings at the end of the episode. His expression is almost a sneer; he looks like he can hardly stand the sound of her voice. Why this wasn't re-shot or edited out is a mystery, but it's laugh-out-loud funny to see his expression, especially compared to the beaming faces of those around him at what is supposed to be a very profound moment.

    • Charles and Jonathan arrive home from their out-of-town trip to find a note stating their families are at the blind school, sick with anthrax, yet Doc Baker has not officially diagnosed the illness, and doesn't until a few scenes later, as he looks under his microscope.

    • When Laura goes temporarily blind during her illness, Caroline calls her "Half-Pint" for the first and only time in the entire series. Normally, that is just Charles and Mr. Edwards' special nickname for her.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Nels Oleson: (Mrs. Oleson is giving him medicine) Oh, I hate the taste of that stuff! I'd much rather have some more sherry!
      Willie Oleson: Yeah! Same here, Pa!
      Mrs Oleson: Oh, good grief, open wide!

    • Charles: (suspects Hank's horse died from anthrax and the horsemeat gave his son anthrax) You just butchered that animal for food, or did it come down sick first?
      Hank: Keeled over dead, and then I butchered. That important or something?
      Jonathan: Our people took sick after eating infected meat.
      Charles: Anthrax! That boy can die if he's not treated properly.

    • Charles: (watching Dr Baker analysing the blood samples) You sure it's anthrax?
      Dr Baker: No question. All these blood samples show the same filiminus bacterium.
      Jonathan: How did they get it, Doc?
      Dr Baker: Well, from what I've been able to determine, the one thing the sick have in common is the mutton Garth and Virgil Fenton sold 'em.
      Jonathan: They had to know it was diseased meat!

    • Garth Fenton: (Virgil has asked Garth what he thinks is wrong with their sheep.) Dunno for sure, Virgil. It could be the anthrax. If we lose the whole flock we're not gonna make it through the winter.
      Virgil Fenton: What are we gonna do?
      Garth: The only one thing we can do. Butcher them that dies and sell the meat to whoever'll buy it.
      Virgil: Aw, no-one's going to buy mutton with the anthrax!
      Garth: We're not sure it's anthrax and we ain't tellin' nobody nothin'!
      Virgil: We can't do that, Garth!
      Garth : Says who?
      Virgil: But if it is anthrax, well, people'll get it too! They'll die!
      Garth: Maybe, maybe not. But I'll tell you one thing, Virgil - we'll die, starve, if we don't peddle 'em sheep! Now, we'll set a real bargain price and people'll just snap that mutton up.
      Virgil: I ain't going to do it, Garth!
      Garth: You are, Virgil! Now you listen to me! I've always taken good care of you, haven't I? Haven't I always been a good brother to you?...Then you do what I say, all right?
      Virgil: Well, who are we going to sell 'em to?
      Garth: Well, anybody. Anybody that'll buy 'em. Them folks up at the blind school's dirt poor, lots of mouths to feed, and always looking for a bargain...all right, Virgil, c'mon, let's get to butcher.

    • Mr. Berwick: (sees Dr Baker treating the Fentons, who caused the anthrax outbreak) No, sir, forget that!...You ain't givin' 'em any medicine. I know who these two are! Not medicine, not the medicine in my boy and the others need here...
      Hester Sue: Listen! They're sick too, and they need medicine just like the rest of the folk.
      Mr. Berwick: What's the matter with you? I know who they are! They're the ones that killed my wife, maybe my boy and these other people. They don't deserve to live.
      Hester Sue: Why don't you let that be the Lord's decision, Mr. Berwick - not yours?

    • Jonathan: (He and Charles find the Fenton brothers sick with anthrax) I don't know where they were going, but they didn't get very far.
      Charles: This one's still breathing.
      Jonathon: So's this one, but barely.
      Charles: All right, let's get those sheep buried. We'll get 'em to Doctor Baker.

    • Nels: (tending to her ill husband) Oh, I do love you, Nels Oleson.
      Harriet: Do you? I.....well, honestly, I just don't know how you put up with me sometimes.
      Nels: I don't put up with you. I love you.

    • As another body is removed from the blind school (and temporary hospital)
      Dr. Baker: I'm not a doctor anymore, I'm a funeral director.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Actor Matt Clark appears in this episode as Seth Berwick, an anguished father who is watching his child die after being infected with anthrax. Clark also appeared in Season 1's Plague, which had a very similar plot and featured Clark as a man who lost both his wife and son to a vicious plague.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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