Little House on the Prairie

Season 4 Episode 3

My Ellen

1
Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Sep 26, 1977 on NBC
6.8
out of 10
User Rating
70 votes
4

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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My Ellen
AIRED:
A trip to the swimming hole with Mary and Laura sets the stage for tragedy when a fierce undercurrent takes 11-year-old Ellen Taylor's life. As the girl's mother withdraws in denial, she blames Laura for the accident and alienates everyone around her. With Eloise now disconnected from the entire Walnut Grove community, Laura attempts to cheer her up with a home visit and some flowers, but the woman's emotionally unstable condition puts Laura in some real danger.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • drowning death

    7.0
    didnt nee d to blame laura for ellens wish ellen had siblings.
  • Mary and Laura go swimming with their young friend, Ellen Taylor, but sadly, Ellen drowns in an undercurrent.

    5.5
    In spite of the horror involved in little Ellen's death, I didn't like this episode very much. Ellen's distraught mother blames Laura for her daughter's death and becomes more unhinged as time moves on, disassociating herself from just about everyone and keeping to herself and her delusionary thoughts that Ellen is still living.



    Where were the usually helpful citizens of the town when the grieving mother needed support? And did her husband not notice in some way that she was losing her mind?



    When Laura, bowed down by guilt, goes to visit Mrs. Talor, the obviously unbalanced women thinks that she is Ellen and makes her put on one of Ellen's dresses before locking her in the basement. An odd thing to do if she really believes Laura is her dead child.



    The end where Laura escapes was a little to cheesy for me, as it only took a loud pronouncement from Laura about Ellen being dead to snap the woman back to reality.



    Not one of my personal favourites.moreless
  • A walnut Grove girl drowns herself in the swimming hole after her school chums discover that she's flat-chested.

    7.5
    (Still in satire mode from the last episode review [see "Times of Change"]) Even now as an adult, different scenes in this episode still creep me out. For example, the night scene is what I remember most vividly from the first time I ever saw this one, and the torches reflecting on the water as the men search for Ellen's body. Every time I see that scene, I still find it freaky, as are the scenes of Ellen's out-of-her-mind mother slamming the cellar door on a captive Laura, and later hallucinating and petting Laura, imagining her to be her deceased daughter. This episode gets some points for entertainment value, but sinks (pardon the pun) on lines of credibility. How did Ellen drown so quickly when she only ducked her head under for a moment? Why did Mary and Laura never duck their heads under for a quick search to see if Ellen had gotten caught under something in the swimming hole? After Ellen's mother Eloise made viscious accusations against Laura at the funeral, why did no one immediately suspect her of malice when Laura went missing? Finally, how in the world did Eloise envision Laura to be her daughter? I mean, I get that she's grief-stricken and all, but she's not blind, for crying out loud. Laura looks nothing like Ellen, and if her mom is that nuts believing her to be her daughter, why would she have to keep her beloved "daughter" hostage in a root cellar? The final element of this episode that just makes it so riotous is the last scene in which Laura finally escapes, with mad-mom Eloise hot on her trail, only to crash land on Ellen's grave. Instead of needing extensive psychotherapy, Laura screaming, "Ellen's dead! Your daughter is dead!" at the top of her lungs snaps the poor dame right out of her dimentia.moreless
  • Ellen's mother has difficulties accepting her daughters accidnetal death.

    8.1
    Laura and Mary convince Ellen's mom to let Ellen come and swim with them. While they are swimming, a couple of boys come to get a "better look." When the girls realize the boys are there, they duck under the water. Ellen never resurfaces. Laura brings Ellen's mother, Eloise, flowers one day to try and cheer her up. Eloise, still in denial about the death of Ellen, believes that Laura is actually Ellen and locks her in the cellar. "Suspicion is raised when Eloise is in town buying a birthday present for Ellen. As Charles, Jonathan, and Ellen's father are headed out there, Laura escapes and runs up the hill toward Ellens grave. Caught by Eloise, Laura snaps her back to reality, and Eloise deals with her grief.

    moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Michael Landon

Michael Landon

Charles Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Karen Grassle

Karen Grassle

Caroline Quiner Holbrook Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Lindsay Greenbush

Lindsay Greenbush

Carrie Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

James Wainwright

James Wainwright

Cal Taylor

Guest Star

Corinne Camacho

Corinne Camacho

Eloise Taylor

Guest Star

Ken Johnson

Ken Johnson

Busby

Guest Star

Merlin Olsen

Merlin Olsen

Jonathan Garvey

Recurring Role

Bryce Berg

Bryce Berg

Jason

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (9)

    • While Eloise and Laura are down in the cellar with the birthday cake if you look closely at Laura's teeth you can see that she is wearing braces.

    • Eloise buys 12 candles at the mercantile but when we see the candles on the cake there are only 10.

    • After Ellen's mother Eloise made viscious accusations against Laura at the funeral, why did no one immediately suspect her of malice when Laura went missing?

    • How did Ellen drown so quickly when she only ducked her head under for a moment? Why did Mary and Laura never duck their heads under for a quick search to see if Ellen had gotten caught under something in the swimming hole?

    • Starting now, Carrie is officially attending school in Walnut Grove with her sisters. This is the first and only season where the three original Ingalls daughters--Mary, Laura, and Carrie--go to school together.

    • Part of the reason Ellen drowned was because the girls dunked underwater quickly when they discovered a group of boys trying to peek at them without theit clothes on. In Laura's Ingalls Wilder's fourth book, On the Banks of Plum Creek, which featured Laura as a girl about the same age as Laura in this episode, Laura Ingalls Wilder talked about how she and her sister Mary wore old clothes to swim. Back in the day, skinny-dipping was as inappropriate for girls that age as it is today. What's more, in episodes like Season 2's A Matter of Faith and Season 9's Times are Changing, the boys wore their pants (and sometimes even their suspenders) and just removed their shirts while swimming, and the girls often swam in their bloomers (or the wealthy girls, like Nellie and Nancy Oleson, had fancy old-fashioned bathing suits). That being said, it's unusual that Mary, Laura, Ellen, and Carrie didn't have anything on in this particular episode's swimming scenes.

    • Note the obvious difficulty that Melissa Gilbert (Laura) has with her crying scene with Michael Landon (Charles) in the barn. She keeps squinting her eyes really hard, and it's obvious that she is having trouble, which usually didn't come across with Gilbert's typically strong acting.

    • I often wonder why Eloise blamed Laura for the accident. Mary and Carrie had also been there when Ellen asked if she could "go swimming with the Ingalls girls." It's unusual that Eloise would single Laura out in that situation.
      Reply: Maybe it's because Laura was the one doing most of the talking when she, her sisters, and Ellen ran over in the first scene to ask Ellen's mother for permission to go swimming, so Eloise remembered that. Or maybe it was because Laura was the first Ingalls girl that Eloise's eyes stopped on at the funeral. Deep grief prompts many people to act in haste, which is clearly what Eloise did when she blamed Laura.

    • Mr. Busby is shot in the head by Ellen's father, yet when he is lying in Doc Baker's office there is no gunshot wound to be seen.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Caroline: (knocks on Eloise's door) Eloise? It's Caroline Ingalls. I thought maybe we could visit for a while. (long silence) Eloise?
      Eloise: (without opening door) Go home to your husband and your children. You're not wanted here.

    • Eloise: Stop it, Ellen! Stop it!
      Laura: Mrs. Taylor, I'm not Ellen!
      Eloise: No!
      Laura: I'm not Ellen, I'm Laura!
      Eloise: No, NO!
      Laura: ELLEN'S DEAD! (Eloise stops, is silent) See? That's her grave. Ellen is dead.

    • Eloise: (to Laura) Oh, my Ellen. My beautiful Ellen!
      Laura: Mrs. Taylor--
      Eloise: No. No! Say "I love you, Mama." (Laura is stunned, says nothing) Say "I love you, Mama."
      Laura: I.....I love you, M-mama.
      Eloise: (hugs her tight) Oh, and I love you! Oh, promise me. Promise me you'll never leave me again. You promise?
      Laura: I--I promise.

    • Cal: (to Charles when Laura disappears) At least you have hope. My Ellen would have been 12 years old today.

    • Eloise: (to Laura at Ellen's funeral) You did this. It's all your fault.
      Cal: Eloise--
      Eloise: Well, it was! Always asking my Ellen to go swimming. If it weren't for you, she'd have been home with me.....home with me.....(breaks down in tears)

  • NOTES (2)

    • Corinne Comacho (Ellen's mother) went on after this episode to play Grace Snider in one episode of Season 9. Because Bonnie Bartlett didn't return to play Grace for this final appearance of the character, Comacho stepped in, and because of the very different character she played in this episode, it was hard for some viewers to buy her as the sweet, loving, headstrong Grace.

    • If the episode had been originally shown according to the production order, it would have been on Halloween, which would have been appropriate in light of the episode's creepy storyline.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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